Weekly Industry News – Week of April 15

Yura Nunes

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Week of April 15, 2024

Here are the main industry highlights of this week.

Clemson Launches Pilot with Intellicheck to Curb Underage Drinking

Intellicheck and the city of Clemson, South Carolina, have initiated a 12-month pilot program to combat underage drinking by enhancing fake ID detection in local bars, convenience stores, and liquor stores. This program utilizes Intellicheck’s identity verification technology, which authenticates IDs via mobile devices or scanners. Given Clemson’s large student population from Clemson University, this technology is crucial for addressing fake IDs that are challenging to detect through conventional methods.

Snap to Watermark AI-Generated Images for Transparency and Safety

Snap Inc. will now watermark AI-generated images on its platform to enhance transparency and safety. The logo and a sparkle emoji will mark such pictures as AI-created. The watermark applies to images exported or saved from the app. Snap also continues implementing safety measures and managing challenges with its AI chatbot. These efforts are part of Snap’s broader strategy to ensure safe and equitable use of AI features. 

NSW Launches Australia’s First Trial of Digital Birth Certificates to Enhance Identity Security

NSW is offering digital birth certificates to complement ongoing digital identity developments. Parents of over 18,000 children can now access a digital alternative with the same legal standing as traditional paper documents. The digital version offers enhanced security features, including holograms and timestamping. The initiative includes specific accessibility features for individuals with visual impairments.

OpenAI Launches First Asian Office in Tokyo, Aligning with Microsoft’s $2.9 Billion Investment in Japan

OpenAI has opened its first office in Asia, located in Tokyo, Japan. The move is part of OpenAI’s strategy to form partnerships with Japanese entities and leverage AI technology to address challenges like labor shortages. Microsoft also plans to invest $2.9 billion in cloud and AI infrastructure in Japan.

Google to Discontinue VPN by Google One Service Later This Year in Strategic Shift

Google is shutting down its VPN by Google One service, which was introduced in October 2020. The service will be discontinued later this year as part of a strategic shift to focus on more in-demand features within the Google One offerings. A more formal public shutdown announcement is expected this week.

Sierra Leone Extends Digital ID Registration, Aiming for Enhanced Access to Services

Sierra Leone is implementing a digital ID system managed by NCRA. The MOSIP platform is being used to improve government and private sector service access. The registration deadline has been extended to June 28, 2024, to promote greater inclusion and improve service delivery and security for its citizens.

EnStream and Socure Partner to Tackle Synthetic Identity Fraud in Canada

EnStream LP and Socure have announced a partnership to better efforts to combat synthetic identity fraud in Canada. EnStream, known for its real-time mobile intelligence services, will integrate its data sets with Socure’s fraud solution, enhancing its capabilities in verifying identities and preventing fraud. This collaboration will add mobile attributes powered by EnStream’s machine learning models to Socure’s system to improve consumer profiles’ accuracy throughout customer interactions.

Microsoft Invests $1.5 Billion in UAE’s G42 to Enhance AI Services and Address Security Concerns

Microsoft has invested $1.5 billion in G42, an AI company based in the UAE, to expand AI technology in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa. The partnership aims to provide advanced AI services to global public sector clients, using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform for hosting G42’s AI services. Both companies have established an Intergovernmental Assurance Agreement to ensure high standards of security, privacy, and responsible AI deployment. The collaboration also marks a strategic alignment with the UAE, enhancing Microsoft’s influence in the region.

Stripe Raises $694.2 Million in Tender Offer to Provide Liquidity and Delay IPO Plans

Stripe, a financial infrastructure platform, recently raised $1.2 million through a tender offer. The funds were partly used to repurchase shares to mitigate the dilution effects of its employee equity compensation programs. Stripe plans to use the proceeds to provide liquidity to its employees and strengthen its financial position. The company also continues to expand its services, such as its recent integration with Giddy, to enhance crypto accessibility.

Finmid Emerges with €35 Million to Transform SMB Financial Services, Partners with Wolt

Berlin-based fintech startup finmid has raised €35 million in early-stage equity funding, led by UK-based VC Blossom Capital with support from Earlybird and N26 founder Max Tayenthal. Finmid aims to provide tailored financial services to SMBs, especially in retail and restaurants and plans to expand into core markets, localize operations, and enhance financing options for better platform integration and user experience. It has also partnered with Finnish food delivery platform Wolt to create ‘Wolt Capital’, a cash advance feature for merchants on the Wolt platform.

