|Day's range||87.90 - 89.08|
The top-performing sectors in the S&P 500 so far this year are an unlikely pair.
(Bloomberg) -- In the immediate run up to the U.S. presidential election and on Election Day, the homepage of YouTube is set to advertise just one candidate: Donald Trump.The president’s re-election campaign purchased the coveted advertising space atop the country’s most-visited video website for early November, said two people with knowledge of the transaction. The deal ensures Trump will be featured prominently in the key days when voters across the country prepare to head to the polls Nov. 3.While the bulk of digital ad spending typically focuses on targeting specific messages to certain audiences, the top spot on YouTube is more akin to a Super Bowl TV ad. About three-quarters of U.S. adults say they use YouTube, exceeding the reach of even Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center.Ads on the YouTube masthead—as the video on the top of the homepage is known—generally run for an entire day. The exact duration of Trump’s ad buy and financial details were unclear, but estimates for the space range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $1 million a day.YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, lets advertisers target users based on a variety of factors, though it recently limited those options for political content. The Trump campaign bought the digital real estate nationwide, one of the people familiar with the deal said, both of whom asked not to be identified because they weren’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.YouTube declined to comment on the deal but said it’s common for political advertisers to purchase masthead ads. After buying an ad, candidates can choose to surrender the space or restrict it to certain regions, a spokeswoman for the company said. “In the past, campaigns, PACs, and other political groups have run various types of ads leading up to Election Day,” she wrote in an email. “All advertisers follow the same process and are welcome to purchase the masthead space as long as their ads comply with our policies.” A spokesman for the Trump campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.The move is likely to reinforce a feeling among many political analysts that Trump’s embrace of digital advertising gives him a distinct advantage over his Democratic rivals. The Trump campaign could spend as much as $500 million on digital ads and strategies, Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager, has said.In 2012, President Barack Obama’s campaign bought the YouTube masthead for Election Day before Mitt Romney had even secured the Republican nomination, according to Teddy Goff, Obama’s former digital director. “This gets to a structural problem inherent in having a contested primary against an incumbent,” said Goff, now co-founder of Precision Strategies, a consulting and marketing firm. Trump and Hillary Clinton each ran masthead ads at various times in 2016. Trump spent more money online that year than Clinton and continues to outspend most Democratic rivals now. A major exception is Michael Bloomberg, whose campaign has spent $36.9 million on Google ads, according to statistics released by Google. That’s double what Trump has spent with the company. Both Trump and Bloomberg ran YouTube masthead ads last year. (Bloomberg is the founder and owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.)To advertise on the masthead this far in advance, advertisers work directly with Google sales representatives, rather than the automated systems through which many digital ads are bought and sold.Online political advertising in the current election cycle will total $1.34 billion, more than double the levels of the last presidential election, according to EMarketer. The research firm estimates that digital spending will account for 19% of all political advertising. Facebook Inc. is the favorite platform of political campaigns, and its lenient policies have been a subject of controversy. The social network allows politicians to make false claims in their ads, whereas Google does not. Facebook offers far more granularity for campaigns to target people who fit a specific profile.After Google limited campaigns’ abilities to use demographic targeting last November, some at the company have debated going further. Google has bristled at repeated accusations of political bias, particularly from Trump and other Republicans. One potential policy discussed inside Google was to disallow masthead ads on Election Day in favor of a nonpartisan banner reminding Americans to vote, said a person with knowledge of the deliberations. Ultimately, Google decided to keep its standard practice in place.To contact the authors of this story: Mark Bergen in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgJoshua Brustein in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Milian at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew PollackFor 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) -- While a wave of employee activism marked by walk-outs and protests has rippled through Silicon Valley the past few years, Oracle Corp. glided along unscathed.Now, a symbol of tech’s old guard is facing the stirrings of a worker uprising as well. People left their desks Thursday at Oracle offices around the world to protest Chairman Larry Ellison’s fundraiser a day earlier for President Donald Trump, according to people familiar with the matter. The protest, called No Ethics/No Work, involved about 300 employees walking out of their offices or stopping work at remote locations at noon local time and devoting the rest of the day to volunteering or civic engagement, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution.Ellison drew employee ire that most didn’t know existed