Brands Adapt as Privacy Concerns Chill Advertising Business

From fast food to sporting goods, companies are harvesting and hoarding consumer data at a record pace in an attempt to maintain ad targeting at a time when government and Big Tech are erecting privacy firewalls. In the past, brands could rely on their platform partners to supply much of the data necessary for focused advertising. All that changed this year when Apple rolled out a new policy restricting how customers could be tracked on its devices. Google is said to be readying a similar revamp for Chrome. Meanwhile, California and Europe have passed new consumer privacy laws.  Continue reading Brands Adapt as Privacy Concerns Chill Advertising Business

Latest Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Google Play Store

Alphabet’s Google is being sued by a group of 36 states and the District of Columbia that claim the Big Tech company abuses its market dominance with the Google Play Store. Although it is the fourth such state or federal antitrust lawsuit filed against Google since October, this lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is the first to take aim directly at the tech giant’s app store. The other suits have focused on search and advertising. California, Utah, North Carolina, New York and Tennessee lead this suit. Continue reading Latest Multi-State Antitrust Lawsuit Targets Google Play Store

Federal Judge Blocks Florida Law That Restricts Social Media

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged lawmakers to pass Florida Senate Bill 7072 to make it easier for the state’s election commission to fine social media companies from $25,000 to $250,000 for banning political candidates during election season. The law passed, but hours before it was slated to take effect District Court Judge Robert Hinkle issued a preliminary injunction against it, noting that plaintiffs NetChoice and the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) will likely prevail in their effort to have the law declared unconstitutional. Continue reading Federal Judge Blocks Florida Law That Restricts Social Media

Phone Companies Adopt New Plan to Combat Robocallers

A dozen major phone companies — including mobile and broadband service providers such as AT&T, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — are teaming with 51 attorneys general from across the U.S. to introduce call-blocking tech and additional measures designed to help regulators take on scammers by preventing robocalls. According to Irvine, CA-based call-blocking service YouMail, robocalls reached 4.7 billion consumers in July alone. “Robocalls are a scourge — at best, annoying, at worst, scamming people out of their hard-earned money,” said North Carolina attorney general Josh Stein. Continue reading Phone Companies Adopt New Plan to Combat Robocallers

State Attorneys General Team Up to Investigate Tech Firms

After several states began pursuing an antitrust probe of the big technology companies, sources reported that representatives of several state attorneys general met with top Justice Department officials to air their concerns about the lack of competition in the technology sector. Now, according to sources, a bipartisan group of states plans to initiate a joint antitrust investigation, to be launched as soon as next month. Sources say the investigation will focus on whether dominant platforms stifle competition. Continue reading State Attorneys General Team Up to Investigate Tech Firms

IBM Is Buying Red Hat, Aims to Be Top Hybrid Cloud Provider

IBM and open-source software provider Red Hat announced that they have reached an acquisition agreement. Marking what will be the third-largest tech acquisition in U.S. history, IBM will purchase all issued and outstanding common shares of Red Hat in a deal valued at approximately $34 billion. Red Hat is the largest distributor of open-source operating system Linux. The deal reflects IBM’s ambitions for a piece of the fast-growing cloud computing market. “The acquisition of Red Hat is a game-changer,” said Ginni Rometty, IBM chair, president and chief exec. “It changes everything about the cloud market.” Continue reading IBM Is Buying Red Hat, Aims to Be Top Hybrid Cloud Provider

Microsoft Joins OIN, Open Sources its Entire Patent Portfolio

Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), the North Carolina-based open-source patent community that launched in 2005 with a mission to protect Linux and Linux-related software. In joining OIN, Microsoft is essentially granting an unrestricted, royalty-free license for its patents to the community’s 2,650 members. Microsoft’s corporate VP and chief IP counsel Erich Andersen said the company is pledging its “entire patent portfolio to the Linux system. That’s not just the Linux kernel, but other packages built on it.” Continue reading Microsoft Joins OIN, Open Sources its Entire Patent Portfolio

Appeals Court Sides with States vs. City Broadband Networks

In recent years, some cities have created broadband networks to provide Internet in communities — especially rural ones — where commercial services aren’t willing to set up shop. Those so-called “municipal broadband networks” just got slapped down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which upheld laws in North Carolina and Tennessee halting their growth. For now, the ruling only impacts networks in those two states, but other cities that have created municipal networks have taken note. Continue reading Appeals Court Sides with States vs. City Broadband Networks

Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, a federal appellate court, ruled that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped its authority in its effort to eliminate state laws preventing municipal broadband networks. The FCC wanted cities to be able to build their own broadband networks. Last year, Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee petitioned the FCC for permission to be able to build out their own networks, to increase competition in their municipalities despite state laws that prevent that. Continue reading Court Rules Against FCC Effort to Allow Municipal Broadband

Google to Explore Using AI Systems to Produce Art and Music

During the Moogfest music and technology fest in North Carolina, Google Brain researcher Douglas Eck outlined a new artificial intelligence research project at Google called Magenta. The group, expected to publicly launch next month, plans to use the company’s machine learning engine TensorFlow to explore new ways that computers and AI systems could be trained to create original art and media such as music or video. The initiative should prove challenging; so far, the most advanced AI systems have struggled to replicate styles of existing artists. Continue reading Google to Explore Using AI Systems to Produce Art and Music

Proposed Encryption Bill Faces Opposition from Silicon Valley

Washington and Silicon Valley are poised to clash again in the ongoing debate over encryption technology in relation to data privacy, law enforcement and national security. Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr (Republican, NC) and Dianne Feinstein (Democrat, CA), the panel’s vice chair, have introduced proposed legislation that would require companies to unlock encrypted devices when served a court order. Congress has been working on a balance between security and privacy regarding encryption, especially in the wake of the recent iPhone case. Continue reading Proposed Encryption Bill Faces Opposition from Silicon Valley

Comcast Planning New Gigabit Pro, Competitor to Google Fiber

Comcast is aiming to deliver fiber Internet connectivity that is twice as fast as Google’s offering. However, providing speeds up to 2 gigabits per second is estimated to run more than four times the $70 monthly cost of Google Fiber in Kansas City, according to a page on the Xfinity website. The page notes that service would be made available within one-third of a mile of the company’s existing fiber network, with plans to expand to a list of cities. Comcast earlier announced that the new service would be available in Atlanta by May, but it has been delayed.

Continue reading Comcast Planning New Gigabit Pro, Competitor to Google Fiber

Google Continues Expansion of Ultrafast Fiber Internet Service

Google announced yesterday that it plans to deliver its Fiber Internet service with speeds of one gigabit per second (100 times faster than average U.S. broadband) to many of the neighborhoods in 18 cities of metro areas including Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Nashville, Tennessee. As with its initial three areas, the company will offer its one gigabit Internet service for $70 per month, while an Internet and TV package will cost $120-$130, depending on the location. Continue reading Google Continues Expansion of Ultrafast Fiber Internet Service