|Day's range||2.1500 - 2.3500|
Google is betting big on health care - so big, that the tech giant has confirmed it's collecting health data on millions of Americans through a partnership with Ascension.
The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services will look into the data collection to ensure the partnership is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) which safeguards medical information, the Journal said https://on.wsj.com/2NGPPQX. Google did not immediately reply to Reuters' request for comment.
The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services will look into the data collection to ensure the partnership is in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) which safeguards medical information, the Journal said https://on.wsj.com/2NGPPQX. Google did not immediately reply to Reuters' request for comment.
(Bloomberg) -- Singularity University, a Silicon Valley institute offering education on futurism, is reckoning with its own uncertain future. The chief executive officer is stepping down, and the organization plans to eliminate staff.The changes were outlined in an email Tuesday reviewed by Bloomberg that was sent to faculty by Erik Anderson, the executive chairman. They mark an extended decline for the company, which has in recent years lost an annual grant from Google and faced allegations of sexual assault, embezzlement and discrimination.Rob Nail, who ran Singularity for the last eight years, is leaving to pursue new career opportunities, Anderson wrote in the email. Singularity is conducting a CEO search, said a spokesman. The announcement of job cuts was made in line with U.S. labor law, which requires 60-day notice for companies with more than 100 employees, the spokesman said.Singularity declined to specify how many jobs would be affected, but a person familiar with the matter put the total at about 60. This person said many of those workers were informed of the news while attending a Singularity summit in Athens that ended Tuesday.Singularity, which takes its name from the notion that humans will someday merge with machines, was introduced in 2009 during a TED Talk by futurist Ray Kurzweil. The group operates for profit but with a mandate for social responsibility. Many alumni of its programs credit the organization with teaching them about cutting-edge concepts and helping them think more expansively.Others complain the programs are over-hyped and culturally toxic. One former student alleged she was assaulted in 2013 by an astronaut who taught at Singularity. Several executives have been accused of financial wrongdoings, including theft and fraud. Google ended its support of a key program at Singularity in 2017, although a senior program manager at Google, Jen Phillips, still appears on the Singularity website as an adviser. (Google told Bloomberg last year that she had left the advisory board.)In recent years, Singularity has expanded its conference and executive education initiatives, including a weeklong $14,500 program at its Mountain View, California, campus. The flagship Graduate Studies Program, once free to students, is now known as the Global Startup Program and costs $30,000 for two three-week in person programs plus a year’s worth of virtual networking.In the email sent to faculty Tuesday, Anderson said Singularity would look to increase its number of individual and corporate members. He also conveyed a message from Kurzweil and Peter Diamandis, another founder and executive director. The two men said the need to solve “humanity’s biggest challenges is more important than ever” and that they “remain more dedicated to Singularity than ever before.”To contact the author of this story: Sarah McBride in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Google said it has fired an employee for leaking staffer names and personal details to the media and placed two others on leave for allegedly violating company policies, evidence of escalating tension between management and personnel engaged in labor-related activism.A Google spokeswoman said the company is investigating the employees who were placed on leave. One of them had searched for and shared confidential documents outside the scope of their job, while the other tracked the individual calendars of staff working in the community platforms, human resources, and communications teams, she said. The tracking had made the staff in those departments feel unsafe, the spokeswoman said.Google didn’t identify the employee who was fired, or the staffers placed on leave.The company’s statement came after Bloomberg News inquired about two employees being placed on leave who had participated in activism at Google. The suspensions have been a hot topic of discussion at the company in the last week, stoking anger among some workers and prompting claims that Google is punishing people who have taken a stand against management, according to three employees familiar with the matter. The suspended workers were based in the U.S., two of the employees said.Workplace IncivilityThe development is the latest sign of disharmony at Alphabet Inc.’s Google and follows a tumultuous month in which some workers accused managers of attempting to censor internal discussions and shut down meetings about labor rights. At least some of the tensions stem from new community guidelines Google introduced in August that were intended to curb incivility in the workplace.The employees familiar with the matter said they were told that one of the people on leave is being punished for accessing company documents that were at the center of a recent controversy.The documents concerned a mandatory tool that was recently installed on the Google Chrome browser on workers’ computers, the employees said. In October, some Google employees raised concerns that the Chrome extension was an internal surveillance tool designed to monitor their attempts to organize protests. It would automatically report staffers who create a calendar event with more than 10 rooms or 100 participants, according to an employee memo that outlined concerns about the tool. A Google representative said the extension was merely an attempt to reduce calendar spam.The Google spokeswoman said no one was put on leave for accessing or opening a single need-to-know document; instead, she said one person was put on leave for allegedly searching for, accessing and sharing a wide range of company documents.Company DocumentsOn an internal Google message board, some staffers suggested that the suspensions represented a death knell for the culture of openness that historically defined the company’s workplace.