Microsoft-Activision ruling highlights Lina Khan’s struggles to fight tech

The FTC’s challenge of the $68.7 billion deal between Microsoft and Activision has been one of its biggest swings under Chair Khan, but it faces a major hurdle.

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Activision Blizzard stock surges 11% after judge rules on Microsoft deal

Shares of Activision Blizzard popped after a judge denied the Federal Trade Commission’s injunction request to stop Microsoft from acquiring it.

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Anthropic — the $4.1 billion OpenAI rival — debuts new A.I. chatbot and opens it to public

Anthropic, founded two years ago by former OpenAI research executives, debuted its new AI chatbot called Claude 2, and invited the public to use it

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AI Is Not the Solution to the Customer Experience in Australia … Yet

For all the interest in leveraging AI to enhance the customer experience, in Australia customers continue to prefer human-led interactions.
The post AI Is Not the Solution to the Customer Experience in Australia … Yet appeared first on TechRepublic.

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Cybersecurity professional accused of stealing $9 million in crypto

The U.S. government accused a cybersecurity professional of hacking a cryptocurrency exchange and stealing around $9 million in cryptocurrency, in what looks like a case of an ethical hacker turning rogue, then trying to appear ethical again.
In a press release on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York announced the indictment of Shakeeb Ahmed, 34, calling him “a senior security engineer for an international technology company whose resume reflected skills in, among other things, reverse engineering smart contracts and blockchain audits, which are some of the specialized skills AHMED used to execute the attack.”
While the prosecutors did not specify who the victim was, cryptocurrency news website Coindesk reported that the description and date of the hack match the attack on Crema Finance, a Solana-based exchange, which happened in early July 2022, around the same date — July 2 and 3 — that Ahmed is alleged to have hacked the unnamed exchange.
In that case, the hacker ended up returning around $8 million in crypto and keeping the rest, as it was reported at the time. In its press release, DOJ prosecutors said that Ahmed “had communications with the Crypto Exchange in which he decided to return all of the stolen funds except for $1.5 million if the Crypto Exchange agreed not to refer the attack to law enforcement.”
This is a very common practice in the world of crypto and web3. In the past, hackers who stole crypto and offered to return parts of it by negotiating with the victims directly have sometimes called themselves “white hats,” cybersecurity lingo for hackers who have good intentions. Clearly, these hackers have taken what is a word with a pretty clear and established meaning and co-opted it for a practice that resides — to say the least — in a gray area.
And, as this case shows, returning some of your crypto loot does not mean you will not be prosecuted.
The feds highlighted the fact that Ahmed, who is accused of wire fraud and money laundering, used the chops he learned in his day jobs to carry out the theft.
“Ahmed used his skills as a computer security engineer to steal millions of dollars. He then allegedly tried to hide the stolen funds, but his skills were no match for IRS Criminal Investigation’s Cyber Crimes Unit,” Special Agent in Charge Tyler Hatcher, who works for IRC-CI, the criminal investigation branch of the IRS, is quoted as saying in the press release.
Ahmed allegedly exploited a vulnerability in the exchange and inserted “fake pricing data to fraudulently generate millions of dollars’ worth of inflated fees,” which he did not actually earn, but was still able to withdraw,” according to the indictment against Ahmed.
Then, according to the feds, Ahmed allegedly laundered the stolen crypto “through a series of transactions,” such as swapping tokens, “bridging” the proceeds from the Solana blockchain to the Ethereum blockchain, among others.
Later, Ahmed also allegedly searched online for information on the hack, “his own criminal liability,” attorneys who had expertise in similar cases, whether law enforcement could investigate such an attack, and “fleeing the United States to avoid criminal charges.”

Do you have information about this hack, other cyberattacks against crypto projects, or thefts of cryptocurrency? We’d love to hear from you. From a non-work device, you can contact Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, or via Wickr, Telegram and Wire @lorenzofb, or email lorenzo@techcrunch.com. You can also contact TechCrunch via SecureDrop.
Cybersecurity professional accused of stealing $9 million in crypto by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai originally published on TechCrunch

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Astranis will launch a dedicated internet satellites for the Philippines next year

