Silicon Valley Tech News Roundup – September 17th

Tech CEOs in closed Senate session about AI – 9/13

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hosted a panel with tech CEOs to discuss artificial intelligence.

Tech CEOs present at the meeting included Bill Gates, Sam Altman (OpenAI), Mark Zuckerberg (Meta), Satya Nadella (Microsoft), Sundar Pichai (Google), Alex Karp (Palantir), Jensen Huang (Nvidia), Arvind Krishna (IBM), Eric Schmidt (former Google), and Elon Musk (Twitter). Likewise, the panel included representatives from labor, civil rights, and creative industries. Representatives included Meredith Steihm (Writers Guild President), Maya Wiley (President and CEO of Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights), Randi Weingarten (President of the American Federation of Teachers), Liz Shuler (President of AFL-CIO), and Charles Rivkin (Chairman and CEO of Motion Picture Association).

More than 60 senators attended the panel, held behind closed doors. Schumer stated the panel was held behind closed doors to encourage open discussion without the format and time restrictions normal for public hearings. However, according to Schumer, some future forums would be open to public view.

In prepared remarks, Schumer stated the panel is the beginning of “an enormous and complex and vital undertaking: building a foundation for bipartisan AI policy that Congress can pass.” After the morning session, he told the press the legislation should come within months, not years. Schumer said: “If you go too fast, you could ruin things… The EU went too fast, and now they have to go back. So what we’re saying is, on a timeline, it can’t be days or weeks, but nor should it be years. It will be in the general category of months.” He also said that when he asked everyone in the room if the government should regulate the AI, everyone raised their hands.

Zuckerberg stated safety and access are “two defining issues for AI.” Musk stated: “It was a very civilized discussion actually among some of the smartest people in the world… Sen. Schumer did a great service to humanity here along with the support of the rest of the Senate. And I think something good will come of this.”

During the afternoon session, the group discussed applications of AI in healthcare, transparency, who should regulate the technology, and displacement of workers.

EU fines TikTok $367 million over violating children’s data privacy – 9/16

Data Protection Commission of Ireland (DPC) fined TikTok €345 million ($367 million) for violating children’s privacy. The European Union found TikTok violated the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) based on how it handles the data belonging to minors. The DPC found TikTok was not sufficiently transparent with children about the app’s privacy settings, and raised questions about how their data is processed.

Helen Dixon (the Data Protection Commissioner) said the accounts of children between ages 13 and 17 were made public by default, and anyone can access them.

TikTok’s spokesperson stated the company: “respectfully disagrees with the decision, particularly the level of the fine imposed… The criticisms are focused on features and settings that were in place three years ago, and that we made changes to well before the investigation even began, such as setting all under 16 accounts to private by default.”

TikTok has three months to comply with the GDPR.

China refutes the claims it banned iPhones for government workers – 9/13

On Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry refuted the claims it banned government workers from using iPhones or other foreign devices.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a regular briefing on Wednesday: “China has not issued any laws, regulations or policy documents prohibiting the purchase and use of mobile phones from foreign brands such as Apple.”

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report about the ban. According to them, the instructions were given to government employees in chat groups or verbally. There was no formal guidance on the matter. While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied it issued official policies on using foreign devices, it did not address reports about the informal guidance.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s spokesperson also spoke about security incidents linked to iPhones: “We have indeed noticed recently that many media have exposed security incidents related to Apple mobile phones… The Chinese government attaches great importance to information and network security.”

Apple to update iPhone 12 in France over radiation concerns – 9/16

The government stopped sales of iPhone 12 in France after the country’s regulator detected the devices emitted too much electromagnetic radiation. ANFR (the radio frequency regulator) found iPhone 12 had a higher Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) than legally allowed in the country.

Jean-Noel Barrot (France’s digital minister) stated Apple would deliver a software update for iPhone 12 users. The radio frequency regulator (ANFR) would test the update to check its compliance before the sales of the iPhone 12 resume in France.

Apple released a statement to the AFP news agency stating the high radiation was “related to a specific testing protocol used by French regulators and not a safety concern.” According to the company, iPhone is compliant with the global emissions rules, but “it would issue a software update for users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators.”

The ANFR warned Apple it would recall every iPhone 12 in the country, if the company fails to rectify the issue with a software update. Barrott gave the company a two-week deadline to fix the issue.


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