Tag Archive: Internet



Netflix on Monday said it has bought comics publisher Millarworld, bringing on board renowned comic book writer Mark Millar and a host of character franchises it can mine for TV shows and movies.

It is the first acquisition by Netflix, the 20-year-old streaming-video pioneer that is building a library of original series and films in a bid to hook new customers around the world.

Two of Millarworld’s best-known comics, Kick-Ass and Kingsman, are not part of the deal, whose terms Netflix did not disclose.

The purchase of a character stable mimics the strategy of Walt Disney. Disney bought Marvel Studios in 2009 and has churned out blockbuster movies, TV series and toys based on its superheroes. Some Marvel shows run on Netflix.

Mark Millar, a Scottish writer and former Marvel employee, runs Millarworld with his wife, Lucy.

Three of Millarworld’s franchises – Wanted, Kick-Ass and Kingsman – have been adapted into films that have taken in nearly $913 million combined at global box offices.

Although Kick-Ass and Kingsman are not part of the deal, it does bring Netflix a range of other franchises across genres from science fiction to fantasy, plus superheroes and real-world characters.

“Mark is as close as you can get to a modern-day Stan Lee,” Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said in a statement, referring to the 94-year-old creator of comic book franchises such as Spider-Man, Avengers and X-Men.

Millar spent eight years at Marvel, where he developed comic books and story lines that resulted in movies such as Logan and Captain America: Civil War.

It is unclear if Netflix will spend the sums Marvel does on its movies, which can cost up to $250 million. Netflix’s development has focused on TV series and smaller budget movies, but it is moving toward big-budget films. It spent $90 million on the Will Smith movie Bright, due out in December.

The acquisition of Millarworld is likely financially immaterial to Netflix, Raymond James analyst Justin Patterson said via email. He said his research showed comic book adaptations draw large audiences on the streaming service.

Netflix last month reported second-quarter revenue of $2.79 billion and net income of $65.6 million.

Millarworld will continue to create and publish new stories and franchises under the Netflix label, the company said.

Netflix also could expand further into consumer products. The company has stepped into merchandising with apparel and other products related to Stranger Things.

Shares of Netflix rose 0.6 percent to $181.37 on Nasdaq.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


A prominent privacy rights watchdog is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate a new Google advertising program that ties consumers’ online behavior to their purchases in brick-and-mortar stores.

The legal complaint from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, to be filed with the FTC on Monday, alleges that Google is newly gaining access to a trove of highly-sensitive information – the credit and debit card purchases records of the majority of US consumers – without revealing how they got the information or giving consumers’ meaningful ways to opt-out. Moreover, the group claims that the search giant is relying on a secretive technical method to protect the data – a method that should be audited by outsiders and is likely vulnerable to hacks or other data breaches.

“Google is seeking to extend its dominance from the online world to the real, offline world, and the FTC really needs to look at that,” said Marc Rotenberg, the organisation’s executive director.

Google called its advertising approach “common” and said it had “invested in building a new, custom encryption technology that ensures users’ data remains private, secure and anonymous.”

The Washington Post detailed Google’s program, Store Sales Measurement, in May. Executives have hailed it as a “revolutionary” breakthrough in advertisers’ abilities to track consumer behavior. The company said that, for the first time, it would be able to prove, with a high degree of confidence, that clicks on online ads led to purchases at the cash register of physical stores.

To do this, Google said it had obtained access to the credit and debit card records of 70% of US consumers. It had then developed a mathematical formula that would anonymise and encrypt the transaction data, and then automatically match the transactions to the millions of US users of Google and Google-owned services like Gmail, search, YouTube, and Maps. This approach prevents Google from accessing the credit or debit card data for individuals.

But the company did not disclose the mathematical formula it uses to protect consumer’s data. In a statement, Google said that it had taken pains to build custom encryption technology that ensures that the data the company receives remains private and anonymous.

The privacy organisation is asking the government not to not take Google’s word for it and to review the algorithm itself. In its complaint, the organisation said that the mathematical technique that Store Sales Measurement is based on, CryptDB, has known securityflaws. Researchers hacked into a CryptDB-protected healthcare data based in 2015, accessing over 50 percent of the stored records.