“As a company we’ve prided ourselves on transparency and information-sharing,” wrote one employee, in a post reviewed by Bloomberg News. “As I was told as a noogler [new Google employee], one of the big benefits of Google is that you can see what everyone else is working on, and how it all fits together. But I guess we’ve abandoned that now. And that both disappoints and terrifies me.”In the past, one of the employees said, employees could review internal documents for virtually any project underway within the company. In recent years, however, more projects have become closed off and accessible only to smaller groups on a “need-to-know” basis, the employee said.Earlier this year, following a series of leaks to the media, Google executives tightened their grip. They shut down thousands of contractors’ access to company documents, citing security concerns. Google’s senior managers, meanwhile, warned employees not to access or share certain documents.In a memo to employees in early May, Kent Walker, senior vice president of global affairs, warned that it was considered “a violation of our policies to improperly access, copy, or share confidential or need-to-know information, whether or not it is explicitly marked.” Walker added that the company had “fired people who violated our data policies,” according to the memo, which was previously reported by BuzzFeed News.The spokeswoman said the company earlier this year sent employees a reminder of long-standing data classification and security policies.Rising TensionsIn the last 18 months or so, a divide has grown between Google’s management and rank-and-file employees, who have become increasingly politicized. Employees have protested leadership’s handling of sexual harassment complaints and launched internal campaigns against some Google projects, including a censored search engine in China and a contract with the Pentagon to analyze drone footage. Earlier this month, more than 1,000 employees called on the company to cancel deals with oil and gas companies.As news of the suspensions spread through Google last week, many employees responded by posting satirical memes to Memegen, an internal photo messaging board.In one meme, an employee posted the Google logo alongside a reinterpretation of the company’s corporate mission statement. “Organize the world’s information,” it said, “and make it accessible on a need-to-know basis.”To contact the reporter on this story: Ryan Gallagher in Edinburgh at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew Martin at email@example.com, Molly SchuetzFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The secret scheme involves the transfer to Google of healthcare data held by Ascension, the second largest healthcare provider in the US. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesA whistleblower who works in Project Nightingale, the secret transfer of the personal medical data of up to 50 million Americans from one of the largest healthcare providers in the US to Google, has expressed anger to the Guardian that patients are being kept in the dark about the massive deal.The anonymous whistleblower has posted a video on the social media platform Daily Motion that contains a document dump of hundreds of images of confidential files relating to Project Nightingale. The secret scheme, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, involves the transfer to Google of healthcare data held by Ascension, the second-largest healthcare provider in the US. The data is being transferred with full personal details including name and medical history and can be accessed by Google staff. Unlike other similar efforts it has not been made anonymous though a process of removing personal information known as de-identification.The whistleblower introduces the video with the words: “I must speak out about the things that are going on behind the scenes.”The disclosed documents include highly confidential outlines of Project Nightingale, laying out the four stages or “pillars” of the secret project. By the time the transfer is completed next March, it will have passed the personal data of 50 million or more patients in 21 states to Google, with 10 million or so files already having moved across – with no warning having been given to patients or doctors.Among the documents are the notes of a private meeting held by Ascension operatives involved in Project Nightingale. In it, they raise serious concerns about the way patients’ personal health information will be used by Google to build new artificial intelligence and other tools.The notes say that one employee “expressed concerns of individuals downloading patient data – need to make sure everyone is trained to not be able to do that”.According to the whistleblower, the security fears raised at that meeting, including concerns that the transfer may be in breach of federal HIPAA rules on data privacy, have so far gone unanswered by Google.Project Nightingale is understood to be by far the largest data transfer of its kind so far in the healthcare field. It will cover the entire spread of Ascension, a Catholic network of 2,600 hospitals, clinics and other medical outlets.Google has entered into similar partnerships on a much smaller scale with clients such as the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine. But in that case all the data handed over to the search giant was encrypted, with keys being held only on the medical side.The deal between Google and Ascension to go ahead with the data transfer was formally signed on Monday, hours after the Wall Street Journal broke the story.The Guardian does not know the identity of the whistleblower. They are one of about 300 employees working on Project Nightingale, approximately half on the Google side and half with Ascension.In an interview with the Guardian, they explained the decision to go public. They cited widespread anxiety among Project Nightingale employees about the secrecy of the transfer, and about how Google was being given access to personal information of millions of patients.They had family members, they said, who have been through the health system and who were worried about even their body weight being shared with doctors. They would be alarmed to learn that their names, addresses, date of birth, medical conditions, lab records, hospitalization history and more might be included in the Project Nightingale data given to Google.