Displaying items by tag: US

US tech company Uber is fighting a legal battle following a decision by a Spanish judge in 2015 to ban the company from operating in the country. He referred the case to the European Court of Justice at the time to decide how to define Uber’s service. At the core of the European Court case is whether or not Uber can be defined as a transportation company or a digital platform. The American company, which has its HQ in San Francisco - was founded in 2009 and recognizes itself as a digital platform.

However, that assessment has been disputed by those who believe Uber are using labels so they don’t have to comply with national laws if it is defined as a transportation company - that would ultimately impact Uber’s growth in Europe. A lawyer for the Spanish Taxi association who initially filed the complaint against Uber argued that they can’t allow a business model to develop in Europe that could undermine the rights of consumers.

The American company has been accused of aggressively pushing itself into overseas markets, and has often in the past clashed heads with law makers and taxi associations who say Uber flouts transportation and competition rules. That is what occurred in Spain which subsequently led to this long-awaited trial in the European Court of Justice which will go a long way in determining the future of the US firm in Europe.

Uber has expanded its operations into more than 300 countries and is worth an estimated $68 billion.However, Europe’s legal challenge is a direct attack on how Uber operates in the region, one of its most important markets – but it also raises questions regarding the company’s future growth plans as it looks to expand beyond the transportation of people to food delivery and other online services.

At the hearing the company defended itself by framing an argument that it was a new player in Europe’s often lacklustre digital economy, which was offering users and drivers new ways to connect which would also support cities’ existing transportation networks.“Uber’s services can’t be reduced to merely a transport service,” Cani Fernández, Uber’s lawyer, told the Court of Justice during a lengthy session here that also included arguments from the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, and several European countries.

“The reduction of unnecessary barriers to information society services is critical in the development of the digital single market,” Ms. Fernández said, in reference to the commission’s goal to reduce national barriers that prevent Europeans from gaining access to e-commerce platforms, streamed television content and other online services.

One of the critical aspects of the legal dispute is actually not whether or not Uber can be defined as a transportation service or digital platform – instead it could well be its blurry stance on consumer rights. At the hearing yesterday afternoon, several of the European judges questioned Uber in relation to its relationship with drivers and about who should be held responsible if a passenger was hurt?

Such consumer protection issues were not part of the original case referred from the Spanish judge but it is now clear that it could form part of the final decision when it is made next year and could be a central topic for the prosecution in this case. “What liability does the platform have?” asked Daniel Svaby, one of the European judges. “The customer doesn’t know the driver who will pick her up. What can a user do to protect herself from harm?”

The trial continues at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg today.

 

Published in Government

US Road Safety Authorities have called on smartphone makers to develop additional applications to its devices in order to combat the surge in deaths which have been caused due to distracted driving. The claim by US highway safety officials drew immediate objection and opposition from the electronics industry who have argued that distracted driving is not entirely caused by phone checking.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued voluntary guidelines to tech companies in an effort to try and stop an alarming rise in road deaths – which they believe is as a result of engagement with a smartphone device. In the guidelines they request device makers to block video displays and prevent manual text entry when vehicles are moving and under way.

US Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx believes far too many people are put at risk on the roads by drivers who are distracted by their smartphones, and he feels companies directly involved in producing these products should take more responsibility in terms of road safety.

“As millions of Americans take to the roads for Thanksgiving gatherings - far too many motorists are put at risk by drivers that are distracted by their cell phones - and we have submitted straightforward and basic guidelines which are grounded in the best research available that will enable designers of mobile devices to build products that can cut down distraction on the road.”

The proposal submitted by the US Transportation Department comes in light of a report that suggests that over 3,500 road deaths last year were due to driver distraction.

Industry groups are urging regulators to proceed cautiously against safety advocates who have chided the government for acting too timidly. The debate could also have implications for technology giants Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google who are both embarked on programs designed to develop vehicle technology.

The Consumer Trade Technology Association, a trade group whose members include top smartphones makers Apple and Samsung have labelled the guidelines as ‘extreme.’ President of The Consumer Technology Association, Gary Shapiro said: “This regulatory overreach could thwart the innovative solutions and technologies that help drivers make safer decisions from ever coming to market. The NHTSA doesn’t have the authority to dictate the design of smartphone apps and other devices used in cars – and its legal jurisdiction begins and ends with motor vehicle equipment.”