at Oracle. News of the fundraiser for Trump’s re-election campaign at Ellison’s home in Rancho Mirage, California, spurred a petition at Change.org from some of the company’s 136,000 employees. The workers argued the chairman’s public support for Trump violated Oracle’s diversity, inclusion and ethics policies, and harmed the image of the world’s second-largest software maker.The petition had more than 8,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon, though it was open to the public and anyone could sign it. Organizers demanded that Oracle and Ellison give money to support a humanitarian cause such as climate change, denounce the Trump administration and commit to diversifying the company’s board.Employees at Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Salesforce.com Inc. started mobilizing more than two years ago over a variety of issues, including law enforcement and military contracts, the gender pay gap and the treatment of contract workers.Thursday’s activism at Oracle, a database stalwart founded in 1977, showed cultural differences from the younger companies like Google. Some Oracle workers who participated in the “log off” used vacation time for the protest, the people said. Many had asked the company’s human resources officials whether they would be targeted for participating and didn’t receive a response before the protest, so they took the precaution of participating on their own time, the people said.Others who supported the action, but were leery about the company’s potential response, chose to donate money to charitable groups that oppose Trump administration policies rather than leave work, the people said.Some employees received a warning Thursday when trying to access the protest organizers’ website from a work computer: “Access to this site may not be permitted by the Oracle Acceptable Use Policy. However, if user is authorized and has legitimate business reason to access the requested site, then click below to access. Your access will be logged.”Oracle, however, said the message was an error that was corrected.“The site was not intentionally blocked by Oracle,” said spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger. “It was temporarily blocked by a ‘false positive’ from our McAfee network security and anti-virus software. Once we were notified by employees of this issue, our security team conducted a review, determined that there was no actual security threat, and then whitelisted the site.”Organizers said the protest participation at Oracle’s headquarters in Redwood City, California, seemed more muted than in other locations, such as New York City and Austin, Texas, which have more young workers.The organizers hope Thursday’s action is the first effort to voice concerns about the company’s policies, and employees will continue to feel motivated to speak out, one of the people said.To contact the reporter on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew Pollack, Mark MilianFor 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.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas on Thursday sued Alphabet Inc's Google search engine, alleging that its educational software collects young students' personal information without the required parental consent. Google called the allegations "factually wrong" and did not respond to a request to elaborate. The company sells its Chromebook laptops to schools around the world alongside its free or low-cost G Suite for Education software package, which includes email and writing tools.
Alphabet Inc-owned Google's $2.1 billion bid for fitness trackers company Fitbit could pose privacy risks, the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) warned on Thursday, adding its voice to other critics of the deal. Google announced the deal in November last year, as it seeks to compete with Apple and Samsung in the crowded market for fitness trackers and smart watches. Fitbit, whose fitness trackers and other devices monitor users' daily steps, calories burned and distance travelled, would give the U.S. tech giant access to a trove of health data gathered from Fitbit devices.
(Bloomberg) -- Google should move to limit any privacy and data protection risks before it seeks European Union approval to take over health tracker Fitbit Inc., European privacy authorities warned Thursday.“The possible further combination and accumulation of sensitive personal data regarding people in Europe by a major tech company could entail a high level of risk to privacy and data protection,” the regulators, known as the European Data Protection Board, said in an emailed statement. The companies should “mitigate possible risks to the rights to privacy and data protection before notifying the merger to the European Commission.”Data regulators are “ready to contribute” advice to the EU’s merger authority, according to the statement. National data agencies can fine companies for breaches and privacy violations but don’t have a role in approving deals. The European Commission, which will look at the transaction, usually focuses on the economic effect of combining firms and has never probed how a company’s acquisition of more data might affect privacy rights.Google said it plans “to work constructively with regulators to answer their questions” about the deal and won’t sell personal information to anyone.“Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads. And we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data,” the company said in an emailed statement.There’s heightened concern in Europe over big tech takeovers that allow already powerful firms move into new areas. Google’s $2.1 billion acquisition of the maker of smartwatches and fitness trackers, announced in November, would add wearable devices to the internet giant’s hardware business. It also advances the ambitions of Google parent Alphabet Inc. to expand in the health-care sector by adding data from Fitbit’s more than 28 million users.Regulators have been criticized for being too permissive in allowing tech deals such as Facebook Inc.’s $19 billion takeover of messaging service WhatsApp in 2014 and its $1 billion purchase of photo-sharing service Instagram in 2012.To contact the reporter on this story: Aoife White in Brussels at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at firstname.lastname@example.org, Christopher Elser, Jonathan BrowningFor 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 discovery of an alleged international ring of fraudsters started with a one-line email. In April 2019, a company accountant received an email that appeared to be from the chief executive officer.“Joanna, Can you mail out a check to to a Vendor today? Barbara,” the email said.The email had some hallmarks of a scam that is becoming increasingly common. But it also had a few unique attributes that intrigued cybersecurity experts at the company’s email security provider, Agari Data Inc. Using a fake email account posing as the company accountant, Agari sent back a reply.“Hi Barbara, Yes, of course. Please send me the details for the payment and I will take care of it ASAP. Joanna,” the reply said.Over the next several months, Agari said it was able to unravel what’s known as a business email compromise operation. Agari dubbed the group sending the emails Exaggerated Lion, and said its members were based in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. Between April and August 2019, Exaggerated Lion targeted more than 3,000 people at nearly 2,100 companies, all of them in the U.S., according to an Agari report published Thursday.Similar email attacks are growing problem in the U.S., according to the latest Federal Bureau of Investigation report, but one that doesn’t get the headlines of state-sponsored hacks or ransomware attacks. Global losses from business email compromises increased 100% from May 2018 to July 2019, according to the FBI, which recorded 166,349 incidents from June 2016 to July 2019 and $26.2 billion in losses during that period.In one of its simplest forms, a business email compromise operator will send an email posing as the chief executive officer to an accounts payable department with an urgent request to transfer funds or fulfill a fake invoice. In another example, payroll representatives will receive an email appearing to be from an employee requesting to update their direct deposit information -- often to a prepaid card account. Companies often realize something is amiss only when it’s too late to recover the transferred funds.“We think of business email compromise as any attack which claims to be someone you know and trust and is attempting some kind of theft,” said Patrick Peterson, Agari’s founder and chief executive officer, in an online video. “This has been far too successful.”Leveraging its position as an email security provider, Agari can sometimes see email scams that target its customers as they happen. In some cases, the company intervenes to communicate with the fraudster, posing as a clueless employee in order to draw out more details. That’s what happened with Exaggerated Lion, when the operation sent the email to the company, which Agari declined to name, last April.In the months that followed, Agari said it engaged with Exaggerated Lion more than 200 times, and discovered the identity of 28 “mules” used to ferry payments between victims and the group itself. Mules are primarily recruited by Exaggerated Lion under the pretense of romance and likely unaware they are participating in a criminal enterprise, the company said. “These romance-victims-turned-money-mules are told they are helping their romantic partner recover a large inheritance that is tied up with lawyers and is being distributed slowly over time,” according to Agari.In one exchange with a mule included in Agari’s report, a member of Exaggerated Lion wrote, “Okay honey please put the cash in big envelope and seal it before taking to FedEx.”The unnamed mule responded, “Honey, that’s a lot of money to send cash that’s a heck of a liability it could be lost anywhere.”Exaggerated Lion’s representative then wrote, “It can’t honey. As long as you insure it. And I’ve received more than that through cash mailing when my dad was still alive.”Agari declined to say how it obtained the digital conversations.As the fake relationship progresses, mules are asked to launder increasingly larger sums of money, according to Agari. Once an unsuspecting business parts with its cash, through a paper check or wire transfer, Exaggerated Lion’s mules have a variety of ways to get the money back to them. Once a physical check is cashed, the money can be delivered to Exaggerated Lion via traditional money transfer, Bitcoin, or gift cards, according to Agari.Agari said it turned its information on the mules over to financial partners and law enforcement.Exaggerated Lion began operating in 2014 by running check scams on Craigslist and has since become more sophisticated, according to the report. One scam the group allegedly operated for years involved recruiting people to wrap their car with marketing decals for a beverage company in exchange for a fixed amount of money every week.Participants, who responded to an online ad or email, would be sent a fake check, which included the first month’s pay and money for a specialist to place advertisements on the car. Respondents were then instructed to keep the first month’s pay and wire the money to the “specialist,” who was really a money mule or a member of Exaggerated Lion, according to Agari.What makes Exaggerated Lion unique in the world of business email compromise is its preference for physical checks, a payment