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Australia Law Forcing Tech Giants being slammed to pay for news

21st January 2021
"Australia announced last month that firms like Google and Facebook would have to pay news media for content."

Us technology giant Google went against an Australian plan forcing digital giant to pay for news content, telling users their personal data would be "at risk". Australia announced last month that firms like Google and Facebook would have to pay news media for content, after 18 months of negotiations ended without agreement. The landmark measures would include fines worth millions of dollars for non-compliance and force transparency around the closely guarded algorithms firms use to rank content.  

Google is now fighting a rearguard action to prevent the measures from entering into force. On Monday, it told users in a new homepage pop-up that "the way Aussies use Google is at risk" and their search experience "will be hurt" by the changes. The technology titan linked to an open letter claiming it would be forced to hand over users' search data to news media companies and give them information that would "help them artificially inflate their ranking" above other websites. Google says it already partners with Australian news media by paying them millions of dollars and sending billions of clicks each year. "But rather than encouraging these types of partnerships, the law is set up to give big media companies special treatment and to encourage them to make enormous and unreasonable demands that would put our free services at risk," the letter states. 

 The legislation will initially focus on Facebook and Google -- two of the world's richest and most powerful companies -- but could eventually apply to any digital platform. Australia's proposals are being closely watched around the world, as regulators increasingly train their focus on the rapidly changing sector. News media worldwide have suffered in the digital economy, where big tech firms overwhelmingly capture advertising revenue. The crisis has been exacerbated by the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with dozens of Australian newspapers closed and hundreds of journalists sacked in recent months. Unlike other countries' so-far unsuccessful efforts to force the platforms to pay for news, the Australian initiative relies on competition law rather than copyright regulations. 

 It has strong support from local media outlets and is expected to be introduced this year. 

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Compiled by : Upasana Poudel Upasana Poudel

CoronaVirus : Apple and Google Partner on Contact Tracing Tech via APIs, Bluetooth

19th January 2021
"Apple and Google are working together to develop a framework for the use of Bluetooth on Android and iOS devices, for contact tracing of coronavirus."

Apple and Google are working together to develop a framework for the use of Bluetooth on Android and iOS devices, for contact tracing of coronavirus.

The two technology giants Apple and Google are going to work together to enable the use of Bluetooth in order for governments and health agencies to carry out contact tracing of people affected by a coronavirus in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19, while keeping privacy and security in the forefront, according to a release issued by the companies.

Apple and Google described it as a comprehensive solution that includes Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and operating system level technology. The two companies are releasing technical documentation of Bluetooth specifications, cryptography specifications, and a framework API for contact tracing.

First, in May, both companies will release APIs that enable interoperability between Android and iOS devices using apps from public health authorities. These official apps will be available for users to download via their respective app stores.

Second, in the coming months, Apple and Google will work to enable a broader Bluetooth-based contact tracing platform by building this functionality into the underlying platforms. This is a more robust solution than an API and would allow more individuals to participate if they choose to opt-in, as well as enable interaction with a broader ecosystem of apps and government health authorities.

Contact Tracing is an important part of reducing the spread of the COVID-19, by identifying the people who have been infected by a coronavirus, and all the people that they have come into contact with, who could, in turn, be potentially infected as well. Most governments around the world have deployed different apps for COVID-19 contact tracing. Similarly, Aarogya Setu mobile apps developed by the Government of India to connect essential health services with the people of India in our combined fight against COVID-19.

According to Apple, "The Contact Detection Service is the vehicle for implementing contact tracing and uses the Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) for proximity detection of nearby smartphones, and for the data exchange mechanism."

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Compiled by : Rishi Raj Singh Rishi Raj Singh

Google loses appeal against $56 million fine in France

14th January 2021
"France’s highest administrative court has upheld a fine of 50 million euros ($56 million) Google was ordered to pay for not being “sufficiently clear and transparent” with Android users about their data protection options."

France’s highest administrative court has upheld a fine of 50 million euros ($56 million) Google was ordered to pay for not being “sufficiently clear and transparent” with Android users about their data protection options.

Google was first slapped with the fine in January 2019, the first penalty for a U.S. tech giant under new European data privacy rules that took effect in 2018.

Google appealed the penalty issued by the French data privacy watchdog to the Council of State, France’s final arbiter in such cases.

