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Facebook's After-the-Fact Oversight
October 19, 2019
I wanted to like Kara Swisher's recent piece about Facebook's attempt to wrestle with its demons, but I can't. It feels too much like self-delusion. To cut to the chase, Facebook announced it was forming an oversight board that eventually will have about 40 members with responsibilities for policing its domain and reducing or even eliminating fake news and propaganda.
New Tech Vetting Law in SF Could Fuel Regulatory Trend
October 17, 2019
San Francisco officials want to get ahead of the emerging technology curve by prequalifying and regulating startup tech proposals before products become available to consumers. That approach is a developing trend in the U.S., according to Arle Lommel, senior analyst at CSA Research. If approved, the creation of a city-controlled regulatory office would invert the historical norm.
New Trade Deal Provisions Give US Tech Firms Legal Shields
October 9, 2019
The Trump administration has begun inserting legal protections into trade agreements to shield online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube from lawsuits. That move could help lock in America's tech-friendly regulations around the world even as they are being questioned at home. The legal protections are included in the administration's two biggest trade deals.
The CCPA May Affect You, So Get Ready
October 3, 2019
Although not every United States business will be affected, the new California Consumer Protection Act almost certainly will have implications for many businesses outside of California. Starting Jan. 1, 2020, qualifying businesses will be subject to data privacy and security standards currently required only by the 28 member states in the European Union.
Leaked Audio Reveals Zuckerberg Spinning Hard
October 2, 2019
An attendee at a two-hour question-and-answer session during a Facebook company meeting held in July leaked a recording of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's comments that reveal deep insights into his thinking. Zuckerberg apparently decided the Q&A format would be an effective way to rally Facebook employees against rising criticism from competitors and the U.S. government.
Google's 'Right to Be Forgotten' Approach Wins Nod From EU Court
September 25, 2019
Google need not comply with the right to be forgotten outside of the European Union, according to a European Court of Justice ruling. A global de-referencing would meet the EU's data protection objectives, the court said, but it found that numerous third states do not recognize the right to de-referencing or have a different approach to that right.
California Applies Brakes to Galloping Gig Economy
September 12, 2019
California Assembly Bill 5, which would require many businesses to hire workers as employees rather than independent contractors -- and reclassify their existing workforces accordingly -- has passed its second reading. The State Assembly will vote on amendments in a third reading and then send it to Governor Gavin Newsom, who has indicated he will sign it into law.
50 AGs Gun for Google in Antitrust Offensive
September 11, 2019
The attorneys general of 48 states, plus those from United States territory Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., have joined in an investigation into whether Google stifled online advertising and search competition. The only holdouts are the attorneys general of Alabama, where Google is building a $600 million data center, and California, where Google has its headquarters.
The High Stakes of Oracle's Appeal
August 31, 2019
Now Oracle is appealing the Pentagon's award to Amazon of its $10 billion JEDI contract to provide cloud computing solutions. "The Court of Federal Claims opinion in the JEDI bid protest describes the JEDI procurement as unlawful, notwithstanding dismissal of the protest solely on the legal technicality of Oracle's purported lack of standing," said Dorian Daley, general counsel for Oracle.
Cloud Users: Read the Click Agreement Terms
August 26, 2019
There is no data showing how many people actually read through click agreements, terms of service and privacy policies -- collectively "online terms" -- before clicking the alluring "accept" button. However, there's research that indicates fewer than 1 percent of people report taking the time to review online terms. Most folks consider online terms an annoying speed bump and frankly don't care.
Amazon's $10-a-Person Attempt to Wriggle Off Privacy Hook
August 1, 2019
Some very large companies now are under scrutiny by the U.S. government for their data collection and use. As the pressure increases, Amazon seems to have come up with a creative solution. It has been offering to pay users $10 for permission to track them. Interesting. While $10 is practically nothing, this move does suggest companies are beginning to realize they crossed the line.
GitHub Blocks Devs in US-Sanctioned Regions
July 30, 2019
GitHub is blocking users in Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria from accessing its services to comply with U.S. trade control laws. The Microsoft-owned company disclosed the action on a support page as a courtesy, noting that GitHub users ultimately are responsible for ensuring that their use of GitHub's products and services complies with all applicable laws and regulations.
Automation: Helping SMBs Cut the Gordian Knot of Transaction Tax
July 27, 2019
Finance and accounting technology became the No. 1 software budgeting priority for small and mid-sized businesses, according to a survey conducted last year. Almost 54 percent of respondents were budgeting to invest in accounting tools in the next 12 to 24 months, with those in the retail industry specifically forecasting to spend between $30,000 and $40,000.
Timely Antitrust Investigation
July 26, 2019
The Justice Department is opening antitrust investigations into some of the biggest tech companies around, including Facebook, Google, Amazon and others. This is nothing that either the public or the companies involved should fret about. This is part of the evolution of the tech sector. We've been through this kind of thing before. Each economic era follows a similar trajectory.
Understanding the IP Policy Changes Coming to Amazon Sellers
July 25, 2019
Amazon is keenly interested in protecting the IP rights of its third-party sellers because the company depends upon them for their long-term success. In a recent newsletter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained that third-party sellers currently make up a majority of the site's gross merchandise sales, with the share of revenue from third-party sellers having grown to 58 percent.
DoJ to Examine Big Tech Competitive Landscape
July 25, 2019
The DoJ has announced an antitrust probe into big tech, following several months of rumors that it was about to do so. The DoJ plans to review how the leading online platforms achieved market power and whether they have engaged in practices that reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers. The department will consider widespread concerns.
