Government Establishes Task Force to Promote AI Innovation

The Biden administration has formed the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force with plans to “develop a roadmap to democratize access to research tools that will promote AI innovation and fuel economic prosperity.” The task force, composed of 12 academic, government and industrial members led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), will establish the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR). The task force is charged with drafting a strategy to create an AI research system about Americans and finding enough computing power to analyze the data.  Continue reading Government Establishes Task Force to Promote AI Innovation

Biden Introduces Broader Review of Foreign-Controlled Apps

President Biden revoked former President Trump’s executive order banning social-networking services TikTok and WeChat — developed by Chinese companies ByteDance and Tencent Holdings, respectively — but didn’t let Chinese companies off the hook. Instead, he replaced the previous order with another that establishes a broader review of the potential security risks found in numerous foreign-controlled apps. Biden officials said the new order would create “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate those risks. Trump’s executive order was immediately challenged in court, and Biden’s move, said analysts, is intended to withstand such a test. Continue reading Biden Introduces Broader Review of Foreign-Controlled Apps

Apple Moves to Block IP Addresses from Advertising Trackers

At its WWDC21 developers’ conference this week, Apple revealed tweaks to consumer privacy rules that will limit advertisers’ ability to track users’ activity and gain information from data brokers. These changes will impact many Apple devices, not just iOS 15. Apple earlier curbed in-app tracking, another move that concerned advertisers. Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said the changes would block IP addresses from being transmitted to websites visited in Apple’s Safari browser. Continue reading Apple Moves to Block IP Addresses from Advertising Trackers

Apple Unveils New OS, Privacy Updates and More at WWDC

Apple’s WWDC annual week-long developer conference kicked off with a first peak at iOS 15 enhancements. That includes the next version of FaceTime, which will more closely resemble Zoom, including a grid view for group calls and spatial audio and voice isolation features. The company teased new software updates for AirPods Pro and AirPods, and a multitasking menu for iPadOS 15, coming this fall. The upcoming watchOS 8 will boost fitness, sleep and meditation features. Among numerous other announcements, the company showed data privacy improvements and revealed that HomeKit will now support Siri. Continue reading Apple Unveils New OS, Privacy Updates and More at WWDC

Google Changes Ad System to Settle with French Regulators

Google and the French Competition Authority reached an agreement whereby the American tech giant will pay a $268 million (220 € million) fine and change some “unfair” online advertising practices. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire noted the country’s success in “apply[ing] our competition rules to the digital giants who operate in our country.” Google will also stop giving its services preferential treatment and make its advertising system easier to work with other services. Google parent company Alphabet made $41 billion last year. Continue reading Google Changes Ad System to Settle with French Regulators

MoviePass Settles with FTC Over Fraud, Data Security Issues

MoviePass, which shut its doors in January 2019, just settled with the Federal Trade Commission over allegations that it prevented customers from using the service as advertised and did not protect their data privacy. The company offered users one movie ticket per day for any movie at any theater for $9.95 a month but soon had to raise subscription fees and limit movie tickets. The FTC accused the company of deceptively marketing its services, invalidating customer passwords to prevent users from obtaining tickets, and failing to secure user data. Continue reading MoviePass Settles with FTC Over Fraud, Data Security Issues

Amazon Sidewalk Will Launch Mesh Networks for IoT Devices

On June 8, Amazon will introduce its new Amazon Sidewalk program that allows some small smart devices — Ring Floodlight and Spotlight cameras, for example, and Echo Dot smart speakers and Echo Show smart displays — to share low-bandwidth home Wi-Fi networks among neighboring Amazon customers. On June 14, the network will expand to include third-party product Tile, connected to keys. All devices will become part of Amazon Sidewalk by default. The idea is that if one network drops out, the device can move to another nearby signal.

