Daily Archives: October 19, 2021

Treating tech giants as nation-states – Yahoo News

Posted: October 19, 2021 at 11:00 pm

Image: Ian Bremmer

Tech companies are creating not just the products of the future, but also the future's infrastructure and rules, global analyst Ian Bremmer writes in an article for Foreign Affairs.

Why it matters: That means "it is time to start thinking of the biggest technology companies as similar to states," Bremmer argues.

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Between the lines: Bremmer makes the case that such companies are already establishing diplomatic relations whether they choose to be closely tied to one country, such as many Chinese tech firms, or aim to be global players, such as Microsoft, Apple and others.

And, he notes, it was the tech companies that acted swiftly after Jan. 6 to preserve democracy in the U.S., with Facebook and Twitter suspending former President Trump's accounts; Amazon, Apple, and Google basically forcing Parler offline; and payments companies like PayPal and Stripe also suspending accounts tied to the insurrection.

Yes, but: Many critics argue Facebook bears significant responsibility for the events of Jan. 6, by providing the digital platform used by some to organize the insurrection and amplifying election-related misinformation.

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Is It Possible for Tech Giants to Thrive Without Data Exploitation – Digital Information World

Posted: at 11:00 pm

Out of all of the resources that exist out there right now, data might just be the single most valuable one because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up allowing tech companies to earn massive amounts of money far beyond what commodities like gold or oil could potentially give anybody. Businesses dont just need data to directly earn money either, it also helps them to optimize their products and services and to ensure that the needs of the consumer are always met.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that consumer concerns surrounding how tech companies might be infringing on their privacy has resulted in a wide range of restrictions being placed on how these companies can go about using data in the first place. This means that data is not the goldmine that it used to be, which begs the question of whether or not big tech companies can survive without being able to access this all important resource.

The combined value of data derived from the 27 countries comprising the European Union was estimated to be just under 325 Billion Euros back in 2019, and it is predicted that it will be well past half a trillion Euros, or 550 billion to be precise, by the time 2025 rolls around. The Big Five tech companies might struggle to keep going without this with all things having been considered and taken into account, but its also not quite as simple as that.

One thing that the use of data has allowed a lot of tech companies to do is reduce the number of employees that they need to keep on staff in order to stay operational. Brick and mortar establishments need to employ far more people which can eat into their potential revenue, and that is a problem that most tech companies would be really eager to address as quickly as they can. Losing access to valuable data might eat into tech company revenues which might make it difficult for them to continue providing free services.

Most tech companies offer a lot of services for free, including search engines and social media platforms. The only reason they are able to do this is because they gain access to the resource that is data, which means that a lot of tech companies might just need to start charging for their services and that might subsequently result in them losing lots of users. A lot of users only have social media accounts due to the reason that it does not cost anything to make one, after all.

One solution that has been proposed is for tech companies to start paying users for their data. After all, if you own a gold mine you will get rich if you allow companies to exploit the resources contained therein. Hence, is it really so strange for consumers to want a piece of the pie if the data they are providing helps tech companies earn such vast amounts of money on a more or less regular basis?

Back in 2016, it was estimated that Facebook earned over $62 per user, so its not a stretch to imagine that users might get a small piece of that, enough to keep them engaged in the platform. Whatever the case may be, companies that got rich during the golden age of data provision will now need to figure out a different way to do things. The impact that this would have on the tech industry as well as the global economy could be quite drastic, and it will be interesting to see if users no longer care about privacy once the cost of data privacy becomes apparent to them.

Photo: Matejmo / Getty Images

Read next:Companies Arent Being Honest When They Say They Wont Sell Your Data, Heres Why

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How your phone, and tech giants Google and Facebook, helped shape NSW’s pandemic response – ABC News

Posted: at 11:00 pm

Your phone helped plan during the pandemic.

And it did it all while in your pocket, or handbag.

Wherever it was, tech giants tracked itand the NSW government used the data to inform its COVID-19 predictions.

Researchers have detailed how movement information logged by Facebook and Google helped predict pandemic peaks.

The data was fed into models developed by researchers at the University of NSW, which informed the state governments roadmap out of lockdown.

The NSW government's modelling accurately predicted that cases would peak at 1,100 to 2,000 cases per day in mid-September.

Case numbers topped out at a daily average of 1,430 on September 13.

Since the start of the pandemic, COVIDSafe has only identified 17 close contacts that weren't found by state officials.

The model over-estimated hospitalisations peaking at2,200 to 3,900 per day in late October.

They actually hit a daily average of 1,235 on September 21.

Google tracks users' movements via their mobile device even when a Google app is not in use when location history is turned on.

During an online presentation hosted by the university yesterday, it was revealed the models were able to show how movement in Sydneys local government areas (LGAs) of concern fell once stricter social distancing restrictions were imposed.

They also showed that by early August, movement in Greater Sydney had fallen to the same levels seen during the Melbourne lockdown in 2020.

Epidemiologist Deborah Cromer, who performed the modelling, said that while other sources to monitor movement were available, the Facebook and Google data was the most useful.

"There are other non-public sources, but many of them lack a 'pre-COVID baseline'and so they are difficult to calibrate," she said.

Google began publishing anonymised, aggregated movement data for most countries down to local government level when the pandemic began.