Google also would not disclose which companies were providing it with the transaction records. When asked if users had consented to having their credit and debit transactions shared, Google would not specifically say. The company replied that it requires that its unnamed partners have “the rights necessary” to use this data.

In its complaint, reviewed by the Washington Post, the privacy group alleges that if consumers don’t know how Google gets its purchase data, then they cannot make an informed decision about which cards not to use or where not to shop if they don’t want their purchases tracked. The organisation points out that purchases can reveal medical conditions, religious beliefs, and other intimate information.

Google also told the Post that it does not have access to the names or other personal information of the credit and debit card users, and that it does not share any information about individual Google users with partners.

Advertisers receive aggregate information, for example, for an ad campaign for sneakers that received 10,000 clicks, the advertiser learns that 12 percent of the clickers made a purchase.

Users can opt-out anytime, Google says. To do so, users of Google’s products can go to their My Activity Page, click on Activity Controls, and uncheck “Web and Web Activity,” Google says.

The privacy group says the opt-out settings and the descriptions of what users are opting out of are confusing and opaque. The group says that the company continues to store server and click data even when Web and App Activity is turned off, and that to opt-out of everything requires a labyrinthine process of going to a number of third party sites. Meanwhile, opting out of location-tracking requires going to a separate button and interface. None of the opt-out descriptions specifically describe credit card data.

In 2012 and in 2011, Google paid multi-million dollar fines to settle FTC charges on privacy issues. The 2012 case, for $22.5 million, Google was charged with misrepresenting its privacy promises to users of Apple’s Safari browser, who were the under the impression that they could opt-out of ad-tracking. In 2011, in response to a case brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Google settled FTC charges that it used deceptive tactics and violated its own privacy promises when it launched its social network, Google Buzz.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Alphabet Inc’s Google aims to train 10 million people in Africa in online skills over the next five years in an effort to make them more employable, its chief executive said on Thursday.

The US technology giant also hopes to train 100,000 software developers in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, a company spokeswoman said.

Google’s pledge marked an expansion of an initiative it launched in April 2016 to train young Africans in digital skills. It announced in March it had reached its initial target of training one million people.

The company is “committing to prepare another 10 million people for jobs of the future in the next five years,” Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai told a company conference in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos.

Google said it will offer a combination of in-person and online training. Google has said on its blog that it carries out the training in languages including Swahili, Hausa and Zulu and tries to ensure that at least 40 percent of people trained are women. It did not say how much the programme cost.

Africa, with its rapid population growth, falling data costs and heavy adoption of mobile phones, having largely leapfrogged personal computer use, is tempting for tech companies. Executives such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s chairman Jack Ma have also recently toured parts of the continent.

But countries like Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, which Google said it would initially target for its mobile developer training, may not offer as much opportunity as the likes of China and India fortech firms.

Yawning wealth gaps mean that much of the population in places like Nigeria has little disposable income, while mobile adoption tends to favour more basic phone models. Combined with bad telecommunications infrastructure, that can mean slower and less Internet surfing, which tech firms rely on to make money.

Google also announced plans to provide more than $3 million (roughly Rs. 19.2 crores) in equity-free funding, mentorship and working space access to more than 60 African startups over three years.

In addition, YouTube will roll out a new app, YouTube Go, aimed at improving video streaming over slow networks, said Johanna Wright, vice president of YouTube.

YouTube Go is being tested in Nigeria as of June, and the trial version of the app will be offered globally later this year, she said.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Global technology giant Microsoft is shifting to higher gear in getting more customers on board for its cloud-based services in India as it aggressively targets new as well as existing cloud technology users.

“Anybody who is on the cloud in India and anybody who has the potential to be on the cloud in India is a conversation for us,” Microsoft India President Anant Maheshwari told PTI.

Maheshwari further said: “I am sure there will be a lot of speculation around how, what is the content of those conversations (with potential customers). Unless we have something real that we would have agreed on with the customer, we can’t talk about it.”

The comments assume significance amid reports that Microsoft could invest up to $100 million (Rs. 640 crores) in buying a small stake in cab aggregator Ola.