Continue reading Amazon Sidewalk Will Launch Mesh Networks for IoT Devices

Google to Allow Android 12 Users to Opt-Out of App Tracking

Google will reportedly soon let Android users opt out of being tracked by apps, a move recently taken by Apple. Industry watchers were tipped off by a Google support page detailing the new option and an email to developers announcing a Google Play app store policy change to be introduced later this year. The feature will turn off sharing for the advertising ID, which Android users can already manually reset, and also allow users to opt out of any alternative device identifiers used to track activity across apps. The news leaked several days prior to Apple’s June 7 WWDC21 event. Continue reading Google to Allow Android 12 Users to Opt-Out of App Tracking

European Union Plans Framework for Secure Digital Identities

The European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, announced a proposal yesterday to create a European Digital Identity system that would “be available to all EU citizens, residents and businesses in the EU.” The goal is to enable citizens who are interested “to prove their identity and share electronic documents from their European Digital Identity wallets with the click of a button on their phone.” In addition, these citizens would “be able to access online services with their national digital identification,” that would be recognized throughout European Union’s Member States. Continue reading European Union Plans Framework for Secure Digital Identities

EU Nations and UK Accuse Clearview AI of Privacy Violations

Clearview AI, the facial recognition tool based on a database of faces scraped from Facebook and elsewhere, is facing several legal complaints from privacy watchdogs in Austria, France, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom. The complaints, originally filed by privacy advocates, state that Clearview AI violates privacy protections established under the GDPR data privacy law and its UK equivalent. The New York City-based company claims to have helped thousands of U.S. law enforcement agencies arrest criminals and predators. Continue reading EU Nations and UK Accuse Clearview AI of Privacy Violations

Apple Chief Exec Tim Cook Testifies in Trial with Epic Games

“Fortnite” creator Epic Games sued Apple over its 30 percent commission on all App Store transactions. That case is now in court, and Apple chief executive Tim Cook took the stand to defend his company against accusations of monopolistic behavior. On the sidelines are other companies with the same grievance and the European Union, which also charged Apple with violating antitrust rules with the App Store. In an hour of testimony, Cook stated that commissions from app developers help the company create better App Store security. Continue reading Apple Chief Exec Tim Cook Testifies in Trial with Epic Games

Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Pinterest allows users to “pin” photos and videos onto boards, helping them to “discover ideas through images,” especially those pinned by people or companies that they follow. It uses neural networks, which make millions of calculations quickly, to surface and suggest the images that people will like. According to Pinterest senior vice president of engineering Jeremy King, this tool is responsible for “nearly 100 percent” of the company’s growth. In Q1, Pinterest’s AI-powered formula drew in almost 480 million people. Continue reading Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Google I/O: Android 12, Remote Working Tools, Wear Update

At this week’s Google I/O developer conference, the company unveiled its Android 12 mobile operating system with numerous visual changes and new privacy features. The company also showcased Project Starline, a prototype virtual meeting booth that could replace Google Meet. In addition, Google is tweaking its smartwatch Wear OS and has improved Photos’ discovery and Chrome’s built-in password manager. More remote working tools and new natural language skills were debuted. Google also tweaked Maps and shopping tools. Continue reading Google I/O: Android 12, Remote Working Tools, Wear Update

ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon Execs Discuss Life After Zoom

During ETC@USC’s second Executive Coffee with… installment of the Spring 2021 series, Sanyogita Shamsunder, VP of product strategy, innovation and operations at Verizon engaged a group of eight USC students from cinema, engineering and business in a one-hour discussion of the question: “What comes after Zoom and entertainment apps?” Shamsunder, whose team is focused on new technology innovation and bringing new products and experiences to consumer and enterprise customers, was joined by team members Andrew Herson, who is focused on B2B2C applications, and Zachary Drossman, who heads concept development at Verizon’s 5G Labs. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Verizon Execs Discuss Life After Zoom

Facebook Is Rebuffed in Bid to Block Irish High Court Ruling

Ireland’s High Court dismissed Facebook’s procedural efforts to block a draft decision of the country’s Data Protection Commission to suspend its data flow between the European Union and the United States. The European Union decision was intended to protect the privacy of European users, whose data was being sent to U.S. computer servers, and Facebook contended that the Data Protection Commission, which issued its preliminary decision in August, gave it too little time to respond. The court originally stayed the decision in September. Continue reading Facebook Is Rebuffed in Bid to Block Irish High Court Ruling

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