CTIA, a trade group for wireless companies including AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications were also critical of the guidelines characterized by the NHTSA – the Washington based company felt the proposal was the wrong approach for consumers.

“A regulatory path can’t keep pace with efforts to reduce distractions, whether they arise from interacting with mobile or embedded devices or other activities like eating, said Tom Power, general counsel for CTIA.

However, William Wallace, a policy analyst for Consumers Union spoke in favor of the guidelines proposed and said the issue of distracted driving had reached epidemic proportions. “The problem of distracted driving has grown into an epidemic. These guidelines could help stem the increase in traffic deaths that we’ve seen in the last two years.”

It was also revealed that research found that interference with a driver’s attention is equal whether the driver is holding a device or not. In several crashes investigated it was established drivers were on hands-free devices. Incredibly though only 14 US states and the District of Columbia ban the use of hand-held mobile phones. There are currently no jurisdictions that prohibit the use of hands-free devices

A number of major US technology companies suffered a drastic decline in its stocks following the presidential election of Donald Trump – and are now quite fearful for the future under his administration. During the election campaign close to 150 tech leaders including founders of worldwide brands such as Apple, Reddit and Wikipedia penned an open letter in July - in which it warned that his nomination would be a ‘disaster for innovation.’

However, the controversial Republican candidate and New York based billionaire secured the nomination on November 8th and will now subsequently become the 45th President of the United States. His success has left the technology sector pondering its future under Trump – and already stocks have taken a huge decline since his nomination.

Trumps pre-election rhetoric sent shivers through Silicon Valley as he announced that he intended to squeeze trade on China, clamp down on immigration which is critical to many tech firms - and he also issued a warning to online giants Amazon suggesting they could have ‘a huge antitrust problem’ if he were to be successful in his candidacy.

Gene Munster, an analyst on the technology sector at US investment bank and asset management company Piper Jaffray has moved to dispel some of the fears surrounding immigration and Amazon.

Munster said: “The tech sector is in more control of its own destiny than Donald Trump and will work through these problems.”

“I think the ‘antitrust’ probe of Amazon is unlikely, and I don’t think there will be major change on skilled immigration under Trump, and there could be an increase on tariffs for electronics components and that could potentially impact companies such as Apple, but it would be equally spread over manufacturers because they all rely on imports.”

However, many tech companies could boost significantly from Trump’s pledge to lower taxes on capital repatriated from overseas, which could well benefit companies such as Apple and Google. The tech sector holds the lion’s share of an estimated $2.5 trillion (Dh9.18 trillion) held by US firms overseas.

Bob O’Donnell, a consultant at Tech-analysis Research in Silicon Valley believes there could be a lot of money repatriated by tech companies. O’Donnell said: “Tech firms could use the repatriated money for job creation, and that would be very interesting - the tech sector may get a fresh look at the kinds of services and technologies that people want to invest in under Trump.”

“For example, a major push on infrastructure investment could be a big opportunity to integrate ‘smart’ technology for services such as transportation.”

While Trump has said very little in relation to the tech sector thus far, analysts and consultants have noted that the tech industry is such a huge part of the economy that you simply can’t ignore it. However, it has also been noted and taken into account that things that were viewed as special privileges may be taken away.

Some within the tech sector are gravely concerned that a Republican administration may seek to roll back so-called ‘net neutrality’ which ultimately prohibits broadband firms from playing favorites – which could spell trouble for online video operators like Netflix and Amazon.

Many tech leaders have simply had to put the disappointment of Trump’s election result behind them and move forward. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple CEO, Tim Cook sent a memo to staff in which he said that the only way to move forward is to do so together. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg brushed off the election result by stating that it would not be right to say the election of Donald Trump changes the fundamental arc of technology over time.

Published in Government

UAE based telecommunications firm du have launched a large social media campaign which focuses on making users aware of the potential dangers posed by posting information online.

The social media awareness campaign is entitled #PostWisely - and du created a series of hard hitting videos that emphatically delivers its message to UAE residents about the threat of disclosing their personal information on social media platforms. The series of short films are being shown in cinemas feature monologues from actors - that are incredibly based on real-life crimes that occurred in both the UAE and the US.