method the group had “experience and comfort with,” according to Agari. Paper checks may be helpful in evading systems designed to detect fraudulent wire transfers. Exaggerated Lion requests these checks to be sent as fast as possible, through an overnight mail service, according to exchanges contained in the Agari report. But when a victim is hesitant about sending a check, Exaggerated Lion is quick to suggest a bank account to wire money to, according to the report.Exaggerated Lion also used fake invoices, created using a free invoice generator, and W-9s, publicly available on the Internal Revenue Service website, “to inject a sense of authenticity in their attacks,” according to Agari. The group also used Google’s enterprise email service to send more emails, the security company said. “Google doesn’t start charging for G Suite until after the first month,” Agari said in its report. “This means Exaggerated Lion can create a new G Suite account, add compromised credit card information as a payment method, and effectively have at least a 30-day free trial on each domain they set up.”If the credit card doesn’t work, the group “can simply move on to another account,” Agari wrote. With a Google Enterprise account, Exaggerated Lion can send 2,000 emails a day, four times more than a regular gmail account. Google declined to comment.Among the mules identified by Agari was 63-year-old Reuben Alvarez Sr., of Beaumont, Texas, who was arrested in October 2019 and accused of laundering more than $100,000, nearly $70,000 of which came from the United Methodist Church, according to a probable cause affidavit from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. The rest came from small-to-medium-sized businesses, such as an insurance company in Ohio and golf courses in Alabama, who were all victims of a business email compromise scam, according to the affidavit. Agari said its researchers discovered 14 messages where Exaggerated Lion directed its targets to send money to Alvarez’s bank accounts.Alvarez’s case is pending and he hasn’t yet entered a plea, according to the district attorney’s office. Neither Alvarez nor his attorney could be located for comment.In an interview with a detective, Alvarez said the money he received came from a woman he believed to be named “Peggy Smith,” who lived in Washington State. Alvarez said he knew Smith from chatting online for three or four years but had never met her in person. Alvarez told the detective that he assumed the money came as part of Smith’s inheritance payments after her parents died. But Alvarez said he knew his activities constituted a crime, according to the affidavit. When the detective drove Alvarez home, he handed over a package he had received the day before: it contained a $25,647 check from a Tennessee health care company.To contact the reporter on this story: William Turton in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Martin at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor 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) -- Apple Inc. is considering giving rival apps more prominence on iPhones and iPads and opening its HomePod speaker to third-party music services after criticism the company provides an unfair advantage to its in-house products.The technology giant is discussing whether to let users choose third-party web browser and mail applications as their default options on Apple’s mobile devices, replacing the company’s Safari browser and Mail app, according to people familiar with the matter. Since launching the App Store in 2008, Apple hasn’t allowed users to replace pre-installed apps such as these with third-party services. That has made it difficult for some developers to compete, and has raised concerns from lawmakers probing potential antitrust violations in the technology industry.The web browser and mail are two of the most-used apps on the iPhone and iPad. To date, rival browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox and mail apps like Gmail and Microsoft Outlook have lacked the status of Apple’s products. For instance, if a user clicks a web link sent to them on an iPhone, it will automatically open in Safari. Similarly, if a user taps an email address -- say, from a text message or a website -- they’ll be sent to the Apple Mail app with no option to switch to another email program.The Cupertino, California-based company also is considering loosening restrictions on third-party music apps, including its top streaming rival Spotify Technology SA, on HomePods, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing internal company deliberations.Read more: Apple’s Default iPhone Apps Give It Growing Edge Over App Store RivalsApple’s closed system to prohibit users from setting third-party apps as defaults was questioned last year during a hearing of a U.S. House of Representatives antitrust panel. Lawmakers pressed the issue of whether iPhone users can make non-Apple apps their defaults in categories including web browsers, maps, email and music.Being a default app on the world’s best-selling smartphone is valuable because consumers are subtly coaxed and prodded into using this more-established software rather than alternatives. Keeping users tethered to Apple’s services is important to the company as the growth of smartphone demand slows and sales of music, video, cloud storage and other subscriptions make up a greater share of the iPhone maker’s total revenue.An Apple spokesman declined to comment.The company currently pre-installs 38 default apps on iPhones and iPads, Bloomberg News has reported, including the Safari web browser, Maps, Messages and Mail.Last year, Stockholm-based Spotify submitted an antitrust complaint to the European Union, saying Apple squeezes rival services by imposing a 30% cut for subscriptions made via the