|Day's range||193.87 - 193.87|
Latvia aims to become one of the first countries to launch a smartphone app using a new toolkit created by U.S. tech giants Apple and Alphabet's Google to help trace coronavirus infections. Early success of tracing apps in countries like Singapore and Australia has been patchy because Apple's iPhone does not support their approach to using Bluetooth short-range radio as a proxy for measuring the risk of infection. Latvia's Apturi Covid (Stop Covid) app is, by contrast, based on technology launched last week by Apple and Google, whose iOS and Android operating systems run 99% of the world's smartphones.
(Bloomberg) -- Europe’s leaders may be united on the need to throw money at economies during the coronavirus crisis, but they have yet to confront how to pay for it all.That reckoning could force governments across the region into tough choices about where to lay the burden among voters already disillusioned with political establishments -- a decade after the global financial crisis presented them with previous bills to settle.Europe’s austerity experiments since then, from Greece to the U.K., provide cautionary tales of either the economic damage or electoral fatigue that spending cuts can cause. With those bitter experiences in mind, politicians are already fielding questions about tax hikes on either wealth or income -- even if they too might threaten to hurt growth.Alternatives include tolerating higher debts such as Japan does, or perhaps trying to inflict a dose of inflation to erode them away -- itself a tax of sorts. With sovereign borrowing costs historically low, such approaches may look tempting as the bills rack up fast. Debt ratios in the euro area and U.K. may top the 100% milestone this year.“There are very few easy or politically attractive ways to deal with this,” said James Athey, a money manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “The ideal way to pay for this is to generate growth that’s higher than your cost of funding. Unfortunately, I think that’s going to be very difficult.”As European governments rapidly ramp up borrowing to aid economies, the region’s experience of austerity is framing the debate on how to tackle debt. Applying such medicine too forcefully in Greece in 2010 led the International Monetary Fund to conclude that it had caused more harm than good to public finances and growth.In the U.K., whose 2010 deficit also ballooned to a Greek-like level, austerity under former Prime Minister David Cameron coincided with years of negligible growth. Whether or not that followed from spending cuts, it did fuel discontent that contributed to his political demise when the country voted to leave the European Union.“European governments got worried about the large increase in debt and shifted to fiscal austerity, probably excessively slowing the recovery,” said former IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard.One discussion in Europe is whether taxes should rise when the recovery takes hold. Switzerland’s Social Democrats want higher income taxes, and the U.K. media is also awash with speculation about potential tax increases.A further argument is focused on wealth taxes. The minority partner in Spain’s coalition is mulling such a proposal, while in France, where the government recently reduced wealth tax, economist Thomas Piketty says history shows such measures are the best way of bringing down huge public debt.French Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin is even calling for a revival of mechanisms created by Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s to distribute more capital and profits to workers, to help them gain influence and spending power.Camille Landais, a professor of economics at the London School of Economics, even suggests a time-limited, Europe-wide wealth tax.“If there needs to be some form of mild rebalancing of public finances it must be in a way that is fair, and essentially targets individuals that are most able to weather this,” said Landais.German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already been forced to deny any plans for higher taxes for now, while French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he doesn’t want to reapply the country’s levy on wealth. Athey says such reactions are understandable.“The notion of raising taxes that don’t retard growth is very difficult,” he said.The crisis may also reignite calls to change the mindset in the euro zone at least, where German-stipulated limits on deficits and debt were cemented into its monetary union. In Japan and the U.S., higher outright debt loads are accepted for longer while governments stabilize spending and curb borrowings through economic growth, conveniently shifting some of the burden to future generations of politicians too.Helping governments to keep debt costs under control are the actions of central banks. Their hoovering up of bonds has largely removed concerns over spiralling borrowing costs which dominated the early 2010s, and provide a foundation for public finances to start fixing themselves.“The only sensible way out of over-indebtedness or high debts is more economic dynamism,” Marcel Fratzscher, President of DIW German Institute for Economic Research, said this month. “That’s the lesson after the global financial crisis.”Central banks may also face pressure from governments to keep monetary policy loose for longer, tolerating inflation that erodes the value of government debts -- a tactic that helped the U.K. to bring its borrowings under control in the era after World War II.Inflation, while long craved by monetary authorities since the financial crisis, would also hurt savings and evoke painful memories for some countries, from Germany in the 1930s to the U.K. in the 1970s. Fratzscher says that as a policy to reduce debt, it’s “damaging.”But what if debt just can’t be brought under control? William White, a senior fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto and a former chief economist at the Bank for International Settlements, says that outcome is a real possibility.