Tech Industry Urges President to Not Weaken Encryption Tech

Tech companies including Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft joined Internet security experts and civil liberties organizations this week to draft a letter to President Obama warning that a “backdoor” for U.S. law enforcement could also serve as a backdoor for hackers and other governments. The Obama administration has been considering whether companies should only be allowed to use encryption that provides law enforcement with unscrambled access (or a “backdoor”). Critics are concerned about weakening encryption tech that protects Internet communications. Continue reading Tech Industry Urges President to Not Weaken Encryption Tech

Letter Released in Protest of Facebook’s Free Internet Project

As part of the growing backlash to Facebook’s Internet.org project, 65 advocacy organizations from 31 countries released a letter of protest this week to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook has partnered with wireless carriers and other organizations on the initiative that hopes to bring free Internet service to the developing world. However, the letter argues that the project “violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy, and innovation.” Continue reading Letter Released in Protest of Facebook’s Free Internet Project

Pandora Purchases Music Data-Tracking Firm Next Big Sound

Music streaming service Pandora announced this week that it has acquired Next Big Sound, a company that tracks how popular songs become online and via social networks. Next Big Sound has become a standard for measuring artist popularity through activity on Twitter, Wikipedia, YouTube and other platforms. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed. However, in similar data-tracking deals, Spotify paid about $55 million for the Echo Nest last year and Apple paid a reported $50 million in January for Next Big Sound competitor Semetric. Continue reading Pandora Purchases Music Data-Tracking Firm Next Big Sound

Kim Dotcom Claims Hollywood is to Blame for Piracy Problems

Kim Dotcom, the man accused in the biggest case of copyright infringement in U.S. history, criticizes Hollywood studios for failing to effectively utilize Internet technology to distribute their content. The creator of file-sharing website Megaupload.com predicts that Netflix and other companies “will ultimately take over these dinosaurs.” Currently, studios including 20th Century Fox and Disney are suing Dotcom for $100 million. Dotcom is also facing a civil suit from the U.S. government. Continue reading Kim Dotcom Claims Hollywood is to Blame for Piracy Problems

North America to Run Out of Internet Addresses This Summer

The supply of new Internet Protocol addresses has almost run out, which means that companies will likely need to invest a significant amount of money to pay for pricier addresses and system upgrades. IP addresses are similar to telephone numbers that specify where data is going when it is transferred over the Internet. Companies may now have to spend millions of dollars switching to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) to get more addresses for their various online operations. Continue reading North America to Run Out of Internet Addresses This Summer

Google Buy Buttons Could Offer Alternative to Amazon and eBay

As Internet browsing via mobile devices continues to become the norm, tech companies are scrambling to add new functionality to the scaled-down mobile versions of their sites. In the coming weeks, Google plans to introduce buy buttons to its mobile search-result pages. The buttons will direct users to other Google product pages where purchases can be made (products will be sold by retailers). The move is seen by many as an effort by Google to create an online marketplace to take on leaders such as Amazon and eBay. Continue reading Google Buy Buttons Could Offer Alternative to Amazon and eBay

ISTS Calls for New Take on ‘Ineffective’ Copyright Alert System

The Internet Security Task Force (ISTS), a consortium comprised of motion picture companies, is requesting that U.S. Internet service providers abandon the Copyright Alert System (CAS), which ISTS views as “ineffective.” The system forwards up to six warnings to Internet users who are identified as sharing copyrighted material via BitTorrent and other resources, before potentially taking action. ISTS is calling for a new system with stronger measures, possibly modeled after Canada’s Copyright Modernization Act. Continue reading ISTS Calls for New Take on ‘Ineffective’ Copyright Alert System

TiVo is Working on Legal Version of Aereo Distribution Model

DVR maker TiVo has confirmed that it is developing a legal version of the failed Aereo service, which combined cloud DVR tech with a system of antennas for capturing over-the-air TV and distributing the content online to subscribers via smartphones, tablets, connected TVs and Web browsers. Aereo filed for bankruptcy after the Supreme Court ruled it had violated copyright law, and then TiVo purchased Aereo’s trademarks and customer lists for about $1 million. The company has scheduled a July event in San Jose to discuss the new product. Continue reading TiVo is Working on Legal Version of Aereo Distribution Model

