Isobel Cockerell / Coda Story: Instagram is removing posts and suspending accounts that voice support for slain Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, says it is complying with US sanctions  —  News agencies, human rights activists and influencers have had their accounts deactivated.  —  After a U.S. drone strike killed …

Anya van Wagtendonk / Washington Post: A look at problems actors in video games face, including a lack of standard contracts, as the profession falls in a legal gray area between technology and art  —  In early November, Jessica Jefferies gathered in a room with representatives from Equity UK, the actors union, Spotlight …

Rebecca Heilweil / Vox: A new Illinois law, which went into effect on Jan.1, requires employers to notify and obtain consent from job applicants for using AI to grade video interviews  —  A first-of-its-kind law might give employment candidates more insight into the algorithms that analyze their interviews, but they shouldn’t expect much to change.

Allison Schiff / AdExchanger: Walmart launches a self-serve ad platform to let advertisers buy on-site search and sponsored product ads on Walmart.com  —  Walmart claims its programmatic advertising platform and ads API are ready for primetime.  —  On Friday, Walmart Media Group (WMG), the retail giant’s advertising arm …

Carole Cadwalladr / The Guardian: 100K+ leaked Cambridge Analytica docs show the Facebook data scandal was part of a broad operation in 68 countries involving govts, intelligence agencies, more  —  Company’s work in 68 countries laid bare with release of more than 100,000 documents  —  An explosive leak of tens of thousands …

Danielle Morrill: Sam Altman loses 2015 bet against a tech bubble, as 1 of the 3 portfolios failed to achieve its proposed valuation by Jan. 1, 2020, will give $100K to a charity  —  In 2015, Sam Altman wrote a post titled “Bubble Talk” which lamented the “boring reading” of ongoing press coverage of a bubble …

Dan Wang: US-China trade war has revealed China’s weaknesses in developing foundational technologies, weaknesses that China can be expected to overcome in the long term  —  Following the twists and turns of the trade war meant that I had less time for personal writing this year, so this letter is the only piece I’ll publish.

Ryne Hager / Android Police: Google says it is disabling Xiaomi integrations on its devices after a Xiaomi security camera user says his Google Nest Hub is showing feeds from random homes  —  So-called “smart” security cameras have had some pretty dumb security problems recently, but a recent report regarding …

New York Times: Current and former workers say Oyo’s growth in India is fueled by questionable practices like imposing hidden fees, padding listings, and withholding payments  —  Backed by SoftBank, Oyo aims to be the world’s biggest hotel chain.  But its growth was fueled by questionable practices, employees said.

Zack Whittaker / TechCrunch: Foreign currency exchange Travelex says it has suspended some services after it was hit by malware on Dec 31, says no customer data has been compromised to date  —  Travelex, a major international foreign currency exchange, has confirmed its suspended some services after it was hit by malware on December 31.

If 2018 was when the industry was shocked into sobriety, 2019 would be a year when pragmatism and the challenges of trying to develop and scale a technology got a lot more real. The upshot: the industry is in the midst of its adolescent years, where change can occur suddenly, causing confusion and awkward encounters. It’s a time when others develop far faster than their peers. And this coming year promises some of the same. Cracks in the autonomous vehicle industry — concealed by quixotic zeal and a seemingly bottomless bucket of venture and corporate capital — became too conspicuous to ignore…

Tech reporters’ inboxes are filled with garbage pitches from misguided founders who assume that the smallest milestone warrants a write-up. Founders dream of seeing their company’s name in headlines without knowing how that might help or hurt them. But with the proper intentions, strategy and timing, they can score press that makes their imagined future look inevitable. Step one: accept the fact that you don’t get to decide what’s newsworthy. Inside your company, you may have total control, but working with reporters requires abdicating that iron grip. They can’t be intimidated or paid off, but you can collaborate with them…

The Pallone-Thrune TRACED Act, a bipartisan bit of legislation that should make life harder for the villains behind robocalls, was signed into law today by the president. It’s still possible to get things done in D.C. after all! We’ve covered the TRACED Act several times previously, as robocalls are, in addition to being horribly annoying, a uniquely annoying high-tech threat. Using clever targeting and spoofing technology, scammers are placing millions of calls that at best irritate and at worst take advantage of the vulnerable. The new law won’t end that practice overnight, but it does add some useful tools to…

Look, this is the last post I’m writing in 2019 and I’m tired. But I can’t let the year close without taking stock of how well tech stocks did this year. It was bonkers. So let’s mark the year’s conclusion with some notes for our future selves. Yes, we know that the Nasdaq has been setting new records and SaaS had a good year. But we need to dig in and get the numbers out so that we can look back and remember. Let’s cap off this year the way it deserves to be remembered, as a kick-ass trip ’round…

Politico: A look at the increasing prevalence of facial recognition and AI tech across the globe, as the US and EU governments’ efforts to limit their use have stalled  —  The result is an impasse that has left tech companies largely in control of where and how to deploy facial recognition.

Venture capital investment exploded across a number of geographies in 2019 despite the constant threat of an economic downturn. San Francisco, of course, remains the startup epicenter of the world, shutting out all other geographies when it comes to capital invested. Still, other regions continue to grow, raking in more capital this year than ever. In Utah, a new hotbed for startups, companies like Weave, Divvy and MX Technology raised a collective $370 million from private market investors. In the Northeast, New York City experienced record-breaking deal volume with median deal sizes climbing steadily. Boston is closing out the decade…

Funding for tech startups has been on an inevitable upswing for years, a result of a virtuous circle where wildly successful tech companies on the public markets whet the appetites of investors and investors’ backers to find more diamonds, a push met by a pull from the rush of talent with entrepreneurial aspirations out to put that money to work. 2019 has felt a bumper year in that longer trend, with 9-figure rounds ($100 million or more) and “unicorn” statuses so prevalent that the numbers have started to cease to be news items in themselves. With 2020 now just days…

Huawei reported resilient revenue for 2019 on Tuesday as the embattled Chinese technology group continues to grow despite prolonged American campaign against its business, but cautioned that growth next year could prove more challenging. Eric Xu, Huawei’s rotating chairman, wrote in a New Year’s message to employees that the company’s revenue has topped 850 billion Chinese yuan ($122 billion) this year, a new record high for the Chinese group and an 18% increase over the previous year. Xu said Huawei, the second largest smartphone maker globally, sold 240 million handsets this year, up from 206 million last year. “These figures…

Postmates and Uber have filed a complaint in California federal district court, alleging that a bill limiting how companies can label workers as independent contractors is unconstitutional. The complaint, which includes two gig workers as co-plaintiffs, was filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, days before Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5) is due to go into effect on Jan. 1. It asks for a preliminary injunction against AB-5 while the lawsuit is under consideration. The complaint argues that AB-5 violates several clauses in the U.S. and California constitutions, including equal protection because of how it classifies gig workers for ride-sharing and…

As Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart spend billions to make a dent in India’s retail market and reel from recent regulatory hurdles, the two companies have stumbled upon a new challenge: Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man. Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio, two subsidiaries of Ambani’s Reliance Industries, said they have soft launched JioMart, their e-commerce venture that works closely with neighbourhood stores, in parts of the state of Maharashtra — Navi-Mumbai, Kalyan and Thane. The e-commerce venture, which is being marketed as “Desh Ki Nayi Dukaan” (Hindi for new store for the country), currently offers a catalog of 50,000 grocery items…