FCC Adds Rules Blocking the Sale of Devices Made in China

The Federal Communications Commission has adopted new rules prohibiting the U.S. sale of certain telecommunications and surveillance devices manufactured by Chinese companies. In a move to shore up national security, the move blocks equipment deemed to pose an unacceptable risk from receiving import authorization. In recent years, the government has taken various actions to secure the U.S. supply chain for communications equipment and services. “These new rules are an important part of our ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. Continue reading FCC Adds Rules Blocking the Sale of Devices Made in China

Facebook and Instagram Roll Out New Safety Tools for Teens

Meta Platforms is introducing updates to further protect teens on Facebook and Instagram. Starting this week, those under the age of 16 (or under 18 in certain countries) will be defaulted into more stringent private settings when they join Facebook. A similar default was put into effect on Instagram last year. Meta is also restricting “potentially suspicious adults.” For example, adults will be restricted from messaging teens they aren’t connected to and from seeing teens in their People You May Know recommendations. A “suspicious adult” is one that has recently been blocked or reported by a young person. Continue reading Facebook and Instagram Roll Out New Safety Tools for Teens

Google Makes Family Link and Google TV More Child-Friendly

Google has redesigned its Family Link experience, launched five years ago to help keep children safe online. The most popular tools — screen time limits, blocking apps and content filters — are now easier to find, and there is a central place for viewing requests and notifications. A Controls tab has been added, enabling parents to set screen time limits for individual devices or specific apps, dial-in content restrictions and manage data permissions. With families in mind, Google is also adding new AI-powered features to Google TV, such as parent-controlled watchlists. Continue reading Google Makes Family Link and Google TV More Child-Friendly

White House Creates a ‘Blueprint’ of AI Rights for Consumers

The White House has issued a “blueprint” for consumer protections with regard to artificial intelligence. Aimed at guiding federal agencies while setting the bar for future legislation, the voluntary directive offers five areas of focus — safety, algorithmic discrimination protection, data privacy, notice, human alternatives — and a section on applying the rules. “Among the great challenges posed to democracy today is the use of technology, data, and automated systems in ways that threaten the rights of the American public,” begins the bill, which says such tools are “too often used” to limit opportunities and prevent access to critical resources or services. Continue reading White House Creates a ‘Blueprint’ of AI Rights for Consumers

OpenAI Expands DALL-E 2 Functionality with Facial Uploads

OpenAI has begun allowing users of its DALL-E 2 image-generating system to work with facial image uploads. The program previously allowed only computer-generated faces in an effort to prevent deepfakes and misuse, but OpenAI says improvements to its safety system succeeded in “minimizing the potential of harm” from things like explicit, political or violent content. OpenAI will continue to prohibit use of unauthorized photos and will seek to protect right of publicity, though it remains to be seen how effective that will be. In the past, customers have complained the company was overzealous in its policing. Continue reading OpenAI Expands DALL-E 2 Functionality with Facial Uploads

California Governor Signs Online Child Protection Bill into Law

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act into law last week, making his state the first in the nation to adopt online child safety measures. The bipartisan legislation requires online platforms to default to privacy and safety settings that protect children’s mental and physical health. The new law, cosponsored by Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks (D-15th District) and Jordan Cunningham (R-35th District), prohibits companies that provide online services and products in California from using a child’s personal information and forbids collecting, selling, or retaining a child’s geolocation, among other things. Continue reading California Governor Signs Online Child Protection Bill into Law

Twitter Investors Back Musk Offer as Whistleblower Testifies

Twitter shareholders this week approved the $44 billion takeover bid by Elon Musk, voting the same day as whistleblower Peiter Zatko testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, telling lawmakers that the social media company’s leadership misled regulators about security failures. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was skeptical as to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal keeping his job if Zatko’s allegations prove to be true, saying the executive “rejected this committee’s invitation by claiming that it would jeopardize Twitter’s ongoing litigation” with Musk. Twitter has categorically denied Zatko’s claims, which include foreign agents infiltrating Twitter’s workforce. Continue reading Twitter Investors Back Musk Offer as Whistleblower Testifies

