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Facebook hit with a heavy fine in Italy over data concerns

Inside Telecom Staff

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Facebook hit with a heavy fine in Italy over data concerns

Facebook was hit Wednesday with a 7 million euro fine ($8.5 million) by Italy’s competition watchdog after the social media titan failed to comply with an earlier request to change commercial usage of private data.

The previous request was made in November 2018 after Italy’s anti-trust agency ruled that Facebook had failed to inform users adequately about how it collected and used data from its userbase.

At the time, the social media company was fined 5 million euros ($5.5 million) and required to publish an amended statement on the Italian Facebook homepage and on the personal page of each Italian user.

“The current investigation has proved that … [the company has] not published the amended statement and has not stopped the established unfair practice,” the regulator said in a statement.

The regulatory body said that based on the potential economic value of the data, users should be put in the position to decide on when and if this data is used.

In a statement responding to this latest ruling, a Facebook spokesperson said that while the company had noted this latest regulatory decision, the social media giant would “await the Council of State decision on our appeal against the Authority’s initial findings.”

The spokesperson added that the company had already made changes to the extent of clarifying its terms of service on how data is used by advertisers. This latest regulatory strike against Facebook comes as international calls are increasing about the privacy of user data by all Social Media, with Facebook particularly in the hotseat.

The company is racing to make internal changes, but it remains to be seen if this will prevent further fines and increased regulatory control of Facebook, by several countries.

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Autodesk announces executive leadership team hires

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Autodesk

Autodesk, the CAD/CAM software titan, announced Thursday the hiring of Debbie Clifford as chief financial officer and Raji Arasu as chief technology officer.

The corporation makes software products and services for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media, education, life science and entertainment industry sectors, and has been an industry leader for decades.

“We are thrilled to welcome both Debbie and Raji – two dynamic and accomplished executives – to Autodesk,” said Andrew Anagnost, CEO, and president of Autodesk.

“Debbie and Raji bring deep leadership experience and a passion for customer success,” he added. “Their addition to our executive leadership team – along with Diana Colella, who was recently appointed to lead our Media & Entertainment group – will inject fresh perspectives into our company and towards our goal of delivering the world’s leading design and make platform.”

Clifford, who currently serves as chief financial officer at SurveyMonkey, returns to Autodesk – where she spent 13 years in various financial leadership roles – and brings with her expanded financial, strategic, and operational experience. She will oversee all aspects of Autodesk’s finance, accounting, tax, treasury, operations, and investor relations teams.

Clifford serves on the board of Harmonic, a video technology and services company, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California Los Angeles, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“Accepting the CFO position at Autodesk is like coming home,” said Clifford. “I’m excited to reconnect with the exceptionally talented finance organization and help accelerate the next phase of Autodesk’s growth. I am thrilled to be back and can’t wait to get started.”

Arasu will join Autodesk from Intuit, where she serves as senior vice president of platform engineering. She will oversee and be responsible for Autodesk’s technology strategy and ensure alignment against long-term innovation priorities and short-term technology imperatives. Arasu will replace current Autodesk CTO Scott Borduin, who announced his intent to retire last year.

Raji Arasu is a technology executive with over 25 years of experience focused primarily on eCommerce, marketplaces, payments, and fintech systems. She specializes in leading through transformative change across people, product, platform, and process to accelerate customer benefits and revenue growth.

At Intuit, Arasu helped shape the platform strategy and technology culture, led its cloud journey and expanded foundational core capabilities that amplified the pace of innovation for Intuit’s customers. Prior to Intuit, Arasu served as Chief Technology Officer for StubHub and held leadership roles at eBay.

Arasu has received public recognition for technology leadership, promoting diversity, and mentoring women to be successful leaders in technology. She serves on the board of directors for NIC Inc. and MediaAlpha Inc.

“Autodesk has long been one of the world’s most innovative companies and I’m thrilled for the challenge and opportunity to lead a world-class team of technologists,” said Arasu. “It’s an exciting time to join the company as we seek to deliver solutions that enable our customers to make an impact and achieve better outcomes for their products, their businesses, and the world.”

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About Autodesk

Autodesk makes software for people who make things.Ranging from driving a high-performance car, working in a towering skyscraper, using a smartphone, or making a blockbuster film, the company may well have played a role in the design.

