OECD Aims to Regulate Where Online Companies Pay Taxes

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has devised a proposal to prevent digital giants such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook from avoiding paying taxes. The proposal, which would allow countries to tax such big multinational firms even if they did not operate there, would enable new taxes on all kinds of multinational companies — not just tech firms — that operate online. As of now, many of these digital companies avoid heavier taxes by moving profits to countries with low tax rates. Continue reading OECD Aims to Regulate Where Online Companies Pay Taxes

Google Set to Announce 5G Phone Next Week, Say Sources

According to sources, Google may unveil the test version of a 5G smartphone as early as October 15, when it is also expected to also reveal two new 4G Pixel smartphones with OLED screens and possibly a smart watch and notebook. If Google does indeed introduce the 5G phone, it would get a significant jump on Apple, whose plans are to unveil a 5G phone in 2020. Google is making a bigger play in branded hardware to have a greater hold over consumers using its search engine and other software products. Continue reading Google Set to Announce 5G Phone Next Week, Say Sources

Google May Be Creating Android Game Certification Program

Mobile games are gaining in popularity, and AAA game publishers, Apple, Google, and smartphone OEMs are responding. The space will only grow as chips from Qualcomm and MediaTek enable mid-range smartphones to offer gaming. Asus, Black Shark, Nubia, Razer and others have already launched gaming-centric phones. In this environment, Google — concerned that smartphones will be powerful and predictable enough for Android game developers — may be developing a Game Device Certification program. Continue reading Google May Be Creating Android Game Certification Program

Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

Facebook agreed to pay a $40 million penalty for providing incorrect metrics for average viewing time of ads on its platform. In 2016, Facebook admitted to the problem, and a group of small advertisers sued in California federal court, in part claiming that Facebook knew about the problem long before it admitted and fixed it. Facebook countered the impact was minimal because it doesn’t bill advertisers based on watch-time; plaintiffs disagreed, saying it is a “common indirect barometer to guide ad-buying decisions.” Continue reading Facebook Agrees to $40 Million Fine for Incorrect Ad Metrics

EU Court Rules Facebook Can Be Forced to Delete Content

The European Court of Justice ruled that its national court could force Facebook to globally remove a post ruled to be illegal or defamatory. The ruling arose from a suit filed by Austrian politician Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, who objected to online comments that she was a “lousy traitor,” “corrupt oaf” and member of a “fascist party.” An Austrian court ruled the comments were defamatory, and she demanded that Facebook remove the comments and equivalent ones, not just in Austria but worldwide. Continue reading EU Court Rules Facebook Can Be Forced to Delete Content

Google Upgrades Shopping Portal, Extends Lens Capability

Google has streamlined its Shopping desktop and mobile portals in anticipation of the holiday season and unveiled a fashion recommendation engine for Google Lens, its AI-enabled computer vision search tool. According to Google Shopping vice president Surojit Chatterjee, the redesign is aimed at making it easier for users to “research and buy” what they are looking for. A personalized homepage offers product suggestions, and new sections allow re-ordering. Also more prominent are links to “nearby and online” stores. Continue reading Google Upgrades Shopping Portal, Extends Lens Capability

Google Debuts New Tools to Protect Personal Data Privacy

For Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Google is introducing three tools to give users more control over their data when using Google Assistant, Google Maps and YouTube. Maps will roll out “incognito mode” for Android users this month and include iOS users soon. YouTube will feature the “rolling auto-delete” feature available for location and web data history. The company will also build its password checkup into account controls, to make it easier for the user to determine if her logins have been part of a security breach. Continue reading Google Debuts New Tools to Protect Personal Data Privacy

Publishers Plan to Bring Transparency to Digital Advertising

The digital advertising business is often opaque, and now 16 companies, banded together as Source, are calling for a more transparent pipeline as well as standards and best practices for sharing data on fees and authenticating content. Oracle and News Corporation, among the other ad agencies, publishers and ad tech firms, hope their efforts will boost digital advertising beyond behemoths Facebook and Google. Publishers have long stated that middlemen take too much of the pie in an expensive, clunky supply chain. Continue reading Publishers Plan to Bring Transparency to Digital Advertising

