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US Rep Likens Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to 'Tyranny'
February 21, 2017
The Financial Protection Bureau has come under increasing fire from Republican lawmakers who now have the Trump administration to back their efforts. Long-time critic Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R.-Texas, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, compared the bureau to a tyranny in a recent interview. Hensarling reportedly is preparing legislation to enact CFPB reforms.
Could IBM's Watson Fix President Trump?
February 20, 2017
President Trump offers a good emulation for a future artificial intelligence system, suggests a column I read earlier this month, and his presidency may be an early warning of what could happen if we should fail to think through its training and information sources. Cathy O'Neil, the author of the piece, compares artificial intelligence to human intelligence that is mostly id.
Microsoft Seeks Global Cybersecurity Accord
February 18, 2017
Microsoft has called on governments around the world to create a "digital Geneva Convention" as a way to normalize international cybersecurity rules and protect civilian use of the Internet. President Brad Smith, who is also Microsoft's chief legal officer, addressed the issue at the annual RSA conference held earlier this week, saying that governments need to establish international rules.
Apple's Cook Blasts 'Mind Killing' Fake News
February 15, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook has called for a campaign against fake news. Its purveyors -- largely interested only in getting the most clicks -- are defeating the people who are trying to tell the most truth, he said. Fake news is "killing people's minds in a way," Cook remarked. The worldwide epidemic of fake news requires a crackdown by both government and tech, he suggested.
Twitter Steps Up Efforts to Silence Trolls
February 8, 2017
Twitter is once again cracking down on abusers. It has come up with new ways to prevent the creation of new abusive accounts; make search safer; and collapse potentially abusive or low-quality tweets. Twitter also pledged to persist in its anti-abuse endeavors, saying it would keep rolling out product changes, some more visible than others, and updating users on its progress.
Silicon Valley Firms Lock Arms Against Trump Immigration Order
February 7, 2017
At least 127 United States companies -- including Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Intel and other tech giants -- filed a friend of the court brief in a lawsuit the state of Washington brought against President Trump, which argues that his executive order to halt the entry of refugees and all travelers from seven Muslim nations would inflict significant harm on U. S. businesses.
Snap Seizes the Moment
February 6, 2017
Snap last week filed for a $3 billion IPO. The company's private market valuation is $17.8 billion, but investors reportedly have valued it at between $20 billion and $25 billion. "Twenty-five billion dollars is just nuts, but that's the market we're in," remarked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. "This could provide an opportunity for the big gambler investors," he suggested.
EC to Take a Hard Look at E-Commerce Practices
February 3, 2017
The European Commission on Thursday announced three separate investigations into online pricing and other sales practices that may have breached EU antitrust rules. The EC investigations will assess whether consumers were able to enjoy cross-border choice when it came to buying video games and consumer electronics, and making hotel accommodations online.
Tech Industry Reacts to Trump's Immigration Order
February 3, 2017
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Thursday resigned from President Trump's business advisory council amid fierce blowback against the president's recent executive order on immigration, and in the wake of reports that several major Silicon Valley firms, including Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Google, have been circulating a draft letter opposing Trump's action.
Tech Industry Gets Political
January 31, 2017
In the last decade or so, the tech industry has become increasingly political, which is different from being politicized. If I had to guess, I'd say that for the most part everyone is on the same page. However, many of the largest technology concerns have come to the realization that to protect their outlook, they need representation in Washington in the form of lobbyists.
Silicon Valley Up in Arms Over Proposed H-1B Overhaul
January 31, 2017
Silicon Valley is in an uproar over a proposed new executive order that would overhaul existing foreign worker visa policies. The Trump administration's goal apparently is to prioritize the hiring of American workers and change the way U.S. companies can recruit skilled professionals from other countries. Policy should "prioritize the protection of American workers," the draft reportedly states.
Trump Clings to Personal Phone Despite Security Risks
January 27, 2017
President Donald J. Trump apparently has continued to use his personal Android smartphone despite security concerns. Trump was concerned about losing access to his personal phone even prior to taking his oath of office, according to a report citing unnamed aides who said he worried about how isolated he could become in the White House without his phone to keep in touch with friends.
Google Gets Rid of 1.7 Billion Bad Ads
January 25, 2017
Google removed 1.7 billion bad advertisements from its various sites in 2016, more than double the prior year's totals. Google took several steps to crack down on the deceptive advertising, including updating its policies to protect users from "misleading and predatory offers." It also beefed up its technology to help identify misleading ads and remove them.
China Aims to Wash VPNs Out of Its Hair
January 25, 2017
China this week announced new measures to further restrict its citizens' access to the Internet. The 14-month campaign appears designed to crack down on the use of Web platforms and services unapproved by the government, and on virtual private networks, which can used to access those platforms and services covertly. There is an urgent need for regulation, according to the government.
New FCC Chair Ajit Pai Vows to Kill Net Neutrality Rules
January 24, 2017
President Donald Trump on Monday named Ajit Pai chairman of the FCC. Pai, who has been a Republican commissioner for the agency since 2012, replaced Tom Wheeler, whom President Obama appointed to the top post in late 2013. With the new administration, Republicans gain the expected majority of the commission. Pai has been known to be a foe of former President Barack Obama's Net neutrality rules.
Samsung Explains Note7 Failure, Promises to Do Better
January 23, 2017
Samsung has announced new quality assurance protocols to ensure that it won't have a repeat of the catastrophic issues that plagued its Galaxy Note7 handsets. The company last fall issued a universal recall after several of the devices caught fire or exploded. In one incident, an aircraft had to be evacuated after a Samsung Galaxy Note7 caught fire and produced thick smoke.
