Europe looks to go it alone on microchips amid US-China clash

France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, speaking alongside Breton, said Europe “wants to be an industry power. We want to be an independent Continent when it comes to technology.” He added Europe’s reliance on foreign suppliers “is excessive and unacceptable. It makes us vulnerable. It weakens our production chains today [since] tens of thousands of cars are not produced for lack of electronic components.”

I like how this is passed off like a sudden realisation.

But Europe’s car factories quickly found themselves short of chips with no capacity to produce them.

A realisation that only in Europe could have stemmed from the automotive industry instead of any other sector.

But for Breton, Europe’s autonomy will depend on having a leading-edge factory too.

“We must give ourselves the means to be autonomous on this chain,” he said, with the ambition to manufacture the tiny chips used in smartphones and other high tech.

This is filed under the “I thought of it so of course it’s doable”. Tell that to Intel. Tell that to Global Foundries. And we’ll all have a big laugh about it.

Huge companies haven’t been able to stay ahead in this games or even in it at all, despite years of expertise and huge capital expenditures. Such companies are actively asking for financial incentives to produce in the US. And they’re actually know what they’re talking about. And we’ll all have a big laugh about it. Who in Europe has the remotest idea of what it means to design, build and operate cutting edge chip factories for any aggressive plan like Breton’s to have a chance to be anything other than fiction?

Apple Unveils Stringent Disclosure and Opt-in Privacy Requirements for Apps

Other examples of a possible adpocalypse?

  • JPMorganChase reduced its advertising reach from 400,000 sites to 5000 and saw no change in outcome.
  • Uber audited its ad spending to generate new users and went from $150 million to $20 million in spending without a drop in actual leads.
  • Proctor & Gamble slashed $200 million in online spending and found its reach increased.
  • eBay cut $100 million in ad spending without a drop in referred sales.

For instance, try to explain why, after you purchase a given item, ads for that same item chase you around the Internet. Ad efficiency? Hardly.

In my experience, asking a company that moves actual product if a bigger programmatic advertising budget has brought more sales almost always ends up in an awkward conversation. Of course part of this joke is how little of such budgets ends up in the coffers of the outlets that end up showing said ads. Agency commission rates are murder. Imagine if it became clear there’s no real point in murder. Imagine that.

Sheryl Sandberg and Top Facebook Execs Silenced an Enemy of Turkey to Prevent a Hit to the Company’s Business

Let me just preface this by saying I’m a Greek, living in Greece, right next to Turkey which means political and military shenanigans are kind of the norm for the two countries. Theoretically, it’s in my country’s interest to jump at any opportunity that lends itself to my criticising the Turkish government.

But.

Turkey was demanding the social media giant block Facebook posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group the Turkish government had targeted. Should Facebook ignore the request, as it has done elsewhere, and risk losing access to tens of millions of users in Turkey? Or should it silence the group, known as the YPG, even if doing so added to the perception that the company too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments?

As a company, you either decide to do business somewhere and follow the law of the land or you decide against business there.

But behind the scenes in 2018, amid Turkey’s military campaign, Facebook ultimately sided with the government’s demands. Deliberations, the emails show, were centered on keeping the platform operational, not on human rights. “The page caused us a few PR fires in the past,” one Facebook manager warned of the YPG material.

Again. It’s the law.

The Turkish government’s lobbying on Afrin-related content included a call from the chairman of the BTK, Turkey’s telecommunications regulator. He reminded Facebook “to be cautious about the material being posted, especially photos of wounded people,” wrote Mark Smith, a U.K.-based policy manager, to Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy. “He also highlighted that the government may ask us to block entire pages and profiles if they become a focal point for sharing illegal content.” (Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization, although neither the U.S. nor Facebook do.)

This is too funny. You’re a company. You operate in another country. A) What your own country recognises as a terrorist organisation is irrelevant to your business. B) But what’s hilarious irrelevant is what you, a multinational private company, considers a terrorist organisation.

I’m not a fan of the legislation in question. But if I visit a different as a private citizen, guess whose law I have to abide by. I don’t get to act surprised whenever that’s expected of me.

“Facebook has a transparency problem,” he said.

In fact, Facebook doesn’t reveal to users that the YPG page is explicitly banned. When ProPublica tried to access YPG’s Facebook page using a Turkish VPN — to simulate browsing the internet from inside the country — a notice read: “The link may be broken, or the page may have been removed.” The page is still available on Facebook to people who view the site through U.S. internet providers.

Yes, this is on Facebook. When you have to enforce a legal request you don’t like, you don’t also get to try and PR your way out of it in cute little ways.

For its part, Facebook reported about 15,300 government requests worldwide for content restrictions during the first half of 2018. Roughly 1,600 came from Turkey during that period, company data shows, accounting for about 10% of requests globally.

This is insane.

How Europe’s new privacy rules survived years of negotiations, lobbying and drama

Despite being framed as middle-of-the-road, digital rights NGOs and the European Parliament’s lead negotiator believe the Council’s text does not protect privacy enough. Privacy settings on browsers is still out, companies can still refuse access to their website to users who don’t accept cookies, and the provision on processing metadata that the Germans had dropped made its way back into the text.

“Clearly still the Parliament’s position is that we need to protect privacy and confidentiality of communications. From what we hear from Council, I’m not convinced that their position will go into that direction,” said MEP Birgit Sippel earlier this week, before Wednesday’s agreement.

Great instance of “how the sausage gets made”. It’s not pretty but this is the way to achieve some concrete and far-reaching progress. One step at a time. GDPR is still annoying, useful and inadequate. This is why this new framework is being hammered on. And there’s still a long way to go.

El Toro Ad Tech

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Specifically, El Toro offers:

  • Targeting without having to use cookies, census blocks, or geo-location tools.
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  • Automatic blocking of adult and low quality spam sites.
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This marketing copy works equally well as an ad and as a threat.

How Google’s Grand Plan to Make Its Own Games Fell Apart

Four current and former Stadia employees speaking with WIRED say that despite Google’s substantial investment and hiring spree, it never could wrap its head around game development. The tech company, so good at making services, simply wasn’t set up to nourish the chaotic, multidisciplinary circus that is making games.

Throwing money at a problem.

“I think it’s a lack of understanding of the process,” says one source who works at Stadia. “It seemed there were executive-level people not fully grasping how to navigate through a space that is highly creative, cross-disciplinary.”

I’d say that’s to be expected. What’s not to be expected is a company like Google getting into this business and being surprised left and right about how different and idiosyncratic it is compared to what it is used to.

When performance review time came, three sources say, Google judged game developers against benchmarks created for UX or visual designers. There isn’t a number associated with “fun-to-play,” or a process-based workflow for generating creativity. Veteran game developers lobbied for their work culture as much as they could. Over time, Google seemed to soften.

Things got better along the way. But, again, this doesn’t seem like there was proper planning before committing to developing games. Any games. Unless one really is so far gone that imagination alone fails to grasp how different disciplines have to be reviewed against their own frameworks.

It seems to me that Google thought that games are born of tech, Google knows tech so, yeah, why not, right?