This week’s headline story: Whitehouse Embraces AI
The White House has released a new pair of reports, offering a framework for how government-backed research into artificial intelligence should be approached and what those research initiatives should look like. The primary paper, entitled “Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence,” focuses on the general state of and challenges faced by AI. The paper points out that “AI needs good data. If the data is incomplete or biased, AI can exacerbate problems of bias.” The Whitehouse wants AI researchers to share information across the industry so that all involved can make informed decisions. The report emphasizes the need for early education in data science because doing so “helps to avoid the negative consequences of narrowly focused AI development, including the risk of biases in developing algorithms, by taking advantage of a broader spectrum of experience, backgrounds, and opinions.” Read more about the Whitehouse reports on AI at TechCrunch using the link in the shownotes.
Google, automakers object to California rules for self-driving cars [Reuters]
Google and Automakers raised a litany of concerns about California’s proposal to set new, mandatory rules for testing self-driving cars in the state. Industry officials said the rules could hobble their efforts in self-driving vehicle testing and development, claiming it would force a 12-month delay between testing a vehicle and deploying it on public roads.
and in Tech Industry News…
Amazon Launches For-Pay Streaming Music Service [NewsFactor]
Amazon is launching a paid streaming music service, the latest entry in an increasingly crowded field. Amazon Music Unlimited is being positioned to compete against existing services such as Spotify and Apple Music. It will cost $8 per month, or $80 a year, for members of Amazon’s $99-a-year Prime loyalty program. Non-Prime members will pay $10 a month, the same monthly fee charged by Spotify and Apple Music.
This week’s headline story: Yahoo’s in Hot Water over Email Tapping
According to an exclusive report by Reuters, Yahoo developed custom software so it could scan “hundreds of millions” of incoming email messages for specific types of information specified by the National Security Agency (NSA) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It appears to be the first time an Internet service provider has searched such a large number of emails in real time for an intelligence agency, Reuters added, citing “some surveillance experts.”
Meanwhile, other tech giants, including Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Apple, have denied receiving such surveillance requests or said they would not comply with such requests.
A recent report, however, claims that Apple retains iMessage metadata and shares it with law enforcement when presented with a court order. iMessage encryption prevents Apple from accessing the actual content of conversations, but the company maintains logs that contain a range of information, including contacts, IP addresses, and dates and times of conversations, that it sometimes shares with law enforcement.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note7 Assembly Lines Grind to Halt [Ecommerce Times]
Samsung has stopped production of its problematic Galaxy Note7 smartphones, after replacements of the phone with new batteries exhibited similar problems, including smoking and catching fire.
in Information Security News…
Amid Breach Talk, Some Yahoo Users Finding It Hard To Exit [NewsFactor]
After hearing that data associated with hundreds of millions of Yahoo user accounts was compromised and that Yahoo has been snooping on email for the NSA, some Yahoo email users are considering switching to other email services. Unfortunatly, Yahoo disabled email forwarding at the beginning of the month making it difficult for users to pull out. Yahoo declined to comment on the recent change beyond pointing to a three-line notice on Yahoo’s help site which says that that the company temporarily disabled the feature “while we work to improve it.”
Batman, Battlezone and Brainteasers Lead Sony VR Lineup [NewsFactor]
Sony has released it’s virtual reality headset named PlayStation VR. the headset connects to the Sony Playstation game console to provide an immersive experience for gamers. The company anticipates having 50 games for the VR experience by the end of the year.
Facebook’s Oculus To Start Selling Hand Controllers [NewsFactor]
Facebook’s Oculus division has announced the long-awaited shipping date for its Oculus Touch hand controllers will be December 6. The hand controllers will allow users to make gestures and grasp virtual objects within the simulated worlds projected by Oculus Rift headsets.
Facebook Launches Workplace, a Business Version of Facebook [Newsfactor]
Facebook has launched a communications platform for businesses, nonprofits and other organizations called Workplace. The platform is ad-free and not connected to users’ existing Facebook accounts. Instead, businesses sign up as an organization and pay a monthly fee based on the number of users. It’s free for nonprofits and educational institutions.
