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With transition now formally underway, confidence should return to the market....and 3 promising vaccines!
Watchdog mulls Google probe over ‘anti-competitive’ advertising tech
The UK competition watchdog is mulling a formal investigation into Google after it received a complaint about the tech giant’s “anti-competitive” new advertising technology.
A consortium of businesses today wrote to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) urging it to delay a major new tech release by Google, which they warned would “cement” the tech giant’s dominance of the online landscape.
The complaint relates to Google’s new privacy sandbox, which is set to be rolled out early next year.
The group of online businesses, dubbed Marketers for an Open Web, said this new tech will remove login and advertising features from the open web and put them under Google’s control.
They warned the changes will deny news publishers access to the cookies they use to sell advertising, causing their revenues to fall by two-thirds.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In a statement this morning, the CMA said: “We take the matters raised in the complaint very seriously, and will assess them carefully with a view to deciding whether to open a formal investigation under the Competition Act.”
“If the urgency of the concerns requires us to intervene swiftly, we will also assess whether to impose interim measures to order the suspension of any suspected anti-competitive conduct pending the outcome of a full investigation.”
Airbnb Says Google's Competing Travel Sites Push Its Listings Down in Search Results
• Airbnb, in its S-1 filing, wrote that it believes its search results have been adversely affected by the launch of Google Travel and Google Vacation Rental Ads.
• The company's public comments follow several other travel executives' who allege Google favors its own products in its Search results.
• Google faces a lawsuit by the U.S. Department of Justice, which alleges it uses its search monopoly unfairly to suppress competition.
Airbnb says Google's search business has prevented the home-sharing company from reaping internet traffic, according to documents the company filed as it prepares to sell shares to the public.
Airbnb allows users to book short-term rentals and experiences while traveling. Under the "Risk Factors" in Airbnb's S-1 filing, the company said Google has favored its own products over the company's, resulting in fewer online visitors to its website. In the last year, the Alphabet company has added more search features akin to travel websites, including for vacation rentals.
"We believe that our SEO results have been adversely affected by the launch of Google Travel and Google Vacation Rental Ads, which reduce the prominence of our platform in organic search results for travel-related terms and placement on Google," the prospectus states.
Airbnb explains SEO, or search engine optimization, as the practice of tailoring content to appear more prominently in search results without paying for placement.
We focus on unpaid channels such as SEO," the prospectus states. "SEO involves developing our platform in a way that enables a search engine to rank our platform prominently for search queries for which our platform's content may be relevant. Changes to search engine algorithms or similar actions are not within our control, and could adversely affect our search-engine rankings and traffic to our platform."
The company warns that continued problems with search rankings could force it to spend more on marketing.
"To the extent that our brand and platform are listed less prominently or fail to appear in search results for any reason, we would need to increase our paid marketing spend which would increase our overall customer acquisition costs and materially adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition."
The Justice Department filed its long-expected antitrust lawsuit against Alphabet last month, alleging the company has unlawfully maintained a monopoly in search by cutting off rivals from key distribution channels. Alphabet rebutted the argument, saying it has plenty of competitors and that its services help consumers.
Airbnb and Alphabet have one mutual board member, Ann Mather.
Airbnb's statements follow other travel executives who have criticized Google's effect on the travel industry. TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer, a longtime critic of Google, told CNBC last month that he welcomes the DOJ's antitrust lawsuit against the Alphabet search unit, saying the company uses "its dominance in internet gatekeeping at the expense of other businesses."
Expedia CEO Peter Kern also recently said, "We have no axe to grind against Google, except that we don't think the marketplace is equitable."
Progressive groups warn Biden that giving White House roles to anyone with Google ties, including its former CEO Eric Schmidt, would 'alienate' the nation
• More than a dozen progressive organizations published an open letter to President-elect Joe Biden Tuesday, warning him against appointing anybody with "close ties to Google" to his administration.
• The groups wrote that they "want to ensure that the internet isn't dominated by a handful of corporations and remains free and open."
• The groups said Biden should avoid giving former Google CEO Eric Schmidt a role, after a Financial Times story described Schmidt as a possible lead for a new tech task force in Biden's White House.
• The letter to Biden said appointing Schmidt would risk "fracturing a Democratic coalition" and "alienating an overwhelming majority of the electorate."
• A source familiar with the matter told Recode that the Biden transition team had not discussed a planned role for Schmidt.
