Today in Big Tech — December 4, 2020

25 years ago today, JavaScript was released. It really was a simpler time. Happy Friday!

Amazon Fire TV Adds Local News In 12 U.S. Cities, With 90 More Coming In 2021 by Dade Hayes

“The initial dozen stations are in New York, LA, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, Miami, Tampa, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle. The roster includes CBSN Chicago, ABC7/WABC-TV New York, KIRO7 Seattle, and News 12 New York. In a year marked by Covid-19, a presidential election and racial unrest, overall news consumption has surged 48%, according to Nielsen. Amazon’s news app offers free live and on-demand news from ABC News Live, CBS News, Reuters, Cheddar and other providers.”

Adding local news stations is great but what happens when news consumption goes back down? Local news stations depending on a media streaming company is no better than local news stations depending on a cable company.

iPhones can now automatically recognize and label buttons and UI features for blind users by Devin Coldewey

“Screen Recognition, available now in iOS 14, is a computer vision system that has been trained on thousands of images of apps in use, learning what a button looks like, what icons mean and so on. Such systems are very flexible — depending on the data you give them, they can become expert at spotting cats, facial expressions or, as in this case, the different parts of a user interface.”

More AI like this please. Apple, Google, and Microsoft do a lot of work around accessibility and deserve the kudos for it.

Indonesia’s unicorns lure US tech giants from Google to Facebook by Shotaro Tani

“Just as the same U.S. tech companies, sometimes grouped under the acronym GAFAM along with Amazon and Apple, are also betting big on India, the investments acknowledge that Indonesia is a market too big to ignore. The Southeast Asian country is the fourth most populous in the world, accounting for a third of the region’s economic output. The importance of the investment opportunities is even greater now that China, Asia’s largest market, seems a more hostile territory for U.S. tech companies because of Beijing’s spat with Washington.”

Indonesia has traditionally been a difficult market to service because it consists of over 17,000 islands. That matters a lot less when you’re offering an internet service.

China Stakes Its Claim to Quantum Supremacy by Tom Simonite

“Thursday, China’s leading quantum research group made its own declaration of quantum supremacy, in the journal Science. A system called Jiuzhang produced results in minutes calculated to take more than 2 billion years of effort by the world’s third-most-powerful supercomputer.”

Expect more headlines like this next year. A lot more.

E.U. Privacy Rule Would Rein In the Hunt for Online Child Sexual Abuse by Gabriel Dance and Adam Satariano

“The crackdown has been widely popular, but the regulatory push is now entangled in the global fight against child exploitation, setting off a fierce debate about how far internet companies should be allowed to go when collecting evidence on their platforms of possible crimes against minors. A rule scheduled to take effect on Dec. 20 would inhibit the monitoring of email, messaging apps and other digital services in the European Union. It would also restrict the use of software that scans for child sexual abuse imagery and so-called grooming by online predators. The practice would be banned without a court order.”

Obviously we can’t restrict scanning for child sexual abuse imagery. But when this rule is reverted or amended, we need to make sure that the work on enacting privacy rules continues.

Executive Editor @VentureBeat Formerly @TheNextWeb @ZDNet @CNET @TechSpot @ArsTechnica