CES: Microsoft Keynote on Promises, Responsibility of Tech

Microsoft president Brad Smith’s CES keynote balanced Microsoft’s global footprint with the opportunities, challenges and responsibilities of technology, government and people. Smith illustrated these themes with sections on massive data, environmental impact, cybersecurity, privacy, artificial intelligence, regulation, and a call for a 9/11-type commission to protect the future by understanding the threats of the present. Smith wrapped his remarks with the words of John F. Kennedy from 1962 when he said, “Technology has no conscience of its own. Whether it becomes a force for good or ill depends on man.” Continue reading CES: Microsoft Keynote on Promises, Responsibility of Tech

CES: Panel Examines Issues of Gender and Racial Bias in AI

During a CES 2021 panel moderated by The Female Quotient chief executive Shelley Zalis, AI industry executives probed issues related to gender and racial bias in artificial intelligence. Google head of product inclusion Annie Jean-Baptiste, SureStart founder and chief executive Dr. Taniya Mishra and ResMed senior director of health economics and outcomes research Kimberly Sterling described the parameters of such bias. At Google, Jean-Baptiste noted that, “the most important thing we need to remember is that inclusion inputs lead to inclusion outputs.” Continue reading CES: Panel Examines Issues of Gender and Racial Bias in AI

SEC, State Attorneys Investigate Zoom Over China Contacts

After several months of investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and two U.S. Attorneys’ offices, Zoom Video Communications revealed that it has provided investigators with information regarding its interactions with China and other governments in addition to security and user privacy issues. A former employee based in China, Xinjiang Jin (also known as Julien Jin) has been charged by the Department of Justice for helping the Chinese government halt a remote commemoration of the Tiananmen Square uprising. Continue reading SEC, State Attorneys Investigate Zoom Over China Contacts

Tension Erupts Between Apple, Facebook Over Targeted Ads

Facebook took the offense against Apple for its new policies limiting personalized ads on its products, stating that this would disproportionately hurt small businesses that rely on such ads. It pointed to internal research that found small businesses earned 60 percent less without access to targeted advertising. Facebook vice president for ads and business products Dan Levy called Apple’s move anticompetitive, benefitting the company’s own profits at the expense of not just small businesses but also app developers. Continue reading Tension Erupts Between Apple, Facebook Over Targeted Ads

ETC Executive Coffee: USC Students Meet with Dolby Execs

In the final Fall 2020 installment of ETC@USC’s Executive Coffee with… series on November 12, Dolby Laboratories proposed two discussion topics: 1) Virtual and augmented reality; what are they good for, and what concerns you about them? And 2) Privacy, security and controlling your own data. Richard Doherty, senior director of technology strategy, Office of the CTO at Dolby Labs led a group of 14 Dolby employees in a discussion with seven USC students studying cinema, engineering, music, communication and business. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: USC Students Meet with Dolby Execs

EU Proposes Two New Laws in Its Effort to Regulate Big Tech

The European Union’s executive branch issued drafts of two bills that would hike fines for illegal content and anticompetitive behavior up to 6 percent or 10 percent of annual worldwide revenue and even break up Big Tech firms to stop “competitive abuses.” Although the bills don’t mention any firms by name, they could be applied to Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The UK, which is no longer part of the EU, has similar legislation in the works that would fine abusers up to 10 percent of annual global revenue. Continue reading EU Proposes Two New Laws in Its Effort to Regulate Big Tech

Ireland Fines Twitter for Privacy Breach in a First for U.S. Tech

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission fined Twitter €450,000 (about $546,000) for failing to notify the regulator or document a data breach within 72 hours. The breach, revealed in January 2019, exposed some Android users’ private tweets for over four years. Twitter chief privacy officer Damien Kieran said the company takes responsibility … and remains “fully committed to protecting the privacy and data of [its] customers.” This is the first time a U.S. tech company has been served with a GDPR fine in a cross-border case. Continue reading Ireland Fines Twitter for Privacy Breach in a First for U.S. Tech

