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

Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Unlike Apple, which continues to keep tight control of its App Store, Microsoft wants to give developers more control. The company’s deputy general counsel Rima Alaily revealed 10 principles for the Microsoft Store. They include letting developers sell different services on their apps and websites and giving them and users access to third-party app stores. Microsoft, whose Store has always been more open, said the principles are aimed to “promote choice, ensure fairness and promote innovation.” Continue reading Microsoft Empowers Developers with 10 App Store Principles

Facebook Pushes Back Against Regulators on Data Transfer

Facebook has upped the ante in its showdown with European regulators, stating that an unfavorable decision by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) would leave the company no choice but to leave the region. Facebook Ireland’s head of data protection/associate general counsel Yvonne Cunnane is referring to the DPC’s preliminary order to stop the transfer of its European users’ data to servers in the U.S., citing fears of government surveillance. In response, Facebook filed a lawsuit challenging DPC’s ban. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Back Against Regulators on Data Transfer

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.

Amazon Hires, Builds and Grows During the COVID Pandemic

In August and September, Amazon revealed plans to hire 20,000 more employees in seven cities in the U.S. and the UK. The massive e-commerce company has seen tremendous growth during the coronavirus pandemic as have other retailers including Walmart, Target and Instacart. Amazon, which continues to allow employees who can work from home to do so until January 8, is continually recruiting hourly positions at warehouses. Although it pays a minimum of $15 an hour, Amazon no longer provides incentive pay or stock for hourly workers. Continue reading Amazon Hires, Builds and Grows During the COVID Pandemic

TikTok Counters Critics, Regulators With More Transparency

TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer published an open letter aimed at regulators intent on curbing its reach. After listing some of the app’s accomplishments in its thus-far short term in social media, he focused on charges critics are levying. He admitted that, “with our success comes responsibility and accountability,” but insisted that the company is made up of “responsible and committed members of the American community that follows U.S. laws.” The company has launched an effort to win over critics with increased transparency. Continue reading TikTok Counters Critics, Regulators With More Transparency

Big Tech Firms Face More EU Scrutiny, Facebook Loses Case

The European Union increased its efforts to regulate major U.S. technology companies, including Amazon, Apple and Google, with a new tool that allows it to investigate any potential antitrust issue and force changes without proving illegality. EU antitrust head Margrethe Vestager warned that the tech behemoths potentially risk being broken up as a “last resort” if they don’t adhere to the rules. Meanwhile, a German high court ruled against Facebook finding it abused its social media dominance to illegally harvest user data. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Face More EU Scrutiny, Facebook Loses Case

Facebook Leads Creation of Tech Industry Advocacy Group

Facebook is a founding member of American Edge, an emerging political advocacy group. Because it is registered as a non-profit, American Edge can raise money and publish ads without disclosing its donors. “We’re working with a diverse group of stakeholders to help build support for our industry, and while we’re leading an effort to start this coalition, it’s one of many we are contributing to and supporting,” said spokesperson Andy Stone. The group, however, has not yet officially launched. Continue reading Facebook Leads Creation of Tech Industry Advocacy Group

Facebook Narrows Scope of Proposed Libra Cryptocurrency

Facebook and its partners pulled back their ambitious plans for the Libra cryptocurrency, which was unveiled last June as “a futuristic global money” that could be the foundation of a “new kind of financial system.” In the months since its June debut, the Libra project has encountered a range of obstacles and the scrutiny of regulators. The Swiss-backed Libra Association, citing global opposition to the project, now aims to create a payment network with coins tied to a local currency. Continue reading Facebook Narrows Scope of Proposed Libra Cryptocurrency

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

Alibaba’s Singles Day Reaps $38.3B, Dwarfing Black Friday

On November 11, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba brought in nearly $38.3 billion worth of goods in the 24-hour period known in that country as Singles Day. That surpasses last year’s Singles Day that bought in $30.8 billion. Both figures dwarf the numbers for Black Friday, the massive commercial day-after-Thanksgiving sale in the U.S. Alibaba invented Singles Day ten years ago and, since then, has become a tech giant along the line of Amazon or Alphabet. China also has become wealthier and more digitally connected. Continue reading Alibaba’s Singles Day Reaps $38.3B, Dwarfing Black Friday

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

Google Shutters Mobile Data Service For Wireless Carriers

Google shut down its free Mobile Network Insights service, which provided Android phone data to wireless carriers, to avert regulatory scrutiny. The service, launched in March 2017 and shuttered this April, mapped carrier signal strengths and connection speeds area-by-area, helping carriers to determine where their coverage needed to be increased or strengthened. The anonymous data was retrieved from devices using Google’s Android operating system, which accounts for about 75 percent of the world’s smartphones. Continue reading Google Shutters Mobile Data Service For Wireless Carriers

Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

Google is pausing Google Assistant voice transcriptions in the European Union for at least three months. In mid-July, it admitted that about 1,000 private communications were made available to human contractors evaluating Assistant’s speech recognition accuracy, revealing personal and private information. A Google spokesperson reported that the company ceased voice transcription involving human moderators after learning of additional leaks in the Netherlands. Amazon will allow Alexa users to opt out of the human review of recordings and Apple has halted its program allowing human contractors to listen in on Siri recordings. Continue reading Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg purchased startups to forestall the competition they might pose. Sources said that the FTC is already reaching out to the founders of some of these startups. S&P Global estimates that Facebook has purchased about 90 companies over the past 15 years. Facebook isn’t alone in this behavior. A U.K. antitrust panel reported that the top five tech companies have acquired more than 400 companies over the last decade. Continue reading FTC Looks into Facebook Purchases of Promising Startups

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