By Wayne Porter
Here is your recap of cable and Internet industry news from around the US and the world this week:
Big Data Companies Get Another Broadside on GDPR
European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect last week. Facebook and Google were immediately sued by a non-profit called NYOB (None Of Your Business). Those two, along with Apple, Amazon, and LinkedIn are also being sued by another nonprofit, a French digital rights group called La Quadrature du Net. The French organization is even encouraging other groups to copy its complaints to launch their own lawsuits. La Quad has three complaints against Google, Gmail, YouTube, and Search so far but plans to also lodge complaints against Android. They are also targeting WhatsApp, Instagram, owned by Facebook and Skype and Outlook owned by Microsoft, which also owns LinkedIn.
Redstones May Be Dropping Idea of Merging CBS and Viacom Again
The Redstone family has been bouncing the idea of re-merging CBS and Viacom for a couple of years now. After the latest bid created a firestorm of suits, counter-suits, and accusations, it looks like Shari Redstone has dropped the idea once again. The Redstone family, through National Amusements, owns a controlling interest in both CBS and Viacom. Recently they expressed their interest in getting the two companies back together after splitting them apart back over ten years ago. Apparently, the idea of forcing CBS into a shotgun wedding with Viacom lost its appeal for the Redstones.
Fox Sets a Date to Decide on Disney Acquisition
Fox shareholders will meet on July 10th to decide whether to give the go-ahead to sell off most of its assets to Disney or to possibly consider a sale to Comcast. The $52 billion agreement will see Fox properties like 20 Century Fox Studios, National Geographic, and FX to Disney. Fox’s Chairman, and Rupert Murdoch’s son, Lachlan Murdoch, has said, “We are committed to our agreement with Disney.” If Fox does decide to back out, they will be liable for a $1.5 billion break-up fee. Ownership of most Fox television, news, and some sports stations will stay with the Murdochs.
Comcast Switches Disney Channels to Higher Priced Tier
In news that probably has nothing to do with the above Fox showdown, Comcast has moved the Disney Channel along with several other channels like Cartoon Channel and Food Network to its higher-priced Digital Starter package from its Digital Economy package. Comcast also moved lesser watched channels like BBC America, Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, Bloomberg TV, and Smithsonian Channel to the cheaper priced Economy package. Comcast has lost almost 100,000 video subscribers in the first quarter of this year. With Disney looking to begin its own streaming service soon, Comcast’s move may encourage even more Comcast customers to cut the cord.
After 10 years, Does Facebook Finally Explain How it Uses Your Data?
Facebook just released newly updated terms that, the social media giant says, is easy to understand. In the new terms, Facebook brags that it is not asking for new rights to collect data as if that is something we should expect them to want. Just maybe that is because they already collect much more data than they need. The New York Times just reported that Facebook has been sharing data with 60 or more device makers including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung and that those device makers are probably sharing that data with their own partners. According to the Time’s article, some partners can see user’s religion and political party. Why would your phone need to know that?
Teens Dropping Facebook in Favor of YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat
Survey results from Pew Research Center show Facebook use by teens down 20% over the last three years. It went from 71% in 2015 to 51% in 2018 while Facebook’s Instagram when up 20% from 52% to 72%. Snapchat went from 41% to 69% in the last three years. The big winner though is YouTube, shooting from nary a mention in 2015 up to 85% in 2018. Tumblr stayed about the same but Google + and Vine dropped off the list. Reddit made an appearance with 7% of teens using the site. As for which site they used most, 35% said they used Snapchat most, 32% said they used YouTube, 15% chose Instagram and 10% picked Facebook.
Protest of Google and Apple Techsploitation in San Francisco
Stacks of scooters were piled in the way of buses headed for Apple and Google campuses in protest of “techsploitation” in the Bay area. Members from several different human rights and homeless support groups took part in the demonstration. Carrying signs like “Silicon Valley is Killing Us,” “Sweep Tech Not Tents” and “Evict Google,” the protesters replaced the scooters blocking the road as fast as a Google employee could remove them. Many of the tech giants’ employees opted to work remotely after being prevented from going to work onsite. Protests of the Google bus and other tech companies’ shuttles have been going on for years as they represent, to some, the gentrification of the cities and arrogant attitudes of the tech companies.
Google to Drop Project Maven Contract
As reported a few weeks ago in the Rewind, Many Google employees were protesting Google’s involvement with the Pentagon’s Project Maven. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition that requested Google withdraw from the contract. About a dozen employees quit in protest. After the current contract with the Pentagon expires next year, Google has said it will not renew. After recently amending their motto from “Don’t Be Evil” to “Do the right thing,” Google is planning on unveiling a new set of “ethical principles” concerning AI next week. Emails obtained by the Intercept show that Google executives were worried that there would be a PR backlash about Project Maven. Fei-Fei Li, the Google Cloud head scientist called it “red meat to the media.” But they went ahead with it anyway.
Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2018
Every year, venture capitalist, Mary Meeker releases her Internet Trends Report. This year the report stretched to 294 slides. Not too many surprises came out of it. As could be expected with faster Internet adoption; AI, mobile, cryptocurrency, subscription services, freelancing, and online education is up. Privacy is way down, wherein people are being forced to trade services for privacy. A few takeaways: more than half of the top US companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants; 13% of all retail sales are online and people are buying fewer cars, opting for ride-sharing instead.
Apple’s Annual WWDC Kicks Off In San Jose
Summer is the time for the big tech companies to put on a big show touting their products. This week it is Apple’s World Wide Development Conference in San Jose CA. It is supposed to be all about developers but usually, there is a fair amount of new product releases and announcements throw in for good measure. The focus is likely to be: augmented reality with the ARKit, artificial intelligence with Siri, Apple’s operating systems and Apple’s legacy of protecting privacy. There may also be some news on the Apple Watch and Apple TV fronts.
Trump Nominates Replacement For Clyburn
President Trump has nominated Federal Communications Commission assistant bureau chief, Geoffrey Starks to replace outgoing FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. Although Clyburn’s term officially expired last June, FCC rules allow commissioners to stay in office for a period of time after their term is ended, either to be re-appointed or to allow the finding of a replacement. Per U.S. Code regarding the FCC, only three commissioners can be of the same political party as the President. Starks is a Democrat. He must still be confirmed by the Senate but that doesn’t appear to be a problem as he was recommended by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
We are Microsoft – We Own Github
Collaborative development repository, Github, will soon be purchased by Microsoft for almost $ 8 billion in Microsoft stock. Github was founded in 2008 by Tom Preston-Werner, Chris Wanstrath, PJ Hyett, and Scott Chacon. It has offices in San Francisco, Amsterdam, Boulder, and Tokyo. Despite its popularity and apparent value, Github has never turned a profit. The purchase has sparked concern from many users of the service. According to Techcrunch, many developers are already abandoning the service due to its relationship with Microsoft. There is talk from the Bitcoin community of finding another platform for development services.