Week in Review for the Week of 2/3/20

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Week in Review for the Week of 2/3/20
Number 1044
Broadcast Date FEBRUARY 8, 2020
Episode Length 6:19
Hosts Rich Stroffolino

West Virginia bill calls for the state to provide an online ballot marking device for all voters with physical disabilities, Alphabet reveals YouTube ad revenue numbers for the first time, and Nvidia’s GeForce Now game streaming service launches in Europe and North America.


West Virginia Governor Jim Justice plans to sign a bill this week that would require all counties in the state to provide an online ballot marking device for all voters with physical disabilities. According to Secretary of State Mac Warner, he would most likely provide counties with the smartphone app Voatz or a similar app to meet the requirement. West Virginia currently uses Voatz for military and overseas voters, and Warner said he is waiting on a security audit of the app before approving it for further use. According to a 2015 Pew study, West Virginia has the highest rate of people with disabilities in the US.
Shadow, a company affiliated with and funded by Acronym, which is a Democratic digital nonprofit group, was responsible for building the Iowa caucus app that contributed to delays in reporting Monday night’s results in the first vote in the party’s presidential race, according to sources speaking with the Huffington Post. State campaign finance records show the Iowa Democratic Party paid Shadow more than $60,000 for “website development” late last year. A source says those payments were for the app that caucus site leaders were supposed to use to upload the results at their locales.
In Alphabet's fourth quarter earnings report, the company revealed that YouTube generated nearly $5 billion in ad revenue in the last three months. This is Alphabet's first report with Sundar Pichai at the helm, who took over as CEO of the entire company late last year after co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped back from day-to-day duties. Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion, but this is the first time the company has broken out YouTube ad revenue numbers. Google says YouTube has more than 20 million subscribers across its Premium and Music Premium offerings, and more than 2 million subscribers to YouTube TV. Alphabet bundles those numbers into its “other” category, which made $5.3 billion last quarter and also includes Pixel phones and Google Home speakers.
Users in North America and Europe, can sign up for Nvidia's GeForce Now game streaming service, which supports games from Steam, the Epic Games Store, Battle.net, and Uplay, running on a PC in a data center. Games must have been optimized for the service before they appear as available, even if you own them. The Founders edition of the service is $5 a month for up to 6 hours at a time, but Nvidia says the fee will go up at some point. You can try the service for free for an hour at a time without a credit card though you may be put in a queue and you will get access to less powerful hardware. The GeForce Now app runs on macOS, Windows and Android and requires at least 15Mbps connection. 30Mbps for 1080p and 50Mbps for the best experience. There's no 4K option.
Russian security researcher Vladislav Yamak published details of a vulnerability in firmware for chips from Huawei-owned HiSilicon. The chips are often used by other manufacturers in security cameras, Network Video Recorders and DVRS. Yarmak said the exploit combines four security bugs previously reported in March 2013, March 2017, July 2017, and September 2017. The vulnerability would let an attacker access Telnet and login to gain root access. Yarmak did not report the vulnerability to HiSilicon claiming he does not trust the company to fix the issues since they have left these previously known vulnerabilities unpatched. Yarmak has made proof-of-concept code available on GitHub for users to test whether their devices are vulnerable.
Reuters reports that, according to sources, Xiaomi, Huawei, Vivo, and Oppo are working together on the Global Developer Service Alliance, designed to allow developers to market apps overseas. A prototype website seen by Reuters claims the GDSA will cover nine "regions" including India, Indonesia and Russia. It is unclear if the GDSA will offer monetary incentives for developers. The alliance was reportedly set to launch in March, but may be pushed back due to the coronavirus outbreak in China. Xiaomi, Huawei, Vivo, and Oppo represent a combined 40% of all smartphone shipments in 2019.
Last month, The New York Times reported on the company Clearview AI, which offered image recognition to a claimed 600 law enforcement agencies based on a database of 3 billion images scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo, Twitter, and other online platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube confirmed they sent cease and desist letters to Clearview, stating the scraping of images violated policies, and demand it stop accessing and using the images. In an interview with CBS, Clearview CEO Hoan Ton-That argued it had a "First Amendment" right to access data in the public domain. Facebook argues that its terms forbid any scraping, and YouTube stated its terms explicitly forbid collecting data that can be used to identify a person.
The Wall Street Journal reports that according to sources, the US Department of Homeland Security bought access to a commercial database that logs locations of millions of smartphones in America for the purpose of immigration and border enforcement. DHS confirmed that it bought access to such a database, but did not state how it was used. Locations are pulled from installed apps where the user granted permission to track location, including games, weather and e-commerce apps. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Carpenter v. United States that accessing historical records with cellphone location data without a warrant violated the fourth amendment. But government lawyers reportedly approved the program because the information was available through numerous commercial ad exchanges, and as a commercial buyer, the ruling did not apply.
For the first time ever, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved Nuro's plan to deploy 5,000 fully autonomous electric delivery vehicles with no human on board and no controls, seats or mirrors. It is restricted to no more than 25 miles per hour for short trips on pre-mapped neighborhood streets and will be monitored remotely by humans who can take control if necessary. The Nuro R2 will roll out in Houston to deliver things like Domino's Pizza and groceries from Wal-Mart. Public road tests will begin there in the coming weeks and Nuro has agreed to greater government oversight and committed to community outreach in order to get approval. It took three years for Nuro to get the approval.
CNBC reports that, according to sources, ViacomCBS is working on a new streaming service that would combine CBS All Access with Viacom properties like Pluto TV, Nickelodeon, BET, MTV, Comedy Central and Paramount Pictures. The service would offer ad-supported and ad-free tiers, including a Premium tier with Showtime included. The name of the service and pricing is still undetermined, but the base service will reportedly cost less than $10 a month.


Preceded by:
"Instagram Prototyping Instagram Partner Program"
Week in Review for the Week of 2/3/20
Followed by:
"US Senator Josh Hawley Proposes FTC Overhaul"