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AI-enhanced measurements company acquired by MindMed

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AI-enhanced measurements

MindMed, an innovative psychedelic drug developer, has bought HealthMode, a machine-learning digital medicine company.

MindMed, the psychedelic medicine biotech company, announced in a release that it closed its acquisition of HealthMode, a digital medicine and therapeutics startup that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled digital measurement to increase the precision and speed of clinical research and patient monitoring.

The combination of these two companies will foster advancement and development of the growing area of psychedelic medicine for psychiatric uses in post-trauma, addiction treatment and a variety of other mental illness problems.

“The HealthMode acquisition marks the start of MindMed 2.0 as we seek to not only build a drug development company for psychedelic medicines, but also a comprehensive mental health technology platform to one day potentially launch these transformative medicines to patients in a scalable manner,” MindMed co-founder and CEO J.R. Rahn said in a statement.

The acquisition will help build a full stack digital mental health platform for psychedelic medicines; Ex-Pfizer Digital Medicine Executive Dr. Daniel R. Karlin and former Google AI/ML industry veteran Bradford Cross added to MindMed executive team, the companies said in a joint release.

MindMed discovers, develops, and deploys psychedelic inspired medicines and therapies to address addiction and mental illness. The company is assembling a compelling drug development pipeline of innovative treatments based on psychedelic substances including Psilocybin, LSD, MDMA, DMT and an Ibogaine derivative, 18-MC.

The MindMed executive team brings extensive biopharmaceutical experience to the company’s groundbreaking approach to developing the next generation of psychedelic inspired medicines and therapies.

HealthMode drives progression to next-generation clinical trials by developing and delivering AI-enhanced measurement methods for clinical trials. Its client partners represent a diverse set of stakeholders, from clinical researchers and drug developers at large pharmaceutical companies to academic medical centers, to startups entering the space.

The company’s AI-enhanced measurement techniques improve understanding of phenotype; streamline and provide assurance for screening and eligibility; provide early detection and mitigation of adverse events; and serve as sensitive, specific, objective, and low participant burden efficacy endpoints.

These measurements allow for meaningful integration of clinical trial data with real-world evidence and provide the basis for movement toward patient-specific measures.

Better measurement tools and the platforms to support them help HealthMode’s partners make data informed decisions, reduce uncertainty around enrollment and outcomes, de-risk development, and increase the speed at which novel therapeutics reach patients in need, according to HealthMode.

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Longest distance phone call between ISS astronaut and VP Kamala Harris

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Longest distance phone call

It was last week’s longest distance phone call, with International Space Station Astronaut Victor Glover welcoming VP Kamal Harris for a virtual chat in honor of U.S. Black History Month.

In the video recorded Feb. 24 and shared by NASA on Saturday Feb. 28, the long-distance phone call ranged from the legacy of human spaceflight to observing Earth from the vantage of the space station, Glover’s history-making stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, and preparing for missions from the Moon to Mars, according to a press statement from NASA.

Victor Glover is a long-duration crew member on the International Space Station. He served as the Crew Dragon pilot and second-in-command for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission. Glover is responsible for spacecraft systems and performance.

Glover is a multitalented astronaut, holding several degrees and having served as military aviator after his graduation from the U.S. Naval Academy.

Selected as an astronaut in 2013, the California native holds a Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering from California Polytechnic State University, a Master of Science degree in flight test engineering and a master’s degree military operational art and science from Air University, and a Master of Science degree in systems engineering from Naval Postgraduate School.

Glover is a naval aviator and was a test pilot in the F/A‐18 Hornet, Super Hornet, and EA‐18G Growler aircraft.

For more than 20 years, humans have lived and worked continuously aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge, and demonstrating new technologies, making research breakthroughs not possible on Earth, NASA said.

As a global endeavor, 242 people from 19 countries have visited the unique microgravity laboratory that has hosted more than 3,000 research and educational investigations from researchers in 108 countries and areas.

The ISS remains the springboard to America’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, including Artemis missions to the Moon to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

Its main links to earth for crew delivery is the SpaceX Dragon and the Russian Soyuz rocket. Also, frequent robot craft arrive with food, science experiments and technology upgrades.

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