The council ruled Friday that the National Data Protection Commission had the right to sanction Google and that the fine was not disproportionate, “given the particular seriousness” and duration of Google’s failings.

In response, Google said it would look at making changes.

In force since May 2018, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, is aimed at clarifying individual rights to personal data collected by companies. It requires companies to use plain language to explain what they’re doing with data.

In sanctioning Google, France’s data watchdog had said Google users were “not sufficiently informed” about what they were agreeing to as the company collected data for targeted advertisements.

It faulted Google for making users take too many steps, “sometimes up to 5 or 6 actions,” to find out how and why their data is being used and for being “too generic and vague” in descriptions of why data is processed.

The Council of State concurred and faulted Google for “particularly intrusive” data collection methods.

It said the firm “has not provided sufficiently clear and transparent information to users of the Android operating system and has not enabled them to give free and informed consent to the processing of their personal data for the purpose of personalizing advertisements.”

Google said Friday that it has “invested in industry-leading tools” to help its users “understand and control how their data is used.”

“This case was not about whether consent is needed for personalized advertising, but about how exactly it should be obtained,” the company said. “In light of this decision, we will now review what changes we need to make.”

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Compiled by : Samana Maharjan Samana Maharjan

Apple, Google drop Fortnite from the app store

20th January 2021
"The battle video game has been massively popular since its launch in 2017."

Apple and Google dropped the popular game Fortnite from their app stores after the game’s developer introduced a direct payment plan that bypasses their platforms.

Apple and Google both take a 30% cut from in-app revenue purchases in games, which has long been a sore spot with developers.

Fortnite is free, but users can pay for in game accoutrements like weapons and skins. Its developer, Epic Games, said in a blog post Thursday that it was introducing Epic Direct payments, a direct payment plan for Apple’s iOS and Google Play. Epic said the system is the same payment system it already uses to process payments on PC and Mac computers and Android phones.

Apple and Google said the service violates their guidelines.

“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services,” Apple said in statement.

Google said Fortnite will remain available on Android, just not through its app store. Android users can download the app from other app stores, although that’s generally not an option for iPhone users.

Epic Games did not immediately return a request for comment. Epic’s Fortnite Twitter account said the company would debut a new short film called “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” a seeming parody of Apple’s iconic “1984” commercial that introduced the Macintosh computer. It has also filed a complaint against Apple in the U.S. District Court in Northern California for dropping Fortnite.

Source:AP

 

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Google to merge video-calling apps Duo and Meet: Report

18th January 2021
"Google announced in May that Google Meet will be free for everyone till September 30 including enterprises."

Google is reportedly working towards replacing the video-calling app Duo with Meet in due course of time. The decision was made by the G Suite head Javier Soltero who took over the position earlier this year in May. According to 9to5Google, Soltero announced to his employees that having two video-calling apps does not make sense.

Apparently, the combination of the two apps is in process and has been codenamed as ‘Duet”. Google Meet has posed as a tough competitor to video-conferencing app Zoom which has been a hit among office-goers as ‘work from home’ became a new form. Zoom was also used for casual family and friends meeting who were unable to meet each other in-person.

Reportedly, the Google Duo team is surprised by the recent series of events as the app was widely used during the lockdown. Especially after Google announced in May that there was a total of three billion minutes of call duration in the month and close to three million daily new users. The engineers who worked on the app either left or were shifted to the Meet team.

We’re fully invested in Duo, which has seen astonishing growth during the pandemic. People around the world are relying on video calling more than ever, and we have no plans to interrupt that. We’ll continue to invest in building new Duo features and delivering a delightful experience for our users, customers and partners. We brought the Duo organization under Javier Soltero’s leadership in May, and it follows that we’re looking at ways that our video calling products can improve alongside one another,Google said in a statement.

Earlier, Duo let the users call anyone from their contact list. Then, they added the ability to call people using their email addresses. However, the update in April helped improve video quality followed by 32-person calls, a family mode, and the more popular link-based invites.

Google Meet has been a part of G Suite from the start. After Zoom’s popularity grew manyfold, Google announced in May that Google Meet will be free for everyone till September 30 including enterprises. Google Meet’s integration with the Gmail app made it more accessible and easy to use.

 

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