FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg purchased startups to forestall the competition they might pose. Sources said that the FTC is already reaching out to the founders of some of these startups. S&P Global estimates that Facebook has purchased about 90 companies over the past 15 years. Facebook isn’t alone in this behavior. A U.K. antitrust panel reported that the top five tech companies have acquired more than 400 companies over the last decade. Continue reading FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

Report: Suspected Chinese Hackers Target Global Telecoms

Hackers likely associated with the Chinese government broke into at least 10 global telecom carriers, stealing call logs, users’ locations and text-messaging records, according to a report from Boston-based Cybereason. The cybersecurity firm spent 2018 scrutinizing a multi-year, ongoing campaign, suspected to be directed by China and aimed at 20 military officials, spies, law enforcement and dissidents in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Cybereason believes the recent hacks point to Chinese group APT10. Continue reading Report: Suspected Chinese Hackers Target Global Telecoms

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

Vimeo Acquires Magisto, Makes Move Toward Social Video

IAC-owned video platform Vimeo, which largely serves small businesses and individual creators, has acquired short-form video specialist Magisto for $200 million. The deal, Vimeo’s fifth in the field, is expected to help the platform grow its presence in social video, and will move Magisto’s employees based in Israel and California to Vimeo’s office in New York. “Magisto’s proprietary technology enables cutting edge mobile apps and AI-powered editing tools which, combined with Vimeo’s scale and unmatched creator community, will empower more people to tell compelling stories through video,” said Vimeo CEO Anjali Sud. Continue reading Vimeo Acquires Magisto, Makes Move Toward Social Video

Israeli Firm Debuts One-Camera Vehicle Surveillance System

At CES 2019, Tel Aviv-based Guardian Optical Technologies debuted Optical Cabin Control (OCC) for the car’s interior. The single camera, a bit bigger than one featured in a mobile phone, is installed in the car’s ceiling and uses machine learning to keep an eye on the driver — and the kids in the backseat. More specifically, the camera watches to see if the driver takes his hands off the wheel, his eyes off the road or closes his eyes. To train the system, the company hired a diverse group of people, wearing different clothes and holding various accessories and pets. Continue reading Israeli Firm Debuts One-Camera Vehicle Surveillance System

Australian Law Will Allow Agencies to Circumvent Encryption

In the United States, Congress has resisted calls by the FBI and Department of Justice that would require tech companies to create a “back door” to allow them to bypass devices’ encryption. But other U.S. allies are moving forward on just such legislation, with Australia about to adopt a tough encryption law permitting intelligence agencies these powers. The country believes that its agencies need the power to circumvent encryption to protect it from terrorist attacks during the holiday season, often a high-threat period. Continue reading Australian Law Will Allow Agencies to Circumvent Encryption

U.S. Does Not Sign France’s Cyberspace Security Agreement

At the UNESCO Internet Governance Forum, French president Emmanuel Macron issued an initiative to set international Internet procedures for cybersecurity, including revealing tech vulnerabilities. Fifty nations, 90 nonprofits and universities and 130 private corporations and groups have endorsed the “Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace” — but not the United States. U.S. companies Google, Facebook, IBM, and HP signed on to the agreement, which outlines nine goals but doesn’t bind signatories legally to comply. Continue reading U.S. Does Not Sign France’s Cyberspace Security Agreement

Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

Walmart is partnering with MGM, which will create short-form original series for release in 2019, to help boost content on its ad-supported streaming service Vudu. The company also invested a reported $250 million in a joint venture with New York startup Eko, which produces so-called interactive stories in which viewers control the plots of commercials and TV episodes. This investment is believed to be the largest ever made in this particular storytelling niche that has interested creatives for years but never caught on. Continue reading Walmart Signs MGM Deal, Invests in Interactive Storytelling