“We’re on a bad path here of debt accumulation,” he said. “Thinking much more seriously about debt restructuring in an orderly way is required.”Bloomberg Economics: G-20 Debt Dashboard(Updates with French budget minister in 11th paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- ByteDance Ltd.’s millennial sensation TikTok and its Chinese twin app Douyin ranked top in the world among mobile apps for April revenue, according to Sensor Tower data that excludes games and advertising.Focusing narrowly on in-app purchases, TikTok and Douyin’s numbers for the month showed a tenfold increase to $78 million, propelling them ahead of more established names like YouTube, Tinder and Netflix, which rely more on existing subscriptions.The Chinese market, served by Douyin, contributed 86.6% of the app income, followed by the U.S. with 8.2%. In either version of the video-streaming app filled with dance videos and memes, users can purchase virtual currency to spend on supporting their favorite creators.Like many social media platforms, ByteDance is testing the waters of online commerce, even while it continues to rely on advertising as its main source of income. Emarketer expects that more than 75 million US social-network users aged 14 and older will make at least one purchase from a social channel in 2020, up 17.3% from 2019.In 2020’s first quarter, TikTok and Douyin generated 315 million downloads globally, up from 187 million a year earlier, said Sensor Tower, noting the positive influence of Covid-19 on the video-sharing apps’ popularity.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- The economy of the world’s biggest energy exporter is heading for its deepest slump in more than 10 years due to the fallout from the coronavirus. A bigger crisis may be just around the corner.Analysts at the Kremlin-funded Skolkovo Energy Center warned this month that the nation faces years of economic stagnation as demand for its carbon-heavy exports gradually drops. If Russia doesn’t adapt, budget receipts will “decline drastically” and growth may be limited to less than 0.8% a year for the next two decades, less than a third of what the Economy Ministry is targeting.President Vladimir Putin has relied on high oil prices as a backstop for economic growth -- and his own popularity ratings -- for most of his two decades at Russia’s helm. Now forecasters expect that the coronavirus recession will accelerate the decline in global fossil fuel use, with some even predicting that the peak was in 2019, about 15 years earlier than the Kremlin was expecting.“Oil and gas are becoming just commodities, without the resource rents that were the main driver for the Russian economic miracle at the beginning of this century,” Tatiana Mitrova, director of the Skolkovo Energy Center, said by phone. The coronavirus crisis has likely made the think tank’s economic forecasts even bleaker, she said.The Kremlin is showing no signs that it plans to move away from the current economic setup, under which almost half of budget revenues come from energy exports. Just this month, Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin boasted to Putin about progress made at an Arctic oil exploration project and Gazprom began design and survey work on a new pipeline to China.Crude prices have collapsed about 45% since the start of the year as coronavirus lockdowns sap demand. Although the market has rebounded in recent weeks, the price of Russia’s export blend of Urals crude is still well below the $42 a barrel needed to balance the Russian budget.“The rents that we enjoyed for the last 20 years will never come back,” Alexei Kudrin, the respected former finance minister and now a top government auditor, warned in an article in the Kommersant daily Monday. “That’s a huge challenge for all of economic policy.”The International Energy Agency forecasts a plunge in global oil demand of 8.6 million a day this year, or about 9%, while solar and wind demand increase. The European Union, Russia’s biggest export market, wants to put a Green Deal to become climate-neutral by 2050 at the heart of its plan to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.In a low-carbon development plan published in March, Russia’s Economy Ministry forecast that coal demand will peak before 2035, and oil demand before 2045. The ministry said Thursday it expects gross domestic product to grow 2.8% next year and 3% in 2022.The plan envisages cutting the carbon-intensity of the Russian economy by 9% in the next decade. But greenhouse gas emissions -- the fifth highest in the world -- would still increase on current levels by the middle of the century.“All of the countries that are highly dependent on fossil fuels have said ‘we must change’ for many years, but they haven’t done it because it’s hard,” said Kingsmill Bond, a strategist at London-based think tank Carbon Tracker. “It’s no longer a question of hope, it’s a question of necessity because people just won’t want these highly-priced fossil fuels any more.”Security ThreatKirill Tremasov, the head of research at Loko-Invest in Moscow who is about to take up a new role as the head of the central bank’s monetary policy department, warned in a Youtube post Friday that an acceleration in global decarbonization poses a major risk to growth. Just over a week earlier, Anatoly Chubais, the architect of Russia’s privatizations in the 1990s, said the drop in oil demand is a threat to the country’s national security.Russia ranks 109th in the world for renewable energy capacity, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The Energy Ministry aims to increase the share of renewable energy in power generation from under 1% currently to 2.5% by 2024, a fraction of what other countries are planning.“Nobody raises these questions with Putin, nobody can,” said Georgy Safonov, head of the Center for Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. “Russia is like a huge ship that is moving in the wrong direction. If someone wants to improve part of it, it poses a risk to the whole ship.”