In one short film created by du, they reenact the account of one UAE resident who believed it was harmless if he posted an image of his airplane ticket on Instagram. However, the luxury villa in which he lived in was subsequently cleared out by thieves who ransacked his property and made away with a whole host of expensive items – including a watch worth $150,000.

In its second video, du issue an even tougher message, again based on real life events. It features a scruffy looking man in a dingy home posing as a young boy who offers to help a young girl with maths, after sending her a direct message online.

The actor says, “I know maths is tough, but I can help if you want. I’m very good at maths. The girl responds positively to his offer, and then the video shows the man saying, “Yes, I know how to get to your villa, and tonight, you’re home alone which is great.”  It was confirmed by du that the film was tragically based on a real life crime in the US in which a 14-year-old girl was brutally murdered.

Humaida Al Khalsan, Director of Corporate Communications Projects at du said, “The instances in the videos we released really happened – and that’s very scary.

“We did huge research and we saw what was happening, people share a lot of information and they don’t even know who their followers are. “People are putting their boarding passes on social media, with the barcode showing and anyone can get all of their information off that barcode – their names, numbers, where they live and so much more.”

It was also revealed by du that having surveyed a pool of 500 people – it established that 75% of respondents polled have been befriended or followed by people they don’t normally interact with.

Al Khalsan added, “We actually went on a colleague’s social media profile and took all her information that was available. “We put it all in a presentation and showed it to her – we were able to tell which days she went on holiday and where she went. “She was so scared and she completely changed the way she used social media after that.”

Published in Telecom Operators

Millennials are technology natives, and have a sea of options when it comes to viewing digital content. But even though streaming content online has taken the world by storm, a U.S. study says more adults aged 18-34 watch TV now than they did at the start of the millennium, suggesting that TV isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The study, conducted by the Video Advertising Bureau, says branded TV content, accessed across screens, is still its most popular form of digital viewing. The study says more millennials continue to watch television, where the majority of video consumption takes place than any platform or device. The reason TV remains popular with millennials, the report found, is because TV continually creates moments that transcend the viewing experience and generates a social atmosphere.

The results of the study are similar to one conducted among Mexican millennials. The study reports that even though millennials are taking to streaming content online, they spend more time with TV brands than with any other site across a wide variety of internet genres. One of the most surprising findings of the study is that many millennials are consuming more TV content than they are checking Facebook or watching YouTube videos. That’s why millennial-focused TV shows deliver higher audiences and engagement than most popular personality-driven YouTube channels.

 

Published in Satellite Industry

The first approved U.S. drone delivery, approved by aviation officials, has been made. Drone startup company Flirtey collaborated with 7-Eleven, the chain of international convenience stores, to make the delivery happen. The drone successfully delivered a chicken sandwich, hot coffee and donuts from a 7-Eleven store in Reno, Nevada to its destination on July 23, according to phys.org.

Flirtey chief executive Matt Sweeny said: “This is just the first step in our collaboration with 7-Eleven. Flirtey’s historic drone deliveries to date have been stepping stones to store-to-home drone delivery, and today is a giant leap toward a not-too-distant future where we are delivering you convenience on demand.”

E-commerce giant Amazon is reportedly working on a drone program, which would allow seamless delivery of goods by air. Unfortunately, delivery companies will have to face the fact that technology is taking over in many ways, and that some delivery employees might be made redundant if delivery drones become a hit.

“Drone delivery is the ultimate convenience for our customers and these efforts create enormous opportunities to redefine convenience,” said Jesus Delgado-Jenkins, 7-Eleven’s chief marketing officer.

A recent survey conducted by Walker Sands revealed that 79 percent of U.S. consumers would likely choose drone delivery if it could occur within one hour. The main concern with drone delivery for consumers, according to the report, is theft. 72 percent of respondents in the survey cited package theft as the reason they don’t trust drone delivery. But these concerns will likely pass as consumers become more familiar with drone technology.

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s research service, estimates that consumer drone shipments will surpass 7.3 million in 2016. Amazon has been developing its Prime Air delivery system since 2013, and Walmart has also been testing drones since October 2015 for curbside pickup, home delivery, and warehouse inventory management.

Published in Gadget
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