App Store. Apple responded that Spotify wants the benefits of the App Store without paying for them. As part of its complaint, Spotify singled out the inability to run on the HomePod and become the default music player in Siri, Apple’s voice-activated digital assistant.Now, Apple is working to allow third-party music services to run directly on the HomePod, said the people. Spotify and other third-party music apps can stream from an iPhone or iPad to the HomePod via Apple’s AirPlay technology. That’s a much more cumbersome experience than streaming directly from the speaker.Opening the HomePod to additional music service may be a boon for the product. The speaker has lagged behind rivals like the Amazon Echo in functionality since being introduced in 2018 and owns less than 5% of the smart-speaker market, according to an estimate last week from Strategy Analytics.Also under discussion at Apple is whether to let users set competing music services as the default with Siri on iPhones and iPads, the people said. Currently, Apple Music is the default music app. If the company changes the arrangement, a user would be able to play music from Spotify or Pandora automatically when asking Siri for a song.The potential changes to third-party apps on Apple’s devices and the HomePod are still under discussion or early development, and final decisions haven’t been made, the people said. If Apple chooses to go forward with the moves, they could appear as soon as later this year via the upcoming iOS 14 software update and a corresponding HomePod software update, the people said.Apple typically announces major new iPhone and iPad software versions in June, and releases them in September around the launch of new iPhone models. For this year’s update, Apple is also planning to focus on performance and quality because the current version, iOS 13, has been riddled with bugs that upset some users.To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Gurman in Los Angeles at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew Pollack, Robin AjelloFor 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) -- As global streaming giants Netflix Inc. and Walt Disney Co. spend millions of dollars to grab viewers in India, a country that could become their biggest overseas market, a homegrown rival is preparing to defend its turf.Zee5, the top domestic streaming platform set up by India’s biggest television broadcaster, is betting on local content to fend off big-spending rivals, Chief Executive Officer Tarun Katial said in an interview. The over-the-top, or OTT, service is playing to its advantage by adding more local-language shows and lower-price options to gain market share, he said.“International OTTs have neither legacy nor library with depth,” Katial said at his office in Mumbai, adding that Zee5 has produced more than 100 original shows in local languages, at least 10 times more than any rival.“We can win this content battle.”Zee5, which started in 2018, is among dozens of streaming platforms including Amazon.com Inc. locked in a race for Indian users, a market that Boston Consulting Group estimates will reach about $5 billion in 2023. With China closed to foreign streaming services, India has become a battleground for global streaming brands, with an emphasis on delivering films and TV shows to smartphone users expected to number 850 million in two years.After amassing 61 million active monthly users in its first 15 months in India, Katial says Zee5 has little choice but to keep producing new shows at even faster rates. The platform aims to add between 70 and 80 original shows over the coming year, while making 15 direct-to-digital movies for release in 2021.Representatives for Netflix and Disney’s Hotstar platform in India declined to comment.There are 22 official languages in India, creating a broad battlefield for niche audiences.“It’s a strategy to move away from fighting in the fiercely competitive segment of Hindi or English,” Bhupendra Tiwary, an analyst at ICICIdirect, said of Zee5’s local-content push. “Zee is creating its own space in this war zone where it sees more opportunity.”Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., part of the Subhash Chandra-led Essel Group, is increasing its investment in streaming, even though the broadcaster has seen its market value plunge on concern the group’s debt had grown too large. Chandra, who opened India’s first amusement park and brought satellite television to the country, has had to sell his stake in Zee, while staying on as a board member.“We are completely insulated from the financial concern which our parent group went through last year,” Katial said. He declined to say how much the company was planning to spend on growth.Zee Entertainment shares gained 2% as of 2:36 p.m. in Mumbai trading Thursday. Zee5, the streaming platform, is planning its local-language expansion just as some of its global rivals are pushing further into India.Disney PushDisney earlier this month said it will introduce its Disney+ streaming service in India through its Hotstar platform on March 29, at the beginning of the Indian Premier League cricket season. Hotstar, which has said it has 300 million active monthly users, has relied on India’s most popular sport to draw users after spending big to secure the rights.Disney is also re-branding the Hotstar VIP and Premium subscription tiers to Disney+ Hotstar to underline its global brand.Netflix, the world’s largest streaming platform by paid subscribers, has said it intends to sign on 100 million subscribers in India, almost 25 times the customer base it had in the country as of this year. Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said during a visit to the country in December that Netflix intends to spend 30 billion rupees ($419 million) over 2019 and 2020 to produce more local content.Netflix’s “Sacred Games” series, a local original, has drawn Indian viewers globally, the company has said. “Lust Stories,” a Hindi-language anthology of short films, released in June 2018, also drew attention.Zee5 has said its original “Rangbaaz Phirse” and “The Final Call” series are hits, along with “Auto Shankar,” a Tamil-language show.Price WarAt the same time, competitors are paring fees to draw subscribers in a country used to free services including Google’s YouTube, while paying little for bandwidth via mobile phone plans.Last year, Netflix slashed prices by as much as half in India for subscribers that commit to at least three months. Most of the country’s streaming services, including Apple TV+, Amazon Prime and Disney’s Hotstar have also offered discount deals this year and subscriptions at prices well below those in other markets.Zee5 has begun offering some region-specific packages at 49 rupees a month or 499 rupees a year to attract more viewers, said Katial. That compares with the standard packages at 99 rupees a month or 999 rupees a year.At the same time, Zee5 is planning to add 90-second videos to its platform to meet demand and compete with the likes of Beijing-based ByteDance Inc.’s TikTok, a platform that is growing fast globally among younger users. That effort will start “soon,” Katial said.(Updates with Zee shares in 11th paragraph)\--With assistance from Ragini Saxena.To contact the reporter on this story: P R Sanjai in Mumbai at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sam Nagarajan at firstname.lastname@example.org, Dave McCombsFor 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 Trump administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an appeal by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, boosting Oracle Corp.’s bid to collect more than $8 billion in royalties for Google’s use of copyrighted programming code in the Android operating system.The administration weighed in on the high-stakes case on the same day that President Donald Trump attended a re-election campaign fundraiser in California hosted by Oracle’s co-founder, billionaire Larry Ellison.Ellison hosted a golf outing and photos with Trump. The event cost a minimum of $100,000 per couple to attend, with a higher ticket price of $250,000 for those who wanted to participate in a policy roundtable with the president, the Palm Springs Desert Sun reported.Google is challenging an appeals court ruling that it violated Oracle copyrights when it included some Oracle-owned Java programming code in Android. The dispute has split Silicon Valley, pitting developers of software code against companies that use the code to create programs.Google’s “verbatim copying” of Oracle’s code into a competing product wasn’t necessary to foster innovation, the U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco said Wednesday in a filing with the court.Francisco had asked the high court in September, on behalf of the administration, not to hear Google’s appeal. The Supreme Court usually, though not always, takes the solicitor general’s advice about pending appeals. In this case, the justices agreed to take the case and are scheduled to hold oral arguments on March 24.”The Obama Solicitor General Don Verrilli supported Oracle’s position in Oracle v. Google, a position maintained by Trump Solicitor General Noel Francisco,” Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said in an email.Google contends the appeals court ruling, if not reversed, will make it harder to develop new applications.“A remarkable range of consumers, developers, computer scientists, and businesses agree that open software interfaces promote innovation and that no single company should be able to monopolize creativity by blocking software tools from working together,” the company said in a statement. “Openness and interoperability have helped developers create a variety of new products that consumers use to communicate, work, and play across different platforms.”Francisco asked the justices to give the government 10 minutes to argue its position in the case. The U.S. has “substantial interest” in issues regarding copyright law and the re-use of computer code at the heart of the dispute, he said in a filing.(Updates with fundraiser details in third paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected spelling on former solicitor general’s name.)\--With assistance from Mark Bergen and Nico Grant.To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at firstname.lastname@example.org, Peter Blumberg, Joe SchneiderFor 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.
Google is planning to move its British users' accounts out of the control of European Union privacy regulators, placing them under U.S. jurisdiction instead, the company confirmed late on Wednesday. The shift, prompted by Britain's exit from the EU, will leave the sensitive personal information of tens of millions with less protection and within easier reach of British law enforcement. Alphabet Inc's Google intends to require its British users to acknowledge new terms of service including the new jurisdiction, according to people familiar with the plans.
Facebook's content moderation plan, its IRS lawsuit, Amazon's defense in JEDI, Google Cloud deploying AMD Epyc and other stories are covered here.
Google is planning to move its British users' accounts out of the control of European Union privacy regulators, placing them under U.S. jurisdiction instead, sources said. The shift, prompted by Britain's exit from the EU, will leave the sensitive personal information of tens of millions with less protection and within easier reach of British law enforcement. Google intends to require its British users to acknowledge new terms of service including the new jurisdiction.