(Updates with comment from former finance minister in seventh paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Five years ago, Baidu Inc. founder and Chairman Robin Li sat down with Bloomberg News to explain how foreign investors were getting it wrong.Listed on the Nasdaq a decade earlier, shares of the Chinese search-engine provider had taken a beating over the prior year, and Li’s chief complaint was that Americans just didn’t appreciate the coming changes in its business. The trend in China was toward services like delivery and ride-hailing, as well as bookings for restaurants, beauty salons and doctors. This online-to-offline economy would eclipse search revenue, he predicted.Now, it seems that Li has lost patience. Baidu is looking into the possibility of delisting its shares from the Nasdaq and moving to an exchange closer to home, Reuters reported Friday, citing three people familiar with the matter. Baidu thinks it’s undervalued, according to the report.The backdrop to these discussions is rising hostility to U.S. investments in Chinese assets amid worsening relations between the two countries. The U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that would force companies to delist unless they can prove they’re not under the control of a foreign government.That sounds like a good excuse for Baidu to look for the exit. The reality is that investors lost patience with its management years ago. It was inevitable that the company would seek one day to list elsewhere, as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has already done. Baidu’s U.S.-traded stock fell 15% between that September 2015 interview and the end of last year, before the pandemic hit. Over the same period, Alibaba climbed 248%.Li’s problem is that his company failed to grasp the transformation he was talking up half a decade ago. While Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Ltd. have successfully moved into new areas like payments and physical retail, and upstarts like Meituan Dianping and Pinduoduo Inc. now dominate delivery and social-commerce, Baidu has barely changed.Its core business still centers on advertising and accounts for 73% of revenue, which climbed just 2% last year. Investments into new realms like artificial intelligence and autonomous driving have yet to bear fruit. Its other major sales contributor, iQiyi Inc., a video-streaming platform that listed separately on Nasdaq in March 2018, continues to lose money.Around the time that Li complained foreign investors weren’t getting it, some of his contemporaries decided to move home where they felt Chinese investors had a better understanding and would reward them with higher valuations. Internet security company Qihoo 360 Technology Co. was taken private by a consortium that included Citic Group for $9.3 billion in December 2015. It relisted in Shanghai in 2018 via the purchase of elevator maker SJEC Corp., and now trades under the name 360 Security Technology Inc. Chinese investors have soured on 360 Security, pushing the company’s market value down by more than a third since February. There’s a warning for Li. Investors in China won’t assign a higher valuation to a returning company unless it has a convincing growth story to tell. Baidu was a pioneer when it listed on Nasdaq in 2005, paving the way for dozens of Chinese internet stocks to follow. Touted as the Google of China, it symbolized the potential of the sector for American investors. Those days are long gone: Baidu has been eclipsed as China’s technology darling by fasting-growing companies such as Alibaba and Tencent.The problem for Li isn’t that investors don’t understand his business. It may be that they understand it too well. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.Nisha Gopalan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals and banking. She previously worked for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones as an editor and a reporter.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp are in the firing line as Europe’s leading privacy watchdog for U.S. tech giants edges closer to delivering its first major sanctions under the region’s tough data-protection rules.The Irish Data Protection Commission said on May 22 that it finalized a draft decision linked to a data breach at Twitter and has asked its peers across the European Union for their sign-off.The regulator said it’s also completed a draft decision in a probe of WhatsApp’s transparency around data sharing. The Facebook service will be asked to give its comments on any proposed sanctions before EU counterparts can weigh in.The Irish authority’s probes have been piling up since the bloc’s tough General Data Protection Regulation took effect in May 2018 -- but with no final decisions to date. The regulator is the lead data protection authority for some of the biggest U.S. tech companies, including Twitter, Facebook, Google and Apple Inc.GDPR empowered regulators to levy penalties of as much as 4% of a company’s annual revenue for the most serious violations. The biggest fine to date was a 50 million-euro ($54.5 million) penalty for Google by France’s watchdog CNIL.The Irish regulator said it has also made progress in a number of its other pending cases, including an investigation into obligations of Facebook’s local unit “to establish a lawful basis for personal data processing,” adding that this “inquiry is now in the decision-making phase.”Twitter and WhatsApp representatives declined to comment on the Irish probes.While sanctions in the two cases wouldn’t be the first under the new GDPR rules, they will be the first to test the cooperation between all 27 EU data authorities. Due to the EU-wide effects of the alleged violations in the two cases, the Irish regulator has to share its draft decisions with other regulators, allowing them to weigh in and either approve or object to its findings.(Updates with company response in seventh paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Today we'll look at Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG.L) and reflect on its potential as an investment. To be precise, we'll...