Bug in Facebook Messaging App Exposes Kids to Strangers
July 24, 2019
A flaw in a Facebook app designed for children under 13 years old allows kids to chat online with people unapproved by their parents. The messaging app for kids is designed to give parents control over who their kids text and video chat with online, but a bug in the software lets a contact approved to chat with one child to talk to another without the approval of the second child's parents.
Equifax Data Breach Settlement No Wrist Slap
July 23, 2019
The United States Federal Trade Commission announced that Equifax has agreed to pay a minimum of $575 million as part of a global settlement of claims against it arising from a 2017 data breach that affected 147 million Americans. The settlement with the FTC, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and 50 states and territories potentially could reach $700 million.
Facebook Unfazed by $5B FTC Settlement
July 18, 2019
The Federal Trade Commission this week announced its approval of a $5 billion settlement with Facebook, ending a long-running investigation into the company's privacy practices. The commission's 3-2 vote was along party lines. The United States Department of Justice must finalize the settlement before the matter is closed. The DoJ's action will end the investigation that began early last year.
Isn't It Time to Buy Cyber Insurance?
July 15, 2019
Every day we read stories about data breaches and cyberattacks on business and government websites, and the resulting the loss of personally identifiable information. Cybercrime is on the rise, and given the ever-evolving methods of attack, meaningful relief and reliable measures to fend off cybercriminals are unlikely in the foreseeable future. Companies need to insure against cybertheft.
Social Media, Crafters, Gamers and the Online Censorship Debate
July 12, 2019
Ravelry, an online knitting community that has more than 8 million members, last month announced that it would ban forum posts, projects, patterns and even profiles from users who supported President Trump or his administration. "We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy," the administrators of Ravelry posted on the site.
FBI, ICE Turn Drivers' Licenses Into Facial Recognition Gold
July 9, 2019
State motor vehicle departments have become a rich source of facial recognition data for and FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Researchers at Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy & Technology reportedly used public records requests to gather a cache of documents that show the agencies have turned state DMV databases into the foundation of a vast surveillance infrastructure.
The Threat of a Deepfake Fiasco
July 5, 2019
An AI technology called "deepfake" may be the next big threat we face as a society. Consider a recent video clip of Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg saying some outlandish things. You might think it is real -- but it's a deepfake. It's his image, and it sure sounds like him, but he never actually made that speech. "Can't be," you might think. "That has to be Zuckerberg talking." Wrong.
The Growing Menace of Weaponized Deepfakes
June 27, 2019
The U.S. House Intelligence Committee recently heard expert testimony on the growing threat posed by "deepfakes" -- altered videos and other AI-generated false information -- and what it could mean for the 2020 general elections, as well as the country's national security overall. The technologies collectively known as "deepfakes" can be used to manipulate and falsify images and videos.
NSA Admits Improper Collection of Phone Data, 2nd Time Around
June 27, 2019
The ACLU has released documents showing the NSA improperly collected Americans' call and text logs in November 2017 and in February and October 2018. The unauthorized collections occurred just four months after the agency announced it was deleting more than 620 million call detail records acquired since 2015 under Title V of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Proposed Law Would Force Big Tech to Reveal Value of Consumer Data
June 25, 2019
A Democrat and a Republican have filed a U.S. Senate bill to require companies to report to financial regulators and to the public what consumer data they collect and how they leverage it for profit. "When a big tech company says its product is free, consumers are the ones being sold," said Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. "These 'free' products track everything we do."
Uber Drones to Make Meal Drops This Summer
June 21, 2019
Uber Elevate, the aerial arm of rideshare service Uber, will test a fast food delivery by drone service later this summer in San Diego. Delivery destinations won't be houses or apartment buildings, however, but instead will be "designated safe landing zones." Those landing zones could include the roof of a parked Uber vehicle in one scenario. An Uber courier would hand-deliver it to the consumer.
In Zuck We Trust: Facebook to Launch Own Cryptocurrency
June 19, 2019
Facebook's plans to mint its own digital coin will test the company's consumer credibility. After being savaged for months for its cavalier attitude toward users' privacy, the social network will be asking those same users to trust its new cryptocurrency. The currency, called "Libra," will be stashed in a digital wallet, the first product of new Facebook financial services subsidiary Calibra.
New Antitrust Probe Tightens Screws on Big Tech
June 5, 2019
The U.S. House of Representatives Antitrust Subcommittee has opened an investigation into competition in digital markets, increasing the pressure on big tech companies over antitrust issues. The subcommittee is part of the House Judiciary Committee. The bipartisan investigation will include a series of hearings on antitrust, commercial and administrative law about the rise of market power online.
The Cannabis Rush: Where There's Smoke, There's E-Commerce
May 31, 2019
The budding online cannabis industry has a long way to go before it delivers bumper crops. The market for both recreational and medicinal cannabis has been plowed and pre-seeded by the previous underground market and the impetus of state laws legalizing its use. Still, the cannabis industry is almost invisible online, cloaked as it is in a broad ad and search engine blackout.
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Amazon Advertising: Strategies to Drive Success
How do you feel about your use of the Internet?
I spend a lot of time online and it's mostly high value.
I spend a lot of time online and much of it is wasted.
I'd like to experience more immersive online activities, like VR.
I'd like to spend more time in the real world.
I'd like to be always connected, perhaps with eyewear.
It's important to disconnect from the Web at regular intervals.
I go online as little as possible and I intend to keep it that way.
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