Germany starts enforcing hate speech law, Apple buys app development service and more news
What is happening in the world of technology? Read our digest and you will know.
Germany is set to start enforcing a law that demands social media sites move quickly to remove hate speech, fake news and illegal material.
Sites that do not remove “obviously illegal” posts could face fines of up to 50m euro (£44.3m).
The law gives the networks 24 hours to act after they have been told about law-breaking material.
Social networks and media sites with more than two million members will fall under the law’s provisions.
Read more on BBC
2) Report: new hacking group linked to North Korea hijacked computers to mine Monero cryptocurrency worth ~$25K
North Korean hackers are hijacking computers to mine cryptocurrencies as the regime in Pyongyang widens its hunt for cash under tougher international sanctions.
A hacking unit called Andariel seized a server at a South Korean company in the summer of 2017 and used it to mine about 70 Monero coins — worth about $25,000 as of Dec. 29 — according to Kwak Kyoung-ju, who leads a hacking analysis team at the South Korean government-backed Financial Security Institute.
Read more on Bloomberg
Amazon and Google were willing to lose money on smart speaker sales over the holidays by discounting their hardware in order to gain market share. The reason? Smart speakers are now the fastest-growing consumer technology – faster than any other recent consumer technology, including AR, VR or wearables, according to a new report today from Canalys, which pegs smart speaker shipments to top 50 million in 2018.
Specifically, analysts expect the market to grow by 56.3 million this year, with both Amazon and Google leading the way via their Echo and Home product lines.
The U.S. will also continue to be the most important market for smart speakers, the report says, with shipments expected to reach 38.4 million in 2018. China will be a distant second with 4.4 million units.
Read more on Techcrunch
Emmanuel Macron has vowed to introduce a law to ban fake news on the internet during French election campaigns.
The French president, who beat the far-right Marine Le Pen to win 2017’s election, said he wanted new legislation for social media platforms during election periods “in order to protect democracy”.
In his new year’s speech to journalists at the Élysée palace, Macron said he would shortly present the new law in order to fight the spread of fake news, which he said threatened liberal democracies.
New legislation for websites would include more transparency about sponsored content. Under the new law, websites would have to say who is financing them and the amount of money for sponsored content would be capped.
Read more on The Guardian
Apple continues to ramp up its efforts to court developers by making it easier to create and iterate their apps for its platforms. The iPhone giant has now acquired Buddybuild, a Vancouver-based app tools startup that describes itself as “mobile iteration platform” focused on continuous integration and debugging tools — essentially giving an app development team a simple workflow for iterating and pushing their apps out into the world through GitHub, BitBucket or GitLab.
Apple confirmed the acquisition directly to us, and the startup also noted the move in a blog post this afternoon.
Read more on Techcrunch
The aftermath of the data breach played out like a familiar script: White-hot bipartisan outrage, then hearings and proposals that went nowhere.
The massive Equifax data breach, which compromised the identities of more than 145 million Americans, prompted a telling response from Congress: It did nothing.
Some industry leaders and lawmakers thought September’s revelation of the massive intrusion — which took place months after the credit reporting agency failed to act on a warning from the Homeland Security Department — might be the long-envisioned incident that prompted Congress to finally fix the country’s confusing and ineffectual data security laws.
Read more on Politico
Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg said that one aspect of his yearly personal challenge will be to study cryptocurrency and to explore how it can be used within Facebook.
Zuckerberg published a Facebook post on Thursday in which he outlined his personal goal for 2018. The main goal is, essentially, to fix the problems within Facebook that have caused controversy. “We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools,” Zuckerberg wrote. “If we’re successful this year then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory.”
Read more on Businessinsider
Music streaming company Spotify was sued by Wixen Music Publishing Inc last week for allegedly using thousands of songs, including those of Tom Petty, Neil Young and the Doors, without a license and compensation to the music publisher.
Wixen, an exclusive licensee of songs such as “Free Fallin” by Tom Petty, “Light My Fire” by the Doors, “(Girl We Got a) Good Thing” by Weezer and works of singers such as Stevie Nicks, is seeking damages worth at least $1.6 billion along with injunctive relief.
Spotify failed to get a direct or a compulsory license from Wixen that would allow it to reproduce and distribute the songs, Wixen said in the lawsuit, filed in a California federal court.
Read more on Reuters
Apple recently admitted that it has been throttling the performance of certain iPhoneswith older batteries to prevent unexpected shutdowns.
For those curious, it turns out that it’s not too difficult to see whether your iPhone has been affected.
The reason behind the performance throttling makes sense: As older batteries degrade over time, they can’t cope with the high demands of the iPhone’s processor. To prevent unexpected shutdowns that sometimes occur when processors don’t get enough power, the company dialed down the speeds of iPhone processors in units with those batteries.
Still, critics say the company should have been more transparent about the practice.
Read more on Businessinsider
Uber’s cofounder and former CEO Travis Kalanick is planning to sell $1.4 billion of stock in the company, or 29 percent of his stake, a source familiar with the arrangement told CNBC.
Kalanick, who resigned as CEO last summer following controversy, would sell his shares as part of a tender offer between SoftBank and Uber that will value the company at $48 billion. As originally reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by CNBC’s source, Kalanick had wanted to sell as much as half of his stake in the company, but had to limit that amount due to agreements between the company and its buyers.
Read more on CNBC