It breaks down movement around retail and recreation, groceries and pharmacies, parks, transit stations, workplacesand homes.

Facebook, along with every other app on a smartphone, can also track your location unless you tell it not to.

It began publishing movement data and the proportions of people who stayed in one location for 24 hours as part of its Data for Good program.

Freya Shearer, from the Doherty modelling consortium at the University of Melbourne, said understanding how people moved around was critical to controlling the virus when it re-emerged this year.

"We've been fortunate to have access to mobility data which has been made available by technology companies," she said.

Modelling done by the University of NSW was also used to predict how different vaccine strategies might work.

It showed that targeting vaccines at people aged between 16 to 39 in Sydneys south-west would have a big impact on stopping transmission of the virus.

James Wood, from the University of NSW, said the modelling showed that the strategy would reduce the outbreak size in Fairfield and Campbelltown.

"What we found was that a targeted program would bring forward control by about two weeks in the sense that we need to get about another 30 per cent reduction in transmission around about the 20th of August," he said.

Facebook and Google were contacted for comment.

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This is why Australia may be powerless to force tech giants to regulate harmful content – The Conversation AU

Posted: at 11:00 pm

If some anonymous troll went after one of my children, Id be livid. And if my colleagues supported me, Id thank them.

So, on some level, I can sympathise with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce when he railed against the rumour-mongering on social media that targeted his daughter earlier this month.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, who has recently authored a book on these matters, backed him in.

The Coalition leaders have taken aim at the social media giants, claiming they should take greater responsibility for false and damaging content on their sites, including by identifying offenders. Should they not comply, Morrison argued,

theyre not a platform anymore theyre a publisher and you know what the implication of that means.

What is the difference between a publisher and platform? And what exactly are the implications, under Australian law, for US-based social media companies like Facebook and Twitter when it comes to false and harmful content being posted to their sites?

The main difference between the two is that one is shielded from defamation actions in Australia (platforms), while the other is not (publishers).

Complicating matters, in a landmark ruling last month, the High Court said media companies and private individuals but not the platforms themselves can be treated as publishers of both the content they post and comments that are posted in response. As such, they can be liable for both if they are defamatory.

Read more: High Court rules media are liable for Facebook comments on their stories. Here's what that means for your favourite Facebook pages

Australian attorneys-general are considering changes to defamation law to address this issue, including whether social media companies should be considered publishers and therefore be more liable for the content that appears on their sites. This could potentially put them at risk for defamation claims.

A related question addresses the obligations of these companies to identify anonymous authors of defamatory content.

This seems to be what Morrison had in mind when he made the distinction between platforms and publishers this month. In practice and principle, it is a vitally important and complex area of media law.

For the social media giants, however, Australias laws on this front are far from the most important or relevant.

Indeed, two US laws provide American tech companies with powerful protections from defamation penalties incurred internationally.

The most recently enacted law is the Securing the Protection of our Enduring and Established Constitutional Heritage Act (2010), otherwise known as the SPEECH Act. (US lawmakers love rousing titles.)

The SPEECH Act makes foreign defamation judgements unenforceable by US courts if they are inconsistent with US laws. This law is designed to prevent libel tourism the act of taking action in countries such as the UK and Australia, where defamation claims are more likely to succeed.

The other US law that applies in cases like this is the notorious section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (1996), containing what has been described as the 26 words that created the internet. This passage says

no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information provider.

This law, enacted a decade before the rise of social media, essentially shields tech companies from legal responsibility for the content that appears on their sites, with very few exceptions.

Read more: What is Section 230? An expert on internet law and regulation explains the legislation that paved the way for Facebook, Google and Twitter

Despite a growing consensus among US lawmakers that section 230 is a problem, there is no bipartisan agreement on the nature of the problem, or how to fix it.

The irony is that section 230 was designed to encourage emergent online platforms (blogging and chat sites, chiefly) to monitor, moderate and/or remove harmful (and obscene) content.

Previously, these sites were protected if they left user-posted content untouched, but they ran the risk of being seen as a publisher, and thus liable, if they took editorial action against such content.

Together, the SPEECH Act and section 230 suggest Australian defamation findings against US-based companies might be unenforceable. So threats to treat Facebook and Twitter as publishers may be toothless.

Australia can claim jurisdiction on the basis these companies are operating businesses here, but this may not be sufficient. Their complex multinational corporate structures provide the tech giants with an effective judicial shield.

Australia could also try to make enforcement easier by pursuing the matter through law reform. For example, legislation could make tech giants local subsidiaries liable for local content and require assets to be held locally for use as potential compensation.

But this, I predict, would meet with robust resistance.

The Australian government may claim to have beaten the tech giants once already with the news media bargaining code, which forced them to the bargaining table on the matter of compensation to media companies for news content.

Morrison has claimed as much when he said:

We have been a world leader on this, and we intend to set the pace.

But this wasnt really a decisive victory; it was more like a negotiated ceasefire. The news media bargaining code is on the books, but has yet to be applied. The social media companies have instead negotiated arrangements separately and independently with news media providers. Some, including SBS and The Conversation, have missed out.

Similarly, if Australia actually, as Morrison threatened, designated the tech giants as publishers, they would effectively be unable to operate here, due to the unrealistic task of pre-moderating all posted content for fear of constant defamation claims.

