Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Offer Business-Focused Services

Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $22 billion in 2014 but has not yet earned revenue from it. The encrypted messaging service, free to its 2+ billion global users, now has a plan to monetize services. Rather than storing and handling customer data on their own, businesses will soon be able to do so via Facebook’s servers. In addition to hosting, businesses will also be offered options to market products through WhatsApp catalogs and Facebook shops and checkout carts, all for small fees. Continue reading Facebook’s WhatsApp Will Offer Business-Focused Services

IBM Advocates for Confidential Computing Security Standard

IBM and others are advocating the adoption of Confidential Computing, a standard that they state will provide deeper levels of security and privacy in the cloud. With encryption that can only be unlocked by keys held by the client, Confidential Computing guarantees that the company hosting data and applications can’t access the underlying data, regardless of whether it is stored in a database or passing through an application. That prevents hackers from accessing encrypted data when it moves to the application layer. Continue reading IBM Advocates for Confidential Computing Security Standard

New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

On the heels of a cyberattack on Twitter this summer, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) called for a dedicated regulator to oversee big social media platforms. In a 37-page report, the department described the July 15 attack in which accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others were hacked and used to promote a cryptocurrency scam. Three people have since been charged with posing as employees to launch that attack, which relied on relatively simple tactics. Continue reading New York State Calls for a Dedicated Social Media Regulator

Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

At its annual Zoomtopia event, Zoom announced the debut of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for free accounts in four stages. The first phase, which launches next week, will be a 30-day technical preview to gather feedback. Chief executive Eric Yuan stated the company will improve its integration of “office chatroom products” from Slack Technologies and Microsoft and also introduced its Zapps platform that allows users to bring third-party apps into video calls and a new integrated platform for classes and events. Continue reading Zoom Debuts End-to-End Encryption for Free User Accounts

Government Report Urges Breakup of Big Tech Monopolies

After a 16-month investigation, the House Judiciary Committee presented a 449-page report stating that Big Tech companies Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google abused their monopoly positions and calling for reform of the antitrust laws. Lawmakers stated the companies had evolved from startups to “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons” and stated their breakup would restore competition. This marks the biggest antitrust effort since the government sued Microsoft in the 1990s. Continue reading Government Report Urges Breakup of Big Tech Monopolies

Facebook Opposes Apple Plan to Limit Targeted Advertising

Apple plans to limit the ability of Facebook and other companies to target ads via its identifier for advertisers (IDFA) by giving iPhone users the option to block tracking when opening an app. Meant to protect users’ privacy, the change was originally slated to be part of iOS 14, introduced last month. But Apple postponed the change until 2021 “to give developers time to make necessary changes.” In response, Facebook chief revenue officer David Fischer stated that the change will “hurt developers and businesses the most.” Continue reading Facebook Opposes Apple Plan to Limit Targeted Advertising

Smaller Rivals Lose Google Search Engine Auction in the EU

To comply with a 2018 EU antitrust decision, Google now provides Android OS users in Europe a “choice” screen that lists competing search engines to pick as the device’s default. The problem is that numerous smaller search engines that have popular followings in Europe didn’t win spots in large European countries in the latest auction and therefore don’t appear on that list of choices. DuckDuckGo, for example, a U.S.-based search engine that doesn’t collect personal data, only won the auction in four small European countries. Continue reading Smaller Rivals Lose Google Search Engine Auction in the EU

Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

Amazon announced new smart home devices during its fall hardware event last week, including an expanded Fire Stick collection, redesigned Echo speaker lineup, and Ring in-home drone. Amazon is also launching its Luna cloud gaming service, and introducing Car Cam and Car Alarm to Ring’s lineup. Alexa’s capabilities have expanded, from being able to read books to children to a new security feature, Guard Plus, that can detect sounds around a user’s house and trigger dog-barking to scare off intruders. In times of COVID-19, said Amazon head of devices and services Dave Limp, “our homes have become our offices, our classrooms, movie theaters and more.” Continue reading Amazon Unveils Devices for Gaming, Autos and Smart Home