Amazon has a big-budget game, another in the works, and a secretive cloud gaming service in the making. All of that could prove to be a problem for the industry's old guard.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Almost three weeks ago, the American retailer J. Crew Group Inc. filed for bankruptcy after it fell out of fashion. But there’s one item from the once-feted store that shoppers just can’t get enough of: masks. The most recent batch of nonmedical face coverings in its signature fabrics — plain blue shirting and blue-and-white stripes — has sold out on its British website.Upmarket, stylish face coverings could provide a bit of a boost in a coronavirus-strewn landscape, where luxury goods sales are expected to drop as much as 35% this year, according to Bain & Co. estimates. To give some idea of the pent-up demand, fashion search platform Lyst said searches for masks are up 1,600% over the past month, compared with a year earlier. That’s sparked a huge debate in the luxury industry as to whether to cash in. After all, if we’re going to have to wear masks anyway, why not make them chic?It may be tempting. At the height of the crisis, many fashion houses — including LVMH’s Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior; Kering SA’s Gucci; Prada SpA; Burberry Group Plc; and Ralph Lauren Inc. — repurposed some production facilities to make personal protective equipment for donation to medical workers on the front lines. Burberry is poised to take delivery of a special mask-making machine at its mill in Keighley, Yorkshire. But the items will be for donation, not for sale in its shops. And they certainly won’t be made out of its iconic red, white, black and tan check.While the brands have gained the requisite skills, there are considerable risks associated with turning masks into fashion statements. So far, the bling behemoths are wisely keeping a respectable social distance.If luxury goods companies were to make masks for profit, not only would they need to look stylish, but they would probably have to boast some health effectiveness, too. And they’d have to be expensive to fit with any luxury brand’s high-end prices. For example, a Louis Vuitton monogrammed mink-fur sleep mask — perfect for catching some shuteye on that first-class flight — costs 700 pounds ($859).The danger is that luxury groups would be seen as profiteering from a health-care emergency. What’s more, according to consultants at McKinsey & Co., consumers shift to more subtle “silent luxury,” rather than in-your-face bling, after a large-scale crisis with a heavy emotional toll. What is perceived as unethical behavior — or simply ugly consumerism — could turn off customers, especially younger shoppers who are particularly conscious of brands’ social values.One way to get around this would be to give a percentage of the profits to good causes, or to donate one mask for every one sold. J. Crew has donated 75,000 single-use masks to Montefiore Health System hospitals in New York.Even if the pitfalls around profiteering are surmounted, there are other perils. Luxury is about feeling good. Brands must weigh whether they want to be associated with a pandemic and its huge human and economic toll. And although masks can have replaceable filters that extend their use, it’s unlikely people will hold onto them for long. Being disposable is anathema to luxury goods, from Hermes handbags to Cartier watches, for which heritage is crucial.That doesn’t mean face coverings won’t work for some brands. For example, Off-White, the streetwear label from DJ and designer Virgil Abloh, who is also the artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear, has been producing masks for some time. Off-White’s $95 arrow-logo face mask was the most in-demand men’s fashion item in the first quarter, according to the Lyst index, which measures clothing and accessories searches on its own site, Google and other social media.Streetwear masks, along with heavy boots and multi-pocket coats, are part of an apocalyptic look that began to emerge before Covid-19. Serving to partly conceal one’s identity and repel other urban hazards like pollution, masks are a good fit with younger, edgier brands, such as the aptly named Anti Social Social Club. That’s not the case for traditional luxury.Consequently, the big fashion houses would be better off focusing their attention on items that can be accessorized with masks, or adapting products to changing needs. Luxury resale site Vestiaire Collective saw a 45% increase in orders for scarves, including Hermes’s classic silks, in the last week of March, compared with the previous seven days, and demand has remained elevated. Brands could experiment with supersized sun visors to ensure social distancing or extended collars that could double as face coverings.As the world emerges from the pandemic, and things become less emotionally charged, consumers may give luxury brands more permission to sell them protective clothing. For now, any move to do so will likely be a one-off to grab attention on the catwalk or Instagram. The pop star Billie Eilish, for one, donned a Gucci custom double-G-emblazoned mask for the Grammy Awards in January. While Gucci’s decision not to commercialize the product means passing up millions of euros of sales, it’s the right call. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andrea Felsted is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering the consumer and retail industries. She previously worked at the Financial Times.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
This is an early test of a very ambitious project that aims to build entirely new games and real-world simulation engines in the long run.