Read more: A push to make social media companies liable in defamation is great for newspapers and lawyers, but not you

A proposed compromise, in which social media platforms take action against content that has been reported to them, would require them to assess an endless cacophony of defamation claims. Many could be spiteful nonsense. And any claim might take an expert court months to determine.

These operating conditions would be unbearable. I agree with Tama Leaver, a professor of internet studies at Curtin University, who said the tech giants would likely withdraw from Australia altogether.

No level of self-congratulation is proof Australia can prevail against the tech giants. Despite the chest-thumping by our leaders, Australia cannot set the pace. The main game is always being played in Washington. Change, if possible, will have to come from there.

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Opinion | Chinas Bullying Is Becoming a Danger to the World and Itself – The New York Times

Posted: at 11:00 pm

Indeed, TSMC and its South Korean rival Samsung have the only foundries in the world able to make the most advanced 5-nanometer chips, and TSMC is expected to begin next-generation 3-nanometer chips in 2022. The smaller the chips transistors, the more brain power you can pack onto it. Chinas biggest chip maker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, is not even close. It is mainly competing at 28 nanometers and just starting to produce some 14-nanometer chips.

I recently spent time in Silicon Valley asking U.S. chip designers what is the secret of TSMCs sauce that China cannot replicate.

Their short answer: trust.

TSMC is a semiconductor foundry, meaning it builds the chips that lots of different companies design particularly Apple, Qualcomm, Nvidia, AMD and even Intel. Over the years, TSMC has built an amazing ecosystem of trusted partners that share their intellectual property with TSMC to build their proprietary chips. At the same time, leading tool companies like Americas Applied Materials and the Netherlands ASML are happy to sell their best chip-making tools to TSMC. This ensures that the company is always on the cutting edge of the material science and lithography that go into building and etching the base of every semiconductor.

And since it is the main supplier of chips for Apple products, TSMC is constantly being pushed to go beyond the frontiers of innovation to accommodate Apples nonstop and short product cycles for new phones and iPads. It forces the whole TSMC ecosystem to get better and better, faster and faster. So TSMCs costs keep going down, the value of its ecosystem keeps going up and the number of people who can join and benefit from it keeps getting wider and wider.

TSMC always acted like a start-up it was driven and it was always synthesizing the best of everyone, explained Steve Blank, a semiconductor innovator, who runs a course at Stanford on the geopolitics of advanced technologies. Intel, Americas premier chip maker, kind of lost its way, making everything by itself and for itself, added Blank. So it did not have customers pushing it, because Intel was its own customer, and as a result it became complacent. Pat Gelsinger, Intels new C.E.O., has begun to reverse that.

I used to worry that Xis big idea Made in China 2025, his plan to dominate all the new 21st-century technologies would leave the West in the dust. But I worry a little less now. I have great respect for Chinas manufacturing prowess. Its homegrown chip industry is still good enough to do a lot of serious innovation, supercomputing and machine learning.

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Who’s going to lead the telecom panel? – Politico

Posted: at 11:00 pm

With help from John Hendel and Emily Birnbaum

Editors Note: Morning Tech is a free version of POLITICO Pro Technology's morning newsletter, which is delivered to our subscribers each morning at 6 a.m. The POLITICO Pro platform combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the days biggest stories. Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.

House intrigue: Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) is retiring from Congress. Who will replace him as chair of the House Energy and Commerce telecom panel?

Show yourself: Theres no law requiring public identification of patent owners after a patent is issued. Senators today will discuss why thats a bad idea, especially as the U.S. competes with China.

Hitting the floor: House lawmakers will take up four telecom bills today, in an effort to better secure communications networks and supply chains.

ITS TUESDAY, OCT. 19. WELCOME TO MORNING TECH. Im your host, Benjamin Din. Are you also thinking about making an exit from Congress? Let me know.

Got a news tip? Email me at [emailprotected] and find me on Twitter @benjamindin. Got an event for our calendar? Send details to [emailprotected]. Anything else? Team info below. And don't forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.

A message from Ericsson:

Ericsson is pioneering innovative technology that drives global connectivity today a result of our commitment to research and development and contributions to cellular standards. Patent licensing on fair and reasonable terms fosters a healthy innovation ecosystem that encourages future technological advancements by ensuring inventors will be fairly compensated and the work protected. Learn how a strong patent system fuels the virtuous cycle of innovation.

DOYLE EXIT TO SHAKE UP HOUSE DEMOCRATS TECH LEADERSHIP Get ready for speculation over who will take over as top Democrat on the telecom subcommittee whose jurisdiction covers everything from broadband and net neutrality to media ownership and online liability protections, a coveted spot among lawmakers.

The position will open in early 2023, when Doyle leaves Congress after more than a quarter-century. Among his potential successors are senior Democrats like Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.). A person close to Matsui, who serves as Doyles vice chair and co-chairs the Spectrum Caucus, reached out to John shortly after the announcement, telling him that she would be a terrific choice. (Her office didnt comment.)

Doyles legacy: The Pennsylvania Democrat replaced Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) as the subcommittees top Democrat in 2017 and became chair in 2019. He has prioritized efforts to restore Obama-era net neutrality regulations that were repealed during the Trump years. His bill to do so cleared the House in 2019 but died in the Senate. He has also pushed for aggressive investment (in the scores of billions) to build out broadband internet infrastructure and better coordination on 5G airwaves, and has helped shape recent debates over infrastructure spending.

