Digital Content

Information that is published or distributed in a digital form, including text, data, sound recordings, photographs and images, motion pictures, and software.

Google to Comply With EU Search Demands to Avoid More Fines

Google will comply with Europe’s demands to change the way it runs its shopping search service, a rare instance of the internet giant bowing to regulatory pressure to avoid more fines. The Alphabet Inc unit faced an Aug 29 deadline to tell the European Union how it planned to follow an order to stop discriminating against rival shopping search services in the region.

The EU fined Google a record 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) in late June for breaking antitrust rules by skewing its general search results to unfairly favor its own shopping service over rival sites. The company had 60 days to propose how it would "stop its illegal content" and 90 days to make changes to how the company displays shopping results when users search for a product. Those changes need to be put in place by Sept. 28 to stave off a risk that the EU could fine the company 5 percent of daily revenue for each day it fails to comply. "The obligation to comply is fully Google’s responsibility," the European Commission said. The onus is on Google to find a solution that satisfies regulators, who’ve learned from past battles with Microsoft and Intel.

Google and Facebook's biggest weapon: apps

Smartphone apps account for half of all time spent with digital media, according to comScore's Mobile apps report, and two companies own the overwhelming majority of the most-trafficked apps: Google and Facebook. Overall, when it comes to time spent on mobile, 87% of mobile time spent is on apps vs. only 13% on mobile web, even though mobile web often receives higher traffic. Why it matters: Smartphone users spend 96% of their app time within their Top 10 most used apps and Smartphone users spend half their time on their #1 most used app, according to comScore. Google and Facebook own the overwhelming majority of traffic to these apps and are the #1 app for every age group.

A hate group was booted from the internet ­- but who gets to make that decision?

[Commentary] Major telecommunications companies, like AT&T and Comcast, control the underlying network that powers the internet. Websites like Facebook and Twitter provide a powerful service on top of that network. But if those websites start censoring conversations or booting users, there's always room for a competing upstart. Don't like Google? Try Bing. However, because they control internet service itself, telecommunications have the ability to shut down the upstarts. It would be as if a power company could charge people more, or deny electricity service, based on its own arbitrary standards. Don't like it? You probably don't have much choice. Nearly half of all US households have only one option for wired broadband service.

In the 21st century, internet access has become another must-have utility. It should be regulated like one. Companies like Cloudfare can choose their users - that option shouldn't be available to Comcast or AT&T. The likes of Prince, Zuckerberg and Bezos need to have a public conversation about the role they play in fighting hate groups and protecting freedom of expression. Telecoms, on the other hand, just have to ensure the internet works.

The Sonos smart speaker with microphone hits the FCC

Sonos has been rumored to be putting together a smart speaker for some time now, and we’ve just gotten the biggest confirmation yet that the company is working on its own voice assistant-powered device: a Federal Communications Commission filing that references a “Product model S13” that adds “integrated voice control functionality.” According to the FCC filing, S13 will have far-field microphones similar to those offered on products like the Amazon Echo to make it easy for the device to pick up and isolate sound from anywhere in a room. But Sonos isn’t just putting all its eggs in the Alexa basket — S13 will purportedly support “multiple voice platforms and music services,” and while details on that are obviously slim, it’s something that would immediately elevate it over its competitors by not locking you in to just one smart assistant ecosystem. Imagine it: a single smart speaker that supports Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. That’s what we might be looking at here.

Bots Are Scraping Your Data For Cash Amid Murky Laws And Ethics

Is the data you share publicly on social networking sites like an announcement in a public place, where speech and information gathering are protected under the First Amendment? Or is it more like something uttered on private real estate, where the owner can prohibit trespassers as they wish? That quandary recently emerged in a California courtroom, where two of the country’s most eminent constitutional lawyers squared off in a high-stakes battle between a data giant and a tiny startup.

These four key areas of Trump’s tech policy are top of mind for Silicon Valley CEOs

The technology sector has been on edge, waiting to see if the new administration will make the reforms needed to spur innovation and startup activity, or whether it will make policy changes that end up stifling it. There are a few key areas of tech policy that are top of mind for tech CEOs and other industry participants, including four key issues: Expanding tech talent, intellectual property protection, artificial intelligence and automation, and network neutrality. Current Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is arguing to end internet service providers’ status as common carriers (on par with utilities), and instead “reestablish” market forces in regulating the internet. His view is that this would increase infrastructure investment and innovation among the aging broadband networks. This is not surprising, given President Trump’s view on this as a “top-down power grab,” drawing analogies to the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine.

Melinda Gates: I spent my career in technology. I wasn’t prepared for its effect on my kids.

[Commentary] I spent my career at Microsoft trying to imagine what technology could do, and still I wasn’t prepared for smartphones and social media. Like many parents with children my kids’ age, I didn’t understand how they would transform the way my kids grew up — and the way I wanted to parent. I’m still trying to catch up. For other parents trying to decide how to do their job in a way that feels right despite the bewildering array of changes brought on by smartphones and social media, I want to share some of the resources that have helped me and my friends. Hopefully, these tips can spark conversation and help parents become resources for each other:
Learn about the issue
Have Tough Conversations
Advocate for your kids
Make a Plan
[Melinda Gates is a businesswoman and philanthropist. She is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation]

Crowdfunding campaign's goal: Buy Twitter, then ban Trump

Former undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson is looking to raise enough money to buy Twitter so President Donald Trump can't use it. Wilson launched the crowdfunding campaign last week, tweeting: “If @Twitter executives won't shut down Trump's violence and hate, then it's up to us. #BuyTwitter #BanTrump.” The GoFundMe page says Trump's tweets “damage the country and put people in harm's way.” As of Aug 23, she had raised about $9,000 of the $1-billion goal. In an e-mailed statement, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the low total shows that the American people like Trump's use of Twitter.

Defending Internet Freedom through Decentralization: Back to the Future?

The Web is a key space for civic debate and the current battleground for protecting freedom of expression. However, since its development, the Web has steadily evolved into an ecosystem of large, corporate-controlled mega-platforms which intermediate speech online.

In this report, we explore two important ways structurally decentralized systems could help address the risks of mega-platform consolidation: First, these systems can help users directly publish and discover content directly, without intermediaries, and thus without censorship. All of the systems we evaluate advertise censorship-resistance as a major benefit. Second, these systems could indirectly enable greater competition and user choice, by lowering the barrier to entry for new platforms. As it stands, it is difficult for users to switch between platforms (they must recreate all their data when moving to a new service) and most mega-platforms do not interoperate, so switching means leaving behind your social network. Some systems we evaluate directly address the issues of data portability and interoperability in an effort to support greater competition.

Silicon Valley siphons our data like oil. But the deepest drilling has just begun

[Commentary] Silicon Valley is an extractive industry. Its resource isn’t oil or copper, but data. Companies harvest this data by observing as much of our online activity as they can. This activity might take the form of a Facebook like, a Google search, or even how long your mouse hovers in a particular part of your screen. Alone, these traces may not be particularly meaningful. By pairing them with those of millions of others, however, companies can discover patterns that help determine what kind of person you are – and what kind of things you might buy.

These patterns are highly profitable. Silicon Valley uses them to sell you products or to sell you to advertisers. But feeding the algorithms that produce these patterns requires a steady stream of data. And while that data is certainly abundant, it’s not infinite. To increase profits, Silicon Valley must extract more data. One method is to get people to spend more time online: build new apps, and make them as addictive as possible. Another is to get more people online. This is the motivation for Facebook’s Free Basics program, which provides a limited set of internet services for free in underdeveloped regions across the globe, in the hopes of harvesting data from the world’s poor.