Canada will ramp up COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as it gradually lifts restrictions and is working closely with Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google on a mobile phone app to help, the prime minister said on Friday. In his daily news conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government was already helping Ontario, the most populous province, with contact tracing and was open to do the same for the other 12 provinces and territories. Businesses and citizens "need to know that we have a coordinated approach to gradually reopen that is rooted in science, evidence and the ability to rapidly detect and control any future outbreaks," Trudeau said.
There have been whispers — mostly uninformed — that because private equity firm Silver Lake recently invested $1.2 billion in Expedia Group and $1 billion in Airbnb that the two rivals might have a merger in their future plans. Newly appointed Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern, who has private equity experience of his own as […]
One such tech solution launching today comes from Brian McClendon, co-founder of Keyhole, the company that Google purchased in 2004 that would form the basis of Google Earth and Google Maps. McClendon's new CVKey Project is a registered nonprofit that is launching with an app for symptom self-assessment that generates a temporary QR code, which will work with participating community facilities as a kind of health "pass" on an opt-in basis. Ultimately, CVKey Project hopes to launch an entire suite of apps dedicated to making it easier to reopen public spaces safely.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- There are two important lessons in this week’s announcement that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has finally succeeded in cracking two mobile phones belonging to Mohammed Alshamrani, the aviation student who killed three people last December at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida.The first lesson is that cracking an encrypted device takes time and effort even when the federal government brings all its resources to bear. The second is that Apple still refuses to build tools to make hacking its mobile devices easier.Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’m happy about both.The story is a familiar one. After the Pensacola attack, the FBI found a pair of iPhones belonging to the shooter. The Justice Department promptly obtained a warrant for their contents, and, lacking Alshamrani’s password, went to Apple to ask for help breaking the encryption that protects the contents from snoopers. Although the company did provide certain assistance, it refused to develop software tools to crack its own devices. This has been Apple’s position for years, and it’s one I’ve defended in this space.So what happened? As in the past, after fulminating for a bit, the FBI got down to work and managed, through means not disclosed, to get into Alshamrani’s phones, obtaining valuable intelligence in the process. It just took longer than the government had hoped.That the FBI found a way past the phones’ defenses is no surprise. The tech community was skeptical from the start of the government’s claim to be unable to crack the devices. Security consultants have long warned that end-to-end encryption is never fully secure. This is particularly true “when the data is at rest rather than in transit.” So even if a hacker (governmental or not) cannot monitor a communication while it’s being sent, as long as the message remains resident on either the sending or the receiving device, there’s a target for technological attack.In other words, the feds don’t really need Apple to get into an iOS device. Just this past January, the Justice Department admitted that the FBI had been able to break into an iPhone owned by Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani who faces criminal indictment. The government complained that because Parnas wouldn’t provide his password, the FBI needed “nearly two months” to unlock the phone. The implication is that cracking encryption should be easier. But it shouldn’t. That breaking into a locked mobile device takes time and effort is one of the few guarantees we have that the government will only rarely invest the resources needed to do it.Encryption is getting better. As innovations in the field begin to scale, it may soon be a whole lot better. That’s why under both the current administration and its predecessor, national security officials have called upon tech companies to include in their devices special keys that will allow access in an emergency.