France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

France’s Senate has approved taxing Amazon, Google and other large technology companies, despite the threat of a U.S. probe into discrimination. In fact, the vote came hours after U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer said he would investigate the French legislation based on the same law President Trump used in the trade clash with China. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire responded that, “France is a sovereign state. It makes sovereign decisions on tax matters and will continue to make sovereign decisions on tax matters.” Continue reading France Inks Law to Tax Tech Firms, U.S. Threatens Probe

BBC and ITV Join Forces to Launch Rival to U.S. Streamers

In the U.K., Amazon and Netflix now own about two-thirds of that country’s video streaming market and, for the second time, the BBC and ITV are trying to pool their assets to launch their own streaming platform. Their first effort to do so, in 2007, was squelched by regulators. The new platform, dubbed BritBox (a version of which has been available in North America), is expected to make its U.K. debut later in 2019, with the two broadcasters’ popular shows and new content. But the BBC and ITV are still struggling to resolve issues of budget, audience data sharing and content exclusivity. Continue reading BBC and ITV Join Forces to Launch Rival to U.S. Streamers

Cybersecurity Report Finds Extensive Flaws in Huawei Gear

Ohio-based cybersecurity firm Finite State released a report that documents flaws in Huawei Technologies’ equipment that can be used by hackers. According to the report, these flaws are much more extensive than those found in similar gear from rival companies. The report does not, however, accuse the company of incorporating these flaws deliberately and does not comment on U.S. claims that the Chinese company uses such flaws to conduct espionage. The flaws were found in firmware, which enables a computer’s hardware. Continue reading Cybersecurity Report Finds Extensive Flaws in Huawei Gear

Report: Suspected Chinese Hackers Target Global Telecoms

Hackers likely associated with the Chinese government broke into at least 10 global telecom carriers, stealing call logs, users’ locations and text-messaging records, according to a report from Boston-based Cybereason. The cybersecurity firm spent 2018 scrutinizing a multi-year, ongoing campaign, suspected to be directed by China and aimed at 20 military officials, spies, law enforcement and dissidents in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Cybereason believes the recent hacks point to Chinese group APT10. Continue reading Report: Suspected Chinese Hackers Target Global Telecoms

Spotify Expands Ad Options by Targeting Podcast Listeners

Spotify, which now has 123 million worldwide users of its ad-supported audio service, is expanding its podcast business by offering advertisers the ability to target consumers based on the types of podcast programs they are streaming. Brands across 10 global markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom and United States) will have the option of targeting Spotify Free users based on podcast categories such as “Business & Technology,” “Comedy” and “Lifestyle & Health.” 3M and Samsung have been testing the new ad-targeting tool. Continue reading Spotify Expands Ad Options by Targeting Podcast Listeners

Companies Test Out Internal Crowdsourcing For Best Ideas

Some companies are changing their model for picking out the best new ideas to develop. In most industries, the typical path of a new product begins in the R&D department and is led by senior staff. But that’s beginning to change, said USC Marshall School of Business chaired professor Ann Majchrzak, who noted that companies are starting to realize that the R&D department “might not be the best predictor of what is a good idea.” Instead, some companies are experimenting with internal crowdsourcing, which lets any employee pitch an idea. Continue reading Companies Test Out Internal Crowdsourcing For Best Ideas

Graphcore Builds Intelligence Processing Units For Better AI

British startup Graphcore has developed an AI chip for computers that attempts to mimic the neurons and synapses of the human brain, so that it can “ponder” questions rather than analyze data. Up until now, said Graphcore co-founder and chief executive Nigel Toon, GPUs and CPUs have excelled at precision, using vast amounts of energy to achieve small steps. Toon and Graphcore co-founder and CTO Simon Knowles dub their less precise chips as “intelligence processing units” (IPUs), that excel at aggregating approximate data points. Continue reading Graphcore Builds Intelligence Processing Units For Better AI

U.K. Spy Agency’s Bid to Snoop on Chats Meets Opposition

The British intelligence agency GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters), which analyzes signals and cracks codes, has proposed eavesdropping on encrypted chat services. The backlash has been strong, with 50+ companies, security experts and civil rights organizations calling it a “serious threat” to human rights and digital security. Apple, Google, Microsoft, WhatsApp and Privacy International are among those encouraging GCHQ to drop the “ghost protocol” proposal first put forward in November 2018. Continue reading U.K. Spy Agency’s Bid to Snoop on Chats Meets Opposition

