At G20 Meeting, Europeans Push Enactment of a Digital Tax

At a meeting in Argentina of G20 finance ministers and central bankers, the Europeans pushed to advance global rules to tax the digital economy, contrary to the point of view of the U.S. delegation. The group’s final communiqué reiterated the body’s commitment to “address the impacts of the shift to a digital economy on the international tax system by 2020,” but gave no further details. Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed rules to make digital companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google pay more taxes. Continue reading At G20 Meeting, Europeans Push Enactment of a Digital Tax

WhatsApp Hopes Changes Will Reduce Virality and Violence

One day after Facebook said it would remove misinformation that could provoke violence, the company announced tweaks to WhatsApp, saying it would limit the number of groups to which a message could be forwarded on that platform. This specific move — which was requested by the Indian government — came after fake news widely forwarded via WhatsApp led to mob violence and the death of 20 people wrongly suspected of child kidnapping. WhatsApp has over 200 million monthly active users in India. Continue reading WhatsApp Hopes Changes Will Reduce Virality and Violence

Technology Titans Join Forces on New Data Transfer Project

Tech giants Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have announced the Data Transfer Project (DTP) to help people move data more easily between online services. DTP was formed last year with plans “to create an open-source, service-to-service data-portability platform” that any online service could join. While numerous services allow individuals to download data, only few allow uploading data to multiple accounts. If successful in creating universal data portability, the project could dramatically impact the tech industry and its current business models. Continue reading Technology Titans Join Forces on New Data Transfer Project

Amazon Web Services Testing Two ‘Provable’ Security Tools

To help its Amazon Web Services customers keep their data secure, the AWS Automated Reasoning Group is beta-testing two new tools, Zelkova and Tiros, which analyze security configurations, provide automated feedback on various set-ups and help administrators avoid mistakes that could endanger their data. Tiros focuses on checking for “unexpected access from the open Internet,” and Zelkova aids developers in understanding how permissive their setups are compared to existing infrastructure. Continue reading Amazon Web Services Testing Two ‘Provable’ Security Tools

Facebook Combats Fake News After Hoaxes End in Violence

In the wake of posts that have incited violence in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India, Facebook has tweaked its fake news policy and agreed to remove posts that could lead to physical harm. In the incidents that sparked this change, rumors spread on Facebook led to physical attacks on ethnic minorities. The attacks have involved the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Muslims in Sri Lanka, and other attacks in India and Mexico. Changes do not apply to Instagram or WhatsApp, despite the latter’s involvement in incidents in India. Continue reading Facebook Combats Fake News After Hoaxes End in Violence

Netflix Teams With SiriusXM on New Comedy Radio Channel

Streaming video giant Netflix is making a move into satellite radio by launching a commercial-free comedy channel with satellite-radio broadcaster SiriusXM. The two are partnering on a new radio channel dubbed “Netflix Is a Joke Radio” that will draw content from Netflix’s growing library of comedy programs. Netflix also plans to produce original content. The channel will serve as a promotional tool for Netflix’s stand-up specials and ideally drive some of SiriusXM’s 33 million subscribers to the streaming video service. The channel is expected to launch in January 2019. Continue reading Netflix Teams With SiriusXM on New Comedy Radio Channel

Congress Scrutinizes Social Media Liability for User Content

Social media platforms such as Google and Facebook are exempt from liability for user-posted content, a protection that top Republican legislators want to end. House Judiciary Committee chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia) quizzed Twitter representatives about the exemption, asking why they should be “treated differently than,” for example, a hotel that faces limited responsibility for illegal actions on its property. Goodlatte is one lawmaker who also looked at the purported silencing of conservative points of view on the platforms. Continue reading Congress Scrutinizes Social Media Liability for User Content

Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Google has been fined a record $5.06 billion by the European Union for antitrust violations. The tech giant is accused of abusing the market dominance of its Internet search services and Android mobile operating system. The record fine underlines how European regulators are pushing for more control in today’s digital economy. Google has 90 days to comply and pay the EU fine, or face penalties of up to 5 percent of parent company Alphabet’s daily worldwide revenues (Alphabet earned more than $9 billion in profit for Q1; Google’s net profit for 2017 was $12.62 billion). Google already announced it plans to appeal the ruling; the case could potentially last years. Continue reading Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

IBM and MIT Media Lab Test AI Recommendation Algorithm

Tech companies rely on artificial intelligence algorithms to recommend content, thus keeping users on their apps and platforms. While the benefit of that is obvious for the companies using AI, how the consumer might reap rewards is less clear. Some of those same companies are now asking themselves if they can both use AI to keep the consumer’s attention while also adhering to an ethical framework. IBM Research and MIT Media Lab have developed a recommendation technique that its research scientists say does just that. Continue reading IBM and MIT Media Lab Test AI Recommendation Algorithm

Intel to Purchase eASIC to Expand Programmable Solutions

Intel is acquiring eASIC, a 120-person custom chip company in Silicon Valley, to help boost its Programmable Solutions Group. The company stated that, “FPGAs [field programmable gate arrays] are experiencing expanding adoption due to their versatility and real-time performance,” and that “eASIC has a proven, 19-year success record … [and its] addition … will help us meet customers’ diverse needs of time-to-market, features, performance, cost, power and product life cycles.” Terms of the deal were not revealed. Continue reading Intel to Purchase eASIC to Expand Programmable Solutions

Netflix ‘Smart Downloads’ Tool Makes Mobile Viewing Easier

Netflix’s new “Smart Downloads” tool helps mobile viewers manage their content storage by automatically deleting TV show episodes after they have been viewed and then replacing them with upcoming episodes in the queue. The company introduced offline viewing of certain movies and TV shows in 2016 based on subscriber demand. Now, Netflix estimates that about 60 percent of its global users access the streaming service on their mobile devices at least once a month. With the new feature, mobile users can minimize the amount of manual TV show downloads necessary for offline viewing. Continue reading Netflix ‘Smart Downloads’ Tool Makes Mobile Viewing Easier

Major Advertisers Use Blockchain to Trim Digital Ad Spending

Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Kellogg, Bayer and Nestle are a few of the advertisers using blockchain to dig deeper into the economics of online advertising. With blockchain, they can learn if real people or bots are viewing their ads and how much of their digital ad spending is going to middlemen. Blockchain, touted as a secure and transparent way to keep transaction records, is booming, and now the advertising world — rife with less-than-transparent dealings — hopes that blockchain can help cut down on wasted dollars. Continue reading Major Advertisers Use Blockchain to Trim Digital Ad Spending

Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

The British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) levied the toughest fine possible — 500,000 pounds (or about $660,000) — against Facebook for allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal data of millions of people without their consent. The ICO, the agency that enforces the United Kingdom’s data protection laws, began investigating Facebook’s possible misuse of personal data in May 2017, but revelations of the Cambridge Analytica incident spurred it to complete its examination. Continue reading Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

New Features Make it Easier to Run Ads on Google Services

Google launched four new ad products to automate the process of buying ads and create a central marketing hub for Google. Via an integration with Shopify, Google now runs shopping ads on its site and enables advertisers to buy these ads directly through Shopify, a move that helps both companies fend off rival Amazon. The new ad products allow marketers to set a goal and then pursue it with ads across Google Search, Google Maps, YouTube and the Internet. Google ads head Sridhar Ramaswamy describes it as a “one-stop shop.” Continue reading New Features Make it Easier to Run Ads on Google Services

New Accounting Rules Could Impact the Profits of TV Shows

In the new age of streaming (and often binge-watching) video content across multiple platforms, the distinction between movies and TV shows has become blurred. The Emerging Issues Task Force, a part of the non-profit Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), is recommending a change that would impact the profits of today’s TV shows. Calling the difference between such shows and movies as “no longer relevant” for gauging companies’ finances, the new accounting rules would let TV producers track costs the same way movie producers do. Continue reading New Accounting Rules Could Impact the Profits of TV Shows

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