Hashtag Trending Nov.27- Meta’s inaction on the presence of under 13 users on its platforms; TCS, Nvidia code theft debacle; Levandowski’s AI church

Presence of users under age 13 on Meta’s platforms: an “open secret”, Nvidia hit with code theft lawsuit, FTC extends cloud scrutiny to generative AI and a church worshipping artificial intelligence to soon resuscitate.

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These and more top tech stories on Hashtag Trending.

I’m your host James Roy.

In October, 41 states sued Meta for allegedly harming the mental health of young users.

Now, an unredacted complaint in that lawsuit, discovered by the New York Times, accused  Meta of being well aware of the fact that kids under the age of 13 lie to use its platforms. 

The complaint, in fact, alleges that when Meta received over 1.1 million reports of under-13 users on Instagram, from 2019-2023, it disabled only a fraction of those accounts and continued to collect children’s data without parental consent.

Even more concerning, Meta allegedly has “coveted and pursued” this demographic for years on Instagram, targeting young users, manipulating them into spending unhealthy amounts of time on the apps, promoting body dysmorphia and exposing them to potentially harmful content.

Meta earlier this month called on federal legislation to put more responsibility on parents when it comes to kids’ app downloads. Meta’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis, proposed a requirement for parents to have approval power over downloads for kids under the age of 16.

Source: Engadget

Basic video call rule of thumb: close anything you do not want your colleagues to see before you screen share. 

Especially if you’ve stolen the tech secrets of the very company you work for and then go on to join a competitor.

Mohammad Moniruzzaman, a senior staff member, was giving an online presentation to a team from his former employer, car technology firm Valeo.

Doing so, he allegedly displayed a file proving he stole the source code behind Valeo’s parking and driving assistance software. 

In that same year, Moniruzzaman joined Nvidia. And, Nvidia has spent the better part of a decade attempting to branch out into the automotive market.

So now, Valeo is suing Nvidia claiming that the tech giant benefited financially from its “stolen trade secrets”.

The complaint alleges; “Nvidia has saved millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of dollars in development costs, and generated profits that it did not properly earn and to which it was not entitled.”

Reportedly, Moniruzzaman was convicted by German authorities in September 2023 over unlawfully holding the data and even using Valeo’s software while employed at Nvidia.

Nvidia claimed that it has no interest in Valeo’s trade secrets and that it had no idea that Moniruzzaman had the data.

Valeo is seeking significant damages, and wants the court to make an injunction prohibiting Nvidia and its affiliates from using its code.

Source: BBC

Speaking of code theft, Indian tech giant, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has been ordered to cough up $210 million over the theft of source code and documentation.

Computer Sciences Corp (or CSC) said in the 2019 lawsuit that it licensed its software to Transamerica subsidiary Money Services Inc. 

Then, Tata apparently hired 2,200 Transamerica employees in 2018 and used their access to CSC’s software and knowledge of its source code and other proprietary information, to build a competing life-insurance platform.

Tata denied the allegations, told the court that the information at issue was not secret and argued that it accessed the software legally.

The verdict said that Tata misappropriated CSC’s trade secrets and that its misuse was willful and malicious.

In a separate case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Tata’s appeal where it was found to owe $280 million for misusing trade secrets from software maker Epic Systems to develop competing healthcare software.

CSC said in its lawsuit that Tata had “learned nothing from the outcome of the Epic litigation.”

Source: Reuters 

According to an SEC filing, Elon Musk’s Neuralink has raised an additional $43 million in venture capital.

The company is developing implantable chips that can read brain waves. In May, it received FDA approval for human clinical trials and recently started seeking volunteers who have quadriplegia caused by spinal injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (as known as ALS).

So the focus of the trial would be to grant people the ability to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.

But Neuralink has been under increasing scrutiny for what critics allege are a toxic workplace culture — and unethical research practices, including animal cruelty.

Neuralink hasn’t disclosed its valuation recently. But in June, Reuters reported that the company was valued at about $5 billion after privately-executed stock trades.

Source: Tech Crunch

In April, the Federal Trade Commission (the FTC) launched an inquiry into the three biggest cloud providers, Microsoft, Google and Amazon, alleging that they are capturing the majority of the cloud market.

FTC Chair Lina Khan pointed to software licensing practices, egress fees and minimum-spend contracts as potential antitrust violations.

Now the FTC is reportedly extending its scrutiny to the emergence of generative AI tools, which it alleges has intensified the agency’s concerns.

Khan said, “Cloud computing is a key input for artificial intelligence technologies. Fully understanding the dynamics in this layer is only more important and relevant today than it was even earlier this year.”

Infrastructure-hungry large language models consume vast quantities of compute and organizations have turned to cloud-based marketplaces to access generative AI tools.

Google responded to the inquiry, blaming Microsoft for restrictions, prohibitions and surcharges levied on customers attempting to migrate workloads to Azure competitors.

AWS and Microsoft responded, too, painting a rosier picture of cloud market competition.

According to Synergy Research Group, AWS remains the dominant force, capturing roughly one-third of cloud spending, with Microsoft and Google at 23 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively.

Last month, Gartner cited cloud concentration among the top-five emerging business risks.  

Gartner said that vendor lock-in, potential regulatory compliance issues and the growing “blast radius” of a major breach or outage are driving heightened concern.

Source: CIO Dive 

Tech buffs have long worshipped AI. Then, it got literal.

Tech entrepreneur and self-driving car pioneer, Anthony Levandowski said he’s bringing back the artificial intelligence church, which he conceptualized and launched in 2015. It shut down a couple of years later.

Called the Way of the Future (WOTF), the church aims to, pretty much, worship AI and champion its ethical evolution.

Levandowski says that the church already has a congregation consisting of “a couple thousand people.”

In an interview to Bloomberg, he said, “For the last 4 billion years we’ve had organic lifeforms, [but] now, for the first time things are changing and we’re going to have inorganic life forms,” “We don’t know what [these inorganic life forms] are going to be, [but] we’re going to fuse it with all these magical powers, and we want it to give us things.”

He believes AI can bring “heaven on Earth.” He says, “Here, we’re actually creating things they can see, be everywhere and maybe help us and guide us in a way normally you would call God.”

Levandowski shot to infamy for stealing secrets related to Google’s autonomous vehicle technology and then giving them to his next employer, Uber.

He pleaded guilty to stealing Google’s trade secrets in 2020, resulting in an 18-month prison sentence. But less than six months later, he was pardoned by the then US President, Donald Trump.

Source: Interesting Engineering

And that’s the top tech news for today.

Hashtag Trending goes to air 5 days a week with a special weekend interview show we call “the Weekend Edition.”

You can get us anywhere you get audio podcasts and there is a copy of the show notes at itworldcanada.com/podcasts 

And while we cover cybersecurity stories that we think are of general interest, you can keep really up to date on cybersecurity with our podcast featuring security journalist Howard Solomon. It’s called CybersecurityToday.  It’s rated as one of North America’s top 10 tech podcasts.

I’m your host James Roy.  Have a Marvelous Monday!

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