Google Cloud asks employees to share desks, Canada starts investigation into TikTok and AI-created images lose their copyright protection.


It’s Friday, February 24th. These stories and more on Hashtag Trending–today’s top technology news stories. I’m your host, Jim Love.

In its latest cost-cutting moves, the cloud unit of Google has asked employees to transition to a desk-sharing workspace in five of its locations.

The new desk-sharing model will apply to Google Cloud’s five largest U.S. locations — Kirkland, Washington; New York City; San Francisco; Seattle; and Sunnyvale, California.

Google has said previously in its fourth-quarter earnings call that it expects to incur costs of about $500 million related to reduced global office space and other real estate charges. 

Employees and partners are being asked to share their desks on alternate days with their desk mates, starting next quarter.

The memo announcing the change says employees may come in on other days, but if they’re in on an unassigned day, they will use “overflow drop-in space.”

Internal documents reveal that the tech giant is pushing a slow return to office patterns, while ensuring “real estate efficiency” and continued investment in the Cloud unit;s growth.

The new seating arrangement is called “Cloud Office Evolution”, which the company described as “combining the best of pre-pandemic collaboration with the flexibility” of hybrid work.”

The company has noted the new workspace plan is not a temporary pilot and will lead to more efficient use of its space.

Following the announcement, memes rolled in, specifically on the “corpspeak” used by the head of the company to promote the new desk-sharing model.

One meme read; “Not every cost-cutting measure needs to be word mangled into sounding good for employees. A simple ‘We are cutting office space to reduce costs’ would make leadership sound more believable.”

Source: CNBC

Concerns about TikTok are spreading across the US and now into Canada and even the European Union.

Canada’s federal privacy commissioner, along with three provincial privacy commissioners, have started an investigation into TikTok, examining how the video-streaming platform collects the personal data of Canadian users.

The three participating provincial commissioners are Québec, Alberta, and British Columbia.

The privacy watchdogs will assess whether TikTok’s data collection practices are in compliance with Canadian privacy legislation, particularly whether valid and meaningful consent is being obtained for collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. The investigation will also examine whether the company is meeting the transparency requirements when collecting personal information of its users.

Source: IT World Canada   

The European Commission, on the other hand, has straight up banned the use of TikTok on its staff devices.

The commission says it has around 32,000 permanent and contract employees.

They must remove the app as soon as possible and no later than the 15th of March

TikTok said the commission’s decision was based on mistaken ideas about its platform. E tu, EU?

Source: BBC

Perhaps fearing that the Edge browser will be used to download Chrome, and then remain unused, Microsoft is aggressively trying to keep customers on Edge and that’s by bombarding them with full-size ads, on the Chrome website. 

An attempt to install Chrome using Edge Canary now results in the browser displaying two ads: a small one that first pops on the screen when the Chrome website loads and second, a full-size banner once the download starts.

The banner states that Edge uses the same technology as Chrome but with the “added trust of Microsoft”.

Google also shows banners to promote Chrome, but they appear only on the company’s websites.

But Microsoft crying foul every time a user wants to download another browser remains questionable. Maybe, promoting the AI Bing might be a better strategy, after all, some of its behaviour has kept people on Edge.

Microsoft may be revising their strategy as apparently, the latest Edge releases did not get the banner.

In fact, as of today, the banner doesn’t show up in Edge Canary, Dev, and Stable. Beta is the only version still displaying the banner when you try to download Chrome.

Source: Neowin

Pirated Final Cut Pro is no bargain. Security researchers at Jamf Threat Labs found a cryptomining operation targeting macOS pirated version of Final Cut Pro. 

The software is distributed via Pirate Bay, a popular torrent site that allows people to download and stream entertainment media and software

It appears that users have also been uploading other macOS apps like Adobe Photoshop and Logic Pro X since 2019, all of them containing a payload for cryptocurrency mining.

The malware has undergone three major development stages, each time adding more complex evasion techniques. Security tools today only detect the first generation of threat, which stopped circulating in April 2021, according to Bleeping Computer.

The third and current generation appeared in October 2021 with a new capability to disguise its malicious processes as system processes on Spotlight to evade detection.

The latest version also incorporates a script that constantly checks for the Activity Monitor, and if it’s launched, it immediately terminates all of its processes to remain hidden from the user’s inspections.

The latest version of macOS, codenamed “Ventura,” has more stringent code-signing checks that may render hidden malware within user-launched apps, especially pirated ones, ineffective.

However, this only prevents the legitimate application from running, not the cryptocurrency miner, so Apple’s new security system still has some way to go to protect the user effectively.

Source: Bleeping Computer

Images created using AI may not protected by copyright.

At least that’s the case for images used in the graphic novel “Zarya of the Dawn,” according to a U.S. Copyright Office ruling.

The author of the graphic novel, Kris Kashtanova was informed that he is entitled to a copyright for the parts of the book that he wrote and arranged, but not for the images produced by Midjourney.

The decision is one of the first by a U.S. court or agency on the scope of copyright protection for works created with AI, and comes as generative AI software like Midjourney, Dall-E and ChatGPT are growing in popularity.

The author on Wednesday called it “great news” that the office allowed copyright protection for the novel’s story and the way the images were arranged, which he said “covers a lot of uses for the people in the AI art community.”

Kashtanova said he was considering how to best counter the argument that the images themselves were not a “direct expression of someone’s creativity and therefore copyrightable.”

The decision may not apply to all AI images. “The fact that Midjourney’s specific output cannot be predicted by users makes Midjourney different for copyright purposes than other tools used by artists,” the U.S. Copyright Office’s decision said.

So naturally we went to the real authority on this and asked ChatGPT who owned copyright from AI generated images, here’s the answer we got. 

Ultimately, the question of copyright ownership from AI-generated images is a complex legal issue that may depend on the specific facts and circumstances of each case. As AI technology continues to evolve, legal frameworks may need to be adapted to address these issues more effectively.

Couldn’t have said it better. 

Source: Reuters

That’s the top tech news stories for today

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Hashtag Trending goes to air five days a week with a daily newscast and we have a special weekend edition with an interview featuring an expert in some aspect of technology that is making the news.

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I’m Jim Love, and on a personal note, I turn 67 today, so you have a great Friday. I’m going to have an old one.

The post Hashtag Trending Feb.24th- Google asks employees to share desks, Canada starts investigation against TikTok and AI-created images loses copyright first appeared on IT World Canada.

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