Citing sources, the reports said the deal could see the ride-hailing service switch to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform from Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Maheshwari remained tight-lipped on these reports, instead saying the company doesn’t comment on market speculations. Microsoft has been pushing its Azure cloud service in India. Its competitors include AWS and Google, among others.

In February this year, Microsoft had announced a long-term cloud services deal with e-commerce platform, Flipkart. Later, in April, Microsoft was part of the $1.4 billion fund raising round by the online retailer. Microsoft has already set up three data centres in India to offer secure commercial cloud services in India.

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


China’s top cyber authority ordered the country’s top tech firms to carry out “immediate cleaning and rectification” of their platforms to remove content deemed offensive to the Communist Party and the country’s national image, it said on Wednesday.

The watchdog held a meeting with representatives from firms including Tencent Holdings Ltd, Baidu Inc and Sohu.com Inc, on Tuesday where it gave them a list of specific errors, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement on social media.

The violations include distorting Chinese history, spreading fake news, misinterpreting policy directives and failing to block content that subverts public stability.

“[The sites] must adhere to the correct political line and moral norms,” the statement said.

Chinese authorities have recently cracked down on platforms that allow users to share media from outlets that are not sanctioned under state-issued licenses, amid a wider censorship campaign spearheaded by President Xi Jinping.

On June 1 the CAC ushered in new regulations requiring all offline and online media outlets to be managed by Party-approved editorial staff. Workers in the approved outlets must receive training from local propaganda bureaus.

In the wake of the new regulations several sites have been targeted with fines and closures under the watchdog’s orders.

In specific examples, the CAC criticised one platform that failed to censor articles that “seriously deviated from socialist values” by saying China benefited from US assistance during conflicts with Japan during World War II.

Other examples included a story detailing alleged affairs by party officials, an opinion piece that decried China’s death penalty and an article that urged readers to invest in speculative real estate projects.

The CAC said the firms were required to immediately close offending accounts and strengthen “imperfect” auditing systems to avoid future punishment.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


China’s government has told telecommunications carriers to block individuals’ access to virtual private networks by February 1, people familiar with the matter said, thereby shutting a major window to the global Internet.

Beijing has ordered state-run telecommunications firms, which include China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, to bar people from using VPNs, services that skirt censorship restrictions by routing web traffic abroad, the people said, asking not to be identified talking about private government directives.

The clampdown will shutter one of the main ways in which people both local and foreign still manage to access the global, unfiltered web on a daily basis. China has one of the world’s most restrictive internet regimes, tightly policed by a coterie of government regulators intent on suppressing dissent to preserve social stability. In keeping with President Xi Jinping’s “cyber sovereignty” campaign, the government now appears to be cracking down on loopholes around the Great Firewall, a system that blocks information sources from Twitter and Facebook to news websites such as the New York Times and others.

While VPNs are widely used by businesses and individuals to view banned websites, the technology operates in a legal gray area. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology pledged in January to step up enforcement against unauthorised VPNs, and warned corporations to confine such services to internal use. At least one popular network operator said it had run afoul of the authorities: GreenVPN notified users it would halt service from July 1 after “receiving a notice from regulatory departments.” It didn’t elaborate on the notice.

It’s unclear how the new directive may affect multinationals operating within the country, which already have to contend with a Cybersecurity Law that imposes stringent requirements on the transfer of data and may give Beijing unprecedented access to their technology. Companies operating on Chinese soil will be able to employ leased lines to access the international web but must register their usage of such services for the record, the people familiar with the matter said.

“This seems to impact individuals” most immediately, said Jake Parker, Beijing-based vice president of the US-China Business Council. “VPNs are incredibly important for companies trying to access global services outside of China,” he said.

“In the past, any effort to cut off internal corporate VPNs has been enough to make a company think about closing or reducing operations in China. It’s that big a deal,” he added.

China Mobile Ltd., the Hong Kong-listed arm of the country’s biggest carrier, declined to comment. Representatives for publicly traded China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. couldn’t immediately comment. The ministry didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


SoundCloud is cutting about 40 percent of its staff in a cost-cutting move the digital music service says will give it a better financial footing to compete against larger rivals Spotify and Apple.

