Australia Plans Law That Would Make Big Tech Pay for News

Microsoft is urging the United States to adopt Australia’s proposal that Big Tech companies pay newspapers for content, in direct opposition to the positions of Google and Facebook. In Australia, that proposal is before a parliamentary committee. Google, which is responsible for 95 percent of searches in that country, has threatened to pull its search engine should the proposal become law. Microsoft is betting that, especially if the Australians pass the law, other countries will join in demanding payment for publishers. Continue reading Australia Plans Law That Would Make Big Tech Pay for News

Google Breaks Revenue Records, Boosts Cloud Investments

Due largely to robust online holiday shopping, Google’s parent company Alphabet reached a record-breaking $56.9 billion in revenue for Q4, up from $43.2 billion in the same quarter last year. The numbers represent an ongoing recovery in ad spending, which was hard hit in early 2020. FactSet reports that analysts predicted the company would post $52.7 billion in revenue, including $42.3 billion from advertising. Chief financial officer Ruth Porat said Google Search and YouTube led the positive performance numbers. Continue reading Google Breaks Revenue Records, Boosts Cloud Investments

European Union Plans to Announce Regulations for Big Tech

On December 2, European Commission EVP and commissioner for competition Margrethe Vestager and European commissioner for internal market Thierry Breton plan to announce the new rules governing powerful online companies. Among the draft rules of the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, Big Tech companies will have to share data with rivals and regulators. Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai also apologized to Breton over a leaked document revealing his company’s proposed tactics against the European Union’s new, tougher rules. Continue reading European Union Plans to Announce Regulations for Big Tech

Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter chief exec Jack Dorsey and Alphabet/Google chief exec Sundar Pichai faced a combative Senate Commerce Committee this week. Republicans want to update Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that shields Internet platforms from liability for user-generated content. They also claim the platforms censor conservative views. Democrats also want to look at Section 230 but are more focused on whether the platforms are guarding against disinformation as the presidential election looms. Continue reading Big Tech Executives Defend Their Services in Senate Hearing

FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Affirming the FCC’s authority over social media companies, chair Ajit Pai has launched an official effort to “clarify” how Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act applies to them. “Social media companies have a First Amendment right to free speech — but they do not have a First Amendment right to a special immunity denied to other media outlets, such as newspapers and broadcasters,” he said. President Trump has often called for social media companies to be stripped of Section 230 protections. Continue reading FCC Aims to Limit Section 230 Protections for Social Media

Google Tests Making YouTube an E-Commerce Marketplace

Google has plans to turn YouTube into a major marketplace and has already asked creators to tag and track products on their videos via YouTube software. Google will then link that data to shopping tools and analytics. According to sources, Google is also partnering with Shopify to test an integration for selling items on YouTube. A spokesperson, who confirmed the company is testing the features “with a limited number of video channels,” added that creators will maintain control over the products displayed. Continue reading Google Tests Making YouTube an E-Commerce Marketplace

Big Tech Executives Are Grilled During Congressional Hearing

At a congressional hearing this week, the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google endured frustration and hostile criticism from bipartisan lawmakers. House Antitrust Subcommittee chair David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) started by saying that, “Our founders would not bow before a king. Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy,” referring to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai. The companies are collectively worth almost $5 trillion. Continue reading Big Tech Executives Are Grilled During Congressional Hearing

India Hails Google’s New Fund but Plans to Regulate Big Tech

About half of India’s 1.3 billion people are not yet online, and Google hopes to improve its profile there with a new $10 billion Google for India Digitization Fund. The tech tech giant plans to invest in the country over the next five to seven years via equity investments and partnerships. But a recent government-ordered report urged India to create a data regulator position to oversee “the sharing, monetization and privacy of information collected online.” The report names Google (among other companies) as “squeezing new entrants and startups.” Continue reading India Hails Google’s New Fund but Plans to Regulate Big Tech

Google Plans Changes to How Long It Holds on to User Data

Google disclosed that it had changed its policy regarding how long it will hang on to users’ search data. Last year, the company introduced an option that allowed users to automatically delete data related to Internet searches, requests made to Google Assistant and location history after three months or 18 months. Beginning now, Google’s default policy is to automatically delete location history, voice recordings and web/app activity on new accounts after 18 months. The settings on existing accounts will remain the same. Continue reading Google Plans Changes to How Long It Holds on to User Data

Alphabet and YouTube Ad Revenue Is Impacted by Pandemic

In Q1 2020, YouTube reported $4.04 billion in ad revenue, up 33 percent from 2019. Last year, YouTube earned $15.15 billion in ad revenue, up 36 percent. Its parent company Alphabet — which first broke out numbers for YouTube in Q4 2019 — generated $41.16 billion in revenue, a 13 percent year-over-year growth, with an adjusted net income of $6.84 billion or $9.87 per share. Those figures exceeded analyst expectations for revenue of $40.38 billion, but missed its EPS of $10.33; shares rose 8+ percent in after-hours trading. Continue reading Alphabet and YouTube Ad Revenue Is Impacted by Pandemic

Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

Long-time rivals Apple and Google joined forces to build software into smartphones that would alert people who have recently been in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. Users will have to opt-in to use the tool, which will be ready to release in “several months” and enable smartphones to “constantly log other devices they come near,” to accomplish what is called contact tracing. It also relies on a user’s voluntary report of having become infected. The two companies said they teamed-up in the last two weeks. Continue reading Rivals Apple and Google Collaborate on Contact-Tracing Tool

EU Plans to Propose New Regulations on Artificial Intelligence

As the European Union readies to release new rules to govern digital platforms, Big Tech chief executives have made the trip to Brussels to add to the discussion on artificial intelligence. Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai, for example, noted during his trip to Brussels that, “while AI promises enormous benefits for Europe and the world, there are real concerns about the potential negative consequences.” With its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU has set a standard that others look to follow. Continue reading EU Plans to Propose New Regulations on Artificial Intelligence

Facebook White Paper Reveals Ideas For Internet Regulation

Facebook published a white paper outlining how it would like lawmakers to regulate the Internet, including a new model for platforms’ legal liability and a “new type of regulator” to oversee the rules governing harmful content. The white paper appeared at the same time chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote an op-ed published in The Financial Times and went to Brussels for meetings with European Commission executive vice president/competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager and other senior EU officials. Continue reading Facebook White Paper Reveals Ideas For Internet Regulation

Alphabet Reports Robust Growth For YouTube and Cloud

Alphabet revealed Q4 operating income of $9.3 billion, well short of a “consensus projection” of $9.9 billion. FactSet reported that this is the ninth out of 10 quarters that the company missed projections on that metric. Its Q4 revenue, $46.1 billion, also fell short of analyst expectations of $46.9 billion. In after-hours trading, shares dropped 4.7 percent, but were up 11 percent for the year by Monday’s end. The news wasn’t all grim: for the first time, Alphabet revealed growth numbers for YouTube and cloud computing. Continue reading Alphabet Reports Robust Growth For YouTube and Cloud

Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, major tech players such as Alphabet, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft asked lawmakers for regulations they once fought. Facing antitrust probes and pushback on AI, privacy and encryption among other issues, these companies believe laws are inevitable and want to have a role in creating them. They also fear a patchwork quilt of global laws. Most recently, the Justice Department sparred with Apple over its request for help to unlock the iPhones of the Saudi Arabian naval trainee who killed three people in Florida. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Call For Regulation, Lobby Specific Policies

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