Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – January 9th
China’s new regulation to target big tech’s algorithms – 1/7
China finalized a new regulation that will control how the big tech companies utilize recommendation algorithms. It comes into effect on March 1st.
Algorithms are a crucial component in the operations of numerous tech companies. They are heavily guarded business secrets. How new regulations will impact the current business models remains to be seen.
China’s new regulations specify several provisions. For example, companies cannot use algorithms to recommend anything that might violate Chinese laws. Likewise, companies have to inform the users about the basic principles and purpose of the recommendation algorithms. Users also have to be able to opt-out of recommendation algorithms. Furthermore, companies have to ensure recommendation algorithms are safe for the elderly and protect them from scams and frauds.
In case companies violate the new rules, the fines range between 10,000 to 100,000 yuan (between $1,570 and $15,740).
$14bn stolen in crypto-related crimes in 2021 – 1/6
New data published by Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis firm, reveals crypto scammers took $14 billion in cryptocurrency in 2021. The company’s annual Crypto Crime report states scams were the most predominant type of crypto crime, followed by thefts. Compared to the previous year, crypto crime saw a spike of 79%.
The proliferation of decentralized finance platforms (DeFi) is the reason for such high rates of scams and thefts. DeFi is a sector of the cryptocurrency market that aims to cut out the middlemen. Smart contracts written on public blockchains replace intermediaries. Once the terms of the contract are met, it is executed. Based on the Chainalysis data, the DeFi transaction volume grew by 921% in 2021. However, hackers exploit the code vulnerabilities of the new protocols to their advantage.
When compared to 2020, cryptocurrency theft rose 516% ($3.2bn in cryptocurrencies). 72% were taken from DeFi protocols. Crypto scams rose 82% when compared to 2020 ($7.8bn in cryptocurrency).
As the Crypto Crime report outlines: “DeFi is one of the most exciting areas of the wider cryptocurrency ecosystem, presenting huge opportunities to entrepreneurs and cryptocurrency users alike… But DeFi is unlikely to realize its full potential if the same decentralization that makes it so dynamic also allows for widespread scamming and theft.”
Amazon cuts paid work leave for workers with Covid from 10 to seven days – 1/7
On Friday, Amazon notified its U.S. workers it is cutting the number of paid leave days from 10 to seven. It applies to all workers who test positive for Covid or those exposed to someone with the virus. The new policy follows the updated CDC guidelines regarding Covid-19 quarantine and isolation.
Amazon initially provided workers with up to 14 days off. The company then cut the number of days to 10. Now, the workers can have up to seven days off or up to 40 hours of paid leave. Likewise, the new policy does not specify if the workers need to provide a negative Covid-19 test to return to work. The policy goes into effect immediately and applies to all workers regardless of their vaccination status. Additional leave options will be available if the workers have Covid for longer than a week.
In a statement, the company said: “As we have throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to work closely with public health authorities and our own medical experts to determine the most effective ways to keep our employees and our communities safe.”
Samsung expects a 52% jump in profits – 1/7
Samsung Electronics is expecting a jump of 52% in profit in the last quarter of 2021. The boost in the profits is due to the profit margins in the chip contract manufacturing business. Also, the high global demand for server memory chips drove profit.
The company’s estimate is they made 13.8tn won ($11.5bn) during the last quarter. But, their profit estimate is lower than what analysts predicted (15.2tn won). Experts concluded the reasons for the company missing the analysts’ forecast are due to workers’ bonuses and marketing for Samsung’s smartphones.
Samsung had to adjust the operations in its chip manufacturing facility in Xi’an, which has been under city-wide lockdown because of the Covid outbreak. The company did not specify how and if the new measure would impact chip production.
In November, the company announced its plans to build a new computer chip plant in Taylor, Texas. The plant is worth $17bn and should be operational by the second half of 2024.