Doyle also enjoyed generally productive negotiations with his GOP counterparts, such as former E&C Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who retired last year. (One of their bipartisan collaborations: a measure to sunset a decades-old satellite TV law).

Why now? In remarks Monday, Doyle cited the pandemic and redistricting among his retirement calculations. But one other factor could be Democrats steep challenge in holding onto their House majority in the 2022 midterms and its less fun being in the minority. The elections are shaping up to look a lot like 36 of the 39 other midterms of the party in power for the first two years in the White House, Walden told John recently. Probably more likely than not, the Republicans take the House majority. (Several Democratic Hill staffers are also leaving.)

One perk of the post: Top E&C lawmakers tend to rake in plenty of cash from the tech and telecom interests they oversee. (Doyles campaign war chest collected donations from the political action committees of Comcast, Google and USTelecom.)

SENATE JUDICIARY SHINES LIGHT ON PATENT OWNERSHIP The Senate Judiciary intellectual property panel will discuss today the importance of knowing who owns U.S. patents, especially in the context of national security concerns. The hearing builds on a piece of legislation the Pride in Patent Ownership Act introduced by Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking member Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) last month.

As America positions itself to compete with China over the technologies that will drive our future, such as 5G, we simply need to know how much of our intellectual property is in the hands of foreign countries, Leahy will say, per prepared remarks, warning that foreign competitors are stockpiling U.S. patents.

The proposed bill would require patent owners to disclose their identities to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office whenever a patent is issued or is transferred, information that would then be accessible to the public.

Public interest: Leahy will also note how the lack of such a law has affected small businesses and entrepreneurs, who may have to engage in expensive and drawn-out litigation just to find out who owns a patent. Without that information, someone may not know who is suing them or who to contact to license a patent.

Thats particularly concerning, according to Tillis, given how heavily the American economy relies on patents and other intellectual property rights. It doesnt make sense to require inventors and investors to waste resources navigating the patent system instead of developing new technologies, discovering new cures and researching new frontiers, he will say.

Elsewhere in patent land: The Innovation Alliance, a coalition that represents R&D-based tech companies like Qualcomm, on Friday filed comments with the USPTO as part of its study on how confusion over what is patentable is impacting key technology areas, such as artificial intelligence. The ability to obtain patents overseas, but not in the United States, favors our foreign competitors and disadvantages U.S. companies, the coalition warned in its filing.

TELECOM BILLS HIT THE HOUSE FLOOR The House is expected to take up a slate of four telecom bills today related to supply chain and security issues. The legislation will be considered under suspension of the rules, an expedited process, typically reserved for less controversial bills, that bars floor amendments.

Whats in them? One of the bills would make sure the FCC doesnt approve radio frequency devices that pose a national security risk (H.R. 3919); another would promote Open RAN technology among small providers (H.R. 4032); a third would establish a council at the FCC to boost the security, reliability and interoperability of communications networks (H.R. 4067); and a fourth would direct the Commerce Department to develop a strategy related to the economic competitiveness of the information and communication technology supply chain (H.R. 4028).

Another bill of interest: Lawmakers will consider the AI in Counterterrorism Oversight Enhancement Act, H.R. 4469, on Wednesday, which would expand the scope of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, an independent agency in the executive branch, to include artificial intelligences use in counterterrorism efforts.

CARR TO CALL FOR ADDING DRONE-MAKER DJI TO FCC THREAT LIST GOP Commissioner Brendan Carr will today call for beginning the process of adding global drone manufacturing giant DJI to the FCC list of so-called covered entities, a source tells John. That list currently contains five companies deemed to pose security risks to the U.S., all of which have ties to China (two of note are Huawei and ZTE).

Shenzhen-headquartered DJI, which occupies a large share of the U.S. drone marketplace, has stoked security fears over concerns that it collects huge swaths of sensitive user data. Carr will speak about these issues at an event this morning.

Road ahead: The process of adding the drone-maker to the threat list could be complicated and would likely involve interagency coordination, but there are signs that U.S. officials could make it happen. The Commerce Department added DJI to its own trade blacklist at the end of last year, citing alleged human rights violations in China. And the Pentagon raised its own concerns this year.

AMAZONS SMALL BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS Amid growing scrutiny over allegations that the company exploits its sellers, Amazon released a report this morning touting the mutually beneficial relationship between the e-commerce giant and those that sell on the platform.

The report found that there are more than 500,000 U.S. sellers, who sold more than 3.8 billion products on the platform and created 1.8 million new jobs in the U.S.

But a recent investigation by Reuters, followed by another from The Markup, found that Amazon exploit[ed] proprietary data from individual sellers to launch competing products and manipulat[ed] search results to increase sales of the companys own goods. Those practices, which reportedly took place in India, have also been the subject of scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers. (Amazon has denied those accusations.)

Sellers have more choices than ever and its incumbent on us to be doing an amazing job to delight sellers, said Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon's vice president of worldwide customer trust and partner support.

Under pressure: Senators on Monday formally introduced legislation that would prevent tech giants, including Amazon, from prioritizing their own products. (That bill picked up an additional cosponsor, Republican Steve Daines of Montana.) The tech industry has lobbied fiercely against tech antitrust legislation in Congress, and Amazon has even reached out to some third-party sellers to warn against the bills. Theyve appreciated the awareness, Mehta said. Theyve also appreciated some help and partnership. Its something we continue to learn and figure out the right ways to work together.