More than a dozen progressive groups published an open letter to President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday, urging him not to appoint people with "close ties to Google," including the tech giant's former CEO Eric Schmidt, to senior roles in his administration.
The 14 progressive groups — including The Revolving Door Project, a group which scrutinizes the appointments of executives in office — urged Biden to take a "hard line against the influence of individuals with close ties to Google."
The groups wrote that they "want to ensure that the internet isn't dominated by a handful of corporations and remains free and open."
The Financial Times reported November 8 that Schmidt was being discussed as a possible lead for a new technology industry task force in the White House, without describing its sources.
Biden has not publicly discussed a role for Schmidt, and Silicon Valley sources close to the Biden team told Recode Tuesday they weren't aware of any plans to appoint Schmidt. One source familiar with the matter also said the Biden transition team had not discussed a planned role for Schmidt.
A spokesperson for Schmidt declined to comment to Business Insider.
The letter, also signed by the Open Markets Institute, the Communications Workers of America, the Action Center on Race & the Economy, and others, said an appointment for Schmidt would alienate "an overwhelming majority of the electorate ... who want to see the economic power of major corporations reined in."
"In reviewing your transition's disclosure of its agency review teams, we were struck and concerned by the apparent widespread influence of people with close professional ties to Google generally and more specifically Eric Schmidt, a former CEO of Google with a current multi-billion dollar stake in the company," the groups said.
The groups referenced the antitrust lawsuit filed against Google by the Department of Justice on October 20. The case argues that Google disadvantaged competitors through a network of exclusionary business deals, and is the tech giant's largest legal challenge yet.
Having Schmidt in a senior US government position "could have a chilling effect on US antimonopoly policy moving forward," they said.
The letter said appointing Schmidt would risk "fracturing a Democratic coalition" and "alienating an overwhelming majority of the electorate."
The groups also pointed to the news that Schmidt was reportedly obtaining citizenship in the European island, Cyprus, per Recode, allowing him to travel to the European Union and possibly reap tax benefits. Schmidt declined to comment to Recode at the time.
In light of this news, appointing Schmidt would send a "dangerous message" during a time of "historic wealth inequality," the groups said.
Schmidt has a net worth of about $15 billion and is one of the wealthiest people on the planet.
The groups also referenced a survey by the organization Demand Progress, in which more than half of people agreed Biden should refuse to appoint any individuals with ties to Big Tech companies that are being sued by the Department of Justice.
"The American people are divided on many things, but not on what they view as fundamental issues of legal and economic justice like this one," they said.
Russia Proposal Threatens to Silence YouTube, Facebook
(Bloomberg) -- Russia would be able to restrict access to Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube under a draft law aimed at punishing what backers call is censorship by the U.S. platforms of Russian state-backed media.
The draft, submitted Thursday by senior lawmakers from the ruling party would allow prosecutors, in consultation with the Foreign Ministry, to designate foreign Internet platforms as breaching Russians’ rights by restricting content. Penalties would include fines, as well as partial or total limits on access to the platforms in Russia.
Since April, Russian media companies have been complaining that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were censoring their accounts, sponsors of the measure said in documents submitted with the draft law. State-backed news outlets including RT have criticized what they say is censorship by U.S. platforms, which say the measures are part of efforts to fight disinformation.
“Discriminatory actions against Russian clients of these services have taken place,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on a conference call when asked about the initiative. “This must be countered.” But he stopped short of endorsing restrictions on access, saying appropriate sanctions would be determined in the legislative process.
What is Nokia up to? On the Nokia Defense site, there is a section for “Nokia Bell Labs Future X for industries architecture.” Below that, there is a tab for “Multicloud.” Buried in that section is “Nuage Networks Microsoft Enabled Cloud Solution.”
1. Whoever replaces Marcus Weldon may be very telling.
2. Multicloud seems to parallel the multi-billion dollar CIA C2E $MSFT, $GOOGL, AWS, Oracle, IBM contracts just announced.
3. Nuage Networks Microsoft Enabled. Another mention.
Turkey orders Google to change its online ad strategy
Google is facing yet another fine for allegedly abusing its search ad clout, although the financial punishment this time is less serious than its implications. Arab News reports that Turkey’s Competition Board has given Google six months to change its ad strategy after determining that the company abused its internet dominance. Its text ads supposedly skewed results by pushing some companies out of the results unless they made ad money for Google.