(Bloomberg) -- Attorney General William Barr is taking aim at a legal shield enjoyed by companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. as the provision comes under increasing fire from both liberals and conservatives.Barr has accused social media companies of hiding behind a clause that gives them immunity from lawsuits while their platforms carry material that promotes illicit and immoral conduct and suppresses conservative opinions.The attorney general convened a workshop Wednesday, featuring many of the tech companies’ critics, to explore potential changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which was passed in 1996 and has been credited with allowing the then-fledgling internet to flourish.“The Justice Department is concerned about the expansive reach of Section 230, but we’re not here to advocate for a position,” Barr said in his opening remarks. “Rather, we are here to convene a discussion to help us examine 230 and its impact in greater detail.”Barr said 230 liability is relevant to the Justice Department’s ability to “combat lawless spaces online.” He could instruct his Justice Department to explore ways to limit the provision, which protects internet companies from liability for user-generated content.The technology platforms warn that any changes in their legal shield could fundamentally alter their business models and force them to review every post, making it impossible for all but the biggest companies to operate.Barr and lawmakers from both political parties have blamed Section 230’s sweeping legal protections for allowing what they see as irresponsible behavior by the big technology companies.“We are concerned that internet services, under the guise of Section 230, can not only block access to law enforcement -- even when officials have secured a court-authorized warrant -- but also prevent victims from civil recovery,” Barr said. “Giving broad immunity to platforms that purposefully blind themselves -- and law enforcers -- to illegal conduct on their services does not create incentives to make the online world safer for children.”FBI Director Christopher Wray also addressed the workshop, along with a range of lawyers, academics, child advocates, tech critics, and trade groups. Some of the speakers, such as a representative from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, have expressed concerns about how the law is currently written, or called for changes.Others argue that the law should be left alone, including the Computer & Communications Industry Association, a tech trade group that counts Google and Facebook as members. The Justice Department also plans to host private listening sessions.Representatives from Google and Facebook didn’t respond to questions about whether they’d received invitations. A spokeswoman for Twitter Inc. declined to comment.Liberal groups say internet platforms don’t do enough to stop the spread of hate speech or police political disinformation from foreign and domestic operatives. Conservatives say the tech companies censor right-wing viewpoints.Both groups seek changes to the shield that would increase companies’ liability as a solution. Lawmakers and tech policy experts from both sides of the aisle worry about children’s safety online as well as drug sales, harassment and stalking, among other issues.“A lot of people are angry for different reasons at the large platforms,” said Jeff Kosseff, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy who has written a history of the law and is also scheduled to address the workshop. “Section 230 is a pretty attractive proxy for that anger.”While the Justice Department can make recommendations, only Congress can change the law. Some legal experts say they are perplexed by the department’s role in the Section 230 debate, which doesn’t tie the government’s hands in prosecuting violations of criminal law.“DOJ is in a weird position to be convening a roundtable on a topic that isn’t in their wheelhouse,” said Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and longtime defender of Section 230, who is also set to speak.Lawmakers are exploring an array of possible changes to the law, looking to use it to make companies police content in a politically “neutral” manner, rein in use of the shield by short-term home-rental companies or protect voters from misinformation. Democratic presidential hopefuls including former Vice President Joe Biden have weighed in with calls to repeal or change the law.When it comes to cases where online material exploits children, a draft bill from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a top Trump ally, would only allow the companies to keep the liability shield if they follow a set of best practices. For example, they would be required to report and delete the material, but also preserve it for law enforcement. Critics worry that the measure would also undermine encrypted communications because encoded platforms can’t see what material the law would prompt them to report.In 2018, in the first successful effort to chip away at the shield, Congress eliminated the liability protection for companies that knowingly facilitate online sex trafficking.The critics propose a range of changes -- from raising the bar on which companies can have the shield, to carving out other laws, to repealing Section 230 entirely. Uniting them, however, is the belief that the provision enables an online environment rife with political misinformation, drug dealing, child abuse and other ills.Technology companies counter that Section 230 allows social media startups to flourish because they don’t have to monitor postings and protects free speech. It also fosters their efforts to remove offensive content because the law allows them to take down material without facing penalties.“Section 230 encourages services to fight misconduct and protect users from online harms by removing disincentives to moderate abusive behavior,” Matt Schruers, the president of the Computer & Communications Industry Association, said in an excerpt from his prepared remarks.David Chavern, president of the News Media Alliance, a trade group representing publishers, doesn’t favor repealing the law but proposes “limiting the exemption for just the very largest companies, who both derive the most benefits from Section 230 and have the greatest capacities to take legal responsibility,” according to a copy of his remarks obtained by Bloomberg.Chavern’s group blames the advertising practices of Google and Facebook for the decline of journalism and advocates for policies to rebalance the relationship.(Updates with comments from Barr from eighth paragraph)\--With assistance from Naomi Nix.To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at firstname.lastname@example.org, Paula Dwyer, John HarneyFor 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.