This week’s headline story: The Big Internet Handoff
The past Saturday was the day that Internet governance was passed from the US Department of Commence to a nonprofit organization called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN has been managing Internet names and addresses since 1998 with oversight by the US government. This past Saturday, its contract expired and a new contract was signed giving ICANN full power to manage Internet names and addresses. Some republican senators attempted to block the move. Sen. Ted Cruz stated that “When ICANN escapes from [US] government authority, it escapes from having to worry about the First Amendment, from having to worry about protecting your rights or my rights.” Attorneys general of Arizona, Nevada,Oklahoma, and Texas filed a lawsuit to block the turnover. But a federal judge in the Southern District of Texas denied that request for a temporary restraining order.
ICANN says that these fears were uninformed. It said that the handoff would ensure an open internet. “This transition was envisioned 18 years ago, yet it was the tireless work of the global internet community, which drafted the final proposal, that made this a reality,” ICANN Board Chair Stephen D. Crocker said in a statement. “This community validated the multistakeholder model of internet governance. It has shown that a governance model defined by the inclusion of all voices, including business, academics, technical experts, civil society, governments and many others is the best way to assure that the internet of tomorrow remains as free, open and accessible as the internet of today.” The Internet Governance Coalition, a group of companies that includes Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Verizon, also expressed approval of the move.
Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft form AI non-profit [ZDNet]
Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft have announced they are forming a non-for-profit organization to educate the public about artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, as well as alleviate anxieties around its application. The organization, called Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society (Partnership on AI), will address legal and ethical challenges that AI presents, encourage public discourse, and identify opportunities to use AI to bring improvements to society.
in Information Security News…
The Internet Is No Place for Elections [MIT Tech Review] A Close Election Could Expose Risky Electronic Voting Machines [MIT Tech Review]
There is much concern over voting systems that are connected to the Internet. Computer security experts warn that such systems are vulnerable to hacking and might create a shadow of doubt over the upcoming election. MIT Technology Review states that 32 states and the District of Columbia allow at least some absentee voters to return their completed ballots using poorly secured e-mail, Internet-connected fax machines, or websites. Additionally, Voters in 15 states, including several battlegrounds, will be voting on systems that lack an important safeguard against software errors and tampering.
and in Tech Industry News…
What to expect from Google’s October 4 Pixel and hardware event [Tech Crunch]
Google’s new Pixel Smartphones are set to launch at a Tuesday press event. Much information has been leaked about the new Pixel and Pixel XL smartphones that look to be iPhone quality (and price) running the stock Android OS. Google is also expected to talk about Google Home, Chromecast Ultra, Daydream VR and Google WiFi. Read about all that is expected at Tech Crunch or just wait until tomorrow and see for yourself!
Donald Trump’s campaign says a government plan to give up managing key operations of the internet poses a threat of outside censorship of online information. The upcoming Oct. 1 transition is the result of planning that started under President Bill Clinton in 1998 and continued largely unopposed during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The U.S. government’s role has diminished as the behind-the-scenes, technical administration has increasingly been performed by a the Internet Corporations for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, a California-based nonprofit organization that coordinates with private experts around the world.
The exposure of NSA spying by the Edward Snowden leaks brought increased pressure from international allies to bring international governance to the Internet.
“If we don’t make a transition to a more global form of governance, many people will say, ‘Look, this is a U.S tool, and we’re going to make our own internet,'” said Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security secretary under George W. Bush and Obama. “We have to realize that even though we know our motives are good motives, there are people who will argue that if we don’t give it up that we have bad motives. To maintain credibility we have to go through this process.”
The planned change “offers the best hope of protecting internet freedom,” NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling said. He said there are robust checks and balances that will be put in place after the transition to ensure the internet’s technical management is properly handled.
UPS Testing Drones for Use In Its Package Delivery System [newsfactor]
UPS, one of the world’s largest package delivery companies, is stepping up efforts to integrate drones into its system. UPS has partnered with robot-maker CyPhy Works to test the use of drones to make commercial deliveries to remote or difficult-to-access locations.
in Information Security News…
Yahoo says 500 million accounts stolen [CNN Money]
Yahoo has confirmed that data “associated with at least 500 million user accounts” have been stolen in what may be one of the largest cybersecurity breaches ever. The company said it believes a “state-sponsored actor” was behind the data breach, meaning an individual acting on behalf of a government. The breach is said to have occurred in late 2014. “The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers,” Yahoo said in a statement.
and in Tech Industry News…
Snapchat’s Spectacles Might Seem Silly, But Could Actually Be Cool [Apartment Therapy]
Snapchat has announced that they are renaming themselves Snap, Inc. and releasing their first hardware product: a pair of video sunglasses. The new Snap Spectacles are a pair of sunglasses with two front-facing 115-degree cameras that record circular video that’s more similar to the human field of vision. When you tap on the button near the hinge, Spectacles shoot a 10-second video; tap again, and they’ll add another 10 seconds (you can record up to 30 seconds at a time).
