FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

Federal Trade Commission chair Joe Simons stated that, in the face of anti-competitive and antitrust behavior, he would be willing to break up the big tech companies, although, “it’s not ideal because it’s messy.” He’s head of a task force to examine these behemoths, including a close look at whether Facebook acquired startups, such as Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014, to stifle competition. The FTC approved both purchases. The FTC is working in parallel with the Justice Department’s antitrust unit. Continue reading FTC Chair Open to Option of Breaking Up Major Tech Firms

Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Under pressure from legislators and others, Facebook has taken steps to protect itself. According to sources, the company ceased talks to buy video-focused social network Houseparty to forestall increased antitrust concerns. In response to calls to break up Facebook, the company took internal measures to make that more difficult to do by reorganizing its departments and rebranding Instagram and WhatsApp. Elsewhere, the European Union is expected to issue decisions by the end of the year related to privacy issues involving Facebook. Continue reading Facebook Moves to Defend Itself Against Regulatory Threats

Some Execs Oppose Rebranding of Popular Facebook Apps

Facebook is adding its name to Instagram and WhatsApp as part of a decision to unify its apps by branding them with the parent company’s name. The Facebook moniker will be visible on marketing and within the apps. Some Facebook employees purportedly oppose the move. The rebranding will bring the two popular apps in line with the naming conventions of Oculus, Portal and Workplace. The move to rebrand the two apps was first discovered in March, but at the time Facebook said it was just “testing the change” on a handful of users. Continue reading Some Execs Oppose Rebranding of Popular Facebook Apps

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

Facebook Agrees to Record FTC Fine, Extensive Oversight

In addition to fining Facebook $5 billion for violating a 2011 privacy settlement, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Facebook to create an independent privacy committee on its board and appoint compliance officers and an outside assessor to oversee how data is handled. Further, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives must submit to regular privacy audits. The FTC commissioners approved the measures in a 3-2 vote; the fine is the largest ever levied by the federal government against a tech company. Continue reading Facebook Agrees to Record FTC Fine, Extensive Oversight

Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Republican and Democratic lawmakers excoriated tech giants Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google this week on Capitol Hill. Chief among the critics were Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who oversees the Constitution subcommittee, and Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) who leads an antitrust subcommittee. Although the companies acknowledged the upheaval their technology has created in many industries, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded that, “every time Americans trust you, they seem to get burned.” Continue reading Lawmakers Grill Major Tech Companies in Antitrust Hearing

Huawei Ban Is Likely to Impact Phone Sales and Chip Firms

The U.S. government banned Huawei Technologies to target the company’s 5G telecom equipment, but it’s also had the unintended consequence of crippling the Chinese company’s smartphone business. Huawei is the manufacturer of the world’s No. 2 smartphone, and its business will likely be affected without access to components and software. The ban is also expected to impact other companies, including U.S.-based Broadcom, which says it will suffer a $2 billion hit from not being able to sell to Huawei. Meanwhile, Huawei has made it known that it would invest heavily in countries that welcome its products. Continue reading Huawei Ban Is Likely to Impact Phone Sales and Chip Firms

GlobalCoin: Facebook Expected to Debut Bitcoin Rival Soon

Facebook reportedly plans to release its GlobalCoin cryptocurrency later this month, and will hand over control of it to an independent foundation. GlobalCoin, which is intended to rival Bitcoin, is the fruit of Facebook’s development, linked to a project dubbed Libra in concert with financial and technology partners. GlobalCoin is likely to target developing countries with unstable currencies and will be pegged to the U.S. dollar. Facebook will purportedly integrate GlobalCoin on WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram. Continue reading GlobalCoin: Facebook Expected to Debut Bitcoin Rival Soon

Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

Microsoft started internal demos of its dual-screen Surface hardware, codenamed Centaurus, including an “all-hands” event for its device team, said sources. The company allowed employees to get up close to the prototype hardware, and also showed a sizzle reel. Centaurus, in development for about two years, is intended to be the showpiece of the company’s upcoming assortment of dual-screen tablet/laptop hybrids. Sources also said that Centaurus is more similar to the Courier tablet than the prior Andromeda project. Continue reading Microsoft Demonstrates its Dual-Screen Prototype Internally

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

Microsoft Warns Windows Bug May Be Abused by Hackers

Facebook, Intel and Microsoft announced bugs in their software this week. Facebook patched WhatsApp to prevent hackers from using it to install spyware on mobile phones. Intel described its efforts to fix a problem with its chipsets that allow attackers to access private data. Now Microsoft warned that it just patched a bug similar to the WannaCry ransomware crypto-worm that attacked computers around the globe in 2017. The company said that, to its knowledge, no one yet had exploited the Windows vulnerability. Continue reading Microsoft Warns Windows Bug May Be Abused by Hackers

WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Hackers have reportedly been injecting Israeli spyware onto smartphones via the popular Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp. The surveillance software, named Pegasus, was developed by Israeli firm NSO Group and can access an iPhone with a single missed voice call on WhatsApp. NSO claims that it carefully vets its customers; the company’s software is intended for government agencies to combat crime and terrorism. While it is currently unknown how many users may have been affected at this point (the problem was first discovered in early May), WhatsApp says it has created a patch to address the vulnerability. Continue reading WhatsApp Calls Used to Inject Spyware on Mobile Phones

Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

As part of a range of efforts to show that it has taken regulator and governmental concerns seriously, Facebook has set up an operations center in its European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland ahead of the upcoming European Union’s parliamentary election, which is scheduled for May 23-26 across 28 countries. Employees will monitor and clear Facebook of misinformation, fake accounts, and any signs of foreign meddling aimed at swaying election results. Facebook recently set up a similar post in Singapore for elections in India.

Continue reading Facebook Opens New Command Post Ahead of EU Election

Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

With an emphasis on privacy, Facebook made a series of compelling announcements at its annual F8 developer conference this week. Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg detailed six core principles that will be embedded across the company’s services: private interactions, improved data encryption, interoperability, general safety, reducing permanence and secure data storage. The principles arrive following a difficult period for the social giant, as it continues to face criticism regarding privacy-related scandals while contending with increased scrutiny from global regulators. Continue reading Facebook Pushes Core Principles at Developer Conference

Facebook Unveils First Design Changes to Enhance Privacy

Under the dark cloud of various privacy-related scandals, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg announced the first of a series in design changes meant to shift the social media platform away from town square-style communication and toward more direct, private communication between users and groups. On Tuesday at Facebook’s annual developer conference, the company showcased a redesign of its mobile app and desktop site, both of which add new features to promote group-based communication rather than a focus on the News Feed.

Continue reading Facebook Unveils First Design Changes to Enhance Privacy

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