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Tech Bytes – Week of April 18

📰 Recent Top Tech News

  1. Amazon Web Services Data Center Nearly Gets Blown Up by Terrorist.

  2. Microsoft acquires Healthcare Voice AI Company, being Apple’s Siri, for $20Bn.

  3. Google gets caught tracking location data, even after users say no.

The Takeaways

  1. The FBI arrested a US domestic terrorist after he planned to blow up an Amazon Web Services data centre in northern Virginia. Amazon Web Services powers over 30% of the internet, including favourite services such as Netflix and Airbnb. The man was arrested after he posted his plans online and attempted to buy the explosive from an undercover FBI agent.

🔎 Our Take

  • As tech companies grapple their role and responsibility in creating a safe environment online, it’s still a continuous struggle between allowing free discussions and squashing misinformation. However, most big firms have been quite liberal in letting misinformation proliferate, since it was profitable to increase users no matter what. With COVID and political debates on the rise, we expect increased regulation on the responsibility of platforms, though as with anything, there will only be change if it makes financial sense.

🧁 Your Takeaway

  • The cloud is just someone else’s computer. If you have a website, confirm for yourself that there is a backup copy of the website on a separate device entirely. If you host on Amazon, keep in mind that you are on the world’s most popular cloud service, meaning that attacks will be higher compared to smaller players.

2. Microsoft acquires Healthcare Voice AI company – Nuance, for USD 19.7 Billion. Nuance Communications is a market leader in speech to text, with over 10,000 clients.

🔎 Our Take

  • There is a battle raging in voice AI, with Amazon and Google presently leading the way. Microsoft has their own solution called Cortana, but failed to gain significant traction. Apple has similarly struggled to advance on Siri. With this acquisition, Microsoft not only gains thousands of Healthcare clients, but also gets back into the ring with smart voice AI.

🧁 Your Takeaway

  • Even a top tier technology company can struggle when it comes to a particular area, particularly one such as smart voice assistants. Consider your partners who can focus on your weak areas, and either go to market with them or acquire them.

3. The Australian Federal Court finds that Google misled consumers about tracking location data. Google had the option to ‘turn off’ Location Tracking, but even with that off, another setting ‘Web & App Activity’, when left on, sent location data to Google.

🔎 Our Take

  • Google is an advertising company first, and a search company second. Google, and Facebook, rely on location data to provide targeted advertising, to provide the best value to advertisers and for viewers. The flip side of this is of course privacy, where users (and increasingly, governments) expect an Informed Choice and the ability to opt out. Advertising and privacy will continue to evolve with Apple’s iOS14. Tracking blockers, and Google’s upcoming FLoC technology which Google says will help privacy while maintaining targeting.

🧁 Your Takeaway

  • Any time you handle customer data, you are legally the custodian of their data. Be mindful of different countries rules, but in general, give people an option to give or not give data, and give an option to delete their data if they choose.

Jargon Buster

  • FLoC – Federated Learning of Cohorts – this is Google’s upcoming “Privacy Focused” Advertising technology, which tracks groups of users based on interests, instead of individuals themselves.

  • Any new browser technology needs support from all browsers (Chrome, Edge, Opera, Brave, Safari), and at the moment only Chrome is driving it, though given their dominance in the market, it might become the advertising tech of the future.

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