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Apple, Google no longer in power as fairness is brought to digital economy



South Korea is the first country to challenge app store payment policies, with a new bill introduced to support content developers.

South Korea challenges app and play store policies.

Google and Apple are now facing criticism for their app store and payment policies across the Asia Pacific.

Currently, app developers are forced to use the proprietary billing systems of the respective tech giants’, however South Korea is challenging this rule.

Under a new bill passed on Tuesday by South Korean parliament, app makers can use external companies to process payments on their apps in Google Play and Apple’s App store.

The country will be the first to challenge Google and Apple’s payment policies, once the bill is signed by President Moon Jae-in.

This comes a week after Apple said it would allow App Store developers to promote alternative payment methods to their user.

Current policies “unfair”

Critics said the current Google and Apple payment legislations were unfair, as the monopolies were entitled to a 30 percent commission.

They also said, developers were left with little choice and had to coincide with the conditions or face not receiving payment and delayed app reviews.

Meghan DiMuzio, the head of the Coalition for App Fairness, welcomes the bill coined the “Google power-abuse-prevention law” with open arms.

“[The law] is a significant development in the global fight to bring fairness to the digital economy,” DiMuzio says.

Apple and Google react

However, in response to the bill, Apple says choice of third-party payment systems may put users at risk of exposure to fraud.

“Users who purchase digital goods…undermine their privacy protections, make it difficult to manage their purchases and features like ‘Ask to Buy’ and Parental Controls will become less effective,” an Apple spokesperson says.

Google also commented on the bill saying its payment system is what helps keep its service fee “free”.

“We’ll reflect on how to comply with this law while maintaining a model that supports a high-quality operating system and app store, and we will share more in the coming weeks.”

Australia follows suit

Australia is also ramping up the pressure by floating reforms for how to tackle payment systems provided by Apple and Google.

Apple’s commissions, can go as high as 30 percent on some purchases made through the company’s platform, with some companies saying they have little choice to comply.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has called for new regulations on digital payments.

“Ultimately, if we do nothing to reform the current framework, it will be Silicon Valley alone that determines the future of our payments system.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the Australian Financial Review newspaper.

The Australian government is considering designating tech companies as payment providers while establishing a strategic plan between the government and the industry.

As a result, an integrated licensing framework will be developed for payment systems.

Written by Rebecca Borg

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Meta’s plans to hide nudity from Instagram DMs



Instagram, owned by Meta, announced plans to introduce features that will blur messages containing nudity in an effort to protect teenagers and prevent potential scammers from targeting them.

Meta’s decision comes amidst growing concerns regarding harmful content on its platforms, especially concerning the mental well-being of young users.

The technology giant has faced increasing scrutiny in both the United States and Europe, with accusations that its apps contribute to addiction and exacerbate mental health issues among adolescents.

According to Meta, the new protection feature for Instagram’s direct messages will utilise on-device machine learning to analyse whether an image sent through the service contains nudity.

This feature will be enabled by default for users under the age of 18, with adults being encouraged to activate it as well.

Meta said that because the image analysis occurs on the device itself, the nudity protection feature will function even in end-to-end encrypted chats, where Meta does not have access to the content unless it is reported by users.

unsplash_image @ Unsplash

Direct messages

Unlike Meta’s Messenger and WhatsApp apps, direct messages on Instagram are not currently encrypted.

However, Meta has stated its intention to implement encryption for Instagram’s direct messages in the future.

Additionally, Meta revealed that it is developing technology to identify accounts potentially involved in sextortion scams. The company is also testing new pop-up messages to alert users who may have interacted with such accounts.

This latest move follows Meta’s announcement in January that it would restrict more content from teens on Facebook and Instagram, aiming to reduce their exposure to sensitive topics such as suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.

Meta’s efforts to enhance safety measures come amid legal challenges and regulatory scrutiny.

Attorneys general from 33 U.S. states, including California and New York, filed a lawsuit against the company in October, alleging repeated misrepresentation of the dangers associated with its platforms.

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Fake AI law firms avert copyright for SEO gains



It’s been revealed that fake AI-driven law firms are resorting to sending fabricated DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) infringement notices to website owners.

These deceptive practices aim to generate artificial Search Engine Optimization gains through the manipulation of backlinks, casting a shadow on the integrity of online legal proceedings.

The issue was brought to attention when Ernie Smith, a prominent writer behind the newsletter Tedium, found himself targeted by one such fraudulent firm named “Commonwealth Legal.” Representing the “Intellectual Property division” of Tech4Gods, the purported law firm accused Smith of copyright infringement over a photo of a keyfob sourced from Unsplash, a legitimate photo service.

The firm demanded immediate action to add a credit link to Tech4Gods and threatened further legal action if compliance was not met within five business days.

However, a closer examination revealed glaring inconsistencies with Commonwealth Legal’s legitimacy.

Despite claiming to be based in Arizona, the firm’s website domain was registered with a Canadian IP location, raising doubts about its authenticity.

AI-generated faces

The attorneys listed on the website displayed eerie characteristics common to AI-generated faces, casting doubt on their existence.

Further investigation revealed that these fake law firms resort to such deceitful tactics to manipulate backlinks, which are crucial for improving a website’s search engine ranking.

Backlinks from reputable sites contribute to SEO, and exploiting this vulnerability, fake firms attempt to boost their clients’ online presence through artificial means.

The sinister nature of these actions extends beyond mere SEO manipulation.

They undermine the trust in legal proceedings and pose a threat to the integrity of online content. The emergence of AI-driven deception in legal matters underscores the need for vigilant scrutiny and robust measures to combat such fraudulent activities.

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Air Force secretary to fly in AI-operated F-16 fighter jet



Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall announced his intention to ride in the cockpit of an aircraft operated by artificial intelligence later this spring.

Speaking before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense panel, Kendall said the pivotal role of autonomously operated drones in shaping the future of the Air Force’s fleet.

During the committee hearing, Kendall revealed plans to board an F-16 aircraft that has been converted for drone flight, highlighting the Air Force’s commitment to integrating AI technologies into its operations.

This move comes as part of Kendall’s push to acquire over 1,000 AI-operated drones, marking a significant step toward modernizing the military branch’s capabilities.

Kendall expressed confidence in the autonomous technology, stating, “There will be a pilot with me who will just be watching, as I will be, as the autonomous technology works. Hopefully neither he nor I will be needed to fly the airplane.”

US, Philippines to announce new sites for U.S. military as soon as …

AI-guided planes

The announcement follows the Pentagon’s initiative to develop new AI-guided planes, with contracts awarded to several private companies to compete in the Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) project. This $6 billion program aims to bolster the Air Force’s drone fleet, providing support for human-piloted jets and enhancing overall operational capabilities.

Among the companies competing for the CCA project are industry giants such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman, underscoring the significant investment and interest in AI-enabled defense technologies.

The adoption of AI-driven drones represents a strategic effort by the Pentagon to enhance military innovation and cost-efficiency.

By deploying AI-enabled autonomous vehicles, the military aims to achieve greater flexibility and effectiveness in combat scenarios while minimizing risks to manned aircraft.

While details regarding the appearance and capabilities of the AI-operated drones remain undisclosed, Kendall emphasized their potential to disrupt and counter sophisticated air defense systems, ultimately safeguarding national security interests.

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