LinkedIn Redesign Targets Global Workforce with Bots and E-Learning [Newsfactor]
The social networking site for professionals, LinkedIn has experienced an upgrade. The site has a redesigned look for its desktop app, a new online learning platform and smarter messaging capabilities with support for bot-enabled assistance. The news comes a little over three months after Microsoft revealed plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, and on the heels of the company’s acquisition of the online learning firm lynda.com last year.
This week’s headline story: Samsung Recalls 1 Million Galaxy Note 7 Smartphones Samsung has formally recalled 1 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold in the United States, replacing or refunding the flagship phones, whose susceptibility to catching fire has damaged the image of the Korean powerhouse. Samsung received 92 reports of batteries overheating in the United States, including 26 reports of burns and 55 cases of property damage, the company said as it announced the recall in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The recall is a costly setback for Samsung, which was counting on Galaxy Note 7 to bolster sales as rivals such as Apple Inc launch new devices. The scale of the recall is unprecedented for Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker.
Opera’s New VPN Promises To Keep Your Web Browsing Private [newsfactor]
The latest version of the Opera web browser is the first browser to include an embedded virtual private network (VPN) services. A VPN can mask a device’s IP address, providing a high level of privacy. “We strongly believe that if more people knew how the Internet truly works, they would use a VPN — and we hope that by making our browser VPN free and easy to use, it will become an essential tool for everyone,” a representative from Opera posted.
Google Expected To Unveil New Pixel Smartphones on Oct. 4 [NewsFactor]
A new smartphone announcement is expected from Google on October 4. A new wbesite at madby.google.com features a smartphone shaped image and the date October 4. Rumors about what might replace Google’s Nexus line have been circulating since earlier this year, when the company brought former Motorola president Rick Osterloh on board to lead a new hardware division. Several recent leaks have provided a few glimpses at the new smartphones known as the Pixel and the Pixel XL.
GoPro Unveils Its New Karma Quadcopter [NewsFactor]
The rugged camcorder maker GoPro, has unveiled a compact drone designed to record people’s adventures from above. The Karma enters the burgeoning market for consumer drones as one of the first models to be more than a toy, but the quadcopter is coming out a time when several cities and businesses are restricting such aircraft from their skies.
While Amazon and Google are working hard on unmanned aircraft to make deliveries, Mercedes-Benz is developing “Robovan,” a vehicle designed to transport eight delivery robots from Starship Technologies and release them onto sidewalks to make deliveries. “By leaving the door-to-door part to delivery robots the van drivers’ productivity will significantly rise while reducing congestion on the streets and CO2 emissions,” said Allan Martinson, Starship’s chief operating officer. Left unsaid was that fewer van drivers will be needed for a given volume of business. The typical volume of deliveries is 180 packages per nine-hour shift, according to Martinson. The Robovan and its robots will more than double that, to 400 packages, he said.
FAA Warns Airline Passengers Not To Use Samsung Smartphone [newsfactor]
Samsung has ordered a global recall of Galaxy Note 7 phones after its investigation of explosion reports found the rechargeable lithium batteries were at fault. In one case, a family in St. Petersburg, Florida, reported a Galaxy Note 7 phone left charging in their Jeep caught fire, destroying the vehicle. U.S. aviation safety officials took the extraordinary step of warning airline passengers not to turn on or charge a new-model Samsung smartphone during flights following the numerous reports of the devices catching fire.
in Information Security News…
Authorities Nab Two Teens Connected to Massive DDoS-for-Hire Scheme [newsfactor]
Alerted by the FBI, Israeli authorities have arrested two Israeli teens in connection with an online attack-for-hire service. In operation since 2012, the vDOS, “booter” service has earned more than $600,000 over the past two years by helping customers coordinate distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on Web sites around the world
Tesla Says It’s Improving Autopilot By Boosting Radar [newsfactor]
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the electric car company is making major improvements to the Autopilot system used by its vehicles, which will dramatically reduce the number and severity of crashes in which they are involved. On a conference call with reporters, Musk said he thinks that the improvements, which will roll out globally in the next week or two in the form of a software update, probably would have prevented recent crashes.
