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The world’s tech giants are betting big on India as more people go online and e-commerce grows, but low incomes and patchy connectivity remain major…

Newley Purnell / Wall Street Journal : The world's tech giants are betting big on India as more people go online and e-commerce grows, but low incomes and patchy connectivity remain major challenges   —  The world's largest internet companies are betting big on the nation of 1.3 billion, where challenges are as big as the opportunities

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Facebook moves to shrink its legal liabilities under GDPR

Facebook has another change in the works to respond to the European Union’s beefed up data protection framework — and this one looks intended to shrink its legal liabilities under GDPR , and at scale. Late yesterday Reuters  reported on a change incoming to Facebook’s T&Cs that it said will be pushed out next month — meaning all non-EU international are switched from having their data processed by Facebook Ireland to Facebook USA. With this shift, Facebook will ensure that the privacy protections afforded by the EU’s incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — which applies from May 25 — will not cover the ~1.5BN+ international Facebook users who aren’t EU citizens (but current have their data processed in the EU, by Facebook Ireland). The U.S. does not have a comparable data protection framework to GDPR. While the incoming EU framework substantially strengthens penalties for data protection violations, making the move a pretty logical one for Facebook’s lawyers thinking about how it can shrink its GDPR liabilities. Reuters says Facebook confirmed the impending update to the T&Cs of non-EU international users, though the company played down the significance — repeating its claim that it will be making the same privacy “controls and settings” available everywhere. (Though, as experts have pointed out, this does not mean the same GDPR principles will be applied by Facebook everywhere.) Critics have couched the T&Cs shift as regressive — arguing it’s a reduction in the level of privacy protection that would otherwise have applied for international users, thanks to GDPR. Although whether these EU privacy rights would really have been enforceable for non-Europeans is questionable . A t the time of writing Facebook had not responded to a request for comment on the change.  Update:  It’s now sent us the following statement — attributed to deputy chief global privacy officer, Stephen Deadman: “The GDPR and EU consumer law set out specific rules for terms and data policies which we have incorporated for EU users.  We have been clear that we are offering everyone who uses Facebook the same privacy protections, controls and settings, no matter where they live. These updates do not change that.”  The company’s generally argument is that the EU law takes a prescriptive approach — which can make certain elements irrelevant for international users outside the bloc. It also claims it’s working on being more responsive to regional norms and local frameworks. (Which will presumably be music to the New Zealand privacy commissioner ‘s ears, for one…) According to Reuters the T&Cs shift will affect more than 70 per cent of Facebook’s 2BN+ users. As of December, Facebook had 239M users in the US and Canada; 370M in Europe; and 1.52BN users elsewhere. The news agency also reports that Microsoft -owned LinkedIn is one of several other multinational companies planning to make the same data processing shift for international users — with LinkedIn’s new terms set to take effect on May 8, moving non-Europeans to contracts with the U.S.-based LinkedIn Corp.

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Netflix launches 30-second preview videos on mobile

Netflix is introducing its own take on Snapchat and Instagram stories after it began to roll out 30-second preview videos for mobile viewers. The previews look much like Stories because the thumbnails are circular and the content plays with virtual videos, so there’s no need to move your phone to the side. Added to that, they play like a slideshow, allowing users to swipe or tap to skip to the next video without returning to the main screen. Shows that appeal can be stored for later viewing with a button that adds them to your list. The feature is hitting the Netflix iOS app from today, and the company said it will be “coming soon” to Android. The launch is long-awaited. Netflix began offering previews on the web and via its TV app , and the company said the new feature will help those who tune in via their phone to find more content to watch. “Years of testing has made it clear that video previews help our members browse less and discover new content more quickly. With the launch of mobile previews, we are bringing a video browse experience to your mobile phone in a fun and mobile-optimized way,” the company explained in a blog post . Netflix is on a run of late, with the company closing in on a $150 billion market cap thanks to growing subscriber numbers. The company added 7.41 million new subscribers in the first quarter of 2018 — around two million of which were U.S.-based — and it has forecast an additional 6.2 million more joining in the next quarter.