(1) The tech industry has resisted these demands, but few went as far as Apple — until recently. Just over a year ago, Google added protections that make hacking Android phones harder, even when the hacker is law enforcement. Some experts believe that Android phones are now harder than iPhones to crack.I'm told that behind closed doors, much of Silicon Valley thinks Apple is wrong to be so intransigent. Cooperation with law enforcement is routine among U.S. businesses; some techies see no reason for Apple to get a pass. Although I see the point, I continue to find the company’s position attractive. I’m left uneasy by the notion that privacy should be restricted because bad people might misuse it.Still, the pressure has had its effect. Although Apple steadfastly refuses to build a back door into its mobile devices, earlier this year, the company abandoned plans to allow iOS users fully encrypt their iCloud data. Given that iCloud has an estimated 850 million users — and that the service is the only practical way to back up an iPhone — this is no small concession.What this means in practice is that when law enforcement comes to Apple with a warrant for the contents of your phone, the company will turn over whatever you’ve uploaded. In the case of the Pensacola shooter, Apple has proudly touted that it did exactly that. The caveat is important. Even if what attracts you to Apple is the end-to-end encryption of messaging and the difficulty of breaking into your phone, whatever you upload to the cloud is available.Maybe this is an attractive compromise: Keep your data resident only on your phone and the government will need months to break in. Upload your data to the cloud, and a warrant will gain rapid access to all.But I worry. My rather old-fashioned view is that privacy is less a “right” than a check on the power of the state. Government can’t regulate what it’s unaware of. That’s why I’m glad that even for the FBI, cracking a phone takes time and effort. The cost in resources forces officials to be picky about when to try.You might object that the next case might present a true need to hurry. You’d be right. There’s always a hard hypothetical: a child at risk, a hidden bomb ticking away. But even if we can imagine a moment when we’d all agree that the maker ought to find a way to open the phone, we do better to pretend that we can’t. Nearly six decades ago, the great constitutional scholar Charles Lund Black pointed out that absolutist rules have the virtue of being rarely breached. As rules grow more flexible, we become more creative at coming up with exceptions.That’s why if our goal is to ensure that manufacturers will help government break into our phones only in the most urgent circumstances, the best approach is to cheer them when they say “Never.”(1) As the National Research Council predicted a quarter century ago.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Stephen L. Carter is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of law at Yale University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. His novels include “The Emperor of Ocean Park,” and his latest nonfiction book is “Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster.” For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Alphabet Inc.’s executive pay packages have come under fire from a second influential shareholder advisory firm ahead of the Google owner’s annual meeting.Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai’s pay packet of about $250 million is “excessive” and not aligned closely enough to the company’s performance, according to a report from Glass Lewis & Co. seen by Bloomberg. The firm recommended investors reject the company’s proposal for executive compensation at its June 3 annual meeting.“Shareholders should note the lack of outperformance” in returns relative to the level of pay to be awarded, the report said. “In light of the disconnect of pay to performance and our concerns with the quantum of Mr. Pichai’s pay, we do not believe shareholders should support this proposal.”The report echoes an assessment by Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. sent to that firm’s clients Thursday, which also recommended shareholders reject the pay plan at the vote, which is advisory and not binding.The ISS report gave the Mountain View, California-based tech giant the worst possible risk rating for compensation and shareholder rights and also advised investors abstain or oppose the board on 13 of the 24 items on the meeting’s agenda.Representatives for Alphabet did not immediately respond to requests for comment.ISS said Alphabet investors should withhold votes for four directors, pointing to “poor stewardship of the company’s pay programs” for three -- John Doerr, Kavitark Ram Shriram, and Robin Washington -- and absenteeism for the other, Alan Mulally. Glass Lewis recommended withholding a vote for Doerr on concerns around his independence given that his firm, Kleiner Perkins, and Alphabet have invested in some of the same projects. It also recommended rejecting Mulally due to poor attendance.Both Glass Lewis and ISS supported a shareholder-submitted motion to limit voting rights to one per share, which would end the super-voting Class B shares currently giving founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin effective control despite owning less than 13% of the company.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) recently partnered with several of the world's top telecom companies to build a subsea internet cable to improve internet access across Africa. The cable, called 2Africa, will be 37,000 kilometers (23,000 miles) long and link 16 African countries to Europe and the Middle East. The project will reportedly cost nearly $1 billion, according to Bloomberg, and the costs will be shared with two of Africa's biggest wireless carriers, MTN Group and Telecom Egypt, as well as European telcos Vodafone and Orange, China's top telco China Mobile, and Nokia's Alcatel Submarine Networks.