This week’s headline story:Vulnerabilities in the U.S. Voting System
Russian intrusions into U.S. election systems recently have shocked the public, but computer experts are not surprised. After the 2000 election where paper-based voting systems caused confusion and controversy, many states have moved to electronic voting systems and a new set of vulnerabilities.
“There are computers used in all points of the election process, and they can all be hacked,” Princeton computer scientist Andrew Appel, told the Washington Post. “So we should work at all points in that system to see how we make them trustworthy even if they do get hacked.”
The alleged Russian hacks to voter registration systems in Arizona and Illinois exposed one of the major weak spots in election systems. Deleting or altering data on voter rolls could cause mayhem on Election Day, disenfranchising some voters. But that’s just one point of failure. Many voting machines themselves also are vulnerable.
At stake are not just the election results, but faith in the reliability and transparency of balloting, which is crucial to democracy. This is especially true in a year when allegations of voting irregularities already have been aired by politicians like Donald Trump.
Read more about how Russian hackers could actually tip an American election, using the link in the show notes.
Des Moines’ city council is trying to ‘opt out’ of ‘Pokémon Go’ [Engadget]
Some cities are looking to “opt-out” of Pokeman Go! The City Council of Des Moines, Washington is concerned about the droves of teenagers and other players walking around idly, looking down at their phones while crowding the public spaces, making noise, littering, partaking in certain legal and illegal vices, and disrupting local business. Council members voted unanimously to request that the entire area “opt out” from the game.
in Information Security News…
Secret commands in online videos could hack your smartphone [CNBC]
Hackers are experimenting with gaining illegal access to systems through the voice-command interface. They are embedding hidden audio within YouTube videos that sounds like strange background noise to the human viewer, but sounds like audio commands to voice-controlled interfaces on phones and computers.
and in Tech Industry News…
Google Ditches Project Ara Modular Phone Ambitions [newsfactor]
Google has been promising to launch a developer edition of its Project Ara modular smartphone by the end of the year, but now those ambitions have apparently been shelved. Reuters has reported that Google is making an “about-face,” and taking the ax to Project Ara.
This week’s headline story: Self-Driving Cars are Going Mainstream
Autonomous Ford Fusion
Self-driving cars are slowly making their way onto public highways. Ohio’s toll road, a heavily traveled connector between the East Coast and Chicago, is moving closer to allowing the testing of self-driving vehicles. Testing is likely to begin soon, and possibly before the end of the year.
Uber passengers in Pittsburgh will be able to summon rides in self-driving cars with the touch of a smartphone button in the next several weeks. Uber says that an unspecified number of autonomous Ford Fusions with human backup drivers will pick up passengers just like normal Uber vehicles.
Cars capable of driving themselves may be on the showroom floor sooner than you think, but whether they should come with all the current essentials — including a steering wheel and pedals on the floor — has the auto industry at a fork in the road. Ford sided with the pioneering engineers at Google last week in announcing plans to introduce limited-use vehicles without traditional controls within five years. Some other major automakers — and virtually all of them are well along in their work on self-driving vehicles — say they will introduce automated elements one step at a time, until drivers accept that they no longer need to control their cars.
Yosemite and President Obama Head Into Virtual Reality [NewsFactor]
President Obama is the first US president to project himself into virtual reality. National Geographic has produced a 360-degree representation of Yosemite National Park, into which the President is projected providing narration about the wonders of America’s national parks and warning of the threat posed by climate change. The experience can be enjoyed via Facebook 360, Samsung Gear VR headset and soon on Oculus Rift headset.
in Information Security News…
FBI Warns of Possible State Election-System Hacks [NewsFactor]
The FBI is warning state officials to boost their election security in light of recent hack attempts. The FBI is investigating a pair of hacking incidents targeted at the voting systems in two states and advising states to scan their systems for specific signs of hacking.
