Posted by & filed under FaceBook, IT and Politics.

The Facebook logo displayed on a smartphone screen.

As many as 126 million Americans may have seen content uploaded to Facebook by Russia-based operatives since 2015.

That’s nearly half of the 270 million Americans who are old enough to be allowed a Facebook profile.

The figure comes from the social network itself, which along with Google and Twitter, is preparing for a Senate hearing where it will explain Russia’s impact on the popular sites.

But how many people have actually seen those posts?

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: December 17th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41819819

Discussion

1) “126 million, is the “reach” of some 80,000 posts published between June 2015 and August 2017.  Facebook defines a post’s “reach” as those people who may have come across the content (text story/video/image/ad) in their News Feed.  A post counts as reaching someone when it’s shown in their News Feed.  So this figure takes no account of the number of people who may or may not have stopped to actually read the post.”  So, 126 million is not really the number of people “influenced” by possible Russian ads.  How might you come up with a realistic number of people who were influenced by possible Russian ads?

2) “Facebook goes on to explain that the number of Americans who saw those posts directly is 29 million – a much smaller number.”  What might it mean when Facebook says “saw directly”?

3) By a survey in class of your friends, from your last 24 hours of using Facebook, Instagram or other social media, what do you think the percentage of ads that have been shown to you that you actually were impacted by?

Posted by & filed under Amazon, Apple, FaceBook, Google.

Google, Facebook and Amazon illustration

France has said it will introduce its own tax on big technology firms from 1 January after EU-wide efforts stalled.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he expected it to bring in €500m (£450m) in 2019.

France, along with Germany, had been pushing for the European Commission to agree measures by the end of this year.

But it is opposed by countries including Ireland, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland.

Earlier this year, the European Commission published proposals for a 3% tax on the revenues of large internet companies with global revenues above €750m (£675m) a year and taxable EU revenue above €50m.

The move would affect companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.

But critics fear an EU tax could breach international rules on equal treatment for companies across the world.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: December 17th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46591576

Discussion

1) Why does it make sense to tax big technology firms more than other firms?

2) Do you think it is fair to tax Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon more than other firms?  What would make a firm eligible to be taxed more than someone else?

Posted by & filed under IT and Politics.

California regulators want to tax text messages to increase funds for programs that bring connectivity to underserved residents.
A new surcharge proposed by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) wouldn’t be a per-text tax, but a monthly fee based on a cellular bill that includes any fees for text-message services. Most carriers offer a flat fee option for texting, and already charge a similar fee for other services included in the bill — such as phone calls. The exact structure of the charge would vary from carrier to carrier.
Source: CNN Technology News
Date: December 13th, 2018
Discussion
1) Is it fair to “tax text messages to increase funds for programs that bring connectivity to underserved residents”?
2) Why do think California is targeting text messages for this tax?

Posted by & filed under Apple, Careers.

Tim Cook

Apple has announced plans to build a new campus in Austin, Texas, saying the project will involve a $1bn (£790m) investment.

The company already has an existing base in the city.

The iPhone-maker said it expected the latest move would eventually make it the state capital’s biggest private employer.

One expert said the area had a big pool of talent to draw on but was no longer cheaper to hire in than Silicon Valley.

Intel’s Atom computer processors were developed at its facility in the city. Dell, Amazon, Samsung, Facebook, Google and IBM are among other large local employers.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: December 13th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-46552904

Discussion

1) What things would Apple likely have considered when they were making their choice of where to put their new technology campus?

2) Why might Amazon have picked Washington D.C. and New York City for it’s HQ2 whereas Apple picks Austin, TX?

Posted by & filed under cloud services.

Aerial view of the United States military headquarters, the Pentagon

A technology company bidding for a Pentagon contract to store sensitive data has close partnerships with a firm linked to a sanctioned Russian oligarch, the BBC has learned.

The Jedi project, a huge cyber-cloud which could ultimately store nuclear codes, has already sparked security fears.

