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Data Sheet—Tuesday, January 24, 2017

For fans of net neutrality—that is, the principle that network providers shouldn’t discriminate between different kinds of content when delivering services to consumers—a nightmare scenario was that Donald Trump would name a Federal Communications Commission chairman who would gut the protection for neutrality. That scenario just came to pass with the appointment of Ajit Pai.

Pai, who was named to the position of chairman on Monday by the Trump administration, has been a member of the FCC since 2012. Thus, there is plenty of evidence available when it comes to his views on net neutrality—and he doesn’t like it at all.

In a speech in December after Trump won the election, Pai said he wanted to “take a weed whacker” to the FCC’s regulations. One of the things he had his sights set on was the FCC’s Open Internet Order, which was adopted in 2015. That decision made Internet providers “common carriers,” and required them to carry data without playing favorites.

The new FCC chairman has said that he believes net neutrality is “a solution that won’t work for a problem that doesn’t exist.” Pai has also said he hasn’t seen any evidence that consumers are disadvantaged by network providers discriminating between different content or services, and therefore such legislation isn’t necessary and harms small ISPs.

Pai voted against forcing digital service providers to beef up privacy protections. And he has spoken in favor of allowing cable and telco mergers, including the proposed Comcast-Time Warner deal in 2014, which was widely criticized before being struck down by the commission. Welcome to the Trump era of Internet regulation, everyone.

Mathew Ingram


Yahoo-Verizon deal close is pushed back into second quarter. The Internet company released better-than-anticipated results on Monday—the revenue for its mobile, video, native, and social advertising units grew 25%. But Yahoo said the work needed to complete its acquisition by Verizon will take until at least April. The deal was called into question after the company disclosed two massive data breaches, which could affect its value. (Reuters, New York Times)

Oracle is making cuts in its hardware business. The company’s server business, formed through the $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010, is feeling the pressure as big companies reduce investments in their own data centers in favor of cloud computing services. Reports suggest Oracle is laying off anywhere from 450 to 1,800 employees. (Fortune)

IBM bolsters cybersecurity expertise. It is paying an undisclosed sum for Agile 3 Solutions, which clues in business executives on risks to sensitive information, like merger and acquisition plans, sales strategies, and intellectual property data. (Fortune)

China overtakes U.S. in fintech investments. The country accounted for more than half of global digital financial technology investments in the first nine months of last year, according to a new report from Citigroup. Just as striking: China’s share of investments in companies dedicated to digital payments, e-commerce, lending sites, and other tech-powered financial services was double what it devoted to this sector in 2015. (Fortune)

Qualcomm’s royalty model is under siege. Right now, the wireless chip maker gets a cut of the total price for a smartphone—as more features are added, it earns more even if its technology doesn’t directly influence them. Apple is crying foul over what the Federal Trade Commission has dubbed a “tax” by Qualcomm on all mobile phones. (Fortune)


Can artificial intelligence silence Internet trolls? Faced with a torrent of hate and abuse, people are giving up on social media, and websites are removing comment features. Who wants to be part of an online community ruled by creeps and crazies?

Fortunately, this pessimism may be premature. A new strategy promises to tame the trolls and reinvigorate civil discussion on the Internet. Hatched by Jigsaw, an in-house think tank at Google’s parent company, Alphabet, the tool relies on artificial intelligence and could solve the once-impossible task of vetting floods of online comments. Fortune‘s Jeff John Roberts reports.


Why Salesforce Is Snapping Up AI Startups (and Passing on Marketing Ones), by Erin Griffith

Sprint Buys Stake in Tidal Music Service to Boost Popularity, by Aaron Pressman

Retired HPE Tech Guru Martin Fink Resurfaces With New Gig, by Barb Darrow

How Slack Wants to Keep You From Being Overwhelmed by Slack, by Lisa Eadicicco

An Email Service Once Used By Edward Snowden Is Relaunching, by Tara John

Why Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s $141 Million Payday Is Safe from the Hack Cover-Up, by Jen Wieczner

Amazon Echo and Google Home Face Hurdles in Voice App Recognition, by Mahita Gajanan

Here’s How Snapchat Is Cracking Down on Fake News, by Tara John


Seniors say hello to “battery-powered friends.” From videoconferencing robots to bionic legs, the range of devices dedicated to serving tech-friendly retirees has blossomed far beyond emergency alert bracelets or necklaces. (New York Times)

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Heather Clancy.
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