Apple Told To Pay $14.5 Billion Irish Tax Bill; CEO Says No [NewsFactor]
The European Commissioner is accusing Apple of taking an unfair tax advantage granted by Ireland. The penalty could be more than $14,5 billion in unpaid taxes. The commission’s investigation found that Ireland had “artificially reduced Apple’s tax burden for over two decades,” the European Commissioner said. Apple has a factory in Cork, but has been claiming taxes through a “so-called head office” that exists only on paper, claims the Commissioner. Both Apple CEO Tim Cook and the Irish Finance Ministry said they plan to appeal the decision.
Verizon’s Faster LTE Tech Boosts Mobile Speeds by 50% [NewsFactor]
A couple hundred million Verizon clients received a nice surprise this week. The carrier announced that it has launched a new technology, called “LTE Advanced” in 461 U.S. cities designed to make wireless data download speeds as much as 50 percent faster.
This week’s headline story: NSA Hacking Kit Leaked Online
Governments and corporations around the world are preparing for the worst, as some of the most powerful hacking and espionage tools have been released into the wild over the dark web. Created by the National Security Agency’s elite group of hackers, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO), the toolkit, packed full of sophisticated hacking tools,was released to the Internet by a group calling themselves “the Shadow Brokers”. They claim the kit can be used to hack into any computer. Edward Snowden, and some former NSA hackers suspect Russian involvement in the release of the toolkit, saying that it is a likely response to allegations against the Russian government for hacking the Democratic National Committee.
Ford Says It Will Have a Fully Autonomous Car by 2021 [NewsFactor]
Ford Motor Co. has announced its plans to have a fully driverless vehicle — no steering wheel, no pedals — on the road within five years. The car will initially be used for commercial ride-hailing or ride-sharing services, with sales to consumers coming later.
SolidEnergy Says It Can Double Battery Power of Consumer Electronics [NewsFactor]
Ready to get more life out of your cell phone battery? MIT alums at the company SolidEnergy have developed a new kind of lithium battery that packs the same energy as standard lithium-ion cells in half the size. The company aims to bring the batteries to smartphones and wearables in early 2017, and to electric cars in 2018.
in Information Security News…
Security Experts: Remotes Are Hackable on Many Vehicles [NewsFactor]
These days, most of us click a button on our keychain to lock and unlock our vehical. I recently reported that the remote entry systems on millions of cars made by Volkswagen can be hacked to permit unauthorized access to the car’s interior. Now another exploit has been shown to offer the same keyless access to vehicles from Ford, Chevrolet and Renault.
Hacker Posts Personal Info of House Democrats and Staff [NewsFactor]
A breach targetting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democratic Party entities, exposed personal information of hundreds of Democratic governmental officials. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she is changing her phone number and advised her colleagues to do the same after receiving scores of obscene calls, voicemails and text messages.
and in Tech Industry News…
AT&T Rolls Out New Mobile Plans, Eliminates Data Overage Fees [NewsFactor] Wireless Wars Heat Up with Even More Unlimited Data Plans [NewsFactor]
The big wireless carriers are rolling out new data plans intended to do away with data overage fees. AT&T is launching new wireless plans that throttle download speeds when users reach their monthly data caps rather than charging penalties. Verizon made similar changes to its mobile plans last month with the addition of a “Safety Mode” app that lets customers slow down their data speeds to avoid overage charges. T-Mobile and Sprint have followed suite unveiling rival wireless plans with unlimited data usage and imposed data throttling when users reach a certain limit.
Uber Buys Self-Driving Truck Biz and Tests Autonomous Cars [NewsFactor]
Ride hailing giant, Uber, has purchased the self-driving truck startup, Otto. Otto has been testing sensor-equipped autonomous semi trucks, in an effort to improve highway safety and trucking efficiency.
The purchase is expected to assist Uber in its own ambitions to develop a driverless vehical, which it plans to begin testing later this month.
This week’s headline story: Audi Cars Talk with Traffic Signals
German carmaker Audi is rolling out a brand new technology called Vehicle to Infrastructure or V-to-I technology to US car shoppers this fall. V-to-I allows vehicles to communicate with traffic signals and other roadway infrastructure to provide drivers with useful information for safer more informed driving. Audi’s system allows the vehicle to display a countdown before a red light turns to green. Knowing how much time there is before the light changes to green is intended to relieve the driver of anxiety. The countdown will also appear on the dashboard if the vehicle determines it will not be able to make an approaching light before it turns red, to allow the driver to begin to brake. Audi plans to roll out the capability in five to seven U.S. cities this year.