“Most Americans would feel uncomfortable if they knew their data was being haphazardly transferred to Google without proper safeguards and security in place. This is a totally new way of doing things. Do you want your most personal information transferred to Google? I think a lot of people would say no.”The whistleblower also expressed concern that so much sensitive and potentially valuable data was being amassed by one big tech company. Google could go on to use its AI analytics to predict outcomes for individual patients, they posited.“In the future, such risks are only likely to grow. This is the last frontier of extremely sensitive data that needs to be protected,” they said.This is not the first time Google has ended up in hot water over its efforts to become the dominant player in healthcare data and analytics. In 2017, the transfer of 1.6m patient records at the Royal Free hospital in London to the company’s artificial intelligence arm DeepMind Health was found to have an “inappropriate legal basis” by the UK’s watchdog on data.The ambition of Google’s parent company Alphabet is to develop new AI tools that can help predict health patterns and improve treatment. Google recently announced plans to buy Fitbit for $2.1bn, aiming to enter the wearables market and invest in digital health.Google and Ascension have released statements in the wake of the disclosure of Project Nightingale, insisting it conforms with HIPAA and all federal health laws. They said that patient data was protected.Google Cloud told the Wall Street Journal that the aim was “ultimately improving outcomes, reducing costs, and saving lives”.In a statement, Ascension said: “All work related to Ascension’s engagement with Google is HIPAA compliant and underpinned by a robust data security and protection effort and adherence to Ascension’s strict requirements for data handling.”In the video, the whistleblower begs to disagree. In annotations that run over the leaked documents, they suggest that in future Google might be able to sell or share the data with third parties, or create patient profiles against which they can advertise healthcare products.“Patients haven’t been told how Ascension is using their data and have not consented to their data being transferred to the cloud or being used by Google. At the very least patients should be told and be able to opt in or opt out,” the whistleblower writes.
(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s “mighty” Google faced an unlikely figure in a London court on Monday: a cab driver from South London.The search company sued Goooglie Cars’ sole director Sohail Nagi for 10,000 pounds ($12,800), arguing the cabby had been “unfairly free-riding off its reputation” by presenting the company name in Google’s style -- using a very similar font and color scheme as the tech giant’s logo.In 2012, after a two-month discussion with Google, Nagi agreed to change his logo to black with cricket balls in place of the O’s to represent the cricket term for a slow spinning ball -- a “googly.” Google’s lawyer Maxwell Keay said this hadn’t been implemented however, and the logo was only changed this year, after the firm had filed its suit against the taxi company.Judge Gordon Nurse ruled in favor of the company after it agreed to cap its legal costs at 10,000 pounds, about half of what it incurred, which Nurse called “a very generous limit.” Nagi was ordered to pay the sum within 28 days and was warned that Google could make a claim against his home in London’s Mitcham neighborhood if he fails to do so.“I’m a very poor man and it’s very hard to survive,” Nagi told the court.But Nurse didn’t give Google everything it wanted. The judge rejected Google’s request that Goooglie Cars change its name because its new cricket-style logo is “extremely difficult to associate with Google, the mighty tech company,” he said.Google didn’t immediately return a call and email seeking comment.To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Milligan in London at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s Disney+ launch day, the arrival of a new video app that serves as Walt Disney Co.’s official entry into the streaming wars. But while the $7-a-month service may be a perfect choice for fans of “The Avengers” and “Star Wars,” or for parents of young children, Disney knows that’s not nearly enough variety for most people. Its efforts to address that shortcoming hint at what’s next for the industry: the revival of bundles. Buzz about Disney+ has been building for some weeks, as ads for the service cropped up on Twitter, billboards and TV. What’s gotten less attention is the crucial role Hulu plays in the company’s strategy. As part of Tuesday’s launch, consumers also now have the option of getting Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu (the on-demand version with ads) together for a rate of $13 a month, rather than paying for each app separately, which would total $18. Internally, Disney appears to be calling it the “super-bundle,” based on the image file name that was displayed on the sign-up page early Tuesday morning in place of a logo that wasn’t rendering (whoops):With the way content has been atomized — e.g., you can only stream Disney stuff on Disney+ going forward — no service on its own will provide all the shows and movies that a typical consumer wants. So as more viewers become completely reliant on streaming subscriptions, they’ll try to configure a set of apps that gets closest to imitating their ideal cable package. But that may get quite expensive. Say you want to watch “The Mandalorian” — the “Star Wars” series that’s headlining Disney+ — but you’re also a fan of Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” hooked on HBO’s “Succession” and want lots of live sports, the likes of which Google’s broadcast-channel-heavy YouTube TV service provides. That would add up to $85 a month, in addition to the price of internet access — not quite the savings one might have envisioned from canceling cable. For the media companies, this is going to lead to lots of subscriber turnover month to month, with viewers pausing one subscription in favor of another just to binge on a new season of a hit series.The pickings on Disney+ are simply too narrow to be a cable substitute. This is where Hulu comes in, and to a lesser extent, ESPN+ (which is chiefly for fans of soccer and college sports). Hulu provides some of what’s missing from Disney’s superhero and family-friendly fare, with popular originals such as “The Handmaid’s Tale,” recent episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” and other licensed programming. While the super bundle is really just Disney+ and Hulu throwing in ESPN+ for free, it's strategically priced at the same rate as Netflix and provides insight into Disney's thinking.Disney won’t be alone in looking for ways to bundle services for customers. HBO Max, the streaming app that AT&T Inc. is introducing in May 2020, is effectively a $15 bundle of HBO, content from sister networks such as TBS, the “Friends” and “Big Bang Theory” franchises and Warner Bros. films (all for the same price as HBO on its own). Apple Channels, where users can sign up for third-party services such as CBS All Access and Starz using their Apple ID, at least allows users to consolidate their payments to a single company, but it doesn’t provide discounts for doing so. For cable giants Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc., negotiating with programmers to structure discounted streaming-app bundles would be a natural evolution of their businesses.So much of the focus of the streaming wars has been on trying to pick the winner, or who will be the true Netflix killer. In fact, Netflix and Disney may control 60% of the U.S. streaming-video market by 2024, according to Geetha Ranganathan, an analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence. Most people wouldn’t want to see the streaming marketplace go the way of the box office — where Disney’s Marvel movies and animated features are the overwhelming majority. (And Netflix isn’t exactly known for the highest-quality menu.) Bundles that include broader arrays of content from different sources offer a better shot at sustained competition, and that sounds awfully better than a world in which all Hollywood’s creative decisions rest in the hands of just a few giants.It’s time to bundle up.To contact the author of this story: Tara Lachapelle at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Beth Williams at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tara Lachapelle is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the business of entertainment and telecommunications, as well as broader deals. She previously wrote an M&A column for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
DXC Technology's (DXC) fiscal second-quarter results reflect strength in digital business. However, weak traditional application services business is a headwind.
(Bloomberg) -- State officials investigating Alphabet Inc.’s Google met Monday to dive into competition issues surrounding the search giant as they press forward with an investigation into whether the company is violating antitrust laws, according to people familiar with the matter.The officials met privately in Denver with outside experts with the goal of gaining a deeper understanding of Google’s businesses and the dynamics of the markets it operates in, including digital advertising, said one of the people.The gathering comes two months after all but two states opened an antitrust investigation into Google with an initial focus on its advertising practices, according to an investigative demand sent to the company. Publishers have long complained that Google’s dominance in the technology that delivers ads across the web harms competition.The meeting was similar to one held last month in New York where state officials met with experts about Facebook Inc. The social media giant is under investigation by 45 states, Guam and the District of Columbia.One of the aims of the Google meeting was to help state officials prepare for an investigation that will likely present challenging competition issues, said one of the people. The states were also planning to map out a strategy for dividing the workload of the investigation, said two of the people.Among those advising the states is Cristina Caffarra, an economist at Charles River Associates. Google has complained about Caffarra’s work for the state because of her past work for Google adversaries News Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Russia’s Yandex NV.The states are investigating Google in parallel to a Justice Department antitrust probe of the company. The House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel is also conducting an inquiry into Google and other large tech companies.(Updates from fifth paragraph with challenges of the antitrust investigation. A previous version of this story was corrected to clarify the number of states and attorneys general investigating.)To contact the reporters on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at email@example.com;Naomi Nix in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at email@example.com, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - State attorneys general are meeting on Monday in Colorado to discuss their probe into whether Google's business practices break antitrust law, according to two sources knowledgeable about the meeting. The gathering was expected to be similar to one held in New York in October, where state and federal enforcers from the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission discussed their probe of Facebook. The probe of Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, is being led by the Texas attorney general's office.