A message from Ericsson:

Mark Chandler, Ciscos former longtime general counsel, has joined Georgetown Laws Center for National Security to help lead its new NatSec Tech program. Erika Crawford Tom is now product manager at the U.S. Digital Service. She most recently was lead product manager at Attentive and is also a Palantir alum. Daniel Kaufman is now a partner in BakerHostetlers digital assets and data management practice group. He recently was acting director for the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC.

Tim McBride will be president of ST Engineering North America. He previously was SVP of global government relations at Raytheon and is a United Technologies and George H.W. Bush alum. Rebecca Osmolski is now digital director for Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). She most recently was digital comms assistant for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Shopify and Unity are joining BSA | The Software Alliance as global members. Shopifys Vivek Narayanadas and Unitys Ruth Ann Keene are joining the board of directors.

Match Groups Hinge is partnering with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to launch a campaign helping singles combat loneliness by highlighting best practices for dating during the pandemic.

Leahy released the remaining Senate appropriations bills, which largely reflected what House lawmakers wanted for tech and telecom agencies. One difference: a $9 million drop for the National Telecommunications and Information Administrations budget.

Brand disparity: At Amazon, Some Brands Get More Protection From Fakes Than Others, Bloomberg reports.

Bill-gate: Microsoft Executives Told Bill Gates to Stop Emailing a Female Staffer Years Ago, via WSJ.

New POV: Big tech companies are geopolitical actors shaping the world order, and thats how they need to be viewed, Eurasia Groups Ian Bremmer writes in Foreign Affairs.

Something different: New political ad strategy in Virginia: Promoting news articles in Google search results, via WaPo.

A message from Ericsson:

The accelerated pace of technological innovation in telecom relies on collaborative standard development to deliver global connectivity. Inventors from many different countries and companies share and build on each other's work, knowing theyll be protected by a strong patent system that ensures fair compensation through reasonable licensing. Weakening that system risks slowing the pace of innovation.

Ericsson has been a leader in the development of the latest generation of mobile broadband, 5G, which is expected to drive $400-500 billion in economic growth in the US. But this trend and the investment thats already happening in the next generation, 6G can only be sustained if inventors know they will be fairly compensated for their work. Learn more about the virtuous cycle of innovation.

Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Bob King ([emailprotected]), Heidi Vogt ([emailprotected]), John Hendel ([emailprotected]), Alexandra S. Levine ([emailprotected]), Leah Nylen ([emailprotected]), Emily Birnbaum ([emailprotected]), and Benjamin Din ([emailprotected]). Got an event for our calendar? Send details to [emailprotected]. And don't forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.


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10 things in tech you need to know today, Tuesday, Oct. 19 – Business Insider

Posted: at 11:00 pm

Good morning and welcome to 10 Things in Tech. If this was forwarded to you, sign up here. Plus, download Insider's app for news on the go click here for iOS and here for Android.

Let's get started.

1. Apple has taken the wraps off its new MacBook Pro. For the computer's first redesign in five years, Apple has done away with the TouchBar, and has reintroduced MagSafe charging (farewell, USB-C chargers). See what else was unveiled yesterday, from next-gen AirPods to more MacBook features.

2. An ex-Walmart exec wants to build a $400 billion utopian city. Marc Lore wants to build a futuristic city, called "Telosa," that would be built "equitism," a mash-up of equality and capitalism. Telosa's first "settlers" will likely be selected through applications and could move in by 2030.

3. Big Tech is facing a reckoning. We spoke with the people leading the charge. Tech giants are struggling to clamp down on scrutiny from within: Facebook has had a rough few weeks after a series of whistleblower disclosures, Google employees launched a union earlier this year the list goes on. These 18 workers-turned-activists are forcing scrutiny of the industry.

4. Microsoft's president told Bill Gates to stop emailing a female employee. Sources told The Wall Street Journal that Brad Smith confronted Gates more than a decade ago over "inappropriate" emails. More on that here.

5. Facebook says it's hiring 10,000 people to help build the "metaverse." The company said it would hire thousands of people across Europe to help fulfill Mark Zuckerberg's dream of a metaverse, a theoretical virtual space where people can access the internet. Inside Facebook's metaverse plans.

6. Zoom and HP want to build a $17,000 office pod for video calls. Working alongside Room, a prefab office-pod maker, the two companies are trying to create a soundproof pod for video conferencing that can be assembled within hours. Check out the Room for Zoom.

7. Google's CEO said companies that fail to go carbon-free will lose the talent war. The company's goal to go carbon-free isn't just about climate change, CEO Sundar Pichai told Bloomberg it benefits recruiting too. Why he believes Gen Z won't work for "a company which they feel is polluting."

8. An adult who got addicted to Instagram shares her experience quitting the app. This writer argues the app isn't just harming teens it also took a toll on her productivity. How she used a digital detox to feel lighter and more in control.

9. Facial-recognition tech vendors lament "misinformation." At a top surveillance conference in Washington, industry insiders discussed facial-recognition misinformation, called racial bias in facial-recognition a "myth," and expressed concerns that the industry is "under attack."

