FCC Proposal Restricts Local Regulation of Cable Networks

FCC chair Ajit Pai has put forth a plan to prevent cities and towns from regulating Internet access via their authority over cable TV networks and limit how much cities can charge cable companies. The cable industry has long lobbied for these changes; Pai’s proposal will come to a vote at the FCC on August 1. Pai’s proposal states that “some states and localities” are collecting fees and imposing requirements not “explicitly allowed” by Title VI, the cable regulation section Congress added to the Cable Act of 1984. Continue reading FCC Proposal Restricts Local Regulation of Cable Networks

Privacy Concerns Grow Over Facial Recognition Data Sets

Social networks, dating services, photo websites and surveillance cameras are just some of the sources of a growing number of databases compiling people’s faces. According to privacy advocates, Microsoft and Stanford University are among the many groups gathering images, with one such repository holding two million images. All these photos will be used to allow neural networks to build pattern recognition, in the quest to create cutting edge facial recognition platforms. Some companies have collected images for 10+ years. Continue reading Privacy Concerns Grow Over Facial Recognition Data Sets

Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Up until now, massive conglomerates have dominated robotics, but that’s about to change, as the cost of hardware production plunges (due to globalization) and computing and cloud solutions become cheaper, more powerful and easy to ramp up. That’s given rise to Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions, in which vertical-specific hardware and software are bundled and sold in monthly subscription packages. At the same time, California enacted a new law that would require a bot to reveal its “artificial identity.” Continue reading Robotics-as-a-Service Rises, California Puts Limits on Bots

Internet Providers Positioned to Mine Data for Targeted Ads

Broadband Internet providers gather masses of data on consumer behavior but thus far have been slow to use that data for targeted advertising. However, as cable and telecom companies feel the negative impact of cord-cutting, they are beginning to look to their broadband units to make up the shortfall. AT&T and Google Fiber already mine customer data, but Altice USA, Comcast, Charter Communications and Verizon Communications have been reluctant to either gather or use personal data, for fear of customer pushback. Continue reading Internet Providers Positioned to Mine Data for Targeted Ads

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

Facebook Agrees to Hand Over User Data to French Judges

Marking a world first, social giant Facebook has agreed to turn over data of French users who are suspected of hate speech on the popular platform. Cédric O, state secretary for the digital economy of France, who has been influential in shaping French President Emmanuel Macron’s perspective on Big Tech, made the announcement yesterday. The Facebook decision follows a number of successive meetings between President Macron and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It has been reported that Macron is actively interested in regulating hate speech worldwide and taking control of false information online. Continue reading Facebook Agrees to Hand Over User Data to French Judges

Latest Sandler Film Sets New Viewership Record for Netflix

Netflix announced yesterday that “Murder Mystery,” starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, was viewed by nearly 30.9 million households in the film’s first three days of availability, setting a new opening weekend record for a Netflix original. According to the company, 13,374,914 accounts in North America streamed the new film, while 17,494,949 worldwide accounts represented the additional viewing figures. Netflix says it only counted views if members watched at least 70 percent of the film. Netflix inked a four-picture deal with Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions in 2015, and renewed for another four movies two years later. Continue reading Latest Sandler Film Sets New Viewership Record for Netflix

IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

Amazon-owned IMDb — the popular online database featuring information related to movies, television and video games — is rebranding its recently launched Freedive video service as IMDb TV. Thanks to new deals with MGM, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros., the ad-supported VOD service will add thousands of new titles in the upcoming months, essentially tripling the number of TV shows and movies available to U.S. viewers for free. The company also plans to expand its audience with a European launch later this year. Continue reading IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

Bond’s Meeker Predicts Our Digital Future in Annual Report

At Code Conference 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona, Bond Capital general partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual, highly anticipated Internet Trends Report. The 333-page slideshow looked at trends from the growth of Internet ad spending to digital delivery services in Latin America. One eye-opening fact she reported is that about 51 percent of the world, equaling 3.8 billion people, used the Internet in 2018, up from 49 percent (3.6 billion) the previous year. Smartphone sales are slowing since so many people likely to be online already are. Continue reading Bond’s Meeker Predicts Our Digital Future in Annual Report

AT&T Rolls Out Its Ad-Buying Service for Premium Content

AT&T’s ad unit Xandr has launched its ad-buying platform that offers exclusive access to AT&T’s customer data and assists companies in purchasing ad space across formats including mobile and streaming video. The platform, called Xandr Invest, will let advertisers buy ads on AT&T properties such as CNN, TBS and TNT, and will serve as the only ad-buying platform for Xandr’s Community marketplace that also features curated content from publishers such as Philo, Tubi and Vice. AT&T will compete in advertising with Google and Facebook, which combined represented almost 60 percent of the Internet ad market last year, according to PwC. Continue reading AT&T Rolls Out Its Ad-Buying Service for Premium Content

Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

The federal government is listening to complaints about how the major digital platforms exploit their size and the paucity of regulations — and companies are lining up to tell their tales of woe. Yelp public policy chief Luther Lowe says firms that once quietly grumbled are now talking to the Department of Justice about anti-competitive behavior by the big tech companies, all of which vigorously deny the accusations. Two Instagram executives stated that, although some would like to break up social giant Facebook, that won’t help the problem. Continue reading Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

Instagram Plans to Introduce More Ads From its Influencers

Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing app Instagram announced yesterday that it plans a change to its advertising strategy that involves more sponsored ads from social influencers. Instagram will offer brands the ability to promote creators’ branded content in users’ feeds, regardless of whether or not those users follow the influencers creating the content. The move could be lucrative for popular influencers who generate revenue promoting products and services, but may prove frustrating to average users who will subsequently see more unwanted ads in their feeds. Continue reading Instagram Plans to Introduce More Ads From its Influencers

Researchers Advocate for Deeper Analysis of Online Habits

Determining the impact of screen time isn’t easy. It’s almost impossible to put together a “control group” of people living non-digital lives, and there are no baselines for such factors as “average daily Facebook usage.” Stanford University professor of communication Byron Reeves, in a paper in Human-Computer Interaction, suggested a new approach that eschews the term “screen time” as hopelessly ambiguous. Instead, he argued, scientists should analyze what people are watching — but this data doesn’t exist. Continue reading Researchers Advocate for Deeper Analysis of Online Habits

In Google Tweak, Only Enterprise Customers Can Block Ads

Google has doubled-down on a change made in January to Manifest V3, Chrome’s extensions system, that would prevent the effective functioning of current ad blockers. Despite backlash to the change by extension developers and power users, the company said that only enterprise users will be able to continue to use such ad blocking software. Manifest V3 includes other changes, such as a tweaking of the permissions system. Now, all extensions must use the “minimum set of permissions necessary” when requesting access to data. Continue reading In Google Tweak, Only Enterprise Customers Can Block Ads

Cyber Threat Alliance’s Early Sharing Aims to Stop Hackers

The nonprofit Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA) has organized its members, which includes some big tech companies such as Cisco, McAfee, Palo Alto Networks and Symantec, to share knowledge about software bugs and hacking threats, to alert their customers and limit the damage. To do so, the companies have decided to put cybersecurity ahead of the competition. Dubbed “early sharing,” the strategy goes into action as government-linked groups in China, Iran, North Korea and Russia run devastating hacking campaigns. Continue reading Cyber Threat Alliance’s Early Sharing Aims to Stop Hackers

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