Apple’s Mandatory Privacy Labels Launch on All iOS Platforms

Apple launched mandatory labels that provide easy-to-grasp information of the privacy policies for apps in the Mac and iOS App stores. The mandatory policy applies only to new apps or updates of existing ones. Although countries such as Finland, Singapore and the UK have adopted such labels, Apple appears to be the first global Big Tech company to “embrace and promote” the idea. The labels list three items: Data Used to Track You, Data Linked to You and Data Not Linked to You, with details under each. Continue reading Apple’s Mandatory Privacy Labels Launch on All iOS Platforms

Lawsuits Against Facebook Also Target Data Sharing via APIs

This week, the Federal Trade Commission and 46 state attorneys general filed lawsuits against Facebook for anticompetitive practices. But it is also looking at how Facebook leveraged user data to both lure and control third party developers, relying heavily on data sharing via application programming interfaces (APIs). MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy director Sinan Aral noted that the upcoming cases could set a precedent for any platform that shares data via an API and has conditions on that data sharing.

Continue reading Lawsuits Against Facebook Also Target Data Sharing via APIs

Google Intros New Security Interface Version with Chrome 88

When Google’s next version of Chrome — Chrome 88 — debuts in mid-January, it will include the third version of Manifest, the company’s programming interface for privacy and security. The new version will limit some abilities of extensions used to customize the Chrome browser, and some developers are worried that it will hobble ad blockers. In fact, Manifest V3 limits the “rules” that extensions can be applied to a web page as it loads. Manifest V2 will continue to work for at least one year. Continue reading Google Intros New Security Interface Version with Chrome 88

ETC Executive Coffee: Equinix Ponders Consequences of AI

Equinix executives led the fifth installment of ETC@USC’s Executive Coffee with… series. “AI development and ethics, what are the intended and unintended consequences of the rollout?” was the topic of the October 22 discussion. Kaladhar Voruganti, VP of technology innovation and senior fellow, and Doron Hendel, senior manager of global business development, ecosystem development, partnerships and alliances at Equinix led the discussion. Eleven graduate and undergraduate USC students, mostly computer science and data science majors, participated. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Equinix Ponders Consequences of AI

Apple and Google to Broaden and Clarify Key Privacy Policies

Google stated that, on January 18, a day before the release of Chrome 88, it will require that every extension publicly display its privacy policies and developers will be limited with what they can do with the collected data. Meanwhile, Apple stated that its mandatory app privacy “nutrition labels” program applies to its own apps as well as those from third-party developers. Apple and Google also banned data broker X-Mode Social from collecting location information from mobile devices using their operating systems. Continue reading Apple and Google to Broaden and Clarify Key Privacy Policies

Amazon Sidewalk Rolls Out with Echo, Ring Software Updates

Amazon is slowly rolling out Amazon Sidewalk, first revealed in 2019 as an effort to create smart neighborhoods via wireless Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and 900MHz radio signals that can expand the connectivity reach to up to half a mile. Using a small amount of the home’s Wi-Fi bandwidth, Amazon Sidewalk can connect the user with any compatible device, such as garage door openers or outdoor lights, without any additional hardware. Amazon has unveiled it first as a free software update to Echo speakers and Ring cameras. Continue reading Amazon Sidewalk Rolls Out with Echo, Ring Software Updates

Google Launches New Google Pay, Readies Banking Service

Google is relaunching its Google Pay digital wallet and online payment system for Android and iOS with a raft of new features including the ability to connect to the user’s bank account for a searchable overview of finances. The company also plans to partner with banks in 2021 to offer its Plex, an online checking and savings account within the app. This more fully-featured Google Pay can now serve as a direct competitor to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, PayPal, Venmo and other apps and services, as well as an online bank such as Ally. Continue reading Google Launches New Google Pay, Readies Banking Service

Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

Snap is introducing a video-sharing feature called Spotlight designed to help its Snapchat app better compete with TikTok and Instagram Reels. Spotlight allows the creation of content that could go viral, a marked difference from its long-time focus on communication between friends and curated posts. Snap will spend $1+ million a day to reward those who post the best content and highlight top snaps to its 249+ million daily users in a feed they can swipe or tap. With Spotlight, Snap hopes customers increase the time they spend on the app. It also opens the door to advertising. Continue reading Snap’s New Spotlight Feature Aims to Encourage Viral Videos

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