10. Amazon is hiring for 500 data science roles right now. The company is hiring more than a dozen different titles from engineers to scientists and most candidates can expect a six-figure salary. Here's how much engineers, researchers, and other positions are getting paid.

Compiled by Jordan Erb. Tips/comments? Email jerb@insider.com or tweet @JordanParkerErb.

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Is it even possible to regulate Facebook effectively? Time and again, attempts have led to the same outcome – The Conversation AU

Posted: at 11:00 pm

The Australian governments recent warning to Facebook over misinformation is just the latest salvo in the seemingly constant battle to hold the social media giant to account for the content posted on its platform.

It came in the same week as the US Senate heard whistleblowing testimony in which former Facebook executive Frances Haugen alleged the company knew of harmful consequences for its users but chose not to act.

Governments all over the world have been pushing for years to make social media giants more accountable, both in terms of the quality of information they host, and their use of users data as part of their business models.

The Australian governments Online Safety Act will come into effect in January 2022, giving the eSafety Commissioner unprecedented powers to crack down on abusive or violent content, or sexual images posted without consent.

But even if successful, this legislation will only deal with a small proportion of the issues that require regulation. On many such issues, social media platforms have attempted to regulate themselves rather than submit to legislation. But whether we are talking about legislation or self-regulation, past experiences do not engender much confidence that tech platforms can be successfully regulated and regulation put in action easily.

Our research has examined previous attempts to regulate tech giants in Australia. We analysed 269 media articles and 282 policy documents and industry reports published from 2015 to 2021. Lets discuss a couple of relevant case studies.

In 2019, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into digital platforms described Facebooks algorithms, particularly those that determine the positioning of advertising on Facebook pages, as opaque. It concluded media companies needed more assurance about the use of their content.

Read more: Consumer watchdog calls for new measures to combat Facebook and Google's digital dominance

Facebook initially welcomed the inquiry, but then publicly opposed it (along with Google) when the government argued the problems related to Facebooks substantial market power in display advertising, and Facebook and Googles dominance of news content generated by media companies, were too important to be left to the companies themselves.

Facebook argued there was no evidence of an imbalance of bargaining power between it and news media companies, adding it would have no choice but to withdraw news services in Australia if forced to pay publishers for hosting their content. The standoff resulted in Facebooks infamous week-long embargo on Australian news.

Read more: The easy way to rein in Facebook and Google: stop them gobbling up competitors

The revised and amended News Media Bargaining Code was passed by the parliament in February. Both the government and Facebook declared victory, the former having managed to pass its legislation, and the latter ending up striking its own bargains with news publishers without having to be held legally to the code.

In 2015, to deal with violent extremism on social media the Australian government initially worked with the tech giant to develop joint AI solutions to improve the technical processes of content identification to deal with countering violent extremism.

This voluntary solution worked brilliantly, until it did not. In March 2019, mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch were live-streamed on Facebook by an Australian-born white supremacist terrorist, and the recordings subsequently circulated on the internet.

This brought to light the inability Facebooks artificial intelligence algorithms to detect and remove the live footage of the shooting and how fast it was shared on the platform.

The Australian government responded in 2019 by amending the Criminal Code to require social media platforms to remove abhorrent or violent material in reasonable time and, where relevant, refer it to the Australian Federal Police.

These two examples, while strikingly different, both unfolded in a similar way: an initial dialogue in which Facebook proposes an in-house solution involving its own algorithms, before a subsequent shift towards mandatory government regulation, which is met with resistance or bargaining (or both) from Facebook, and the final upshot which is piecemeal legislation that is either watered down or only covers a subset of specific types of harm.

There are several obvious problems with this. The first is that only the tech giants themselves know how their algorithms work, so it is difficult for regulators to oversee them properly.

Then theres the fact that legislation typically applies at a national level, yet Facebook is a global company with billions of users across the world and a platform that is incorporated into our daily lives in all sorts of ways.

How do we resolve the impasse? One option is for regulations to be drawn up by independent bodies appointed by governments and tech giants to drive the co-regulation agenda globally. But relying on regulation alone to guide tech giants behaviour against potential abuses might not be sufficient. There is also the need for self-discipline and appropriate corporate governance - potentially enforced by these independent bodies.

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Is it even possible to regulate Facebook effectively? Time and again, attempts have led to the same outcome - The Conversation AU

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Network-Based Platforms Must Be Regulated. But How? – Harvard Business Review

Posted: at 11:00 pm

Amazon collects a wealth of digital data about consumers and merchants on their marketplace. The data is used to optimize recommendation algorithms, customize search experiences, and even learn from third-party merchants what private-label products to offer. But what if we could use that same data to determine whether merchants and consumers would be better or worse off if Amazon faced more competition? The choice of which level of competition is best for platform ecosystems, such as Amazons, is not simply a dichotomous choice between complete monopoly and perfect competition. Our research on platforms and network effects suggests that the best policies may not lie at eitherextreme of laissez-faire or competition at all costs. Finding the best policy often requires a careful analysis of the trade-offs.