The online giant is also facing a fine equivalent to $25.6 million as part of the ruling. It has 60 days to appeal the decision, although it wasn’t initially clear if that would happen. We’ve asked Google for comment.
This comes two years after Turkey fined Google roughly $12.7 million for supposedly favoring some advertisers over others.
The financial penalty is trivial for Google when it makes billions in profit every quarter. However, the six-month deadline is another matter. If the ruling holds, Google faces the prospect of either changing its ad strategy or risking a ban in a country well known for its tight grip on internet services, including Google’s. It may need to strike a balance to avoid losing access to a key country.
What Biden means for Big Tech—and Google in particular
Technology policy is not a priority for the president-elect, but the government's lawsuit against Google will continue.
Throughout his campaign to win the White House, president-elect Joe Biden has been relatively quiet about the technology industry.
In a revealing January 2020 interview with The New York Times editorial board, Biden said that he wanted to revoke Section 230; suggested that he disagreed with how friendly the Obama administration became with Silicon Valley; and referred to tech executives as “little creeps” who displayed an “overwhelming arrogance.” But internet companies have also been one of his campaign’s top 10 donors, technology industry insiders joined his campaign, and incoming vice president Kamala Harris has long-standing ties to Silicon Valley as the former district attorney in San Francisco.
Aside from expanding Broadband access, and its role in climate change and the coronavirus response, however, technology may not be high on Biden’s list of priorities, says Gigi Sohn, who served as counselor to Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler during the Obama Administration.
Biden suggested that he disagreed with how friendly the Obama administration became with Silicon Valley… but internet companies have been one of his campaign’s top donors.
She says he’s going to inherit other major issues that will—and should—take up his administration’s early focus. “We could talk about the evils of the internet, but you still need it,” she says. “I think making sure that every American has access to affordable broadband is more important [than regulating the Internet], because they need that to live right now...to work...to learn...and to see a doctor.”
On Sunday morning, less than 24 hours after the first network called the presidential election for Joe Biden, the president-elect had published a transition website detailing his administration’s agenda. It had four priority areas: covid-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change. Technology was mentioned briefly, but with a focus on expanding broadband internet, rather than regulation of Big Tech companies.
So what will tech regulation look like under a Biden presidency? It’s not clear, but there are several areas worth paying attention to.
The Google lawsuit will continue
In late October, the Department of Justice filed its long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against Google. While experts are divided on the strength of the lawsuit itself, they agree that it will continue under a Biden presidency. If anything, some argue that it will likely be strengthened, especially with several states including New York expected to file their own lawsuit, which may be combined with the DoJ’s effort.
Additionally, the Biden administration has “the ability to amend that complaint,” says Charlotte Slaiman, the director of competition policy at the advocacy organization Public Knowledge. “There are actually more competition concerns around Google that could be included in a broader complaint,” she says, including potential anti-competitive practices in display advertising.
Meanwhile, Andrew Sullivan, the President & CEO of the Internet Society, says that he is “hopeful” that a Biden presidency would mean “fewer attempts to interfere in the direct operation of the internet.” This did not mean a repudiation of antitrust regulation, he added. “There are many Democrats who would like those companies to be broken up too, so we might not see a big change in policy.”
Refocusing the debate on Section 230
Biden has spoken out about the need to revoke Section 230, the section of the Communications Decency Act which shields internet companies from liability for the content that they host.
India opens antitrust case against Google over its payments app
India’s antitrust watchdog has opened an investigation into Google for allegedly abusing the dominant position of its app store to promote its payments service in the world’s second largest internet market.
In its Monday announcement (PDF) about opening an antitrust case against Google, Indian watchdog Competition Commission of India (CCI) said it would review claims of whether the Android maker prominently promotes Google Pay during the setup of an Android smartphone (and whether phone vendors have a choice to avoid this); and if Play Store’s billing system is designed “to the disadvantage of both i.e. apps facilitating payment through UPI, as well as users.”
The informant, who has not been identified, alleged that in addition to Google Play Store’s billing system favoring Google Pay app, in-app purchases for apps downloaded through Play Store are also mandated to support Google Pay service “if they want to be listed on the Play Store” and they are required to pay a “high commission” for that.
The informant also alleged that Google “unfairly” skews the search results on the Play Store in favor of Google Pay app over others — though CCI is not investigating this claim citing not enough evidence to support them. Google “rigs its feature app lists such as ‘Editor’s Choice Apps’, ‘User Choice Apps’ and ‘Top Free apps’ … demonstrating clear bias in favor of its own app; by manipulating the search advertisements algorithm on the Play Store in favour of Google Pay.”