Google is profiting from the illegal online trade of weapons including stun guns and pepper sprays, which are being advertised and delivered to offenders in the UK. Paid-for listings on its shopping service as well as ads on Google Search are promoting sellers on eBay and other sites who are offering to illegally sell and ship weapons to British consumers. Electroshock weapons advertised by Google include a stun gun advertised as 950,000 volts - almost 20 times more powerful than Tasers used by police.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) is witnessing rapid adoption of its EPYC processors among cloud computing and data center providers. Should Intel, NVIDIA take note?
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. and Chinese firms hoping to deploy artificial intelligence and other technology in Europe will have to submit to a slew of new rules and tests, under a set of plans unveiled by the European Union to boost the bloc’s digital economy.The legislative plans, outlined on Wednesday by the European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, are designed to help Europe compete with the U.S. and China’s technological power while still championing EU rights. The move is the latest attempt by the bloc to leverage the power of its vast, developed market to set global standards that companies around the world are forced to follow.Big U.S. companies, like Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, won’t get any reprieve from the Commission, which in its Digital Services Act plans to overhaul rules around legal liability for tech firms, and is also exploring legislation for ‘gate-keeping’ platforms that control their ecosystems.“It’s not us that need to adapt to today’s platforms. It’s the platforms that need to adapt to Europe,” European Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton said at a press conference in Brussels. If they can’t find a way adapt to the bloc’s standards, “then we will have to regulate and we are ready to do this in the Digital Services Act at the end of this year.”On artificial intelligence, users and developers of AI systems used in high-risk fields, such as health, policing or transportation, would face legal requirements, including tests by authorities, which could also certify the data used by algorithms, the Commission said. High-risk AI could also face sanctions, while lower-risk applications should abide by a voluntary labeling program, the body said.Facial RecognitionFacial recognition, which falls under the high-risk category, generally can’t be used for remotely identifying people under current EU rules – with some exceptions. The bloc is planning to start a debate on the topic to determine where European citizens would accept those exceptions.The EU also said it would propose plans to encourage data sharing among businesses and with governments, with the aim of pooling large sets of high-quality industrial data. The AI plans will be open for public consultation until late May and will aim to propose legislation based on the feedback as soon as the end of year.U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios encouraged the EU to “pursue an innovation friendly” approach that doesn’t overly burden companies, in a statement reacting to the EU’s announcement. “The best way to counter authoritarian uses of AI is to ensure the U.S. and its allies remain leaders in innovation,” he said.Tech PlatformsAs part of its Digital Services Act, the EU said it was considering rules for large powerful platforms that act as gate-keepers to ensure their markets remain fair and contestable. The possible legislation is seen as a way to complement antitrust law, which some have criticized for being to slow to restore balance in markets harmed by dominant firms’ behavior.“Some platforms have acquired significant scale,” the commission said in its document. “We must ensure that the systemic role of certain online platforms and the market power they acquire will not put in danger the fairness and openness of our markets.”In a statement, Edima, the platform association that represents platforms like Facebook and Google, said it “is committed to working with the European Commission to clarify roles and responsibilities within the online ecosystem.”Read more: Barr Takes Aim at Legal Shield Enjoyed by Google, FacebookThe EU’s package will also take aim at platforms’ liability as a global debate continues to simmer around who’s legally responsible for content on social media sites, amid the spread of disinformation, hate speech, and violent content.Under current EU rules, tech companies aren’t responsible for what users post on their sites unless illegal content has been flagged to them. The rules were drafted almost 20 years ago in an effort to encourage tech firms to grow and innovate, and companies worry that axing the provision could potentially force them to censor posts.Content Liability“We ask the commission to tread carefully as they look at how to tackle issues that will ultimately determine the future of tech,” said Raegan MacDonald, head of EU public policy at Mozilla Corp. “Instead of seeing tech as all the same - which it is not - the EU needs to be clear which companies and what practices and processes should be the focus of intervention.”Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg met with EU officials in Brussels on Monday as he called on governments to devise a different liability system for platforms -- somewhere between newspaper publishers, who can be sued for what journalists write in their pages, and telecommunications companies, who aren’t liable for customer conversations.Commissioner Breton dismissed Zuckerberg’s framing, saying his comparison to telecom companies was “not relevant.” The comment suggests the EU could lean toward much more onerous requirements on liability for platforms.(Updates with throughout with details of the plan, starting in third paragraph)\--With assistance from Aoife White.To contact the reporter on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Amy Thomson, Nikos ChrysolorasFor 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.