Amazon sued for not telling New York store customers about facial recognition
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
In a class-action suit, lawyers for Alfredo Perez said that the company failed to tell visitors to Amazon Go convenience stores that the technology was in use. Thanks to a 2021 law, New York is the only major American city to require businesses to post signs if they’re tracking customers’ biometric information, such as facial scans or fingerprints.
Amazon introduced its Go stores in 2018, promising that customers could walk in, take whatever products they wanted off the shelves and leave without checking out. The company monitors visitors’ actions and charges their accounts when they leave the store. It opened its first New York location the following year, and has 10 stores, all in Manhattan, according to its website.
The lawsuit says that Amazon only recently put up signs informing New York customers of its use of facial recognition technology, more than a year after the disclosure law went into effect. Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
For Amazon Go to successfully track its customers and the items they take, it has to continuously monitor their bodies, the lawsuit says.
“To make this ‘Just Walk Out’ technology possible, the Amazon Go stores constantly collect and use customers’ biometric identifier information, including by scanning the palms of some customers to identify them and by applying computer vision, deep learning algorithms, and sensor fusion that measure the shape and size of each customer’s body to identify customers, track where they move in the stores, and determine what they have purchased,” it says.
Perez is represented by the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, a legal advocacy group devoted to New York privacy protections.
“It means that even a global tech giant can’t ignore local privacy laws,” Albert Cahn, project director, said in a text message. “As we wait for long overdue federal privacy laws, it shows there is so much local governments can do to protect their residents.”
Apple launches its Pay Later service
Kevin Mazur | Getty Images
Affirm dropped 4% on the news.
Apple Pay Later users will be able to manage, track and repay their loans in their Apple Wallet, the company said in a release Tuesday. Individuals can apply for Apple Pay Later loans between $50 and $1,000 and use them for in-app and online purchases made through merchants that accept Apple Pay. Payments have no interest and no fees.
Users can apply for a loan within the Apple Wallet app without it impacting their credit score, Apple said. Once they select the amount they would like to withdraw, a soft credit pull will be conducted to make sure they are in “a good financial position” to take on a loan, according to the release.
Apple will invite select people to access a prelease version of Apple Pay Later Tuesday, and the company said it plans to expand access to all eligible users in the coming months.
Approved users will see a “Pay Later” option while using Apple Pay to check out online and in apps on iPhones and iPads. They will also be able to apply for a loan right at checkout. Apple said purchases using the software will be authenticated using Face ID, Touch ID or a passcode.
The company said users can see the amount due for their existing loans, as well as the total amount due in the next 30 days, in Apple Wallet. Users will be asked to link a debit card as their loan repayment method. Credit cards won’t be accepted.
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.
Microsoft introduces an A.I. chatbot for cybersecurity experts
John Taggart | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The company has been busy bolstering its software with artificial intelligence models from startup OpenAI after OpenAI’s ChatGPT bot captured the public imagination following its November debut.
The resulting generative AI software can at times be “usefully wrong,” as Microsoft put it earlier this month when talking up new features in Word and other productivity apps. But Microsoft is proceeding nevertheless, as it seeks to keep growing a cybersecurity business that fetched more than $20 billion in 2022 revenue.
The Microsoft Security Copilot draws on GPT-4, the latest large language model from OpenAI — in which Microsoft has invested billions — and a security-specific model Microsoft built using daily activity data it gathers. The system also knows a given customer’s security environment, but that data won’t be used to train models.
The chatbot can compose PowerPoint slides summarizing security incidents, describe exposure to an active vulnerability or specify the accounts involved in an exploit in response to a text prompt that a person types in.
A user can hit a button to confirm an answer if it’s right or select an “off-target” button to signal a mistake. That sort of input will help the service learn, Vasu Jakkal, corporate vice president of security, compliance, identity, management and privacy at Microsoft, told CNBC in an interview.
Engineers inside Microsoft have been using the Security Copilot to do their jobs. “It can process 1,000 alerts and give you the two incidents that matter in seconds,” Jakkal said. The tool also reverse-engineered a piece of malicious code for an analyst who didn’t know how to do that, she said.
That type of assistance can make a difference for companies that run into trouble hiring experts and end up hiring employees who are inexperienced in some areas. “There’s a learning curve, and it takes time,” Jakkal said. “And now Security Copilot with the skills built in can augment you. So it is going to help you do more with less.”
Microsoft isn’t talking about how much Security Copilot will cost when it becomes more widely available.
Jakkal said the hope is that many workers inside a given company will use it, rather than just a handful of executives. That means over time Microsoft wants to make the tool capable of holding discussions in a wider variety of domains.
The service will work with Microsoft security products such as Sentinel for tracking threats. Microsoft will determine if it should add support for third-party tools such as Splunk based on input from early users in the next few months, Jakkal said.
If Microsoft were to require customers to use Sentinel or other Microsoft products if they want to turn on the Security Copilot, that could very well influence the purchasing decisions, said Frank Dickson, group vice president for security and trust at technology industry researcher IDC.
“For me, I was like, ‘Wow, this may be the single biggest announcement in security this calendar year,’” he said.
There’s nothing stopping Microsoft’s security rivals, such as Palo Alto Networks, from releasing chatbots of their own, but getting out first means Microsoft will have a head start, Dickson said.
Security Copilot will be available to a small set of Microsoft clients in a private preview before wider release at a later date.
WATCH: Microsoft threatens to restrict data from rival AI search tools
Disney reportedly cuts metaverse division under Iger’s restructuring
Randy Shropshire | CNBC
Disney, like most companies in 2021, hopped on the metaverse hype train after Facebook changed its name to Meta and outlined bold claims to create a new digital world. Former CEO Bob Chapek established a unit focused on the company’s metaverse strategy led by Mike White, who was previously in charge of Disney’s consumer experiences and platforms. Chapek told employees in a memo at the time that White’s task was “connecting the physical and digital worlds” for Disney entertainment.
All 50 of the employees under White were let go, according to the report, but White remains at the company. His new role remains unclear.
Disney never explicitly outlined what it planned to do with the metaverse, but Chapek said in a 2021 earnings call that Disney was creating “unparalleled opportunities” for consumers to engage with its products and platforms.
“Suffice it to say our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries in our own Disney metaverse,” he said during the call.
Chapek was succeeded by Bob Iger, who returned to Disney’s helm late last year.
The latest layoffs were initially announced in February and will impact about 7,000 employees, according to a memo sent by Iger. The job cuts will be cross-company, hitting Disney’s media and distribution division, parks and resorts, and ESPN.
Since returning as CEO, Iger has reorganized the company and acknowledged that he’d consider selling Hulu. The layoffs are part of a broader effort to reduce corporate spending and boost free cash flow. Disney said last month it plans to cut $5.5 billion in costs, including $3 billion in content spend.
Disney will host its annual shareholder meeting April 3.
Read more from The Wall Street Journal.
— CNBC’s Alex Sherman contributed to this report.
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