Big Tech Companies Are Thriving Despite the Current Climate

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wares and services of Big Tech companies such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook have become more indispensable than ever. As such, they are thriving. Amazon, for example, reported $88.9 billion in sales, with profits doubling to a record $5.2 billion in the quarter ending June, even though it spent $4 billion on its supply chain and worker safety in that time frame. Apple marked an 11 percent increase in quarterly sales, and Facebook sales rose 11 percent to $18.7 billion. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Are Thriving Despite the Current Climate

CTA Announces All-Digital Experience for January’s CES 2021

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced that its next annual CES confab, scheduled for January 6-9, will be “an all-digital experience” due to the coronavirus pandemic. While prioritizing the health and safety of exhibitors and attendees, the virtual experience promises the usual keynotes and conferences, product showcases, media events, and opportunities for meetings and networking. According to CTA chief exec Gary Shapiro, “Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic — and that innovation will also help us reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way.” Continue reading CTA Announces All-Digital Experience for January’s CES 2021

Energy Department Plans to Build a Secure Quantum Internet

The U.S. has unveiled a national project to build a quantum Internet, which would function alongside existing Internet networks. A quantum Internet is based on photons exhibiting a quantum state known as entanglement that allows it to share information over long distances without a physical connection. One goal of the project is to build a network that would be more secure and nearly unhackable. The Department of Energy created a strategy by which its 17 national labs would serve as a backbone for a prototype national quantum Internet to launch in 10 years. Continue reading Energy Department Plans to Build a Secure Quantum Internet

Twitter Bans Accounts Promoting QAnon Conspiracy Theories

Twitter removed about 150,000 accounts disseminating QAnon right-wing conspiracies for violating the social platform’s policies and distributing harassment and misinformation that could potentially lead to harm. The company added that it will no longer recommend QAnon-related accounts and content, including that contained in email. Twitter also stated it will make efforts to limit these theories from appearing in trending topics and search, as well as users posting links affiliated with the theories. Continue reading Twitter Bans Accounts Promoting QAnon Conspiracy Theories

Loon and Telkom Kenya Provide Internet Service via Balloons

Loon, a California-based unit of Alphabet, and Telkom Kenya debuted 4G Internet service in central and western Kenya, a 31,000-square-mile area that includes the capital Nairobi. In preparation, over the last few months Loon launched 35 balloons 12 miles into the sky, above commercial airplanes. Previously, Loon provided Internet service via balloons in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria destroyed all the cell towers in 2017. Telecom executives are watching to see if Loon’s technology is reliable and profitable. Continue reading Loon and Telkom Kenya Provide Internet Service via Balloons

Nokia Redirects Its 5G Business With System-on-Chip Tech

Nokia Corp. stumbled in its 5G business when it invested in an expensive computer chip; customers instead gravitated to Ericsson’s and Huawei Technologies’ less expensive processors. In 2018, the company began a two-year restructuring program, bringing in Tommi Uitto as the new head of its wireless equipment unit. He doubled the R&D staff and added two more chip suppliers, in an attempt to make more affordable chips. Now, a new president and chief executive, Pekka Lundmark, is about to take over the helm at Nokia from Rajeev Suri. Continue reading Nokia Redirects Its 5G Business With System-on-Chip Tech

FCC Formally Names Huawei, ZTE National Security Threats

The Federal Communications Commission has officially designated Huawei Technologies and ZTE, two Chinese telecommunication firms, as national security threats. Last year, the FCC voted to add both companies to the Entity List and barred them from using U.S.-manufactured semiconductors. Now, U.S. carriers cannot use the Universal Service Fund to purchase or maintain products from the two companies. The Fund, managed by the FCC, is an $8.3 billion government subsidy program to expand Internet access in rural and other underserved areas.

