Facebook Product Experimentation Team Open for Business

According to sources, Facebook’s new division dubbed the New Product Experimentation Team (or NPE Team) is looking into the possibility of creating apps and podcasts for travel, newsletters and workplace services. The NPE Team is tasked with “building the future of Facebook,” as chief executive Mark Zuckerberg hopes to keep the social media platform central to peoples’ daily lives. Other social networks such as Myspace and Friendster failed when they did not evolve beyond their initial offerings. Continue reading Facebook Product Experimentation Team Open for Business

Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Senate Commerce Committee chair Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) proposed draft legislation that he said will support tough protections for consumer data and address the concerns of Democrats. Last week, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the Committee’s top Democrat, proposed a data privacy law. The idea, Wicker continued, is to create a national privacy law that will override state privacy laws passed by California and other states. He and others believe state laws will create an unwieldy patchwork. Continue reading Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

ETC@USC Gears Up For January’s CES 2020 in Las Vegas

When CES 2020 opens on January 7 in Las Vegas, it is almost certain that entertainment will be taking center stage. Where emerging technologies have disrupted media and entertainment on a rollercoaster of change for the past few decades, today’s M&E companies are harnessing technologies, driving innovation, and emerging as disruptors themselves. The days of entertainment as a CES sideshow and a way to light up screens to sell TVs are over. Our team of reporters will be at CES again this year covering the latest news from keynote addresses, product demos and related events. Continue reading ETC@USC Gears Up For January’s CES 2020 in Las Vegas

Democrats Introduce New Online Privacy Rights Legislation

The Consumer Online Privacy Rights Act (COPRA) is a stalled bipartisan effort to protect consumers’ rights to privacy and prevent companies from hiding what they are doing with user data. To reinvigorate the debate, a group of Democrats, led by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), top Democrat in the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced their version of the federal privacy law. “[Privacy rights] should be like your Miranda rights — clear as a bell as to what they are and what constitutes a violation,” she said. Continue reading Democrats Introduce New Online Privacy Rights Legislation

Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract For The Web Is a Plan to Save It

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, co-founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, has a new “global action” plan to save the Internet from what he dubs a “digital dystopia.” His Contract for the Web would require governments, companies and individuals to pledge and act to protect the Internet from abuse and “ensure it benefits humanity.” “We need to turn the Web around now,” said Berners-Lee, who noted that, “people’s fear of bad things happening on the Internet is becoming, justifiably, greater and greater.” Continue reading Tim Berners-Lee’s Contract For The Web Is a Plan to Save It

Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls For National Data Regulations

Apple chief executive Tim Cook stated that, because tech companies haven’t self-policed their use of data, “it’s time to have rigorous regulation.” Although he also warned that regulators are too focused on breaking up the Big Tech companies, he admitted that “if one of the companies is found to be a monopoly, and regulators can prove they’ve abused that monopoly power, a breakup might be necessary.” Pew Research reported that about 60 percent of Americans believe their data is being collected on a daily basis. Continue reading Apple Chief Tim Cook Calls For National Data Regulations

YouTube’s New Video Policy Places the Onus on Creators

Beginning in January 2020, YouTube will begin enforcement of a new policy that blocks data collection for content aimed at children. The result for content creators will be lower ad revenue; viewers will no longer see popular features such as comments and end screens. Google confirmed the new policy is the result of a $170 million settlement in September that YouTube reached with the Federal Trade Commission for allegedly violating children’s privacy rights under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Continue reading YouTube’s New Video Policy Places the Onus on Creators

Google Culls Patient Data to Build Healthcare Search Tools

Google and Ascension, the second-largest health system in the U.S., have been collecting the personal health data of tens of millions of people in 21 states. Project Nightingale, the tech giant’s effort to enter healthcare, has culled lab results, diagnoses and hospitalization records, which include patient names and dates of birth. No doctor or patient has been notified, which has sparked a federal inquiry, but some experts say the initiative is permissible since Google is developing software to improve the healthcare system. Google explained that its partnership with Ascension is not a secret and was first announced in July during a Q2 earnings call. Continue reading Google Culls Patient Data to Build Healthcare Search Tools

5G Offers Wireless Carriers More Security, Privacy Options

One of the benefits of 5G, expected to be 100 times faster than 4G networks, is the improved protection of sensitive data. Much of the conversation about 5G networks has focused on the security issues related to Chinese vendors of gear used in 5G networks. But Verizon chief information officer Chandra McMahon noted that “security is designed into 5G and there will be additional [security] technical features.” Another advantage is that 5G providers will rely on the cloud, providing more capacity and flexibility. Continue reading 5G Offers Wireless Carriers More Security, Privacy Options

In U.S. and Europe, Some Oppose the Breakup of Big Tech

Many public figures have called for the breakup of leading technology companies, but the European Commission’s head of competition Margrethe Vestager is not one of them. She stated that breaking up such companies should be a remedy if it’s “the only solution to [their] illegal behavior.” “We don’t have that kind of case now,” she said, although she didn’t exclude a future possibility. In the U.S., conservatives and libertarians, who often oppose antitrust measures, are also pushing back against the move to break up Big Tech. Continue reading In U.S. and Europe, Some Oppose the Breakup of Big Tech

Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Online Privacy Legislation

Currently, the Federal Trade Commission is the government agency responsible for monitoring privacy violations. But, in response to rising calls to regulate big tech companies, two legislators — Anna Eshoo (D-California) and Zoe Lofgren (D-California) — have sponsored the Online Privacy Act. Among its provisions, the Act would create the Digital Privacy Agency (DPA) to enforce privacy legislation, backed up by 1,600 officials. The size would make it on a par with the Federal Communications Commission. Continue reading Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Online Privacy Legislation

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

Developers Accessed Private Data From Facebook Groups

Facebook is dealing with yet another privacy situation. Since April of last year, the company has been reviewing how individuals use the network to share data with third parties. In the process, Facebook opted to remove or restrict some of its developer APIs, including the Groups API. These changes were intended to improve the interface between Facebook and any apps used to integrate with groups. However, the ongoing review discovered that about 100 third-party app developers had access to the personal data of members of several groups, and “at least 11 partners accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days,” according to Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, head of platform partnerships for Facebook. Continue reading Developers Accessed Private Data From Facebook Groups

Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

Google is buying wearable fitness-tracking company Fitbit for $2.1 billion. But the deal already faces antitrust scrutiny as well as concern about the massive amount of personal private health data that Google will gain with the purchase. Google stated — and Fitbit chief executive James Park reiterated — that health data would not be used for Google’s advertising business, but that might not be enough for regulators. The 12-year old Fitbit pioneered wearables before the advent of smartwatches. Continue reading Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

For search engines such as Alphabet’s Google, their algorithms are the secret sauce that they claim gives the best results. Not all consumers agree with that, arguing that these algorithms filter their searches in a way that is tantamount to censorship. Now, a bipartisan group of legislators proposed the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, a law that would require search engines and platforms to provide an optional unfiltered search and force them to disclose the algorithms they use to rank searches. Continue reading Senate Bill Calls For Search Engines to Divulge Algorithms

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