Much of the dominance of todays tech firms, from Amazon to Google to Facebook, arises from network effects. These platforms facilitate connections: they connect people to products, to friends, to apps, to drivers, and to homes that would not otherwise be available to them. As more people use these platforms, they can facilitate exponentially more connections, and thus provide more value to each person. It is Amazons connections to consumers (both for discovery and delivery) that make it so attractive to many businesses. Take Hunnibi, a Canadian start-up specializing in mess-free honey dispensers. Amazon allowed them to reach a large pool of honey enthusiasts, an unlikely outcome for a small company based in Dollard-Des Ormeaux, Canada.

But businesses depending on Amazon increasingly find themselves at the mercy of the giant platform. There are increasing concerns that dominant platforms may harm consumers and businesses, by taking an increasing share of the value created from enabling connections, or by crushing innovation. Take for example Fortem, a manufacturer of car accessories founded by two young entrepreneurs in 2016. Their trunk organizer soon became very popular on Amazon Marketplace, until Amazon launched a similar competing product through its own private label, Amazon Basics.Or take Peak Design, a stylish designer of camera gear. Amazon Basics camera bag is eerily similar to Peak Designs Everyday Sling, both in name and functionality.

The question of how much competition tech giants like Amazon should face is now at the center of worldwide policy debate, and reining in big tech is a common goal across the political divide. But traditional antitrust policy is ill-equipped to regulate network-based platforms for several reasons. First, markets with network effects may naturally tip toward one dominant network, so a platform may find itself in a monopolistic position without violating any antitrust laws. Second, to attract users and generate network effects, some platforms are offered free to users, charging in data or attention. For these platforms, standard antitrust rules that evaluate consumer welfare based on prices are not applicable to evaluate market power. Third, conditions in these markets evolve quickly and often unpredictably, requiring a nimbler response.

Historically, especially in the U.S., antitrust authorities have taken a laissez-faire approach under the assumption that it is better to err on the side of not intervening when there is uncertainty. This has allowed companies like Google and Facebook to go on a shopping spree to acquire early-stage competitors that could have become a threat if left independent. But recent signals, such as the appointment of Lina Khan as the Chair of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, suggest that the tide may be turning, and big tech may find themselves in the position of having to either defend their dominance as beneficial to their ecosystems or risk losing it.

The most obvious potential downside of monopolies is that firms may charge high prices when consumers have few alternatives. In fact, existing antitrust policy in the U.S. and many other countries is based on the notion that if consolidation increases prices for consumers, it should be blocked. There are many such examples in platform mergers and acquisitions, although the definition of price is a bit more subtle. Take the merger of Singapore-based Grab by Ubers operations in that region in early 2018. The companies were fined by the Singapore Competition Authority because following the deal, not because Grab changed nominal prices, but rather reduced both the number of points earned by riders per dollar spent and the number and frequency of driver promotions and incentives.

In many digital platforms, however, the standard price-based approach may not provide much guidance. Eased by generous VC financing, platforms tend to charge low prices in the beginning to attract users and generate network effects, even if they may raise them later. This means that looking at price changes immediately following a merger provides only a partial picture of the long-term market power that such a merger may generate. When Rover, the largest pet-sitting platform in the U.S., acquired its fiercest competitor, DogVacay, in early 2017, prices and promotions did not budge.

Many platforms, such as Facebook or Google Search, are free to use, charging instead by collecting more user data, or by charging a different user group, like advertisers. These choices affect product quality even if customers dont have to pay for the product. For example, Facebooks acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram may have affected the quality users experience, even if none of the services charge them directly. A key question is how competition affects quality and innovation. It is unclear whether competition will lead to higher quality or more innovation. On the one hand, pressure imposed by coexisting competitors competition in the market can lead platforms to innovate and increase quality. But on the other hand, the expectation of future dominance can lead to competition for the market: entrants may innovate on the prospect of becoming a dominant platform or being acquired by one. Competition for the market is nothing new. In fact, patent protection, which effectively grants temporary monopolies, forms part of the incentive that impacts innovation in pharmaceuticals.

As markets mature, policymakers are considering interventions that mix competition for the market and competition in the market, but which mix yields better outcomes is still an open question. In some markets it is feasible for each consumer to multi-home, or use many similar services simultaneously. On social media, for example, many users jump between Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram over the course of a single day. In these contexts, interventions like data portability can increase competition by making it easier to multi-home.

In markets where it is difficult to multi-home, policymakers might require competitors to make their networks interoperable. These policies have been debated in sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades, as mobile phone networks have grown to be lifelines for communication. But what degree of interoperability is optimal is not so obvious. Take Bjrkegrens research, which examined the degree of interoperability across mobile phone operators in Rwanda. An extreme interoperability policy, making it completely free for competitors to connect their subscribers across networks, would have lowered incentives to invest in mobile phone coverage in rural areas by as much as 43%. Similarly, the other extreme of shutting down competition in the market does not maximize incentives to grow the network. A desirable policy lies in the middle: Competitors are allowed to connect users across networks, but have to pay the other network an interconnection fee that is 57% higher than what the government mandated at the time. Promoting competition under these terms would have increased the total utility of Rwandans of consumers, firms, and government by an amount equivalent to 1% of the countrys Gross Domestic Product.

Even though a larger network may be able to create more connections, different consumers may wish to have those connections take different forms than a single dominant platform could provide. For example, Snapchat introduced messages that disappear after they are sent, a popular innovation among a subset of social media users. In these cases, one downside of promoting competition through standards for interoperability is that these can freeze the forms that connections can take, limiting differentiation.