Future applications of the technology could see it linked to a car’s navigation system or its stop/start functions. The technology will also be valuable for driverless car technology. Another possible eventual use is for traffic signals to advise vehicles to keep to a certain speed in order to match the flow of traffic lights. Carmakers are trying to leverage technology – including vehicle-to-vehicle communications (“V-to-V”) allowing cars to talk to each other – to reduce accidents and reduce congestion.
Samsung Workers Sickened by Chemicals in Factories Speak Up [NewsFactor]
Two Words Keep Sick Samsung Workers from Data: Trade Secrets [NewsFactor]
An Associated Press investigation found South Korean authorities let Samsung withhold crucial information from sick workers and their families about the chemicals they are exposed to at its computer chip and display factories. A worker-safety group has documented more than 200 cases of serious illnesses including leukemia, lupus, lymphoma and multiple sclerosis among former Samsung semiconductor and LCD workers. Seventy-six have died, most in their 20s and 30s.
Judge Dismisses Suit Accusing Twitter of Supporting ISIS Group [NewsFactor]
A federal judge in San Francisco has dismissed a lawsuit accusing Twitter of supporting the Islamic State group. The families of two men killed in Jordan claimed that Twitter had contributed to their deaths by allowing the group to sign up for and use Twitter accounts. The judge agreed with Twitter that the company cannot be held liable because federal law protects service providers that merely offer platforms for speech, without creating the speech itself.
Jeep Hackers Back at Black Hat with New and Scarier Method [NewsFactor]
The Jeep hackers were back at the Black Hat Hackers Conference, this time demonstrating a new more dangerous technique to take remote control of a moving vehicle. The pair demonstrated how they can take control of the same 2014 Jeep Cherokee they hacked last year, this time by sending false messages to its internal network, overriding the correct ones. The new technique allowed them to do new — and scarier — things, such as making the vehicle turn sharply while it was speeding down a country road. They also were able to make the vehicle unintentionally speed up, or remotely slam on its brakes.
Quadrooter Bug Affects 900 Million Android Devices [NewsFactor]
Researchers at security firm Check Point have discovered four new exploits that could impact as many as 900 million Android devices. The firm is calling the combined exploits the Quadrooter Bug. To gain access, an attacker just has to get the user to install a malicious app. From there the attacker has full access to saved data and can also change or remove system-level files, delete or add apps and gain access to the device’s screen, camera, or microphone. The security holes can only be fixed via patches from distributors or carriers once they get new driver packs from Qualcomm. Check Point is making available a free Quadrooter scanner app that scans users’ Android phones to see if the necessary patches have been downloaded and installed. The scanner app is available at https://www.checkpoint.com/resources/quadrooter-vulnerability-consumer/.
and in Tech Industry News…
Huffington Leaves Post to Focus on Health Startup [Ecommerce Times]
Arianna Huffington has announced that she is leaving her position as editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, to focus on a new project named Thrive Global, a lifestyle, health and wellness website.
Walmart Buying E-Tailer Jet for $3.3 Billion To Do Battle with Amazon [NewsFactor]
Walmart has announced that it will shell out $3.3 billion to acquire the online retailer Jet. Since launching a year ago, Jet has grown rapidly to reach $1 billion in merchandise sales. Walmart hopes the acquisition of Jet, will assist in catching online retail giant Amazon. In 2015, Amazon reported net sales of $107 billion, while Walmart’s online sales came to just $13.7 billion – a tiny fraction of its total sales of $482 billion. Walmart.com and Jet.com will continue to operate as distinct brands.
Adblock Plus Mouse Roars at Facebook [Ecommerce Times] Facebook Hates Ad Blockers So Much It Now Blocks Them [NewsFactor]
Ad wars have escalated between Facebook and ad-blocking software. Facebook updated the way that it serves up ads so that they are unrecognizable to ad-blocking software. Within days, AdBlock Plus announced that the open source community had created a filter to neutralize Facebook’s latest offensive, allowing it to once again block those ads. Meanwhile, Facebook is providing better tools for users to provide feedback on the ads they see, so that they are shown more useful and appreciated ads.