New App for Manufacturing Workers Adds AI to Google Glass

At this week’s Google Cloud Next conference, Israeli company Plataine demonstrated a new app for Google Glass, pointing to artificial intelligence as the technology that will drive the success of the spectacles. The easy-to-use app, which is aimed at factory workers, understands and replies in spoken language. Plataine’s clients already include Airbus, Boeing and GE, and the company is now working on adding image recognition capabilities to the app, which was built using Google Cloud AI services and support from the tech giant. Continue reading New App for Manufacturing Workers Adds AI to Google Glass

Facebook Picks Up Redkix to Enhance Workplace Messaging

Facebook aims to beef up Workplace, its enterprise messaging competitor to Slack, with the acquisition of email startup Redkix’s talent and technology. Facebook plans to enhance the communication functionality of Workplace with the Redkix app that combines email, calendar and messaging features. Facebook did not reveal specifics regarding integration of the technology or the acquisition financials. The Redkix app is expected to shut down, while.the company’s employees — including CEO Oudi Antebi and CTO Roy Antebi — will join the Facebook Workplace team. Continue reading Facebook Picks Up Redkix to Enhance Workplace Messaging

Aftermath of EU’s Data Privacy Law is Far-Reaching, Profound

With the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation going into effect, technology companies are flooding email inboxes with updates to privacy policies. Though GDPR currently touts the strictest privacy regulations, Brazil, Japan and South Korea plan to enact their own strict laws. The EU is encouraging such regulations by tying them to some trade deals and promoting a global approach. The EU and its 28 member countries are also planning to enact stricter enforcement of antitrust laws and tougher tax policies for giant tech companies. Continue reading Aftermath of EU’s Data Privacy Law is Far-Reaching, Profound

Waymo, Intel Launch Public Push to Promote Driverless Cars

Alphabet’s Waymo, once a Google unit, has begun a campaign assisted by Intel to educate the public, even as it prepares to debut its first commercial ride-hailing service with Chrysler Pacifica minivans. Dubbed “Let’s Talk Self-Driving,” the campaign includes safety and disability advocacy groups, promotes its self-driving car pilot program in Arizona and seeks to educate the public about the technology behind autonomous vehicles. Intel will run an ad with LeBron James about self-driving cars. Continue reading Waymo, Intel Launch Public Push to Promote Driverless Cars

First Autonomous Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Iceland

In Reykjavik, Iceland, e-marketplace Aha is using Israel’s Flytrex for the first-ever fully autonomous drone delivery service. Aha, a digital hub for grocery stores, retailers and restaurants, has become one of Iceland’s leading e-commerce sites. Drone delivery is ideal for Reykjavik, which is situated on a large bay, meaning road transportation is circuitous. The Icelandic Transport Authority (ICETRA) conducted a regulatory process enabling Aha to cut a 20+ minute route to four minutes. Continue reading First Autonomous Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Iceland

Amazon Creates AI-Based Tools for Spotting Fashion Trends

Amazon is developing systems based on artificial intelligence algorithms that are aimed at spotting fashion trends and, eventually, shaping them. The effort could boost Amazon’s sales in clothing, perhaps even gaining a dominant position in fashion. The e-commerce giant isn’t alone in making recommendations based on products appearing in social media, and highlighting the resulting trends; Instagram and Pinterest also pinpoint trends and react quickly to them, as does startup subscription service Stitch Fix. Continue reading Amazon Creates AI-Based Tools for Spotting Fashion Trends

Intel Buys Mobileye, Marking Commitment to Driverless Cars

Intel has purchased Mobileye for $15.3 billion, a strong statement that it is pursuing the autonomous vehicle market sector. The Israeli-based Mobileye, which supplies its technologies to most major car manufacturers, makes cameras, sensors and software that alert vehicles to obstacles in their paths and has become a leader in digital mapping and sensors. Mobileye co-founder Amnon Shashua will head Intel’s self-driving car initiative as an Intel senior vice president, and his company will continue to be based in Israel. Continue reading Intel Buys Mobileye, Marking Commitment to Driverless Cars

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