Google's Russian division submitted a notice of intention to declare bankruptcy after officials seized its bank account. That "has made it untenable for our Russia office to function, including employing and paying Russia-based employees, paying suppliers and vendors, and meeting other financial obligations," a Google spokesperson told Reuters.Like many other companies, Google suspended most of its commercial activities in Russia following the country's invasion of Ukraine in February. Despite that and the bankruptcy filing, it will continue to provide Russians with access to free services such as Search, YouTube, Gmail, Maps and Android for the time being.In May last year, Russia fined Google around $82,000 for failing to delete thousands of pieces of content it deemed to be illegal. Authorities then fined the company approximately $98 million in December for similar reasons. That was estimated to be around 5.7 percent of Google's 2021 turnover in Russia.In recent months, telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor has been pressuring YouTube to lift restrictions on access to Russian media. A Russian TV channel reported last month that bailiffs seized around 1 billion rubles (approximately $15 million) from Google after it declined to restore the station's access to its YouTube account.While Russia has blocked many other platforms and services, including Google News, it doesn't currently have plans to prevent users in the country from accessing YouTube. It said this week that residents would likely suffer as a result of such a move. Reutersreported that the streaming platform has around 90 million Russian users. Russia's minister for digital development also said that, despite testing its own, closed-off version of the internet, the country plans to stay connected to the global network.
New York State wants to understand the part internet services may have played in the deadly Buffalo mass shooting. Attorney General Letitia James is launching investigations into Discord, Twitch, 4chan and 8chan over concerns they let the attacker "discuss and amplify" his plans. It was "chilling and unfathomable" that the shooter could post his intentions months in advance without facing consequences, James said.The perpetrator reportedly talked about his plans for racism-fuelled violence on Discord, 4chan and 8chan. He tried to livestream the entire attack on Twitch. The service took down the shooter's channel within two minutes and has clamped down on attempts to reshare the video, but that didn't stop others from trying to distribute the video on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. On Discord, meanwhile, the culprit invited others to review his plans half an hour in advance. Both 4chan and 8chan have long focused on an anything-goes approach to content and have been accused of harboring hate speech.A Discord spokesperson told Engadget the company would cooperate with the investigation. We've also asked Twitch for comment. Discord has a long history of banning extremist chat servers. Likewise, Twitch has previously pulled violent streams and curbed efforts to share the associated clips.The investigations won't necessarily lead to action against the involved sites. Whether or not they do, the move underscores the pressure on internet services to proactively remove hate and threatening speech, rather than reacting to incidents.
A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate ID.me, the controversial identification company best known for its work with the Internal Revenue Service. In a letter addressed to FTC Chair Lina Khan, the group suggests the firm misled the American public about the capabilities of its facial recognition technology.Specifically, lawmakers point to a statement ID.me made at the start of the year. After CEO Blake Hall said the company did not use one-to-many facial recognition, an approach that involves matching images against those in a database, ID.me backtracked on those claims. It clarified it uses a specific one-to-many check during user enrollment to prevent identity theft.Following that statement, the IRS began to distance itself from ID.me, announcing it would reconsider its use of the platform in late January. It subsequently began allowing taxpayers to authenticate their identity without the use of facial recognition. But as the letter points out, many state and federal agencies continue to require Americans to submit photos and documents to ID.me before they can access vital services, including unemployment insurance.Americans have particular reason to be concerned about the difference between these two types of facial recognition, the senators write of ID.mes turnaround, noting a one-to-many approach inevitably means millions of people will have their photographs endlessly accessed. Not only does this violate individuals privacy, but the inevitable false matches associated with one-to-many recognition can result in applicants being wrongly denied desperately-needed services for weeks or even months as they try to get their case reviewed.In making the statements it did, the group is asking the FTC to determine whether ID.me committed deceptive and unfair business practices. The company already faces an investigation from the House Oversight and Reform Committee. In a statement it shared with Bloomberg, ID.me declined to comment on the specific concerns mentioned in the letter from Senator Wyden. Instead, the company pointed to its track record of preventing unemployment fraud.ID.me played a critical role in stopping that attack in more than 20 states where the service was rapidly adopted for its equally important ability to increase equity and verify individuals left behind by traditional options, the company said. We look forward to cooperating with all relevant government bodies to clear up any misunderstandings.