Facing New Pressure, Huawei Trademarks Own Mobile OS

As the trade war between China and the U.S. escalates, the Trump administration’s order preventing telecoms from using foreign-made hardware that could threaten national security has placed Huawei under increased scrutiny. As a result, a number of major tech companies — including ARM, Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm and Xilinx — as well as carriers in Japan, Taiwan and the U.K. have stalled business with Huawei. Since Google plans to cut off Android support for new Huawei phones, the Chinese company faces significant trouble in Europe where it historically has been very successful. In response, Huawei is taking matters into its own hands and was granted a trademark last week for a smartphone OS to replace Android. Continue reading Facing New Pressure, Huawei Trademarks Own Mobile OS

Multiple Carriers and ARM Are the Latest to Cut Off Huawei

Carriers in Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom have stopped accepting pre-orders for Huawei’s newest 5G-enabled smartphones, fearful that the U.S.-China trade war could impact the functioning of the phones. Google has stated it would not permit Huawei to use its latest Android operating system and future phones will lose access to popular Google services. ARM, Huawei’s chip supplier, confirmed it has ceased doing business with the Shenzhen-based Huawei. If the U.S. Commerce Department does not issue a waiver, Huawei could be in serious trouble. Continue reading Multiple Carriers and ARM Are the Latest to Cut Off Huawei

Amazon Fire TV Widens Its Lead at 34 Million Active Users

Back in January, Amazon announced that its Fire TV streaming platform had more than 30 million users. Today, Fire TV has grown to more than 34 million active users, according to an announcement made by Amazon this week during a panel titled ‘The Battle for Your Living Room: Sticks, Boxes, and Smart TV Platforms’ at The Pay TV Show in Denver. This indicates that Amazon’s lead over rival streaming platform Roku is widening. Roku grew to 29.1 million active users per its latest earnings report from this month.

Continue reading Amazon Fire TV Widens Its Lead at 34 Million Active Users

Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

According to a new report from research firm IDC, consumer interest has waned recently for smartphone-dependent VR devices, while tethered and standalone models are growing more popular. IDC surveyed 1,643 VR users across France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and learned that the number of “high-performance” VR headsets increased 60 percent from 2017 to 3.9 million devices in 2018. The study identified different categories of users, based on their amount of time spent with VR devices, including a “hardcore” group (12 percent) that spent 16 or more hours monthly with VR. Continue reading Study: High-End VR Activity Increased Significantly in 2018

Sinemia Movie Subscription Service Calls It Quits in the U.S.

Sinemia, billed as a competitor to MoviePass with its multi-tiered subscription-based movie ticket offering that started in Europe, announced it will shutter its U.S. operations. Like MoviePass, Sinemia has faced challenges sustaining its subscription model and working out monetization, especially while contending with similar services from theater chains such as AMC with its Stubs A-List offering. In addition, Sinemia has been dealing with a patent lawsuit from MoviePass and a class-action suit from subscribers frustrated by account policies, hidden fees and app problems. Continue reading Sinemia Movie Subscription Service Calls It Quits in the U.S.

EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

In a vote of 348 to 274, nineteen out of the European Union’s 28 member countries voted in favor of reformed laws to protect content creators. Critics of the reform — including large tech companies — argue that the rules will reduce free speech online, with Articles 11 and 13 of particular concern. European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker declared that the new copyright rules are “fit for the digital age.” In the lead-up to the vote, nativist groups in many countries worked to defeat the new rules. Continue reading EU Votes For Copyright Rules Opposed by Nativist Groups

U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

According to sources, on May 2-3 when officials from 30+ countries meet in Prague to discuss security principles for 5G networks, the U.S. will propose measures to prevent China’s Huawei from gaining dominance. The U.S. has long believed that the Chinese government can use Huawei’s gear to spy via Internet-connected products from AR to self-driving cars. Huawei has denied the accusations. The U.S. strategy at the upcoming meeting, said a U.S. official, is “softer” than its previous efforts to limit Huawei’s influence. Continue reading U.S. Tries Softer Tack to Limit Huawei at Prague 5G Confab

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