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TikTok makes its First Amendment case

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TikTok makes its First Amendment case

TikTok says that the government didn’t adequately consider viable alternative options before charging ahead with a law that could ban the platform in the US. TikTok, whose parent company ByteDance is based in China, claims that it provided the US government with an extensive and detailed plan to mitigate national security risks and that this plan was largely ignored when Congress passed a law with a huge impact on speech.

In briefs filed at the DC Circuit Court on Thursday, both TikTok and a group of creators on the platform who’ve filed their own suit spelled out their case for why they believe the new law violates the First Amendment. The court is set to hear oral arguments in the case on September 16th, just a few months before the current divest-or-ban deadline of January 19th, 2025.

The Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act would effectively ban TikTok from operating in the US unless it divests from ByteDance by the deadline. The president has the option to extend that deadline slightly if he sees progress toward a deal. But spinning out TikTok is not entirely simple, given the limited pool of possible buyers and the fact that Chinese export law would likely prevent a sale of its coveted recommendation algorithm.

But lawmakers who supported the legislation have said that divestiture is necessary to protect national security — both because they fear that the Chinese government could access US user information due to the company’s China-based ownership and because they fear ByteDance could be pressured by the Chinese government to tip the scales on the algorithm to spread propaganda in the US. TikTok denies that either is happening or could happen in the future, saying its operations are separate from ByteDance’s.

The broad strokes of TikTok’s arguments have already been laid out in the complaints. But the new filings provide a more extensive look into how TikTok engaged the US government over several years with detailed plans of how it thought it could mitigate national security concerns while continuing its operations.

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In an appendix, TikTok submitted hundreds of pages of communications with the US government, including presentations the company gave to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) when it was evaluating national security risks of its ownership setup. One deck explains the basics of how its algorithm figures out what to recommend to users to watch next, as well as a detailed plan to mitigate risk of US user data being improperly accessed. It goes as far as to include a floor plan of a “Dedicated Transparency Center,” through its collaboration with Oracle, where a specific group of employees in TikTok’s US data operations could access the source code in a secure computing environment. According to the slide deck, no ByteDance employees would be allowed in the space.

TikTok called the law “unprecedented,” adding, “[n]ever before has Congress expressly singled out and shut down a specific speech forum. Never before has Congress silenced so much speech in a single act.”

Courts usually apply a standard known as strict scrutiny in these kinds of speech cases — the government must have a compelling interest in restricting the speech, and the restriction must be narrowly tailored to achieve its aim.

TikTok claims that Congress has left the court “almost nothing to review” when scrutinizing “such an extraordinary speech restriction.” The company says Congress failed to produce findings to justify its reasoning behind the law, leaving only the statements of individual members of Congress for the court to go off of. (Many of those statements are included in an appendix filed by TikTok.)

“There is no indication Congress even considered TikTok Inc.’s exhaustive, multi-year efforts to address the government’s concerns that Chinese subsidiaries of its privately owned parent company, ByteDance Ltd., support the TikTok platform—concerns that would also apply to many other companies operating in China,” TikTok wrote in its brief. Lawmakers received classified briefings ahead of their votes, which some said impacted or solidified their final position on the bill. But the public still does not have access to the information in those briefings, although some lawmakers have pushed to declassify them.

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The company also said that CFIUS, which was tasked with evaluating its risk mitigation plan in the first place, did not provide a substantive explanation for why it took such a hard line on divestment in March 2023. TikTok claims that when it explained why divestment wasn’t possible and asked to meet with government officials, it received “no meaningful responses.” CFIUS and the DOJ did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

TikTok has said it’s already implemented much of its plans voluntarily through its $2 billion Project Texas

The text of the draft National Security Agreement that TikTok presented to CFIUS was included in an appendix that was filed in court. The draft included proposed changes like the creation of TikTok US Data Security Inc., a subsidiary that would be tasked with managing operations involving US user data, as well as heavy oversight by the agencies that make up CFIUS. TikTok has said it’s already implemented much of its plans voluntarily through its $2 billion Project Texas. Still, recent reporting has raised questions about how effective that project really is for national security purposes. In a report in Fortune from April, former TikTok employees said the project was “largely cosmetic” and that workers still engage with China-based ByteDance executives.