Viktor Vekselberg, who is close to the Kremlin, has links to C5, a group of cyber-investment companies which has worked closely with the leading bidder, Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: December 13th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46489689

Discussion

1) Just because a cloud stores something incredibly secret, does it also mean that the secret thing being stored is not safe?

2) Why is the U.S. Pentagon moving to a secure cloud?

Posted by & filed under Apple.

market share of mobile phone companies by shipments

You don’t need to look hard to see how the Global Times – the state-backed Chinese newspaper – is interpreting the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

“Washington’s move to stifle Huawei will undermine itself,” reads a headline. “Banning Chinese companies like Huawei will isolate US from digital economy of the future,” reads another.

It’s that second headline, the threat of isolation, that should give US technology companies considerable pause as we head into Ms Meng’s 12th day of detention in a Canadian jail.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: December 11th, 2018

Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-46516662

Discussion

1) Every class I’ve asked has thought that Apple had somewhere around 60% of the world smartphone market. As the chart shows, it is around 13% and falling.  Why do most people in north America overestimate the amount of people with an Apple smartphone?

2) Why is Huawei growing?

Posted by & filed under Privacy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks at a quantum ready cybersecurity device from Crypto4A as he participates in a tour of Bayview Yards, a business acceleration hub, in Ottawa

Source: CBC News

Date: December 6th, 2018

Link:

Discussion

1) “The federal privacy watchdog is warning the Liberal government that it must not trade privacy rights for commercial gain as it strives to position Canada as a global leader in the digital, data-driven economy.”  What do they mean when they say ” trade privacy rights for commercial gain”?

2) How can you, the user, protect your privacy rights when you get things from companies that are focused on commercial gain?

Posted by & filed under cyber war, Cybersecurity.

The arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer is just the latest controversy to hit the tech giant which has been accused of conducting espionage activities for the Chinese government.

“We don’t know to what extent they might be considered an arms length business and to what extent they might be simply an arm of the Chinese government,” said David Skillicorn, a professor in Queen’s University School of Computing.

Source: CBC News

Date: December 6th, 2018

Link: https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/huawei-china-telecom-arrest-spying-1.4934905

Discussion

1) What sorts of things could a company like Huawei do if it were spying for China?

2) “It is hard for me to believe that a company such as Huawei would not do the bidding of the Chinese government and would not build traps, back doors into its technology on behalf of the Chinese government.” What is a “trap” and what is a “back door”?

Posted by & filed under App Economy, Uber.

Grab, the most popular ride-hailing app in Southeast Asia, will end 2018 with $3 billion in new funds as it seeks to fend off rivals in a region of more than 600 million people.

The Singapore-based startup has raised more than $2.7 billion so far this year and will get to $3 billion “before New Year’s bell,” President Ming Maa said in an interview Tuesday with CNN Business.

The new funding, which includes a $1 billion investment from Toyota (TM) in June, values Grab at over $11 billion, according to a person familiar with the company.

Grab made international headlines in March when it bought Uber’s operations in eight Southeast Asian countries. The startup now dominates those markets, but it no longer wishes to be known as a ride-hailing company.

Source: CNN Technology News

Date: December 6th, 2018

Link (includes 2 minute video): https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/04/tech/grab-president-ming-maa/index.html

Discussion

1) “Grab wants to be a “daily lifestyle platform,” Maa said, as it expands into areas like digital payments and health care services”.  How can a ride-hailing company move into digital payments and health care?

2) Should Uber and Lyft be looking to move in the same direction as Grab?

Posted by & filed under Ethical Issues, FaceBook.

Facebook documents

Emails written by Facebook’s chief and his deputies show the firm struck secret deals to give some developers special access to user data while refusing others, according to MPs.

A cache of internal documents has been published online by a parliamentary committee.

It said the files also showed Facebook had deliberately made it “as hard as possible” for users to be aware of privacy changes to its Android app.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: December 6th, 2018

Link:  https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-46456695

Discussion

1) Why is it important news that Facebook is playing favorites with some developers and blocking access to others?

2) Facebook is a public company, not a government entity, is run for profit, and is not a requirement for life.  Why should it not be able to treat certain customers more favorably than others?