Massachusetts Finds Compromise in Use of Facial Recognition

Oakland, Portland, San Francisco and Minneapolis have banned police use of facial recognition, mainly due to its inherent racial bias. Massachusetts is now the first U.S. state to legislate its use. The law, which goes into effect in July, has found a middle ground, both allowing law enforcement to use the facial recognition technology to catch criminals and building in protections intended to prevent false arrests. With the new law, police must get a judge’s permission to run a facial recognition search. Continue reading Massachusetts Finds Compromise in Use of Facial Recognition

FAA Greenlights First Automated Commercial Drone Service

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the first fully automated commercial drone flights, giving permission to Marlborough, Massachusetts-based American Robotics. The FAA’s decision limits automated drone operation to rural areas and altitudes below 400 feet. In Israel this June, Pizza Hut will test delivering pies via drones to makeshift “government-approved landing zones,” such as parking lots. From there, delivery drivers will take the pizzas the last mile to customers’ homes. Continue reading FAA Greenlights First Automated Commercial Drone Service

Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

DoorDash, Lyft and Uber executives had already pledged $90 million to back California Proposition 22, exempting them from a new state labor law requiring gig workers to be reclassified as employees. But, said sources, political strategists told them they needed to spend even more to have a chance of passing the measure. Now, as we get closer to the November 3 election, backers have spent almost $200 million. A UC Berkeley poll found only 39 percent of likely voters support the measure and 36 percent are opposed. Continue reading Gig Economy Companies Fight for California’s Proposition 22

Amazon Shipping Recovers, States Question Worker Health

According to Amazon, the crush in deliveries sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is slowing down and it is again allowing suppliers to send an unlimited amount of inventory to its warehouses. Consumers can once again expect to see Amazon’s typical one- and two-day deliveries return in the next few weeks. Once it fell behind, Amazon had to hire 175,000 people to meet demand. As to the number of its own workers struck down by COVID-19, Amazon declines to reveal figures, saying they are “no worse” than the rest of the country. Continue reading Amazon Shipping Recovers, States Question Worker Health

As Sales Shift to E-Commerce, Bose Shutters Retail Stores

Bose, which opened its first retail store in 1993, will close its remaining 119 retail stores in Australia, Europe, Japan and North America. The company didn’t reveal how many jobs will be lost due to the closures, but it is believed to be in the hundreds. Bose stated that the move is due to “the dramatic shift to online shopping in specific markets,” and that “approximately 130 stores located in Greater China and the United Arab Emirates; and additional stores in India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea” will remain open. Continue reading As Sales Shift to E-Commerce, Bose Shutters Retail Stores

CES 2020: Panasonic Reveals HDR-Capable VR Glasses

Panasonic demonstrated its prototype of a stylish, steampunk-looking set of VR goggles at CES this week. The company claims these are the first such ultra-high definition VR eyeglasses to offer support for HDR video content. The company envisions a number of applications for the glasses, including new VR experiences such as sports viewing and virtual travel experiences. Panasonic and its partner on the goggles, Massachusetts-based Kopin Corporation, expect to offer a commercial version featuring a compact and lightweight body sometime next year in anticipation of the many applications that will be enabled by 5G services. Continue reading CES 2020: Panasonic Reveals HDR-Capable VR Glasses

Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

The use of biometrics — and the resulting data — are growing exponentially. Pro-consumer website Comparitech analyzed 50 different countries to create a more detailed picture of where and why biometrics are collected and how the data is being stored. Although the U.S. is one of the countries whose biometric collection is “extensive and invasive,” in related news, the Department of Homeland Security mothballed a plan to require facial recognition screening for every person before leaving or entering the country. Continue reading Comparison of Biometric Data Use, Storage in 50 Countries

California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

California attorney general Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court to obtain Facebook documents and email correspondence between chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. Becerra revealed that, over an 18-month period, Facebook has “ignored or resisted” his dozens of requests for these documents. Meanwhile, internal Facebook documents recently made public revealed the company was more interested in defeating rivals than improving customer privacy. Continue reading California Attorney General Sues Facebook For Documents

Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey revealed yesterday that the social platform would ban all political advertisements. Dorsey believes such content has “significant ramifications that today’s democratic infrastructure may not be prepared to handle,” and that manipulated videos and the spread of misinformation are creating challenges at an “overwhelming scale.” The move adds another layer to the debate over online advertising, social media and free speech — especially in the political arena — and increases the pressure on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider his laissez-faire approach. Continue reading Jack Dorsey Announces Twitter’s Plan to Ban Political Ads

Facebook Freezes 69,000 Apps for Collecting Personal Data

Last Friday, Facebook suspended 69,000 apps, stating that they had harvested users’ personal data. The investigation began in March 2018, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, leading to the suspensions of those apps, associated with 400 developers. The Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey investigated and found that 10,000 of the 69,000 apps were found to have “potentially misappropriated” personal data, often as a way to add new users. The Justice Department and the FBI are still investigating Cambridge Analytica. Continue reading Facebook Freezes 69,000 Apps for Collecting Personal Data

Elizabeth Warren Looks to Break Up Major Tech Companies

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) aims to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the 2020 U.S. presidential election, but she just alienated Silicon Valley when she proposed to break up tech companies that generate more than $25 billion in online revenue. Her rationale is that companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google have become too big and too powerful, squashing small businesses and innovation, and more focused on their financial well-being than “the broader interests of the American people.” Continue reading Elizabeth Warren Looks to Break Up Major Tech Companies

Elizabeth Warren Introducing Plan to Break Up Tech Giants

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is proposing “a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s largest tech companies, including Amazon, Google and Facebook,” according to The New York Times. “The proposal … calls for the appointment of regulators who would ‘unwind tech mergers that illegally undermine competition,’ as well as legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.” The plan would also call for the rollback of tech acquisitions, “including Facebook’s deals for WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon’s addition of Whole Foods, and Google’s purchase of Waze.” Continue reading Elizabeth Warren Introducing Plan to Break Up Tech Giants

Senators Ask FTC to Examine Kids Apps’ Privacy Violations

Two Democratic senators — Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — sent a letter on Wednesday to the Federal Trade Commission asking for an investigation into whether the thousands of “child-friendly” apps in the market are actually collecting children’s personal information. To do so would violate a federal law protecting children’s online privacy, since it requires sites and apps targeting persons under 13 years old to obtain verifiable parental permission before collecting data. Continue reading Senators Ask FTC to Examine Kids Apps’ Privacy Violations

Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Senators Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have written a letter to Federal Trade Commission chair Joseph Simons requesting that his agency investigate the business practices of smart TV manufacturers. The two senators are concerned about “consumer privacy issues raised by the proliferation of smart TV technology,” since some companies are able to identify what people are watching and use that data to feed ads to other device’s in the consumer’s home. Continue reading Senators Request Investigation of Smart TV Privacy Practices

Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

The Senate voted 52-47 yesterday to block the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality rules. Three Republicans and all members of the Democratic caucus voted in favor of the resolution; however, a tougher battle is expected in the House, where Republicans have a 236-193 majority. The effort to repeal Obama-era rules last year was led by FCC chair Ajit Pai. The net neutrality rules are designed to guarantee unobstructed access to the Internet by preventing broadband providers from blocking access or throttling speeds based on fees. Opponents claim the rules stifle competition and innovation.  Continue reading Senate Votes to Block the Repeal of FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules

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