The US Press Corps vs. Trump: A Teachable Moment
January 23, 2017
Life is about negotiation. We negotiate our relationships -- including marriage, which is a contract that many don't take seriously. We negotiate our jobs, and we negotiate our interactions with our families. Those who are good at this tend to have relatively happy lives. While they don't get everything they might want, they get more than most. When things degrade into wars, both sides lose.
Samsung's Note7 Post Mortem Turns Up 2 Problems
January 21, 2017
Samsung is set to release the results of its Galaxy Note7 investigation on Monday, explaining the underlying causes of the problems that led to the phone's demise. The three independent quality control and supply chain analysis firms Samsung engaged to conduct the investigation concluded that the Note7 was affected by two separate issues. One was a battery issue; the other was the rush to market.
Luckey Dons Virtual Flak Jacket for Zenimax Testimony
January 19, 2017
Palmer Luckey on Wednesday denied that he stole proprietary code from ZeniMax Media, in the little-known company's blockbuster $2 billion lawsuit against Oculus VR and Facebook. ZeniMax has alleged that in 2012, when Luckey was just a video game enthusiast, he corresponded with John Carmack, who allegedly used proprietary hardware and software information to develop the Oculus Rift VR headset.
Did BuzzFeed Just Commit Suicide?
January 16, 2017
Remember the oldie, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim"? The chorus goes like this: "You don't tug on superman's cape, You don't spit into the wind, You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger, And you don't mess around with Jim." One of the lessons we learned last year is that what goes for "Jim" likely also goes for Peter Thiel, who is one of President-elect Donald Trump's leading supporters.
New Facebook Project Aims to Strengthen Journalism
January 12, 2017
Facebook on Tuesday unveiled the Journalism Project, which is designed to establish stronger ties with the journalism industry. Through the project, Facebook aims to bolster the quality of journalism on the network. Among other things, the project aims to tackle the fake news issue that flared during the U.S. presidential election and its aftermath. The project will foster collaboration with news organizations.
Apple May Show Up Fashionably Late at the Original TV Party
January 12, 2017
Apple reportedly plans to follow premium channels HBO and Showtime, as well as streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, in creating its own original TV shows and movies. The company may be negotiating agreements with veteran content producers to buy the rights to scripted television programs. It likely will offer its content through an over-the-top service similar to Netflix.
Medium Slashes Staff, Aims to Fix 'Broken' Model
January 6, 2017
Medium, the once-promising platform led by Twitter cofounder Ev Williams, is losing about a third of its workforce and will undergo a radical overhaul to fix what the CEO called a "broken" business model -- advertising-supported online publishing. Williams touted the company's successes in a post announcing the layoffs, but said that change was needed to address several major business shortfalls.
Bitcoin Rides the Uncertainty Wave
January 4, 2017
The price of bitcoin soared to a new three-year high on Monday, surpassing the $1,000 mark for the first time, in response to economic and geopolitical uncertainty in China following the U.S. presidential election. The price of bitcoin stood at more than $1,025 in late trading on Tuesday, after rising to nearly $1,030. The market cap was $16.49 billion, according to the CoinDesk index.
Evernote Toes the Privacy Line
December 31, 2016
Caught off guard by a huge backlash, Evernote recently abandoned its plan to let staffers read customer notes under certain circumstances. The plan would have allowed staffers to review private customer notes as a means of assessing the accuracy of its new machine learning technology. The company made a mistake in judgment, Evernote CEO Chris O'Neil acknowledged.
Germany Could Ding Facebook for Fake News
December 30, 2016
The frenzied 2016 election cycle mercifully is over, but Facebook's fake news problem isn't going away. The company may face steep fines in Germany if it fails to address it satisfactorily. A bill slated for consideration next year would establish fines of up to $500,000 euros per day for each day that a fake news story persisted after notification of its falsehood was provided.
Apple, Ireland Balk at EU's Bill for Back Taxes
December 29, 2016
Apple and the Irish government are fighting what some view as a European Union tax grab. The two recently filed a formal appeal of the EC's decision ordering Apple to pay nearly $14 billion in back taxes, based on its finding that Ireland had given Apple several illegal tax breaks. The EC found that Ireland had allowed Apple to determine its tax based on the activities of its subsidiary firms.
2016: The Year That Was
December 26, 2016
2016 really was a year like no other. We had yet another election defined by the misuse of analytics -- and folks seem to be getting worse rather than better at this. We had a rush to robotics, particularly self-driving cars, and some firms even leaped ahead to self-flying, people-delivering drones. We had a wave of fake news, mostly paid for by Google, because that company has no compass.
Fact-Checking the President-Elect's Tweets
December 24, 2016
Fact-checking President-elect Donald Trump can be a chore, even for people paid to do it. The Washington Post wants to make it less so, with add-ons to the popular Chrome and Firefox browsers. The browser extension, RealDonaldContext, is available from the Chrome Web Store or the Mozilla Foundation. Once installed, the extension displays any fact-checking the Post may have done.
Is Peter Thiel the Most Powerful Person in Tech?
December 19, 2016
There are generally two paths for dealing with someone in power when disagreements arise. One is to confront, and the other is to understand and influence. What is interesting is the most common path taken is the former while the most successful is the latter. I think the reason is that the former path is both the natural path for disagreement and the most visible.
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Genesys Forrester Wave
How worried are you that you personally will be the victim of a cybercrime?
Very worried -- I've taken steps to protect myself.
Very worried -- but I don't think it's possible to protect myself.
I've already been a victim, and it was devastating.
I've already been a victim, but it was no big deal.
The risk is overblown. I don't consider myself a likely target.
The tech industry is doing a good job protecting me.