Associate Stock Strategist Ben Rains dives into some of Disney's recent quarterly results, before we look at Disney+ and discuss which company, from Netflix to Amazon might win the streaming TV war...
Alphabet Inc's Google has signed its biggest cloud computing customer in healthcare to date, in a deal giving it access to datasets that could help it tune potentially lucrative artificial intelligence (AI) tools. Google and Ascension, which operates 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities across the United States, said the healthcare provider would move some data and analytics tools in its facilities to Google's servers. The deal was mentioned in Google's July earnings call, but drew scrutiny on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported https://on.wsj.com/2q3WCer that Google would gain personal health-related information of millions of Americans across 21 states.
(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s Google is working with one of the biggest U.S. health-care providers to develop new digital tools, giving the internet giant deep access to the personal health information of millions of Americans.The partnership with Ascension, a nonprofit, Catholic health-care provider with more than 150 hospitals in 20 states, is wide-ranging and includes developing new software that uses artificial intelligence to improve patient outcomes, Ascension said Monday in a statement. The Wall Street Journal reported the partnership earlier, and said the deal had originally been struck last year.All information-sharing complies with federal privacy laws and Ascension’s strict requirements for data handling, the health-care company said in the statement. The partnership hadn’t previously been disclosed, including to patients whose data may have been involved, the Journal reported. As part of the work, Google employees may have had access to data including hospital records and patient names, but the company declined to elaborate.Google and other big tech companies have been pushing into health care in recent years. Apple Inc. asks its Apple Watch users to opt in to studies on heart rate, while Amazon.com Inc. has bought an online pharmacy and partnered with other corporations on a health venture called Haven. Google, for its part, has built a significant health-care team and is experimenting with using artificial intelligence to improve health care.To contact the reporter on this story: Gerrit De Vynck in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The latest Tesla earnings release has driven it into one of the strongest and fastest rallies in the stock's history, and it doesn't seem to be slowing. TLSA could be well on its way to surpassing its all-time high.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- How do you take an innovative academic theory and apply it in the world of investing? That was the challenge confronting David Booth, the co-founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors. Booth was a student of University of Chicago economist and future Nobel laureate Gene Fama, whose ideas about efficient markets and factor-based investing revolutionized finance. Booth and Fama discuss their 50-year relationship in our Masters in Business conversation, streamed live from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.Fama discusses how computers eventually led to the efficient-market hypothesis, meaning market incorporate all available information in setting prices; the technology allowed researchers to evaluate how well active managers who pick individual investments were actually performing. Before that, there was no quantitative evidence or data to gauge managers' performance. The new data-crunching technology also let researchers test of Fama’s theories, and for the first time, evaluate investing results after fees. This also led to the identification of factors that drove returns, and ultimately the (various) Fama-French factor models.Booth discusses how taking his first class with Fama changed his life. He eventually started Dimensional Funds out of a spare bedroom in a Brooklyn, New York, apartment. He asked Fama to be on his board of directors, followed by Myron Scholes and Merton Miller, two other University of Chicago economics professors and future Nobel laureates.The full video of the interview is here.You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on Apple iTunes, Overcast, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.Next week, we speak with former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, author of 11 books, including most recently, "Inside the Five-Sided Box: Lessons from a Lifetime of Leadership in the Pentagon."To contact the author of this story: Barry Ritholtz at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is chairman and chief investment officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, and was previously chief market strategist at Maxim Group. He is the author of “Bailout Nation.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Investing.com – Nvidia rose slightly Monday, despite overall tech weakness, after some on Wall Street upgraded their outlook on the chipmaker ahead of its quarterly report due later this week.