Space-based internet startup Astranis inked a new deal to launch and operate a dedicated satellite for the Philippines, which will provide enough bandwidth to connect up to two million people.
Astranis is partnering with satellite services provider Orbits Corp, which will buy the capacity with its sister company HTechCorp., a Philippine internet service provider (ISP). The companies did not disclose the financial details of the contract.
Astranis CEO John Gedmark said in a blog post that the Philippines is a uniquely challenging country to cover with traditional connectivity technologies, like fiber or microwave towers.
“There are over 20 typhoons in the Philippines every year, and given the archipelago’s position in the Ring of Fire, other natural disasters often test the resolve of Filipinos, whether they live in Metro Manila or a rural community like Barangay Caagutayan,” he said. “Fiber lines flood; microwave towers fall over; and often the entire country is left to rely on satellite internet services to remain connected and safe.”
Astranis’ “microGEO” satellite, which will launch in 2024 per the agreement, presents a markedly different solution. While it is tempting to slot Astranis in with other companies that provide satellite internet services, the San Francisco-based startup is taking a different approach, both with its hardware and its product.  Astranis operates relatively small satellites at geosynchronous orbit, which is around 22,000 miles above the Earth’s surface. The benefit of this orbit is that the satellites stay in a fixed position relative to wherever they are pointing, meaning a single satellite can provide continuous access to a large geographical area.
The other major difference is the path to market: Astranis partners with local telecommunications and internet service providers and sells broadband capacity, rather than single subscriptions à la SpaceX’s Starlink. For this reason, the company’s broadband is just as likely to be used to connect hospitals, schools and industrial centers as individual devices.
The new contract with the Philippines marks Astranis’ first partnership in Asia. Among the company’s other announced deals includes a contract to bring service to Alaska and an agreement with a Peruvian service provider for a forthcoming satellite that is expected to connect up to three million people in that country.
Astranis plans on launching four more satellites before the end of this year in a batch that includes the satellite for Peru and two sats for North American customer Anuvu. The satellite for the Philippines will launch next year, along with four other satellites.
Astranis will launch a dedicated internet satellites for the Philippines next year by Aria Alamalhodaei originally published on TechCrunch

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How Regulatory Requirements Impact Software Development in 2023

The world of tech regulation is ever-changing as new technologies, guidelines, and reporting requirements arise. If you’re developing software in such a rapidly evolving landscape, you’ll have an increasing number of challenges to overcome. With new regulations set to go live in the near future, you’re likely facing growing pressure to create compliant, secure, and resilient applications.
In this article, we’ll explore the current state of the Regtech industry and examine how regulatory requirements impact software development in 2023.
Skilled talent shortage
One of the biggest hurdles the regulatory industry faces is the need for more skilled talent with experience in the area. According to ISACA’s State of Security in 2022 report, many organizations are struggling to find and retain qualified personnel. In addition, the growing demand for professionals who understand the complex regulatory landscape naturally leads to a competitive job market, thus exacerbating the issue.
The most common skill gaps noted are soft skills(54%), cloud computing (52%), and security control(34%). In 2023, software providers can prioritize training staff in skills the industry needs. Enough qualified talent would allow you to backfill in-demand positions and prevent this shortage from affecting your operation.
Data Privacy
In 2016, the European Union adopted the GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation – giving E.U. citizens control over their data and how it’s used. Since then, other countries have followed suit, strengthening people’s control over their personal information.
Ever since the United States has also been putting its own privacy regulations in effect.
The California Consumer Privacy Act(CCPA), passed in 2018, is one of the most significant U.S. privacy bills, giving citizens greater control over how businesses use their data.
Last year saw 29 US states introduce data privacy bills. One of them was the California Privacy Rights Act, which took effect on January 1st, 2023. It expanded the CCPA to give residents even more power, such as the right to restrict personal information use, correct it, inquire about automated decision making and opt out of it. The American Data and Privacy Protection Act (ADPPA) aims further to regulate the gathering and storing of consumer information.
With all of that in mind, a software provider has a growing legal and moral obligation to meet an increased need for user privacy. Your first step in tackling that is to understand the regulations and identify the requirements your product or service needs to meet.
Once you understand the situation, you can incorporate security principles and processes into your work. For example, Privacy by Design(PbD) is an approach to data that emphasizes privacy at every stage of development and can help you ensure you’re complying with the latest regulations.
The increasing complexity of regulatory requirements
The European Market Infrastructure Regulation(EMIR) was introduced in 2012. By introducing reporting requirements, it aimed to simplify and improve the regulation of over-the-counter(OTC) derivatives and central counterparties(CCPs) in the E.U.
On April 29th (April 30th in the UK), 2024, the EMIR refit is going live. A review of the EMIR makes significant and granular amendments to the original legislation. It increases the total number of reportable fields and changes the reporting format significantly.
By introducing these new reporting requirements, the refit significantly increases the complexity of regulatory reporting. Software companies must keep a watchful eye on these changes, invest in compliance technology and consider automating some regulatory processes to remain compliant.
Industry collaboration
With the increased regulatory complexity we discussed, the industry recognizes that working together to share knowledge and solutions is critical to ensuring compliance. Gone are the early days of regulatory reporting when firms tried to tackle new requirements and challenges alone.
The growing adoption of the unified ISO XML 20022 format is a testament to this. Using a uniform regulatory reporting format means that all market participants, regardless of location, will be reporting similarly. This increased standardization serves to facilitate collaboration and cross-border reporting, as well as reduce inconsistent reports.
Working groups are one prominent example. Industry participants, subject matter experts, and clients work together to understand the industry’s needs, focus their efforts and ensure solutions to upcoming challenges cover all use cases.
For an example of an identified upcoming challenge, look at UTI(Unique Trade Identifier)  matching. Since it refers to reconciling a trade’s unique identifier across multiple counterparties, it’s a manually intensive, time-consuming process. Working groups tackling this issue are looking for a way to reduce UTI pairing breaks and allow reporting companies to identify and amend incorrect trade details before TR submission.
Wrap Up
As you can see, technological regulation is a rapidly evolving landscape, and it would take a conscious effort on software developers’ part to stay compliant. In 2023, people will get much greater control over their data. In addition, we’ll be facing an increasingly complex reporting environment. And all that coincides with a shortage of skilled talent with regulatory experience.
With that being said, the future is far from bleak. Industry participants are coming together and collaborating on a growing scale. Working groups are spearheading breakthroughs and streamlining reporting and compliance processes. And if you’re having trouble meeting the latest requirements, a good RegTech software partner (dreamix dot eu) could help you.
Ultimately, as they say, knowing is half the battle. You’re much closer to keeping your operation aligned and secure by staying informed of tech regulation developments.
Featured Image Credit: Provided by the Author; Dreamix eu; Thank you!
The post How Regulatory Requirements Impact Software Development in 2023 appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Amazon Prime Day 2023: 5 Best Laptop Deals

