EU Private Risk Assessment Reveals 5G Security Concerns

According to a privately circulated risk assessment prepared by European governments, the European Union (EU) has identified security threats coming from foreign telecommunications equipment vendors, raising particular concerns about Huawei Technologies Co. A public report was released and warned of hostile states or state-backed companies posing a threat to new 5G networks rolling out across the globe. These promise faster connection speeds and the ability to link many devices (cars, pacemakers, and more) to the Internet. 

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FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

The Federal Trade Commission has begun its investigation of Amazon by trying to determine if small businesses do in fact have alternative marketplaces. Several attorneys and “at least one economist” have been conducting 90-minute interviews with some of Amazon’s third-party vendors, to see if they do earn revenue from eBay, Walmart or other shopping sites. According to former FTC staffer Michael Kades, the length of the interviews and number of staff dedicated to the task indicates the agency is doing a “serious job.” Continue reading FTC Begins Amazon Probe by Talking to Third-Party Vendors

Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

The FTC and New York attorney general announced yesterday that Google is being fined $170 million following the investigation of YouTube’s alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The investigation claims that Google marketed the video platform to advertisers based on the popularity of channels with younger audiences, and tracked viewing histories of children to serve them ads, without first getting consent of the parents. Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York in the largest COPPA fine to date (Congress enacted the law in 1998). Continue reading Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

Google Filters Appropriate Content With YouTube Kids Site

Kid-friendly video content is now available on a dedicated YouTube Kids website that filters content deemed most appropriate based on three different age groups. The site offers a similar experience to the mobile app of the same name. Parents can select age-appropriate videos based on newly listed age groups, track viewing history and flag anything that may be missed by filters. A sign-in option is expected to be added in the future. The filters include “Preschool” (up to age 4), “Younger” (ages 5 to 7) and “Older” (kids over 7). Content is organized by categories including Explore, Gaming, Music and Shows.  Continue reading Google Filters Appropriate Content With YouTube Kids Site

Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

A bipartisan group of Congress members castigated Facebook for hiring contractors to transcribe audio clips and urged regulation to prevent it in the future. The transcriptions were made to help Facebook improve its artificial intelligence-enabled speech recognition, and are part of a move to improve the capabilities of voice assistants (Amazon, Apple and Google are among companies that have taken similar approaches). Last year, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) circulated a draft law that would impose steep fines and even prison for executives who failed to protect users’ personal data. Continue reading Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

Facebook, FBI Face Brewing Conflict Over Data Collection

Facebook, which has been under scrutiny for its privacy policies, just settled with the U.S. government for a record $5 billion fine. But the FBI has now complicated that picture by more aggressively monitoring potential threats on all social media platforms. Last month, the FBI asked for third party vendors to submit proposals by August 27 for examining public data to “proactively identify and reactively monitor threats to the United States and its interests” on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Continue reading Facebook, FBI Face Brewing Conflict Over Data Collection

Google’s Cloud Platform Updates Focus on Security Issues

During its Cloud Next 2019 developer conference, Google revealed its Advanced Protection Program would be widely released and Titan Security Keys will be more readily available in retail. The former, which is intended to prevent cyberattacks against high profile targets such as politicians and business leaders, will debut in beta for G Suite, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Cloud Identity customers. The Advanced Protection Program “enforces the use” of the Titan Security Key or compatible third-party hardware, blocking access to third-party accounts not approved by admin. Continue reading Google’s Cloud Platform Updates Focus on Security Issues

Twitter Will Warn Users of Politicians’ Inappropriate Tweets

Twitter announced that it plans to hide messages that are posted by politicians who violate the company’s abuse or harassment policies. Such tweets will be hidden behind a warning label, but will not be removed from the service, since Twitter still considers them a matter of public interest. The notices will inform readers if a tweet violates rules regarding harassment or violent threats, and then readers will have the option of clicking through to access the questionable message. The move could complicate the current debate over political bias on Twitter in addition to the balance other social platforms are struggling with between free speech and offensive content. Continue reading Twitter Will Warn Users of Politicians’ Inappropriate Tweets

Firms Test Limits of Commerce Department Ban on Huawei

Although the White House has banned U.S. companies from selling technology to Huawei Technologies, some chipmakers, including Intel and Micron, are doing so by labeling goods produced overseas as not being “American-made.” The ban actually begins in mid-August, and U.S. suppliers, their attorneys and the Trump administration are mulling over if and how the ban impacts current sales. Meanwhile, FedEx has filed a lawsuit against the U.S., saying it cannot police the millions of packages it sends. Continue reading Firms Test Limits of Commerce Department Ban on Huawei

Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs project began in 2017 when Toronto invited the company to turn an undeveloped 12-acre lot, Quayside, into a model of the digital city of the future. Now, Alphabet has issued a 1,524-page master plan that, in four volumes, details how it will spend the $1.3 billion earmarked for the project. Among those plans, Alphabet details using environmentally-friendly timber, installing an underground pneumatic tube for garbage removal, and building streets for autonomous vehicles from subsidiary Waymo. Continue reading Alphabet Unveils Master Plan for Toronto Smart City Project

Facebook Cryptocurrency Gets Backing From Major Players

Mastercard, PayPal Holdings, Uber Technologies and Visa are among the more than a dozen companies that have agreed to back Facebook’s new cryptocurrency, codenamed Project Libra. Each company will invest $10 million and be part of the Libra Association, a consortium to control the virtual currency, said sources. The invested money will fund the currency, which will be linked to a collection of government-issued currencies to make it more stable. Facebook has been developing the project in secrecy for over a year. Continue reading Facebook Cryptocurrency Gets Backing From Major Players

Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

In what could become a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled to allow individual iPhone users to sue Apple in antitrust violation cases related to the tech giant’s App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that determined App Store customers could sue Apple for allegedly driving up prices by forcing them to purchase apps exclusively from the App Store. Apple lost its argument that was based on the contention that third-party developers set the prices for apps. While Apple holds steady in its belief that it does not represent a monopoly, the ruling could have future ramifications regarding consumers who seek to sue other app sellers for antitrust violations. Continue reading Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Hackers have reportedly been injecting Israeli spyware onto smartphones via the popular Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp. The surveillance software, named Pegasus, was developed by Israeli firm NSO Group and can access an iPhone with a single missed voice call on WhatsApp. NSO claims that it carefully vets its customers; the company’s software is intended for government agencies to combat crime and terrorism. While it is currently unknown how many users may have been affected at this point (the problem was first discovered in early May), WhatsApp says it has created a patch to address the vulnerability. Continue reading WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

U.S. Blocks Chinese Telecom Bid for International Services

Citing law enforcement and national security risks, the Federal Communications Commissions unanimously denied an application by China Mobile USA (the U.S. arm of Chinese telecom giant, China Mobile Ltd.), which aimed to provide international calls and other services via American networks. This could be another in a series of signs of escalating tensions between China and the U.S. The crux of the FCC’s concern is that the company is owned by the Chinese government and would be therefore vulnerable to that influence.

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New Silicon Valley Stock Exchange Is Approved by the SEC

U.S. regulators have approved a new stock exchange originally introduced to the Securities and Exchange Commission last year by tech entrepreneur Eric Ries, who raised $19 million from VCs for his project. The new Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE) will provide tech firms with options to traditional New York exchanges. The “Silicon Valley-based national securities exchange” is “promoting what it says is a unique approach to governance and voting rights, while reducing short-term pressures on public companies,” reports Reuters. Continue reading New Silicon Valley Stock Exchange Is Approved by the SEC

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