More Details on Oracle’s Bid to Be TikTok’s Trusted Partner

Although Microsoft and Walmart’s joint bid was considered the leader to become the “trusted partner” of the U.S. operations of ByteDance’s social video app TikTok, cloud and platform services company Oracle has come out on top. The structure of the Oracle deal is still unknown, but one source said it will not be an “outright sale.” The White House and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) still have to approve the proposal. President Trump stated he would ban TikTok if it isn’t sold by September 20. TikTok has about 100 million monthly users in the U.S. Continue reading More Details on Oracle’s Bid to Be TikTok’s Trusted Partner

Ireland Orders Facebook to Stop Moving EU Data to the U.S.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission sent Facebook a preliminary order to cease data transfers of its European Union users to the U.S., a move confirmed by Facebook vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg. In doing so, EU regulators have taken a major step to enact a July ruling forbidding such transfers. Facebook would have to partition the data it collects from European users or stop serving them altogether. Otherwise, Ireland’s commission can fine Facebook up to $2.8 billion, 4 percent of its annual revenue. Continue reading Ireland Orders Facebook to Stop Moving EU Data to the U.S.

China Presents Global Security Initiative to Counter U.S. Plan

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi debuted an initiative to create standards for global data security, one month after the U.S. introduced the “Clean Network” program to protect data from “malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party.” U.S.-China relations have been deteriorating over trade issues and U.S. claims that Chinese technology threatens U.S. national security. Wang stated that “a certain country” is “bent on unilateral acts” and that “such blatant acts of bullying must be opposed and rejected.” Continue reading China Presents Global Security Initiative to Counter U.S. Plan

Apple Privacy Controls Are Likely to Impact Digital Publishers

Apple is upgrading its operating system with privacy controls that reportedly have some advertisers worried. Set to debut in the fall, Apple’s iOS 14 will require apps to ask its users if they want their Internet activity tracked. Many digital publishers are concerned that most users will opt out, which would prevent them from personalizing ads and thus result in a slump in revenue. Facebook has spoken out, pointing out that it will no longer be able to collect a users’ advertising identifiers (IDFA) without their permission. Continue reading Apple Privacy Controls Are Likely to Impact Digital Publishers

Clearview AI Defends Facial Recognition App as Free Speech

Clearview AI sells access to billions of photos it scraped from the Internet to law enforcement agencies and corporations. A client can upload a photo or video image and the Clearview AI app creates a “faceprint” and finds photos of the person in its database. In response, California, Illinois, New York and Virginia filed lawsuits against the company, stating that collection of peoples’ photos without their consent is a violation of privacy laws. In the U.K., law enforcement lost a challenge to facial recognition laws. Continue reading Clearview AI Defends Facial Recognition App as Free Speech

Instagram Reels, Rival to TikTok, Launches in 50+ Countries

Facebook’s Instagram debuted Reels, its short-video feature designed to compete with Chinese app TikTok. Instagram previously aped Snapchat’s disappearing photos with its own Instagram Stories, which has since become hugely popular. TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer called out Reels as a “copycat product,” but Instagram director of product Robby Stein said that Instagram plans to distinguish Reels from the competition by “adapting to users.” The launch takes place amid tumult over TikTok’s future in the U.S. Continue reading Instagram Reels, Rival to TikTok, Launches in 50+ Countries

FTC to Fine Twitter for Using Consumer Data for Targeted Ads

Twitter revealed that the Federal Trade Commission may hit it with a fine up to $250 million for using consumers’ email addresses and phone numbers — collected for “safety and security” purposes — to target ads, something it said it did “inadvertently” between 2013 and 2019. This is a violation of its 2011 agreement with the FTC, in which Twitter agreed that it would no longer mislead consumers by not disclosing other potential uses. Twitter has already received a draft complaint from the FTC. Continue reading FTC to Fine Twitter for Using Consumer Data for Targeted Ads

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