MashMe Enables You to Create Animated Avatars in Real Time

Croatian company MashMe has developed new software that allows users to create animated scenes and avatars of themselves using only a webcam. MashMe tracks even the most minute details of a person’s facial expressions and gestures to create animated avatars that can be used with services like Google Hangouts, Twitch and Skype. The company recently launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising $50,000, promising its contributors access to one of the two final software packages it plans to offer.  Continue reading MashMe Enables You to Create Animated Avatars in Real Time

New Wave of Interactive Ads Designed to Engage Mobile Users

According to Google, only 54 percent of online video ads are viewable (excluding those on YouTube). More companies are trying to get people engaged with their online ads instead of scrolling past them. Viewers may be prompted to talk back, swipe, or shoot targets in interactive ads. This new type of advertising is aimed at mobile users as people increasingly use their phones to access the Internet. Google and other companies hope interactive ads may help generate more mobile advertising revenue. Continue reading New Wave of Interactive Ads Designed to Engage Mobile Users

Reddit Expands Online Offerings with New Original Video Site

Reddit has officially launched its own video site called Reddit Original Video, pushing the company closer to becoming a full-fledged media entity. The new property will join Reddit’s popular news site, Upvoted podcast and Upvoted Weekly newsletter. Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian announced the site at this week’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference. Reddit, a company known for aggregating news and information, plans to use the site to significantly expand the type of content it shares with its growing online community. Continue reading Reddit Expands Online Offerings with New Original Video Site

Apple Redesigns Minimalist Remote Control for New Apple TV

With a new Apple TV expected later this summer, the company has revamped the design for the device’s remote control. While Apple has always pushed for minimalist design, its new remote control will supposedly have more features than the previous model, which has hardly changed since the debut of Apple TV back in 2007. According to sources, the new control, while still user-friendly, features two physical buttons, includes a touchpad and is slightly thicker than the device’s current design. Continue reading Apple Redesigns Minimalist Remote Control for New Apple TV

Apple Needs to Secure Key Music Deals Before Beats Launch

Apple is expected to launch its Beats Music streaming service at next month’s developers conference, but the tech giant has not been able to finalize deals with several of the major music labels yet. Originally, Apple tried to negotiate favorable deals with music labels that would allow the company to sell Beats Music for $2 to $5 less per month than the industry standard $10. Meanwhile, Jay Z’s new streaming service, Tidal, claims its deals give artists four times the royalty rate of Spotify. Continue reading Apple Needs to Secure Key Music Deals Before Beats Launch

GoEnjoy.com: Startup Brings a Personal Touch to Online Retail

Ron Johnson, a former retail exec with Apple and J.C. Penney, has launched a Web-only startup to offer a new twist on online retail. Menlo Park-based Enjoy Technology will begin offering high-end consumer electronics in select locations today via its website, GoEnjoy.com. The site will sell smartphones, laptops, tablets, drones, and more — in addition to offering free delivery and in-home setup service. Johnson expects that the in-home service will give Enjoy an advantage over established rivals such as Amazon and eBay. Continue reading GoEnjoy.com: Startup Brings a Personal Touch to Online Retail

Elon Musk Wants to Power the World with New Battery System

Tesla recently unveiled its Tesla Energy system that will initially feature two products: the Powerwall, designed to power homes, and the Powerpack, for businesses and possibly public utilities. The Powerwall rechargeable lithium-ion battery will be available in 7 kWh and 10 kWh models, while the Powerpack will come in 100 kWh battery blocks with a reach of 10 Mwh and higher. Powerwalls have already been available to select customers, and Powerpacks will become available once Tesla’s Gigafactory goes online. Continue reading Elon Musk Wants to Power the World with New Battery System

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