Technology Chief Executives Lobby for Federal Privacy Law

Congress just received an open letter on behalf of the Business Roundtable, an association comprised of the chief executives of the U.S.’s biggest companies. Signed by 51 tech company executives, the letter asks legislators to create a federal law on data privacy, thus avoiding the patchwork-quilt of state laws now being passed. Amazon, AT&T, Dell, IBM, Qualcomm, SAP, Salesforce, Visa, Mastercard, JPMorgan Chase, State Farm and Walmart are just some of the companies whose chief executives signed the letter. Continue reading Technology Chief Executives Lobby for Federal Privacy Law

Companies Call on U.S. Government to Up Its AI Investment

The U.S. federal government has come up with $973.5 million for multiple agencies that have requested funding for non-defense-related artificial intelligence pursuits. (Spending on AI for national defense is classified.) This is the first time the government has done so, but numerous industry executives are already saying that it’s not enough to “maintain a competitive edge.” The Trump administration stated that the figures they are putting forward are more transparent than those from China, which aims to dominate AI by 2030. Continue reading Companies Call on U.S. Government to Up Its AI Investment

Companies Prep for Brunt of California Consumer Privacy Act

Beginning January 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will allow that state’s residents to find out exactly what personal data companies hold about them — and ask them to delete such information. Consumers will also have the option of opting out of allowing their personal information to be sold. The legislation — which was designed to make Amazon, Facebook, Google and others more transparent — will impact a wide range of companies, large and small, including airlines, banks, retailers and restaurants. Continue reading Companies Prep for Brunt of California Consumer Privacy Act

Pew Surveys Americans’ Trust in Use of Facial Recognition

Although numerous U.S. municipalities have decried facial recognition technologies as “coercive and oppressive,” 56 percent of ordinary U.S. citizens trust law enforcement to use the technologies responsibly. That’s one of the findings of the Pew Research Center, which also learned that 73 percent of those polled believe facial recognition can accurately identify people. The level of trust in law enforcement is surprising given recent incidents in which people have been incorrectly identified, even as terrorists. Continue reading Pew Surveys Americans’ Trust in Use of Facial Recognition

Tech Firms, U.S. Officials Strategize 2020 Election Security

As the 2020 U.S. presidential election nears, government officials met in Silicon Valley with Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter to discuss how to prevent the foreign interference that took place during the 2016 election. The companies’ security teams and representatives from the FBI, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security attended the daylong meeting at Facebook’s headquarters. The group talked about detecting potential threats and methods of strategic collaboration. Continue reading Tech Firms, U.S. Officials Strategize 2020 Election Security

Facebook’s Dilemma: Achieving Data Portability and Privacy

Facebook is trying to make good on two key promises: to protect users’ privacy and to allow them to move their data elsewhere. But the two goals may not be compatible, and Facebook is looking outside the company to get ideas on how to deliver both. The European Union and California passed laws that require Facebook to make users’ social media profiles easy to move to a competing platform. At the same time, Facebook agreed to enforce data protections as part of a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Facebook’s Dilemma: Achieving Data Portability and Privacy

Google Debuts Android 10 OS with Gestures, More Security

After functioning as Android Q Beta for much of the year, the newly named Android 10 is now rolling out to devices, beginning with all Pixel phone models. According to Google, the company is working with other device partners to debut or upgrade their existing operating systems. Android 10 introduces fully gestural navigation (via swipe gestures), which replaces navigation buttons, thus providing more space for apps. There’s also support for a so-called dark theme which features white type against a black background. Continue reading Google Debuts Android 10 OS with Gestures, More Security

Exposed Database of Facebook User Data Is Found Online

More than 419 million records of Facebook users in the United States, United Kingdom and Vietnam — including Facebook IDs and user phone numbers — were recently found online (although Facebook disputes that number). The exposed server was reportedly not password-protected, which suggests the database was accessible to anyone. The server contained user data across multiple databases that could potentially enable spam calls and SIM-swapping attacks. According to Facebook, the breach involved user data collected prior to the introduction of new security measures. The company has since taken the exposed data set offline.  Continue reading Exposed Database of Facebook User Data Is Found Online

Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

The FTC and New York attorney general announced yesterday that Google is being fined $170 million following the investigation of YouTube’s alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The investigation claims that Google marketed the video platform to advertisers based on the popularity of channels with younger audiences, and tracked viewing histories of children to serve them ads, without first getting consent of the parents. Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York in the largest COPPA fine to date (Congress enacted the law in 1998). Continue reading Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

Google Filters Appropriate Content With YouTube Kids Site

Kid-friendly video content is now available on a dedicated YouTube Kids website that filters content deemed most appropriate based on three different age groups. The site offers a similar experience to the mobile app of the same name. Parents can select age-appropriate videos based on newly listed age groups, track viewing history and flag anything that may be missed by filters. A sign-in option is expected to be added in the future. The filters include “Preschool” (up to age 4), “Younger” (ages 5 to 7) and “Older” (kids over 7). Content is organized by categories including Explore, Gaming, Music and Shows.  Continue reading Google Filters Appropriate Content With YouTube Kids Site

Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

Yelp will now provide recommendations that are more customized, based on users’ stated preferences. Yelp head of consumer product Akhil Ramesh noted that it’s the first time that, “two people with the same context searching for the same thing are going to see completely different results.” The Yelp app will now profile each user’s likes and dislikes to enable this to happen. A user, for example, will have the chance to choose dietary restrictions and preferences as well as list hobbies, pets, children and so on. Continue reading Yelp Updates Its App With Several Customization Features

BBC Is Creating Voice Assistant That Understands Accents

The BBC is developing a voice assistant named Beeb that it promises will understand British accents. Other virtual assistants have struggled with regional accents, but the BBC team will be recording staff voices from multiple U.K. locations to address that issue. While there are no plans to introduce a standalone CE device similar to Google Home or Amazon Echo, the BBC plans to debut Beeb next year to help people interact with online services offered via the company’s website and its smart TV iPlayer app. The assistant’s software will also be available to manufacturers interested in including it in their own consumer devices. Continue reading BBC Is Creating Voice Assistant That Understands Accents

Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Regarding IoT Devices

ADT teamed with technology publications including Digital Trends, CNET and Engadget to survey how consumers feel about smart technology and, more specifically, smart homes. The results are complex but pointed towards a growing interest in and support of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. That aligns with other evidence that the IoT market is expected to also grow; by 2023, the smart home market worldwide is predicted to reach $150+ billion. The U.S. leads, with 45+ million smart devices already installed in homes. Continue reading Survey Reveals Consumer Attitudes Regarding IoT Devices

Google Melds Data Privacy, Advertising in Privacy Sandbox

Google said users will gain more control over the data that it shares with advertisers via a Privacy Sandbox, a new set of standards for its Chrome browser. Under pressure from the public, Google acted to create what it said will be “a more private web” that will make individual search histories harder for advertisers to follow and give users more choices over the types of data shared with marketers, including the ability to opt-out. So far, however, Google has remained “fairly vague” about the standards. Continue reading Google Melds Data Privacy, Advertising in Privacy Sandbox

Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Apple has created new rules for kids apps in the App Store that will ban external analytics software and restrict the ability to sell advertisements. Considering the market dominance of the Apple App Store, developers of kids apps are worried that, starting next month when the rules go into effect, they will struggle to stay afloat. Apple said the new rules were in response to some children seeing inappropriate ads on apps and its aim to protect them from data trackers. Some privacy advocates have applauded the move. Continue reading Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

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