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Weekly News Digest

September 14, 2021 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

CLICK HERE to view more Weekly News Digest items.

EFF Puts Pressure on Apple to End Its iPhone-Scanning Project

On. Sept. 13, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) led a protest demanding that Apple discontinue the development of its iPhone surveillance software program because it endangers the privacy and security of its customers and could create increased surveillance activity globally. EFF notes, “The iPhone surveillance software will continuously scan user photos to compare them to a secret government-created database of child abuse images. The parental notification scanner uses on-device machine learning to scan messages, then informs a third party, which breaks the promise of end-to-end encryption. Apple’s new surveillance infrastructure will be all too easy for governments to redirect to greater surveillance and censorship.”

The rally was planned for the front of Apple’s flagship store in San Francisco. There will also be rallies at Apple Stores in other cities, including Boston, Portland, Atlanta. In addition, EFF is flying an aerial banner over Apple’s campus during the Sept. 14 iPhone launch event. It has delivered petitions that have 60,000 signatures telling Apple not to implement the phone-scanning program. And it has joined the Center for Democracy and Technology, along with 90-plus other organizations, in sending a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

For more information, read the press release.

ALA Plans Instagram Live Conversations on Libraries and Internet Connectivity

ALA is hosting Connectivity Corner, a bimonthly series of Instagram Live conversations between president Patty Wong and library practitioners who work to bring their community high-speed broadband, technology, and digital skills training. The first event will be held Sept. 17, 2:00–2:45 p.m. EDT, on ALA’s Instagram account. Wong will speak to Chris Martinez (division director of IT at Harris County Public Library in Texas) about connecting households to the internet via hotspots and Chromebooks thanks to the Emergency Connectivity Fund. There will be time allotted for audience questions.

A recording of each live event will be available later on ALA’s Instagram.

For more information, read the press release.

Amazon Invests in Employee Education

Amazon announced that more than 750,000 U.S. operations employees are eligible to receive fully funded college tuition, which includes the expenses of classes, books, and fees. The company will spend $1.2 billion on this and other educational initiatives by 2025. Amazon’s Career Choice program offers tuition funding, high school diplomas, GEDs, and ESL certifications for frontline employees. In addition, three new education programs will be implemented at Amazon that will focus on data center maintenance skills as well as proficiency in technology, IT, and user experience and research design. They are AWS Grow Our Own Talent, Surge2IT, and the User Experience Design and Research (UXDR) Apprenticeship.

“We launched Career Choice almost 10 years ago to help remove the biggest barriers to continuing education—time and money—and we are now expanding it even further to pay full tuition and add several new fields of study,” says Dave Clark, Amazon’s CEO Worldwide Consumer. “This new investment builds on years of experience supporting employees in growing their careers, including some unique initiatives like building more than 110 on-site classrooms for our employees in Amazon fulfillment centers across 37 states. Today, over 50,000 Amazon employees around the world have already participated in Career Choice and we’ve seen first-hand how it can transform their lives.”

For more information, read the news item.

Simbi Adopts Curriculum License From CCC

Simbi, a Canada-based reading platform for children, adopted CCC’s Annual Copyright License for Curriculum & Instruction to streamline its permissions process when using copyrighted material. CCC notes, “The Annual Copyright License for Curriculum & Instruction eases the burden of obtaining one-off permissions, providing a broad repertory of print or digital rights that enable the reuse and distribution of excerpts of high-quality content in curriculum and instructional materials, educational technology (ed tech) applications, and online platforms such as learning management systems.”

“Simbi is on a mission to make reading meaningful to students around the globe. We enable readers to read along and read aloud to a growing library which includes the world’s largest repository of culturally diverse narrator accents. This requires us to discover and get permission to reuse content from hundreds of publishers, each of whom has their own set of processes for permissions and payment,” says Aaron Friedland, Simbi’s CEO and co-founder. “CCC’s Annual Copyright License for Curriculum & Instruction lets us reuse content from dozens of publishers through a single solution, saving considerable time and resources.”

For more information, read the press release.

'Recent Ownership Changes of Three Influential News Publications Pose Interesting Questions for Librarians and Researchers' by Marydee Ojala

Marydee Ojala writes the following for Information Today Europe’s ILI365 site:

Berlin, Germany-based Axel Springer will acquire POLITICO, including the remaining 50 percent share of its current joint venture POLITICO Europe, as well as the tech news website Protocol from Robert Allbritton. …

Nexstar Media Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nexstar Media Group, Inc. announced the acquisition of The Hill for $130 million on 20 August 2021. Nexstar Media, based in Irving, Texas, operates 199 cable news television stations that reach 116 U.S. markets through local affiliates of all the major U.S. TV networks in its Broadcasting Division. …

On 26 August 2021, the venerable business publishing company Forbes Global Media Holdings Inc. announced that it would transition to a publicly-traded company through a merger with Hong Kong-[based] special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Magnum Opus Acquisition Ltd. …

Digital disruption of news information is nothing new to librarians or to researchers. But these three ownership changes, all announced within a few days of each other, throws the research of news events into stark relief. …

[For example,] POLITICO and The Hill are largely not included in most subscription databases that aggregate news, although Factiva does list The Hill as a source and Politico (Online) is in Eureka and Europresse. Researchers who rely on those databases will miss news stories that could provide historical context unless librarians direct them to the actual platforms.

For more information, read the article.

Send correspondence concerning the Weekly News Digest to NewsBreaks Editor Brandi Scardilli
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