Continue reading FCC Formally Names Huawei, ZTE National Security Threats

Comcast Inks Deal to Adopt Mozilla’s Firefox DNS Encryption

In a new partnership, Comcast will be the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) to offer users of Mozilla’s Firefox browser with private and secure encrypted Domain Name System (DNS) services via Mozilla’s Trusted Recursive Resolver (TRR) Program. Comcast’s DNS over HTTPS (DoH) will be activated by default for Firefox over Comcast’s Xfinity broadband network. Users will be able to switch to Cloudflare or NextDNS, which were already included in Mozilla’s program. No date of availability was released. Continue reading Comcast Inks Deal to Adopt Mozilla’s Firefox DNS Encryption

PACT Act Intends to Update Section 230, Protect Consumers

Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and John Thune (R-South Dakota) introduced the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act, which would hold Internet platforms such as Facebook and Google responsible for hosting illegal content and require them to reveal their moderation practices. The Act would change parts of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 that shield such platforms from liability for the content their users post, and is intended to require platforms to quickly remove offending content. Continue reading PACT Act Intends to Update Section 230, Protect Consumers

Google Plans Changes to How Long It Holds on to User Data

Google disclosed that it had changed its policy regarding how long it will hang on to users’ search data. Last year, the company introduced an option that allowed users to automatically delete data related to Internet searches, requests made to Google Assistant and location history after three months or 18 months. Beginning now, Google’s default policy is to automatically delete location history, voice recordings and web/app activity on new accounts after 18 months. The settings on existing accounts will remain the same. Continue reading Google Plans Changes to How Long It Holds on to User Data

Neeva: A New Search Engine With No Ads or Data Collection

Former Google executive in charge of advertising Sridhar Ramaswamy has launched Neeva, a search engine that will not show ads or collect information about users. At Google, Ramaswamy became disillusioned by how the need for constant growth disadvantaged consumers. He decided to leave shortly after questionable videos featured ads — automatically served by Google’s algorithms — for Deutsche Bank, Amazon, eBay and Adidas. His epiphany was that “an ad-supported model had limitations.”   Continue reading Neeva: A New Search Engine With No Ads or Data Collection

Google’s Area 120 Releases Pinterest-Like AI-Enabled ‘Keen’

Google’s internal incubator Area 120 debuted Keen for web and Android. Keen co-founder CJ Adams stated that the app acts as a curator for topics and is intended to be an alternative to “mindlessly” browsing feeds. A “keen,” which can be about any topic, said Adams, allows the user to collect content and share it with others. In essence, Keen is proposed as a rival to Pinterest and any other social media feed that customizes its content for individual users. Similar to Pinterest, Keen also uses a pinboard-style design. Continue reading Google’s Area 120 Releases Pinterest-Like AI-Enabled ‘Keen’

DOJ Favors Withdrawing Section 230’s Immunity for Big Tech

The Justice Department recommended, in a 25-page report, that lawmakers repeal portions of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which has given website operators broad immunity for what people post on their services. The proposed repeal would take away that immunity, forcing social media platforms and similar sites to be responsible for the videos, words, images posted by their users, while assuring that their moderation is consistent. The DOJ’s recommendation will have to be enacted by Congress. Continue reading DOJ Favors Withdrawing Section 230’s Immunity for Big Tech

OpenAI Tests Commercial Version of Its AI Language System

Artificial intelligence research institute OpenAI, after collecting trillions of words, debuted its first commercial product, the API. Its goal is to create the “most flexible general-purpose AI language system” in existence. Currently, the API’s skills include translating between languages, writing news stories, and answering everyday questions. The API is engaged in limited testing and, said chief executive Sam Altman, will be released broadly for use in a range of tasks, such as customer support, education and games. Continue reading OpenAI Tests Commercial Version of Its AI Language System

Instagram Users Can Be Sued for Embedding Images in Posts

Instagram users have embedded images in their posts, believing that they were protected against copyright claims. Facebook now explains that, “while our terms allow us to grant a sub-license, we do not grant one for our embeds API.” In other words, a user who embeds someone’s Instagram post on her website has to ask the poster in advance for a separate license to the post’s images. Those who don’t could be subject to a lawsuit. Professional photographers will be able to better negotiate with publishers based on these terms. Continue reading Instagram Users Can Be Sued for Embedding Images in Posts

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