“The informant pointed out similarities between the conducts of Apple in Europe and Google in India i.e. like Apple (as set out in the Press Release of EC), as a mandatory requirement for listing on the Play Store, Google requires the app developers to exclusively use Google Play Store’s payment system and Google Play In-App Billing for charging users who purchase apps on the Play Store or buy goods/services from inside an app (i.e. IAP), and further like Apple, Google charges app developers a 30% commission for allowing them to use the Play Store’s payment system and Google Play In-App Billing,” the Indian watchdog said, which has directed its director general to complete the investigation within 60 days.
California just passed a major privacy law that will make it harder for Facebook and Google to track people and gather data
Wed, November 4, 2020, 10:34 AM PST
• California voters just passed Proposition 24, a ballot measure that expands the state's existing privacy laws and scales back the amount of data that big tech companies are allowed to collect on people.
• The law will make it harder for Facebook and Google to track people's activity through third parties, which could make much of the tech giants' advertising business models obsolete, experts told Business Insider.
• While Prop 24 is active only in California, it will effectively apply to all of the US because of the state's huge influence on the tech industry.
A new law passed by California voters in the November election will set an unprecedented standard for digital privacy in the US, making it harder for big tech companies like Facebook and Google to track people's data.
The Consumer Privacy Rights Act, also known as Proposition 24, was on track to pass in California as of Wednesday morning, with 56% of voters supporting the measure and over three-quarters of ballots counted.
The law will strengthen existing privacy measures in California, allowing consumers to stop businesses from selling or sharing their personal information, including race, religion, genetic details, geographic location, and sexual orientation.
It will also set tighter restrictions on how websites track your data to sell that information to advertising partners. Google and Facebook — two of the largest players in online advertising — both gather personal data collected by third-party websites to strengthen their advertising products, which make up the bulk of their revenue.
Prop 24 could effectively block companies like Facebook and Google from continuing to collect that data, which could change their business models and cut into their existing revenue streams, privacy-compliance experts told Business Insider.
"The third-party adtech industry will need to evolve ... otherwise, their business models risk becoming obsolete," said Heather Federman, the vice president of privacy and policy at BigID, a data-privacy compliance firm.
A Facebook spokesperson did not provide comment when reached by Business Insider. A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment. Neither company has publicly taken a stance on Prop 24.
The law comes as online-ad giants' business models are facing other new threats. Apple is planning an iPhone software update that will let users opt out of ad trackers, which Facebook has vehemently protested. Web browsers including Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are rolling out similar tools to let users opt out of tracking, which could cut into advertisers' revenue.
Prop 24 will become enforceable in 2023. Before that happens, California regulators are expected to provide more details about how it will be enforced, which could shape its influence on major tech companies.
Despite its potential to hurt the ad revenue of major tech companies, Prop 24 gained support from several tech business leaders who advocate privacy, including former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who said the law was necessary to give people more control over their data.
Raju Vegesna, the chief evangelist at the global software firm Zoho, said he expected both private companies and governments to continue to crack down on third-party ad trackers because of growing privacy concerns from consumers. Vegesna added that Zoho removed third party trackers from its sites in July.
"That means we leave money on the table, but just because it's there doesn't mean you have to take it," Vegesna said in an email to Business Insider. "The privacy tipping point for most countries will come when they realize just how much data big tech companies such as Google have collected on their citizens and that as a government, there is nothing they can do about it."
Some privacy advocates have said the law doesn't go far enough, calling instead for Congress to pass privacy legislation that sets a single standard nationwide.
Sharing Data With Google Would Hurt Future Probes, U.S. Says
(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government opposes sharing with Google other companies’ sensitive information in an antitrust lawsuit because it says that would undermine trust and hamper future investigations.
The Justice Department sued Alphabet Inc.’s Google last month accusing it of abusing its monopoly in its search engine, the most significant antitrust action against an American company in more than two decades -- and possibly a century.
Google is seeking access to confidential information the U.S. has obtained from third parties to prepare for trial. It’s proposing that the sharing of information be done only with its in-house counsel. It also wants advance notice if the information is used in other matters, according to a Justice Department filing in Washington federal court Friday.
“Adopting Google’s proposal would undermine third parties’ confidence in the treatment of their confidential information, chill third-party cooperation in current and future government investigations, and unfairly advantage Google in the marketplace if third-party confidential information is disclosed or used,” the U.S. said in the filing.