Alphabet Inc’s Google is bringing to Brazil the latest version of its Google Nest Mini smart speaker, with plans to start selling it in major online and brick-and-mortar retailers in the country on Tuesday. Google priced its Nest Mini device with Google Virtual Assistant integrated at 349 reais ($85) in Brazil. Local retailers Magazine Luiza, Lojas Americanas and Via Varejo’s Casas Bahia are among the online and brick-and-mortar chains chosen to sell Google’s gadget, as well as Argentina’s MercadoLibre Inc.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The global debate on innovation and regulation is about to take a new turn with a Turkish plan for an all-encompassing digital tax. The tax, which is expected to be approved by parliament this week, will apply not only to electronic marketplaces like eBay and digital-advertising giants like Google and Facebook, but also to e-commerce platforms involved in the sale of digital goods and services, like Spotify and Netflix. This goes beyond the scope of the French digital tax which entered into force a few months ago and the abortive European Union proposal of last year. Turkey’s proposed tax has rekindled the debate on the fairness of globalization and the role of international governance. The severity of the regulatory framework being contemplated is in many ways a by-product of the failure of multilateralism and its inability to redress the grievances of nations that perceive the system as being rigged against their economic interest.National governments have long grappled with the need to tax the digital behemoths. Authorities in Europe and in the emerging world are seeking a formula that would give them tax revenues that reflect the share of business conducted by these global companies on their territory. They’ve tried direct negotiations with companies, with mixed results. In the absence of common taxation rules applicable in all relevant jurisdictions for cross-border digital transactions, there have been several non-replicable, non-transparent individual deals between governments and companies. The companies have failed to achieve their aim of policy and tax predictability, governments have struggled to get the buy-in of companies for easily transposable settlements. You’d think the disparate approach to taxing internet-enabled business models and its impact on the distributional benefits of globalisation would provide an ideal opportunity for multilateral governance to demonstrate its effectiveness. The G-20, in summit declaration at Buenos Aires, has acknowledged the importance of a global deal on digital taxation. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has advanced an agenda for a set of common rules. But multilateralism has so far failed to produce the consensus needed to address ongoing divisions—whether between companies and governments, or between nations like the U.S. and China, that have nurtured large digital companies, and the rest of the world, The failure of the multilateral track has now provided an opening for non-consensual and protectionist digital policies to emerge. What can be witnessed in this area is a race to the bottom. Following the example set by France, Turkey is seeking to tax digital companies at 7.5%, more than double the French rate. What’s more, the tax is to apply regardless of whether the companies are profitable or not. It is not clear whether the proposed measures comply with Turkey’s international obligations under the World Trade Organization, or under its bilateral tax treaties. Even if they are, there are concerns that a digital tax would serve as a disincentive for foreign investment in a booming industry where Turkey had succeeded in creating a dynamic ecosystem. Turkey is home to highly successful mobile-gaming creators, as well as Turkish-language Android and IOS apps.Even so, there’s a good chance the Turkish example will be followed by governments in other emerging nations that believe that the industrialized world—and by extension, the multilateral system—has for too long been unresponsive to their anxieties about the consequences of unfair globalisation. A fragmentation of global regulations affecting the digital economy is afoot.The multilateral institutions may have one last chance to stop the trend. The OECD is holding a stakeholders meeting this week to gather views on its proposed approach to taxing the digital economy. The plan is for a set of proposals to be formally adopted by the G-20 at its meeting in Riyadh next year. But any agreement will be conditional on the Trump administration demonstrating flexibility toward the expectations of the other OECD nations. The hope is that the U.S. will ultimately see that a set of common tax rules, even if it would impact the few American digital giants, would still be a better outcome for the global economy than a grab-bag of divergent approaches to regulating and taxing digital entrepreneurship.To contact the author of this story: Sinan Ulgen at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Bobby Ghosh at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Sinan Ulgen is the executive chairman of Istanbul-based think tank EDAM and a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Instagram is willing to pick up the tab for some celebrities’ video production costs. As long as they don’t film anything about politics or elections.Anyone who gets Instagram money to produce content for IGTV, the app’s hub for longer videos, “must not include content about social issues, elections or politics,” according to a contract distributed by the company to creators and agents. Bloomberg News obtained a copy of the document.The clause has alarmed some of the influencers and creators who have been approached about posting clips on IGTV, according to a person familiar with the situation. They asked not to be identified discussing private negotiations.That’s a stark contrast to its parent company Facebook Inc., which has vigorously defended political speech online. Facebook has been under intense criticism for letting politicians lie in advertisements on the social network. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg argued that free speech and political debate are too important to fact check political ads. Instagram’s IGTV contract conflicts with this ethos by restricting political speech along with payment.