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Genetics testing startup Prenetics buys UK’s DNAFit to move into consumer services

Prenetics , a Hong Kong-based startup that offers genetic testing services for patients, is expanding outside of Asia and into the consumer space after it acquired London-based company DNAFit . The deal — which a source told TechCrunch is worth $10 million — not only sees Prenetics enter new geographies, but also expand the scope of its services. Prenetics, which includes Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba among its backers, works directly with insurance firms and physicians who use its testing service for their customers and patients, but DNAFit goes straight to consumers themselves. Five-year-old DNAFit sells a test that profiles an individual’s DNA to help them to figure out the fitness and nutrition setup that is best suited to them. DNAFit’s kits — which cost up to £249 ($350) and take 10 days for results — are sold online and via employee packages. The company said it has sold its product to “several hundred thousand” people. High-profile backers include Olympic gold medal-winning British athlete Greg Rutherford, who said the results helped him make “clear, informed decisions” on his training regime. Prenetics has been considering global expansion options for some time, and this acquisition gets its foot in the door in new markets while also tackling the consumer health market, too. “We definitely plan on investing and growing our reach in Europe for the DNAFit business. In addition, Prenetics International will be focused on a B2B with insurers and for corporates,” Prenetics CEO Danny Yeung told TechCrunch via email. “At the same time, DNAFit is a partner for fitness company Helix in the U.S., thus we plan on investing further on customer acquisition and growing our reach in the U.S.,” Yeung added

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Facebook has a new job posting calling for chip designers

Facebook has posted a job opening looking for an expert in ASIC and FPGA , two custom silicon designs that companies can gear toward specific use cases — particularly in machine learning and artificial intelligence. There’s been a lot of speculation in the valley as to what Facebook’s interpretation of custom silicon might be, especially as it looks to optimize its machine learning tools — something that CEO Mark Zuckerberg referred to as a potential solution for identifying misinformation on Facebook using AI. The whispers of Facebook’s customized hardware range depending on who you talk to, but generally center around operating on the massive graph Facebook possesses around personal data. Most in the industry speculate that it’s being optimized for Caffe2, an AI infrastructure deployed at Facebook, that would help it tackle those kinds of complex problems. FPGA is designed to be a more flexible and modular design, which is being championed by Intel as a way to offer the ability to adapt to a changing machine learning-driven landscape. The downside that’s commonly cited when referring to FPGA is that it is a niche piece of hardware that is complex to calibrate and modify, as well as expensive, making it less of a cover-all solution for machine learning projects. ASIC is similarly a customized piece of silicon that a company can gear toward something specific, like mining cryptocurrency. Facebook’s director of AI research tweeted about the job posting this morning, noting that he previously worked in chip design: Interested in designing ASIC & FPGA for AI? Design engineer positions are available at Facebook in Menlo Park. I used to be a chip designer many moons ago: my engineering diploma was in Electrical… https://t.co/D4l9kLpIlV — Yann LeCun (@ylecun) April 18, 2018 While the whispers grow louder and louder about Facebook’s potential hardware efforts, this does seem to serve as at least another partial data point that the company is looking to dive deep into custom hardware to deal with its AI problems. That would mostly exist on the server side, though Facebook is looking into other devices like a smart speaker . Given the immense amount of data Facebook has, it would make sense that the company would look into customized hardware rather than use off-the-shelf components like those from Nvidia. (The wildest rumor we’ve heard about Facebook’s approach is that it’s a diurnal system, flipping between machine training and inference depending on the time of day and whether people are, well, asleep in that region.) Most of the other large players have found themselves looking into their own customized hardware. Google has its TPU for its own operations, while Amazon is also reportedly working on chips for both training and inference. Apple, too, is reportedly working on its own silicon, which could potentially rip Intel out of its line of computers

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