(Bloomberg) -- Britain’s mobile phone app for tracking coronavirus infections has been delayed by bureaucracy and the addition of more symptoms to monitor, according to a person familiar with the matter -- who said they expected the government to abandon it in favor of the model backed by Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged Wednesday that the U.K. would have a tracking-and-tracing system -- essential to lifting the current lockdown -- in place by June 1. But he emphasized recruiting 25,000 workers to trace potential cases, rather than using the app that was due in the middle of May.The app is being developed by VMware Inc. and Zuhlke Engineering Ltd at a cost of 4.7 million pounds ($5.8 million). There has been controversy about the U.K.’s decision to reject the structure backed by Apple and Google, a move that has been criticized by privacy campaigners.The U.K. has opted for a “centralized” model, where people who test positive for coronavirus upload all their recent contacts to a database, and those people are then contacted and warned.Apple Inc. and Google released their Covid-19 exposure-notification tools on Wednesday. Some governments have criticized the “decentralized” system because it doesn’t let authorities store data on who has the virus and track where it is spreading. Instead, it just notifies individuals if they have been exposed.But one person involved in the U.K. app’s development suggested that after initially using its own model, the U.K. would end up using Apple and Google’s software tool because it would be more battery-efficient and better at alerting users to nearby positive cases.Development of the app began in March, commissioned by Matthew Gould, head of NHSX, the digital arm of the sprawling state-run health service. Since then, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and his officials, digital oversight officials at the Cabinet Office and security specialists at the National Cyber Security Centre have all had a say in its development. The growing number of stakeholders led to difficulties over deciding how to tackle various problems, two people said, who asked not to be named discussing confidential matters.After an initial trial on the Isle of Wight, a small island off the south coast of England, the app’s national launch should have gone ahead by now, but Justice Secretary Robert Buckland told Sky News on Wednesday that June was a more likely date. The new timetable came as the nation’s cybersecurity center said Tuesday the app contains flaws that could leave it vulnerable to attack, including a lack of encryption in the test app.The app will flag to users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive to Covid-19. Users can also opt to record their symptoms. However, the U.K. has been increasing the number of symptoms that should lead to a positive test. On Monday the loss of taste and smell was added as an official symptom.Because the app is health-related, changes to it require an extensive authentication process before it is approved for Apple and Google’s app stores, leading to further delays, one person said.On Tuesday John Edmunds, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, told Sky News a “well-functioning track and trace” system needed to be “embedded and working well” before schools could re-open. Johnson’s spokesman James Slack said volunteers may be able to start work before June 1, although that is unlikely to allay union fears.Teachers’ unions are in a battle with government over what safety conditions should be met before they return to work. While ministers had urged primary schools to return by June 1, they appeared to water down the instructions on Wednesday, with Buckland telling BBC radio the date is conditional on tests being met. The large numbers of children unable to go to school means the restarting of the economy is being held back. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak warned Tuesday of a “severe recession the likes of which we haven’t seen.”The Department for Health and Social Care said in a statement the app would be available “soon,” adding, “we are working at pace to develop our test and trace service, which will significantly improve our ability to track the virus and stop the spread,” a spokesperson said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
A Philippine lawmaker has introduced a bill in parliament aimed at taxing big tech firms such as Facebook , Alphabet's Google and Youtube, Netflix and Spotify , to raise funds to battle the coronavirus. The bill looks to raise 29 billion pesos ($571 million) by imposing a value added tax on digital services provided in the Philippines, a key growth area for e-commerce transactions as its people are among the world's heaviest users of social media. "We spent to fight COVID-19 and we need more to continue fighting it and recover," Congressman Joey Salceda, the bill's principal author, told Reuters.
Facebook is going after the enterprise market with new video tools as the world shifts to remote workforces amid the pandemic.
Alphabet Inc’s Waymo self-driving unit said on Thursday that its chief safety officer, Debbie Hersman, was stepping down but would remain as a consultant to the company. Hersman, the former chair of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), joined the company in 2019 to oversee its product safety program. "We can confirm that Debbie has decided to return to her family home on the east coast and will continue on as a consultant to Waymo," the company said in a statement.