“In the last few years we’ve offset small production costs for video creators on our platforms and have put certain guidelines in place,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We believe there’s a fundamental difference between allowing political and issue-based content on our platform and funding it ourselves.”The policy is unique to Instagram. On Facebook Watch, the company has deals with content creators too, but partners include news organizations that must talk about politics.Facebook has been under fire for disseminating misinformation and struggling to combat election manipulation on its platforms ever since foreign parties used the company’s social network to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Governments around the world have pressed Facebook to better police political news and ads, while civil rights activists have said Zuckerberg should intervene to stop voter-suppression campaigns on the company’s services.Instagram has received far less scrutiny, but the company’s leadership is still concerned about how the app will be used ahead of the 2020 election. “We are just as big a target as Facebook, if not a larger target,” Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, said in October.IGTV offers a mix sports, entertainment, politics and music. Popular posts on Friday included a deleted scene from the “The Office,” anime clips and videos from the website Barstool Sports. There was also a clip from the TV show “The View” posted by an account named “trump_making_us_great” titled “Hilary is the problem why our Country is divided.” Another video was posted by Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.In these new IGTV deals, Instagram offers thousands of dollars to cover production costs for creators, in exchange for a certain number of posts. It’s made dozens of deals, and plans to make more, according to the person familiar with the situation. The biggest deals have eclipsed $250,000 for more than 20 posts. There are other restrictions, too, according to the contract language. The videos can’t be sponsored by a third party, can’t promote content on another platform like YouTube, and can’t involve a sweepstakes or product giveaway.Instagram’s incentives are small compared with programs from other video services such as Facebook Watch and YouTube. Instagram has a policy of not paying celebrities for their work beyond production costs.IGTV debuted in June 2018 as the app’s answer to YouTube, the most popular video site in the world. While the company figured it could funnel many of Instagram’s 1 billion users into this new hub, the initiative has struggled. Few users watch IGTV, and months after its debut, many of Instagram’s most popular accounts have never posted on the video service.To contact the reporters on this story: Lucas Shaw in Los Angeles at firstname.lastname@example.org;Sarah Frier in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Nick Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Alistair Barr, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc.’s Instagram plans to remove the number of “likes” visible on posts for some users in the U.S. to decrease competitive pressure among people on the photo-sharing service.Instagram has been hiding like counts in some markets since April, beginning in Canada, and later expanding to Japan and Brazil. The U.S. is one of Instagram’s largest markets with more than 106 million users, according to data analyst EMarketer.“What we’re hoping to do is depressurize Instagram a little bit, and make it a bit less of a competition,” Instagram boss Adam Mosseri told Bloomberg after announcing the new test at a conference in San Francisco sponsored by Wired magazine. “The idea is to try and reduce anxiety and social comparisons, specifically with an eye towards young people.”Users will still be able to see the likes they receive on their posts if they want, but those metrics won’t be visible to others on Instagram, the company said. Mosseri said the test will begin next week, and will impact just a portion of Instagram’s U.S. user base.Instagram’s follower counts and likes have made it one of the top places online to compare one’s popularity with others, especially among teens and young adults. The company has tried for years to combat the competitive trend by promoting good role models via posts on its @instagram account, hoping to reflect the parts of the app that are about creativity and art as opposed to self-promotion. Still, striving for the metrics was irresistible for its users, contributing to mental health issues and other ills, like users paying for fake likes and followers from bots.Even some of the app’s most prolific celebrities have said a service without likes may be healthier for its users.“It would be really beneficial,” said Kim Kardashian, speaking at the New York Times DealBook conference on Wednesday. Kardashian, who has 151 million Instagram followers and regularly receives more than 1 million likes on her posts, said the Instagram team has been discussing the changes with select users to get feedback, “and that makes me happy.”Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have been at the center of debate around issues like smartphone addiction and online health in recent years. As a result, product “health” has become a priority at the social-media companies, which are trying to balance the need to drive user growth and engagement with the outside perception that they are contributing to problems such as online bullying.Instagram, for example, has also announced a feature where users can limit the amount of time they spend on the app in a given day. Apple Inc. built a similar “time spent” feature into its iPhone software, and Google offers tools like this for Android phones. Twitter has a beta version of its main product that hides engagement metrics, including likes and retweets, from user replies and interactions.(Updates with quote from Mosseri.)\--With assistance from Sarah Frier and Candy Cheng.To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew Pollack, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.