Discover the best laptop deals from top brands to budget-friendly options for Amazon Prime Day 2023.
The post Amazon Prime Day 2023: 5 Best Laptop Deals appeared first on TechRepublic.

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Twitter blocks links to rival Threads, while CEO downplays reports of traffic decline

Recently hired Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino is pushing back at reports that Twitter traffic is tanking as a result of the July 5th launch of a new competitor, Instagram Threads, but the company does seem to be concerned about the potential threat posed by Meta’s rival, now topping 100 million users. On Monday, users reported that Twitter seems to be selectively blocking links to Threads.net’s website in Twitter searches, making it more difficult for anyone to surface conversations on Threads or locate users’ profiles.
Technologist Andy Baio was among those who noticed the change on Twitter after performing a search using the operator “url:threads.net,” which returned no results. Typically, this search operator would pull in any tweets with links to the website specified — and there are plenty of tweets that have threads.net links now included.
Image Credits: Andy Baio on Threads (opens in a new window)
In addition, a simpler search without the operator “url:” bit will return tweets that reference the threads.net website or Twitter users who are tweeting out their Threads usernames to their followers (like “threads.net/@techcrunch, e.g.), but didn’t seem to return direct links to discussions taking place on Threads’ platform (e.g. something like https://www.threads.net/t/CuiNy-zPbbJ/).
Others on Twitter have also noticed and tweeted about the change even prior to Baio’s post. The timing of when the block began remains unclear as Twitter no longer responds to press inquiries following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the social network last year.
(These changes are in flux, so your mileage may vary depending on when you read this report.)
This isn’t the first time Musk’s Twitter has blocked links to a competitor’s website.
Shortly after the newsletter platform Substack launched its discussions feature, Substack Notes, Twitter began censoring those links by making the posts impossible to reply to, like, or retweet. The current Threads block does not go that far…at least, not yet.
The animosity between the social media execs, Musk and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, has heated up in recent days, with Musk earlier this month challenging Zuckerberg to a “cage match.” Over the weekend, the Twitter owner even resorted to name-calling, tweeting “Zuck is a cuck,” and crudely proposing a “literal dick measuring contest.”
Image Credits: Twitter
Elsewhere, Twitter CEO Yaccarino has taken a less antagonistic stance, tweeting instead how Twitter traffic has been booming as of late, likely in the hope of reassuring advertisers.
“Don’t want to leave you hanging by a thread… but Twitter, you really outdid yourselves! Last week we had our largest usage day since February,” the exec wrote. “There’s only ONE Twitter. You know it. I know it,” she added, in a veiled reference to Threads.
Her remarks follow numerous reports that implied Twitter traffic had been tanking in the days since Threads’ debut and fast rise. Citing data from web analytics firm Similarweb, CNBC reported Twitter’s web traffic had declined 5% for the first two days Threads was generally available, compared with the week prior. Additionally, Similarweb said Twitter’s web traffic was down 11% compared with the same days in 2022.
Other data seemed to support these findings, including a tweet by Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince, whose company provides content delivery network services and protection against denial-of-service attacks, among other things.
“Twitter traffic tanking,” Prince tweeted, showing a graph of DNS rankings over time for Twitter.com where a steep decline was clearly visible.