SoundCloud, which in January said it was at risk of running out of money, informed staff on Thursday that 173 jobs would be eliminated. It had 420 employees. The company’s operations will be consolidated at its headquarters in Berlin and another office in New York. Offices in San Francisco and London will be shut.

“We need to ensure our path to long-term, independent success,” Alex Ljung, the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said in a blog post published on SoundCloud’s website. He said the company has doubled its revenue over the past 12 months – without providing specifics – and that the cuts put it on a path to profitability.

SoundCloud has about 175 million listeners who are drawn to its expansive library of songs, dance mixes, podcasts and other user-generated content uploaded by artists ranging from established stars to bedroom DJs. Popular among passionate young music fans, artists such as Chance the Rapper post material to site before it’s released elsewhere, while record labels use it to scout new talent.

But the cultural cachet has never translated into a successful business model. Most of the content on SoundCloud is free, and a subscription tier introduced last year that put some music behind a paywall hasn’t been as successful as executives hoped. In recent years, the company has explored a sale to Twitter and to Spotify, but a deal never reached the finish line.

Rival music services, including Apple Music, are among those again looking to acquire SoundCloud, according a report in the New York Post earlier this month. Spotify and Apple Music are the two largest players in the on-demand streaming music business. Spotify said in June it has more than 140 million users and more than 50 million subscribers, while Apple said its music service has 27 million customers.

Ljung said the goal of the cuts is to remain a standalone business. “By reducing our costs and continuing our revenue growth, we’re on our path to profitability and in control of SoundCloud’s independent future,” he said.

SoundCloud’s inability to create a stable business model on top of its large audience reflects broader challenges in the music industry. While consumer adoption of streaming services has led the world’s largest record labels to see sustained sales growth for the first time since the glory days of the CD, the companies delivering the music online have struggled to make money.

Pandora has never had an annual profit, and just sold a minority stake to online radio company SiriusXM. Spotify’s losses have grown despite rapid consumer adoption. Meanwhile, companies such as Apple and Amazon use music to draw users for their broader businesses.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


When it comes to tackling growing cyber-security attacks including ransomware threats, the world needs public-private partnerships more than ever to nab those behind such attacks, Russian cyber-security giant Kaspersky Lab has stressed.

“Private and public cyber-security experts should work together to collect malware artefacts, map and analyse cyber-attacks and find the trail of the hackers responsible for the most cyber campaigns around the world,” said Eugene Kaspersky, Kaspersky Lab CEO.

He was addressing the ‘Palaeontology of Cyber-Security Conference’ here on Thursday as part of the ‘INTERPOL World Congress 2017’, the second addition of the global exhibition and congress platform hosted by the world’s largest police organisation in Singapore’s Suntec City.

In its bid to intensify fight against cyber criminals, Kaspersky Lab teamed up with the Interpol in 2014.

Kaspersky’s remarks came in the wake of the recent ‘Petya’ attack – a new form of malware attack that permanently destroys data – that shut computers in several countries.

Stephan Neumeier, Managing Director of Kaspersky Lab Asia Pacific, also vouched for the public-private cooperation in fighting cyber crimes.

“We have always believed that public-private cooperation is crucial in fighting cyber crime worldwide. As a private company, we are proud to collaborate with the authorities of many countries and international law enforcement agencies,” Neumeier said.

“Our participation in the Interpol’s World Congress 2017 demonstrates our principle of cooperation with the IT security industry,” Neumeier added.

According to Vitaly Kamluk, Director of Global Research and Analysis Team, Asia Pacific (APAC) at Kaspersky, as palaeontologists dig the remains of dinosaurs and relics from ancient civilisations and then determine which pieces are connected and which are not, Kaspersky Lab experts investigate attacks by gathering several samples of malware.

“The samples then analysed, compared and shared with other cyber palaeontologists to further uncover and understand a massive cyber-attacks,” Kamluk said.

Kaspersky Lab also celebrated it’s 20th anniversary and also relocated its Singapore office.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Symantec is acquiring Israeli cyber-security startup Fireglass, the company said on Thursday, in a small deal designed to boost its products that protect corporate email and Web browsing from threats.

Symantec is paying an undisclosed sum for the Tel Aviv-based company of about 40 employees. Fireglass specialises in an area of security called “browser isolation,” a technology that creates virtual websites allowing users to browse any content without having viruses touch their network.