The judge in the case has given companies including Microsoft Corp., Oracle Corp., Amazon Inc., AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. until Nov. 20 to stake out a position on restricting their information that may shared by the government with Google during the litigation. The companies called it a “serious concern” in a joint filing, saying they have produced some of their “most sensitive internal business materials.”
Who needs middlemen? The future of delivery is almost here and now:
Walmart teams up with GM's Cruise to test grocery delivery with SELF-DRIVING CARS. Under the program, customers in Scottsdale will be able to order from their local Walmart store and have it delivered via one of Cruise's all-electric self-driving cars beginning early next year. Walmart's latest test program allows the retailer to further tap into the on-demand food delivery market, a service that has surged since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. It also gives the company the ability to effectively compete with rival Amazon as they race to increase their market share in one of the fastest-growing e-commerce sectors.Last year, Walmart partnered with Silicon Valley autonomous vehicle startup Nuro to assist with grocery deliveries.
$UBER $GRUB $LYFT $WMT $AMZN $GOOGL $GM
Electric tractors and scooters. I D E X making huge ev deals and backing ev start ups, promoting three month leases for ev's like hcac is doing with cnoo.
Pre market already down another 8 bucks. What is happening? Any ideas?
Google feels overlooked right now. Should be trading 100-150 points higher.
YouTube channels making money from ads, memberships amplify Trump voting fraud claims
By Paresh Dave
OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) - At least nine popular YouTube channels were promoting on Thursday debunked accusations about voting fraud in the U.S. presidential race, conspiratorial content that could jeopardize advertising and memberships revenue they get from the video service.
Reuters found the channels, ranging from ones with 1,000 followers to more than 629,000, endorsing claims that fact-checking units of the Associated Press, Reuters and other organizations have deemed false or inaccurate.
YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc's Google , has rules that forbid channels using its revenue-generation tools from making "claims that are demonstrably false and could significantly undermine participation or trust in an electoral or democratic process."
Google said it was reviewing videos from the nine channels as well as others and may suspend ads and membership sales, a penalty commonly known as "demonetization," if violations are found.
Claiming voter fraud is widespread or that mail-in ballots cannot be trusted would be in violation, but highlighting people who say they experienced voter fraud or making hyperbolic statements about a political party "stealing" the election would not, Google said.
With ballot tallying ongoing in a few states whose results will decide the hotly contested race between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump has made unsubstantiated accusations about the Democratic party stealing the election. Trump's supporters have rallied behind the misinformation on social media and in protests outside vote-counting sites.
Google, Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc and others have struggled to guard against the misinformation as millions of posts arrive each day.
Researchers who track misinformation say it is fueled by content creators who see an opportunity to profit from it. Over the last few years, they have pressured YouTube and its advertisers to tighten scrutiny.
Some YouTube advertisers now avoid sponsoring political content. But the membership feature, under which fans pay a few dollars monthly for exclusive content and promotional merchandise, has helped offset lost ad sales.
One of the channels seen by Reuters, John Talks, shared two videos on Thursday about alleged voter fraud in Michigan - a key battleground state in the election that Biden has won - generating more than 90,000 views in eight hours.
Among the claims cited was that wagons, suitcases and coolers were used to smuggle ballots into a counting center. At least three news outlets investigated the claim and determined the items carried food for election workers and camera equipment for a local TV station.
John Talks did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
The liberal online watchdog group Media Matters for America said in a report on Thursday that it found videos making dubious claims post-election have garnered more than 1 million views collectively.
YouTube's policy on "demonstrably false" election information drew attention on Wednesday when CNBC reported that One American News Network was generating ad revenue from its YouTube video prematurely declaring Trump the winner. YouTube said it would not remove the video, but stopped running ads on it.
Trump's talk of fraud has created opportunity for his critics, too. Some popular YouTube channels, which run ads and sell memberships, have generated hundreds of thousands of views on videos rebutting Trump supporters' claims of voter fraud.
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Reports of virus mutating to
Serious disease please be careful folks about going all in stocks here $spy $spg $amzn $googl $aapl
If GOOG declares a dividend this company will skyrocket. They need to take some debt, buyback shars faster, stop giving shares away to employees for no reason, and pay a dividend.
Google is actively censoring any searches regarding 2020 election fraud. I'm sure the Contested Elect is fine with this approach to usher in his illegitimate administration.
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