5 things you should know about tech today

- January 31, 2020 3 MIN READ
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg


It’s a hot Friday, so let’s get cracking.


1.  Apple’s US$1.1bn Wi-Fi damages case

Apple and Broadcom will pay US$1.1 billion in damages to the California Institute of Technology for infringing its Wi-Fi technology patents, following a court case.

Bloomberg reports CalTech lawyers said Apple’s share is $837.8 million and Broadcom, $270.2 million from the jury verdict. The school’s legal action involved a range of patents related to wireless data transmissions. Bloomberg says it’s the 6th largest patent verdict of all time.

Both companies said they will appeal the verdict, with lawyers for both Apple and Broadcom denying any infringement while also claiming that CalTech wasn’t entitled to significant damages even if they had. The 2016 case involved a range of Apple devices using a Broadcom chip CalTech claimed infringed its patents.

More from Bloomberg here.


2.  Facebook settles facial recognition class action for $550m

Facebook is settling a 2015 class-action case in Illinois over claims it illegally collected and stored facial recognition data in breach of the state’s privacy laws.

The social media giant allegedly collected biometric data via its “Tag Suggestions” feature, which identifies Facebook friends from previously uploaded photos.

The settlement also requires Facebook to obtain full consent from Illinois users before collecting any biometric data, and still has to be approved by a judge.

The details emerged as the company revealed fourth-quarter revenue of $21.08 billion, up 25% from the corresponding quarter last year, and beating analyst forecasts, alongside rises in daily and monthly active users. The figures were just slightly above what analysts forecast for the company.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented that: “My goal for this next decade isn’t to be liked, but to be understood”.


3. Bitcoin – a scammer’ currency of choice

It seems like Bitcoin’s found its niche – cybercrime.  The New York Times reported that the black market loves the crypto, with Bitcoin transaction analysts Chainalysis reported that “dark net markets”, used to drugs and stolen credit card details, rose 60% to US$601 million in the last quarter of 2019.

Illegal transactions account for just Bitcoin 1% of all trades, but that figure’s nearly doubled in a year. Meanwhile, fraudsters tripled their slice on 12 months earlier, scamming US$3.5 billion in Bitcoin. The NYT has more here.


4. Betting on media

Just as Australia’s gun culture is very different to America’s, the same is true of sports betting – except in reverse. Our obsession with live betting has yet to infiltrate the US, but it looks like it’s coming, with Australian ventures among those jockeying for a slice.

But the interesting news this week is that casino company Penn National Gaming is backing US media startup Barstool Sports, taking a 36% stake in the digital sports media company for about $163 million in cash and convertible preferred stock in a deal worth US $450 million all up.

CNBC has details here.

Meanwhile, Warren Buffet is selling his newspaper group for US$140 million to Lee Enterprises, ending a 43 year run in media.


5. Optus busted for spamming

Here’s a lesson in managing your subscription database: the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) hit Singtel Optus with a $504,000 infringement notice for significant breaches of spam laws, the second largest infringement notice ever paid to the ACMA.

The ACMA investigation found that between 1 June and 4 December 2018 Optus sent SMS and email marketing messages to consumers after they had unsubscribed. Optus sent commercial emails in the form of billing notices that did not include a unsubscribe facility.

The ACMA has accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Optus to help ensure its future compliance with the Spam Act and the telco committed to appoint an independent consultant to review its systems, policies and procedures for compliance with spam rules.

Over the last 18 months, businesses have paid a total of $1,127,700 in infringement notices to the ACMA for breaking spam and telemarketing laws.



BONUS ITEM: Google’s 2020 Super Bowl ad, just in case you’re one of the nearly 4 million people who’ve watched it in the last 48 hours.

You’ll find Google’s instructions on how to google just like granddad on its YouTube page.