Major U.S. tech firms press Congress for internet surveillance reforms

Facebook (FB.O), Amazon (AMZN.O) and more than two dozen other U.S. technology companies pressed Congress on Friday to make changes to a broad internet surveillance law, saying they were necessary to improve privacy protections and increase government transparency. The request marks the first significant public effort by Silicon Valley to wade into what is expected to be a contentious debate later the year over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, parts of which will expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress reauthorizes them. Of particular concern to the technology industry and privacy advocates is Section 702, which allows U.S. intelligence agencies to vacuum up vast amounts of communications from foreigners but also incidentally collects some data belonging to Americans that can be searched by analysts without a warrant.

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Major U.S. tech firms press Congress for internet surveillance reforms

U.S. internet firms ask Trump to support encryption, ease regulations

By Dustin Volz WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. internet companies including Facebook Inc and Amazon Inc have sent President-elect Donald Trump a detailed list of their policy priorities, which includes promoting strong encryption, immigration reform and maintaining liability protections from content that users share on their platforms. The letter sent on Friday by the Internet Association, a trade group whose 40 members also include Alphabet's Google, Uber [UBER.UL] and Twitter, represents an early effort to repair the relationship between the technology sector and Trump, who was almost universally disliked and at times denounced in Silicon Valley during the presidential campaign. “The internet industry looks forward to engaging in an open and productive dialogue,” reads the letter, signed by Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, and seen by Reuters.

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U.S. internet firms ask Trump to support encryption, ease regulations

Microsoft sharpens AI focus with new research group

(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp said on Thursday it created a new artificial intelligence unit, as the company pushes deeper into the fast-growing field. Silicon Valley is diving into artificial intelligence (AI)and machine learning research, an industry estimated to zoom to $70 billion by 2020 from just $8.2 billion in 2013, according to a Bank of America report that cited IDC research. On Wednesday, Microsoft teamed up with four other big technology companies – Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet unit Google, Facebook Inc and IBM – to create a non-profit organization to advance public understanding of AI technologies.

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Microsoft sharpens AI focus with new research group

Facebook makes little progress in race, gender diversity: report

Facebook Inc's employees are still mainly white or Asian males as the world's largest social network made little progress in hiring a more diverse talent pool over the past year, it said on Thursday. The findings in Facebook's annual diversity report reflects the scant progress made by Silicon Valley heavyweights in employing more women and minorities. Last month, Alphabet Inc's Google released data on diversity, saying it had more black, Latino and female employees than last year, but still lagged its goal of mirroring the population.

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Facebook makes little progress in race, gender diversity: report

Israel’s high tech boom threatened by shallow labor pool

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Without the huge populations of emerging markets like India or the vast network of foreigners who call Silicon Valley home, Israel’s high tech enterprise seems to have dried out the well. Over the next decade it will face a shortage of about 10,000 engineers and programmers in a market that currently employs 140,000, according to the country’s chief scientist, Avi Hasson, who is the government’s point man on sustaining innovation. “The issue of skilled and available manpower is the main barrier to growth and competitiveness in the field of high tech,” Hasson said.

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Israel’s high tech boom threatened by shallow labor pool

Uber drivers remain independent contractors as lawsuit settled

By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Uber has agreed to pay up to $100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit which resolves a major challenge to its business model by allowing the ride-hailing service to keep its California and Massachusetts drivers as independent contractors. The lawsuit had claimed that Uber [UBER.UL] drivers are employees and thus entitled to reimbursement of expenses. The case against Uber had been closely watched in Silicon Valley, as other companies in the on-demand tech economy share Uber's reliance on independent contractors.

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Uber drivers remain independent contractors as lawsuit settled

Juniper Networks will drop code tied to National Security Agency

By Joseph Menn SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Juniper Networks Inc said late on Friday it would stop using a piece of security code that analysts believe was developed by the National Security Agency in order to eavesdrop through technology products. The Silicon Valley maker of networking gear said it would ship new versions of security software in the first half of this year to replace those that rely on numbers generated by Dual Elliptic Curve technology. The statement on a blog post came a day after the presentation at a Stanford University conference of research by a team of cryptographers who found that Juniper's code had been changed in multiple ways during 2008 to enable eavesdropping on virtual private network sessions by customers.

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Juniper Networks will drop code tied to National Security Agency

Sony’s PlayStation 4 sales top 30 million consoles

TOKYO (Reuters) – Sony Corp on Wednesday said sales of its PlayStation 4 video game console exceeded 30.2 million units as of Nov. 22, as global price cuts ahead of the year-end holiday season bolstered demand. The PlayStation 4, which went on sale in late 2013, has been Sony's fastest-selling game console, the Japanese electronics manufacturer said. It hit sales of 20 million consoles in March. The console helped Sony book its highest second-quarter operating profit in eight years. (Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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Sony’s PlayStation 4 sales top 30 million consoles

Exclusive: Three Goldman bankers leave for Uber as tech world raids Wall Street talent

By Olivia Oran and Heather Somerville NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Three mid-level bankers in Goldman Sachs Group Inc's technology investment banking group in San Francisco have left to take positions at ride service company Uber Technologies Inc in recent months, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The bankers are the latest to leave Wall Street banks for Silicon Valley startups, where the lure of more flexible hours – and in some cases stock options and share grants – can be hard to resist. Uber, currently valued at around $51 billion, said in August that it expected an IPO within 18 to 24 months.

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Exclusive: Three Goldman bankers leave for Uber as tech world raids Wall Street talent