“Browser isolation” is an area that Symantec had been looking to enter for some time, Chief Executive Greg Brown said in an interview. He cited a Gartner report that projected that 50 percent of enterprises would adopt browser isolation by 2021.

Healthcare companies, financial institutions, government and telecommunications firms have been early adopters of the technology, he said.

“While it’s what I would call a ‘tuck-in’ acquisition, it will be very valuable to us as we bring it to our customers,” Brown said.

Symantec has been one of the most serial acquirers in security companies in recent years, gobbling up Lifelock for $2.3 billion earlier this year and Blue Coat for $4.65 billion in 2016.

The deal will also increase the company’s footprint in Israel, a hotbed for cyber-security, where Brown said Symantec has been looking to expand. Israel, which has more than 400 cyber-security startups, attracts about 20 percent of private global cyber investment, Reuters has reported.

Large US technology companies often go “shopping” in Israel when they are looking for acquisitions and engineering talent. Last month, Microsoft agreed to acquire Hexadite, a US-Israeli provider of technology to automate responses to cyber-attacks for an undisclosed sum.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of the calendar year.

Fireglass, founded in 2014 by a former Check Point Software Technologies executive, was backed by investors such as Lightspeed Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners. It had raised $20 million in early 2016 and competes with Menlo Security.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Laying out norms for limiting customer liability in online banking frauds, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday directed banks to credit the amount involved in the unauthorised electronic transaction within 10 working days to the account holder.

“With the increased thrust on financial inclusion and customer protection and considering the recent surge in customer grievances relating to unauthorised transactions resulting in debits to their accounts/cards, the criteria for determining the customer liability in these circumstances have been reviewed,” RBI said in a notification in Mumbai.

In cases of zero and limited liability of the customer “on being notified by the customer, the bank shall credit the amount involved in the unauthorised electronic transaction to the customer’s account within 10 working days from the date of such notification by the customer (without waiting for settlement of insurance claim, if any)”, it said.

Banks may also at their discretion decide to waive off any customer liability in case of unauthorised electronic banking transactions even in cases of customer negligence, the notification said.

RBI also said that banks need to ask their customers to mandatorily register for SMS alerts and email alerts for electronic banking transactions.

“The SMS alerts shall mandatorily be sent to the customers, while email alerts may be sent, wherever registered. The customers must be advised to notify their bank of any unauthorised electronic banking transaction at the earliest after the occurrence of such transaction, and informed that the longer the time taken to notify the bank, the higher will be the risk of loss to the bank/customer,” it said.

Further, banks shall ensure that the resolution of a customer complaint does not exceed 90 days from the date of receipt of the complaint, and the customer is compensated as per provisions.

“In case of debit card/bank account, the customer does not suffer loss of interest, and in case of credit card, the customer does not bear any additional burden of interest,” it said.

RBI also noted that the customer should not delay in reporting of the fraud beyond seven days. “If the delay in reporting is beyond seven working days, the customer liability shall be determined as per the bank’s Board approved policy.”

Zero liability of a customer:
A customer’s entitlement to zero liability shall arise where the unauthorised transaction occurs due to negligence/deficiency on the part of the bank (irrespective of whether or not the transaction is reported by the customer).

Third party breach where the deficiency lies neither with the bank nor with the customer but lies elsewhere in the system, and the customer notifies the bank within three working days of receiving the communication from the bank regarding the unauthorised transaction.

Limited liability of a customer:
A customer shall be liable for the loss occurring due to unauthorised transactions in cases where the loss is due to negligence by a customer, such as where he has shared the payment credentials, the customer will bear the entire loss until he reports the unauthorised transaction to the bank.

“Any loss occurring after the reporting of the unauthorised transaction shall be borne by the bank.

“In cases where the responsibility for the unauthorised electronic banking transaction lies neither with the bank nor with the customer, but lies elsewhere in the system and when there is a delay (of four to seven working days after receiving the communication from the bank) on the part of the customer in notifying the bank of such a transaction, the per transaction liability of the customer shall be limited to the transaction value or the amount mentioned, whichever is lower,” it said.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)