Audiotapes Reveal Zuckerberg’s Take on Big Tech Breakup

In March, Senator Elizabeth Warren debuted her plan to break up big tech companies, from Amazon to Facebook. Her campaign paid for a billboard in San Francisco with the message in capital letters. Now, almost seven months later, leaked audiotapes reveal what Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg thinks about her plans. In the tapes, Zuckerberg tells employees that, “if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge.” Continue reading Audiotapes Reveal Zuckerberg’s Take on Big Tech Breakup

More Details Emerge About Facebook’s Upcoming News Tab

Facebook is slated to launch a News Tab as early as the end of October, but according to sources only a few of the publishers whose headlines appear there will get paid. The News Tab, which will appear on the toolbar at the bottom of the Facebook mobile app, will feature links for up to 200 publications, but sources say the social media giant never intended to pay all those news outlets. Sources note that it is similar to how Facebook built its Watch section, which includes videos it doesn’t pay for. Continue reading More Details Emerge About Facebook’s Upcoming News Tab

Sony Makes Push for Its PlayStation Now Streaming Service

Sony Interactive Entertainment cut the monthly fee of its subscription service PlayStation Now in half, from $20 per month to just under $10. It’s also added four new games: “God of War,” “Infamous Second Son,” “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End” and “Grand Theft Auto V.” Because three of those come from Sony-owned studios, PS Now will be the only way to stream them live. PS Now, which debuted in 2014, has enjoyed a compounded annual growth rate of 40 percent. Its 700,000 subscribers pay for access to 800 games. Continue reading Sony Makes Push for Its PlayStation Now Streaming Service

Google and IBM Create Advanced Text-to-Speech Systems

Both IBM and Google recently advanced development of Text-to-Speech (TTS) systems to create high-quality digital speech. OpenAI found that, since 2012, the compute power needed to train TTS models has exploded to more than 300,000 times. IBM created a much less compute-intensive model for speech synthesis, stating that it is able to do so in real-time and adapt to new speaking styles with little data. Google and Imperial College London created a generative adversarial network (GAN) to create high-quality synthetic speech. Continue reading Google and IBM Create Advanced Text-to-Speech Systems

Incoming EU Commissioners Plan Tax for Digital Companies

Impatient with the slow pace of overhauling corporate taxation to better represent the real profits of international digital companies, European Union commissioners propose that the EU agree on a tax if no global decision is reached by end of 2020. Up until now, individual countries have crafted different approaches to taxation. In France, former digital affairs minister Mounir Mahjoubi said he may file an amendment to a budget bill forcing these same Internet behemoths to reveal how much profit they make in the country. Continue reading Incoming EU Commissioners Plan Tax for Digital Companies

Californians for Consumer Privacy Make Bid for Enforcement

Californians for Consumer Privacy, which led the push for the privacy law that passed in the state, has a new plan to establish a data protection agency to make sure the law is enforced. The goal is to amend the law via a ballot initiative; it will take the valid signatures of more than 620,000 registered voters to put it on the ballot. The California Consumer Privacy Act now gives consumers the right to see what personal data has been collected, to delete it and to prevent companies from selling it. Continue reading Californians for Consumer Privacy Make Bid for Enforcement

Amazon Unveils New IoT Devices for On-the-Go Consumers

Amazon is strategically moving its Alexa digital voice assistant into a wide range of products, for use in many settings. Among the newly introduced smart products powered by Alexa are earbuds, a ring, eyeglass frames and even a lamp. The idea, said Amazon hardware head Dave Limp, is to allow Alexa to follow the consumer throughout her day, via such smart lifestyle devices. To enable this, Amazon also debuted its own low bandwidth 900MHz network, Amazon Sidewalk, to connect Internet of Things devices. Continue reading Amazon Unveils New IoT Devices for On-the-Go Consumers

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