Terrence Clark, a spokesperson for the Justice Department, said in an emailed statement to The Verge that the agency and intelligence officials have “consistently warned about the threat of autocratic nations that can weaponize technology — such as the apps and software that run on our phones – to use against us. This threat is compounded when those autocratic nations require companies under their control to turn over sensitive data to the government in secret.”

Regardless, the court will have to consider whether the US government should have considered a less speech-restrictive route to achieving its national security aims, and TikTok says it should have. “In short, Congress reached for a sledgehammer without even considering if a scalpel would suffice,” TikTok wrote in its brief. “It ordered the closure of one of the largest platforms for speech in the United States and left Petitioners — and the public —to guess at the reasons why a wide range of less speech-restrictive alternatives were disregarded. The First Amendment demands much more.”

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AMD is slightly delaying its Ryzen 9000 desktop CPUs ‘out of an abundance of caution’

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AMD is slightly delaying its Ryzen 9000 desktop CPUs ‘out of an abundance of caution’

AMD was set to launch its new Zen 5 processors on July 31st, including the 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen 9 9950X, a chip it’s calling “the world’s most powerful desktop consumer processor.” Instead, it’s now announcing a one- to two-week delay “out of an abundance of caution.” The Ryzen 7 9700X and Ryzen 5 9600X will now launch on August 8th, while the Ryzen 9 9950X and Ryzen 9 9900X will go on sale on August 15th.

This is not because AMD’s found any issues with the actual chips, spokesperson Stacy MacDiarmid tells The Verge. Rather, AMD discovered some of its chips didn’t go through all of the proper testing procedures, and the company wants to make sure they do.

Here’s the full statement from AMD computing and graphics SVP Jack Huynh:

We appreciate the excitement around Ryzen 9000 series processors. During final checks, we found the initial production units that were shipped to our channel partners did not meet our full quality expectations. Out of an abundance of caution and to maintain the highest quality experiences for every Ryzen user, we are working with our channel partners to replace the initial production units with fresh units. As a result, there will be a short delay in retail availability. The Ryzen 7 9700X and Ryzen 5 9600X processors will now go on sale on August 8th and the Ryzen 9 9950X and Ryzen 9 9900X processors will go on-sale on August 15th. We pride ourselves in providing a high-quality experience for every Ryzen user, and we look forward to our fans having a great experience with the new Ryzen 9000 series. 

AMD already recalled the chips that needed the additional testing before they could go on sale, and it sounds like that testing is going smoothly; AMD’s engineers are confident the chips won’t be delayed further, according to MacDiarmid.

AMD’s new desktop chips also include the Ryzen 9 9900X, Ryzen 7 9700X, and Ryzen 5 9600X.
Image: AMD
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Tom’s Hardware reports that those crashing Intel chips have been permanently degraded and will need to be returned to Intel; we’ve reached out to Intel with a list of questions about how it’s handling the situation.

AMD is about to launch its Zen 5 laptop chips, too, codenamed Strix Point and formally known as Ryzen AI 9 300. AMD recently revealed a new higher-end chip in that lineup, the Ryzen AI 9 HX 375, with a more powerful 55 TOPS NPU.

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Fox News AI Newsletter: Waymo’s robotaxi launches citywide in San Francisco

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Fox News AI Newsletter: Waymo’s robotaxi launches citywide in San Francisco

Welcome to Fox News’ Artificial Intelligence newsletter with the latest AI technology advancements.

IN TODAY’S NEWSLETTER:

– Robots take the wheel as San Francisco opens streets to driverless taxis

– FTC probes AI-powered ‘surveillance pricing’ at Mastercard, JPMorgan Chase, McKinsey and others

– US Air Force’s XQ-67A drone thinks, flies, acts on its own

Waymo autonomous vehicle  (Waymo)

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DRIVERLESS TAXIS ARRIVE: The future of urban transportation is here, and it’s taking the form of sleek, autonomous vehicles traveling through city streets. Across the United States, self-driving car companies are racing to revolutionize how we move, promising safer roads, reduced traffic and a new era of mobility. But it’s in San Francisco that this future is suddenly now a reality for thousands.