Apple Passkey Implementation Begins This Month via iOS 16

The world is preparing for a passwordless future, which Apple provides with the September 12 launch of iOS 16 and macOS Ventura next month. Known as passkeys, the password replacement will work across iPhones, iPads, and Macs, letting users log in to apps and websites and create new accounts without having to store a password. Made from a cryptographic key pair, the passkey is synced across iCloud’s Keychain. Google, Microsoft, Meta Platforms and Amazon are also in various stages of developing passkeys using standards created by the FIDO Alliance, which means they’ll all likely be interoperable. Continue reading Apple Passkey Implementation Begins This Month via iOS 16

Apple Unveils New iPhone Line, Watch Ultra and AirPods Pro

Apple revealed its highly anticipated 5G-capable phones this week during its annual September product event. While all four models — including the iPhone 14 and larger iPhone 14 Plus — offer improved cameras and new safety features, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are the first to utilize Apple’s new A16 Bionic chip, built on the new 4-nanometer process. Apple calls it “the fastest chip in a smartphone.” All four models have satellite connectivity to send emergency messages in areas without cell coverage. The company also debuted the Apple Watch Ultra, aimed at high-performance athletes, and the AirPods Pro. Continue reading Apple Unveils New iPhone Line, Watch Ultra and AirPods Pro

California’s Online Child Safety Bill Could Set New Standards

A first of its kind U.S. proposal to protecting children online cleared the California Legislature Tuesday and was sent to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom. The California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act will require social media platforms to implement guardrails for users under 18. The new rules will curb risks — such as allowing strangers to message children — and require changes to recommendation algorithms and ad targeting where minors are concerned. The bill was drafted following Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s 2021 congressional testimony about the negative effects of social media on children’s mental health. Continue reading California’s Online Child Safety Bill Could Set New Standards

FAA Rule Upheld: Most Drones Will Be Remote ID Compliant

A federal court upheld Federal Aviation Administration rules ensuring drones use Remote Identification technology to transmit a “digital license plate” with unique identifiers while in flight. The rule was challenged by Tyler Brennan, owner of the drone e-tailer RaceDayQuads, who argued the FAA’s Remote ID rules amount to “constant, warrantless governmental surveillance,” in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. The rules are widely supported by the drone industry, which sees them as a path to expanded drone use by addressing concerns about safety and security. Continue reading FAA Rule Upheld: Most Drones Will Be Remote ID Compliant

Google Updates Play Store Policies to Protect Android Users

Google has updated its developer Play Store policies with an aim toward tamping down intrusive ads and other unpleasant consumer experiences, such as VPN abuse and brand impersonation on Android. Full-screen interstitial ads of all formats (video, GIF, static, etc.) that display unexpectedly — that often lead to users engaging with something else — are forbidden effective September 22. Likewise, apps that allow ads at the beginning of a game level or during the beginning of a game content segment are on the robust list of infractions the Play Store will no longer tolerate. Continue reading Google Updates Play Store Policies to Protect Android Users

Twitch Users Can Soon Ask Guests to Join Their Live Stream

Twitch is rolling out a new feature called Guest Star that allows users to invite up to five guests to join their live stream. Guest Star will at first deploy to a small group and expand to all users by the end of the year. Anyone with a Twitch account will be able to join a stream from their desktop or mobile app. Previously, those who wanted to have guests join a stream had to do it through a third-party platform like Discord. Creators using Guest Star will be able to host their guests directly within Twitch Studio or Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). Continue reading Twitch Users Can Soon Ask Guests to Join Their Live Stream

Big Tech Taps AI to Advance Data Center Safety, Efficiency

Data centers can be hazardous to the workers that build and maintain them, with exposure to live electrical wires and dangerous chemicals part of the job. Now tech firms including Microsoft and Meta Platforms are exploring how artificial intelligence can be used to make data centers safer for employees. Microsoft is working on an AI system that triggers alerts to prevent or mitigate dangerous incidents, while Meta is also analyzing ways AI can optimize data centers operating under extreme environmental conditions in order to prevent safety hazards. Continue reading Big Tech Taps AI to Advance Data Center Safety, Efficiency

Online Child Safety Gains Steam at State and Federal Levels

Online privacy protections for consumers are in focus on Capitol Hill, with the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) getting particular attention. A coalition of more than 100 organizations, including Fairplay and the American Psychological Association are calling on senators to advance KOSA this month. Co-sponsored by senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), the legislation would require social media platforms to conduct annual audits to identify risks to minors as well as more concrete steps like opting out of algorithmic recommendations and disabling “addictive” features.  Continue reading Online Child Safety Gains Steam at State and Federal Levels