Twitter traffic tanking. https://t.co/KSIXqNsu40 pic.twitter.com/mLlbuXVR6r
— Matthew Prince (@eastdakota) July 9, 2023

In the face of these reports, Yaccarino’s comments about Twitter’s record usage appear questionable. Notably, the CEO didn’t share any specific metrics for comparison or even which day the traffic spiked.
Though Threads is off to a fast start, having leveraged Instagram’s social graph to quickly scale its user base and users’ social connections, the app’s long-term future is uncertain. After all, there’s typically a surge of demand for a new app that will then fizzle out when the initial experimentation phase is over. This was also seen with the open-source Twitter rival Mastodon, which peaked last year with 2.5 million monthly users, but has since dropped to 1.9 million as of today, per Mastodon’s website.
It’s worth noting, however, that figure is up from 1.4 million earlier this month, as Mastodon, too, has capitalized on Twitter’s troubles. In one of the oddest moves by a social media executive, Musk decided to limit the number of readable tweets as a solution to a data scraping problem that he, himself, had created by dramatically raising prices to the API used by third-party apps for data-gathering.
Zuckerberg smartly capitalized on Twitter’s floundering to rush out Threads even before its web version was fully functional or its coming features, like a following feed and integration with ActivityPub (the networking protocol also used by Mastodon), were available. As a result, Threads grew faster than ChatGPT, topping 100 million users in just 5 days, while ChatGPT had taken two months.
Twitter blocks links to rival Threads, while CEO downplays reports of traffic decline by Sarah Perez originally published on TechCrunch

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Shutterstock expands deal with OpenAI to build generative AI tools

Shutterstock today announced that it plans to expand its existing deal with OpenAI to provide the startup with training data for its AI models.
Over the next six years, OpenAI will license data from Shutterstock including images, videos and music as well as any associated metadata. Shutterstock, in turn, will gain “priority access” to OpenAI’s latest tech and new editing capabilities that’ll let Shutterstock customers transform images in Shutterstock’s stock content library.
Shutterstock says that, in addition, OpenAI will work with it to bring generative AI capabilities to mobile users through Giphy, the GIF library Shutterstock recently acquired from Meta.
“The renewal and significant expansion of our strategic partnership with OpenAI reinforces Shutterstock’s commitment to driving AI tech innovation and positions us as the data and distribution partner of choice for industry leaders in generative AI,” Shutterstock CEO Paul Hennessy said in a press release. 
Stock content galleries like Shutterstock and generative AI startups have an uneasy — and sometimes testy — relationship. Generative AI, particularly generative art AI, poses an existential threat to stock galleries, given its ability to create highly customizable stock images on the fly.
Contributors to stock image galleries, meanwhile, including artists and photographers, have protested against generative AI startups for what they see as attempts to profit off their work without providing credit or compensation.
Early this year, Getty Images sued Stability AI, the creators of the AI art tool Stable Diffusion, for scraping its content. The company accused Stability AI of unlawfully copying and processing millions of Getty Images submissions protected by copyright to train its software.
In a separate suit, a trio of artists are alleging that Stability AI and Midjourney, an AI art creation platform, are violating copyright law by training on their work from the web without their permission.
Some experts suggest that training models using public images, even copyrighted ones, will be covered by fair use doctrine in the U.S. But it’s a matter that’s unlikely to be settled anytime soon.
In contrast to Getty Images, Shutterstock — perhaps unwilling to hinge profits on a lengthy court battle — has embraced generative AI, partnering with OpenAI to roll out an image creator powered by OpenAI’s DALL-E 2. (The Shutterstock-OpenAI deal dates back to 2021, but the image creator didn’t launch until late 2022.) Beyond OpenAI, Shutterstock has established licensing agreements with Nvidia, Meta, LG and others to develop generative AI models and tools across 3D models, images and text.
In an attempt to placate the artists on its platform, Shutterstock also maintains a “contributor fund” that pays artists for the role their work has played in training Shutterstock’s generative AI and ongoing royalties tied to licensing for newly-generated assets.
Shutterstock expands deal with OpenAI to build generative AI tools by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

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