Salesforce Advances in Bid to Acquire Data Giant Informatica for $11.4 Billion

Salesforce is in talks to acquire Informatica, a data management services provider. The company has been valued at $11.4 billion and has seen a rise of almost 43% in its shares this year. The proposed acquisition price was lower than its closing share price of $38.48 last Friday. If the acquisition goes through, it will be another large-scale acquisition by Salesforce, following the purchase of Slack Technologies for $27.7 billion in 2020 and Tableau Software for $15.7 billion in 2019. 

U.S. Government Awards Samsung $6.4 Billion to Boost Semiconductor Manufacturing in Texas

Samsung Electronics has received up to $6.4 billion from the U.S. government to expand its semiconductor manufacturing in Texas. This funding will help Samsung invest approximately $45.0 billion in a second chip-making facility, advanced chip packaging unit, and R&D capabilities. The project aims to start producing advanced 4-nanometer and 2-nanometer chips between 2026 and 2027, creating jobs and strengthening U.S. competitiveness in semiconductor manufacturing while reducing reliance on Asian supply chains.

Cybersecurity Giant Cyderes Acquires Ipseity Security to Boost Cloud Identity Capabilities

Cybersecurity provider Cyderes has acquired Canadian firm Ipseity Security. The acquisition will enhance Cyderes’ cloud identity and access governance capabilities, bolstering its presence in the rapidly growing IAM market.

Illinois Woman Sues Target for Biometric Privacy Violations Under BIPA

An Illinois woman has filed a class action lawsuit against Target for unlawfully collecting and storing her biometric data without consent, violating Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act. The lawsuit claims Target failed to provide necessary disclosures and obtain written consent before collecting biometric data, such as facial recognition information, posing a significant risk of identity theft if compromised. BIPA requires explicit consent and detailed information on data use, retention, and destruction to be provided to consumers, which the lawsuit alleges Target did not comply with.

Bulgarian Fraud Ring Steals £53.9 Million from UK Universal Credit System

A group of five Bulgarian nationals stole £53.9 million from the UK’s Universal Credit system by making thousands of fraudulent claims over four and a half years. They used makeshift “benefit factories” to process and receive payments illegally, which were then laundered through various bank accounts. The case highlights the need for enhanced document verification and biometric identity checks with liveness detection to prevent similar fraudulent activities in the future.

HHS Replaces with Following $7.5 Million Theft from Grantee Payment Platform

The FTC order revealed that Avast unlawfully collected and sold sensitive information to over 100 third parties through its browser extensions and antivirus software; the company allegedly deceived customers by falsely claiming its products would block third-party tracking. Avast’s subsidiary, Jumpshot, rebranded as an analytics company, sold the data without sufficient notice and consent. Avast must inform affected consumers, delete transferred data, and implement a privacy program as part of their remediation measures.

Russian-Linked Hackers Suspected in Cyberattack on Texas Water Facility

A Russian government-linked hacking group is suspected of executing a cyberattack on a Texas water facility, leading to an overflow of a tank in Muleshoe. Similar suspicious cyber activities in other North Texas towns are also under investigation. Urgent appeals have been issued for water facilities nationwide to bolster their cyber defenses in response to increasing attacks on such critical infrastructure. The attackers exploited easily accessible services amidst ongoing investigations linking these activities to Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit. 

Jamaican Parliament Reviews Draft Legislation for National Digital ID System

The Jamaican parliament is set to review draft legislation for the National Identification System (NIDS) to establish a digital ID framework in Jamaica. This move is part of the government’s commitment to addressing public concerns and enhancing digital transformation. The draft legislation emphasizes strong security measures to build trust among Jamaicans, who are skeptical about digital IDs. The legislation will enable individuals to receive notifications when an authorized entity verifies their identity.

Temu Faces Stricter EU Regulations as User Count Surpasses 45 Million

Temu, a competitor of Alibaba Group, has surpassed 45 million monthly users in Europe, which triggers enhanced regulation under the EU’s Digital Services Act. The European Commission is considering designating Temu as a “very large online platform,” subjecting the company to stricter regulations. Meanwhile, Shein, a Chinese fast-fashion company, is also engaging with the EU regarding potential DSA designation.

Roku Announces Second Data Breach of the Year, Affecting Over Half a Million Accounts

Roku experienced a data breach impacting 576,000 accounts due to credential stuffing. Unauthorized purchases were made in fewer than 400 cases, and no complete payment information was exposed. Roku reset passwords for all affected accounts and mandated two-factor authentication for all users.

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