The few studies we have of platform competition point to three early conclusions. First, either extreme, granting dominant platforms free rein, or maximizing competition in the market, may not be optimal. Second, setting the best rules can have enormous impacts. Third, the functioning of these platforms depends on the structure of connections they facilitate. This structure is currently opaque to company outsiders. The main constraint to measuring the value of connections is, paradoxically, a lack of data. We know that many people use Facebook or Uber every day, but do not precisely know how much the presence of one user benefits another. However, researchers have demonstrated that it is possible to measure the effects of policies in network industries with data from the firms themselves. The paradox is that we often treat technology platforms as black boxes that can only be theorized about, while in fact, platforms collect and store more data about their own functioning than any other entities in history.

Even coarse statistics from platforms would allow policymakers to quantify some of the benefits and costs of competition versus dominance in platform industries. For example, this could include diagnostic data about usage, prices (over time and by user group), and quality (such as fraction of ads relative to content). Having data from multiple competing platforms could allow for the measurement of substitutability and switching costs, and to learn retrospectively from mergers that have already taken place. The same internal experiments that platforms use to fine-tune their services or understand their own demand can also reveal how policies are likely to impact the market.

Of course, tech giants would never volunteer their data to third parties to assess whether more competition would benefit their ecosystems. That might harm the firms interests. But a regulator could enforce this under clear and stringent privacy-preserving rules. Governments around the world have the authority to oversee businesses, and could build capacity to request and analyze this digital data, by either existing regulators or new authorities that have been proposed to specialize in digital markets (as is being commissioned in the UK, or suggested in the U.S.). That has historically happened in other industries, with the establishment, for example, of the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration to coordinate radio communications and the use of airspace.Such entities could request and analyze data from platforms to learn the optimal course of action for each market.Given the increasing importance of these networks to daily life, such a regulator should use the most privacy-preserving level of data possible, and be transparent to constituents about what data is being used, and why.

There are substantial upsides to learning from platforms data. This does not mean that any intervention should be delayed while waiting for some perfect understanding, since many instances of dominant platforms can be evaluated using the best knowledge available. However, completely overhauling antitrust policy in the era of platform companies would require a careful balance of the benefits of scale and those of competition, a balance that we have only begun to study empirically in a handful of cases. A better understanding of these networks can help societies fully reap the benefits of digital innovation, while mitigating emerging harms.

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Network-Based Platforms Must Be Regulated. But How? - Harvard Business Review

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As Twitter trends ‘red flag memes,’ tech giants Samsung and Zoom hop on to join banter – Republic World

Posted: at 11:00 pm

Internet trends keep changing and each trend or meme lasts for a few good days. The latest to the list of such meme trends is the red flags. Users have been taking to their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram handles to share images and emojis of red flags. Now, the microblogging site,Twitter themselves have joined the bandwagon and shared the companys red flag situation.

Social media has been flooded with memes related to the red flag today. Ideally, the red flag is a term used to signal a problem. A red flag in a relationship is something that the other person finds disinteresting. Making it a trend, people began sharing their own creative versions of red flag memeson social media.

Joining in on the banter, Twitter took to their official handle which often puts out tweets in jest, posting ared flag tweet. Im not on Twitter, wrote the microblogging platform, addingseveral red flag emojis. The tweet was quickly accepted by the Twitterati who rushed to the comments section to make their own versions of the 'Red flag' memes. Interestingly, fellow companies and brands including the likes of Samsung, Zoom and Ubisoft saw Twitters banter and joined in on the trend.

Replying to Twitter's tweet, smartphone giantSamsung wrote, "Idk I'll just get a phone that does all the same stuff as last time." Many saw Samsung's comment as adig at their rivalApple. Meanwhile, fellow phone maker OnePlus tweeted I charge overnight, addingred flags. "I leave myself unmuted while I eat," commented video conferencing application, Zoom, while video-game developers Ubisoft pushed their own game Far Cry 6 by tweeting chorizo isn't that cute with red flags. With the red flag memes gaining momentum on social media, Twitter's post has now blown up the trend with more and more users retweeting the same with their creative versions of red flag memes.

Earlier on October 4, while Facebook experienced an unforeseen global outage on its digital infrastructure,Twitter took a harmlessdig at the company. While users worldwide were denied access to platforms includingWhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram, Twitter took the opportunity to crack a joke bytweeting Hello, literally everyone. The tweet went viral with Mcdonald's and other brands joining in on the unforeseen situation.

Though Twitter made the tweet on their official handle intending fun amid the global shutdown of Facebook's services, WhatsApp was the first in line to respond with a hello, adding the waving hand emoticon. Instagram alsoimmediately responded to the tweet, Hi, and happy Monday taking the humour a notch up. Meanwhile, Reddit joined the thread, asking Instagram: How are you doing, Instagram? The platform further addressed the photo-sharing app as a social media manager jokingly.As Twitter welcomed literally everyone on its site, one among the first to respond wasMcDonaldsofficial Twitter handle that joked: Hi, what can I get you? Twitter hilariously responded, 59.6 million nuggets for my friends, referring to Facebook and Instagram's roughly estimated followers (on Twitter).The tweet went on to become a popular meme.

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As Twitter trends 'red flag memes,' tech giants Samsung and Zoom hop on to join banter - Republic World

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