‘SHADOWY ECOSYSTEM’: The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday announced that it launched a probe of eight companies that offer “surveillance pricing” tools that use artificial intelligence and other technology to analyze consumer data to help set price targets for products and services.

air force drone 1

US Air Force’s XQ-67A drone (AFRL)

AI IN THE SKY: The U.S. Air Force has just unveiled a new aircraft that’s turning heads and raising eyebrows across the globe.

ACCIDENT AVOIDANCE: Developed by Maine-based entrepreneur Josh Fox, Survue is an innovative device that looks to address the limitations of existing bicycle radar systems. While conventional systems primarily focus on the speed of approaching vehicles, Survue takes a more holistic approach by considering multiple factors to assess potential risks.

AI bicycle safety device could warn of dangerous car collision

AI-based bicycle safety device (Survue) (Kurt “CyberGuy” Knutsson)

Subscribe now to get the Fox News Artificial Intelligence Newsletter in your inbox.

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Stay up to date on the latest AI technology advancements and learn about the challenges and opportunities AI presents now and for the future with Fox News here.

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Google has big new ideas about the Play Store

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Google has big new ideas about the Play Store

Google is bringing a handful of new features to its Google Play store on Android today. There are new categorized “Collections” that highlight content from apps you’ve already installed. The company’s reward program is adding more prizes including Pixel hardware. Google’s Play Pass subscription service is introducing more versatile gaming capabilities. And in Japan, Google is rolling out a curated space for comics, which will let people dive into first chapter previews without needing to install third-party apps first.

Taken together, these changes are intended to make Google Play “an end-to-end experience that’s more than a store.”

The company previewed some of the latest updates at a media briefing in New York City on Tuesday. Google Play VP Sam Bright highlighted a few upgrades announced back at I/O such as AI-generated app reviews. Those AI features are being expanded with a new tool that will make it simpler to compare apps in similar categories (like photo editing software or fitness apps).

Then Bright moved on to some of the bigger new features. First is a new section of Google Play called Collections.

Collections highlight content from apps already on your phone.
Image: Google
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Rather than try to sell you on new apps, Collections are designed to surface content from those you’ve already installed and organize everything into categories like shop, watch, and listen. You’ll see a “continue watching” row for various streaming apps, plus the latest deals from select retailers. “With your app content in one place, it’s easier to pick up right where you left off,” Google’s blog post reads.

Gaming is another big focus of today’s updates. When searching, you can now select from a list of interest filters to refine the types of games that Play suggests. And starting today, Play Pass subscribers on PC are able to play multiple titles at the same time, so you can get your Clash of Clans fix in one window while playing another game elsewhere onscreen. Google launched Play Games for PC as a beta in 2022 and has continued to iterate on it with 4K support and now this.

Google is also trying to make its Play Points reward program more appealing by adding “super weekly prizes.” Available to gold, platinum, and diamond members, these level up the usual prizes by throwing Pixel devices, Razer gaming products, and other hardware into the mix. Prizes will rotate on a weekly basis and can be claimed from the Play Points perks tab.

A curated space for comics is coming to Google Play in Japan.
Image: Google

Android customers in Japan are getting a new curated space in Google Play that’s entirely devoted to comics. “You can access comics-related content all in one place — including free first chapter previews, live events and trailers, editor picks and fan reviews even from apps you haven’t installed,” Google’s blog post reads. A new “comics” tab is coming right to the Google Play homescreen. The company is continuing to explore how it can best use these curated spaces in other regions; the first example was a cricket section in India.

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You can tell Google Play to ignore certain apps for its personalization features.
Image: Google

Importantly, Google is also giving everyone greater control over exactly what data is used for Play’s personalized recommendations. Now you can choose apps that might contain sensitive data that you don’t want to be factored into the store’s personalization algorithms. You can find this option by navigating to “Personalization in Play” from the main menu.

Will these new features lead to people spending more time in Google Play? Perhaps, but many of them (like Collections) are easy to ignore if you prefer to keep using it as a destination for apps like always.

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