MSFT Mar 2021 105.000 put

OPR - OPR Delayed price. Currency in USD
0.9300
+0.9300 (+0.00%)
As of 2:07PM EDT. Market open.
Stock chart is not supported by your current browser
Previous close0.0000
Open0.9300
Bid0.8800
Ask1.0400
Strike105.00
Expiry date2021-03-19
Day's range0.9300 - 0.9300
Contract rangeN/A
Volume10
Open interest912
  • Runup in Tech Mega-Caps Sows Doubt Before Key Earnings
    Bloomberg

    Runup in Tech Mega-Caps Sows Doubt Before Key Earnings

    (Bloomberg) -- Some of Wall Street’s biggest stocks are coming off their best quarterly performance in years, and with the broader economy still grappling with the pandemic, analysts are starting to express some skepticism about high-profile rallies.The S&P 500 surged 20% in the second quarter, its biggest quarterly gain since 1998. While the superlative nature of the rally was partly a function of timing -- many components hit a bottom right before the end of the first quarter -- the move was fueled by tech and internet stocks, which outperformed the benchmark and have heavy weightings due to their massive market capitalizations.Apple and Amazon.com both gained more than 40% during the quarter, making it the iPhone maker’s best quarter since 2012 and Amazon’s best since 2010.On Wednesday, Deutsche Bank confessed it was “surprised at both the speed and magnitude of the rebound” in Apple shares, adding that the move “has us nervous.” Raymond James echoed this tone on Tuesday, seeing uncertainty surrounding Apple’s forecast given an expected delay in the iPhone 12, a product Nomura Instinet expects “will fall short of a supercycle.” Both Deutsche Bank and Raymond James still recommend buying Apple shares.Amazon remains a consensus favorite on Wall Street -- more than 90% of the firms tracked by Bloomberg recommend buying it -- but the degree to which the share price exceeds analysts’ average price target is near a multiyear high, suggesting that even bulls aren’t expecting much additional upside.Among other mega-cap names, Microsoft rose 29% over the second quarter, its best such showing since 2009. Both Facebook and Google-parent Alphabet notched their biggest quarterly gain since 2013, with Facebook up 36% and Alphabet up 22%, based on its Class A shares. Netflix rose 21% last quarter.All are at or near record levels, and the rallies will soon be tested as each member of the group is scheduled to post quarterly results before the end of the month, with Netflix reporting next week.Apple EstimatesFor Apple, the rally has come despite a more tepid view for its upcoming results. Wall Street expects third-quarter earnings, excluding some items, of $2.03 a share, a consensus that is down 6.8% from where it was three months ago. The consensus for revenue has declined 0.9% over the same period.While analysts debate whether the results will justify the recent gains, many of these names are seen as potential pandemic winners. Microsoft is expected to see stronger demand for its cloud-computing and workplace collaboration products as people continue to work remotely, while the e-commerce wave lifting Amazon and others is seen as outlasting the coronavirus’s impact on brick-and-mortar stores.Apple analysts also see a number of reasons to be optimistic for the long term, including the company’s services business, wearable products, and its stock-buyback program. “Overall, we believe the directionality and reasoning behind AAPL’s stock rise,” Deutsche Bank’s Jeriel Ong wrote. Still, the firm has “ambivalence at these levels.”Firms expressed a similar sentiment about Netflix, which has seen higher engagement during the pandemic. Rosenblatt Securities “struggle[s] to see the upside” from current levels given “uncertainty over how [long] this favorable environment will last.” Stifel continues “to grapple with the risk/reward profile given limited 2H visibility.”Imperial Capital downgraded the stock earlier this week, moving away from an outperform rating that it had held since starting coverage on Netflix about two years ago, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Following the recent advance, Netflix “will begin a fairly extensive range-bound trend as other long opportunities emerge in the media space,” the firm said.(Removes reference to Microsoft reporting next week in seventh paragraph of story originally published July 8.)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.

  • Top Research Reports for Apple, Microsoft & TMobile
    Zacks

    Top Research Reports for Apple, Microsoft & TMobile

    Top Research Reports for Apple, Microsoft & TMobile

  • Zoom, Microsoft, and Slack Just Ramped Up the Battle for Virtual Meeting Supremacy
    Motley Fool

    Zoom, Microsoft, and Slack Just Ramped Up the Battle for Virtual Meeting Supremacy

    Three of the biggest players in the virtual meeting space, Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM), Slack Technologies (NYSE: WORK), and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Teams, all had big product announcements this week. The timing of these updates indicates the intensity of the competition between these leading virtual meeting providers. The offering will make accessing Zoom Rooms and Zoom Phone easier by providing subscription options for phone and meeting room hardware to complement its Zoom videoconferencing services.

  • Investing.com

    Dow Off Lows as Tech Resistance Continues

    By Yasin Ebrahim

  • Add 4 Stocks to Watchlist as Enterprise Communication Peps Up
    Zacks

    Add 4 Stocks to Watchlist as Enterprise Communication Peps Up

    Here we discuss four companies stirring up competition in enterprise communication space, with recent efforts to enhance their video conferencing platforms amid work-from-home push.

  • 3 Top Cloud Computing Stocks to Buy Right Now
    Motley Fool

    3 Top Cloud Computing Stocks to Buy Right Now

    Cloud computing has been a promising investment theme in recent years. As NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) CEO Jensen Huang said on a recent conference call, "The basic computing elements are now storage servers, CPU servers, and GPU servers and are composed and orchestrated by hyperscale applications that are serving millions of users simultaneously." Research firm Gartner previously forecast that the total cloud computing market will grow 17% this year to reach $266 billion, and that was before a global pandemic accelerated the trend.

  • Buffett Dropping Down World’s Richest Ranks as Tech Titans Surge
    Bloomberg

    Buffett Dropping Down World’s Richest Ranks as Tech Titans Surge

    (Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett’s $2.9 billion gift this week means he has now given away Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shares valued at more than $37 billion since 2006.His philanthropy -- along with Berkshire’s underwhelming stock performance recently -- is finally starting to weigh on his net worth after years where his fortune defied his annual giveaways to rise ever higher. Buffett’s $68.6 billion is enough for eighth-place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his lowest position since the index started in 2012. He ranked in the top 5 as recently as June.But in recent weeks the 89-year-old has been leapfrogged first by Steve Ballmer, the former Microsoft Corp. chief executive officer, and this week by Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The changes underline the extent to which technology fortunes now dominate the upper echelons of the world’s richest people.Six of the seven richest people on the planet owe their wealth to the sector, including No. 1 Jeff Bezos, who has added $68 billion to his net worth this year, and Ballmer, who’s gained $18 billion. Tech fortunes are the best performing on the index, up 25% in 2020.Ballmer’s fortune has soared thanks to the 4% stake he’s estimated to have retained since leaving Microsoft’s board in 2014. The software company’s shares have risen almost fivefold since then, boosting his fortune to $76.5 billion. Ballmer declined to comment on his Microsoft stake. Berkshire didn’t respond to a request for comment.Buffett may welcome signs his gifts are shrinking his fortune. His pledge to give away his fortune only got harder as his fortune continued to rise. In his latest letter to shareholders he said he expects it will now take 12 to 15 years for his estate to dispose of all the shares he holds at the time of his death.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.

  • Google Scrapped Cloud Initiative in China, Other Markets
    Bloomberg

    Google Scrapped Cloud Initiative in China, Other Markets

    (Bloomberg) -- Google abandoned plans to offer a major new cloud service in China and other politically sensitive countries due in part to concerns over geopolitical tensions and the pandemic, according to two employees familiar with the matter, revealing the challenges for U.S. tech giants to secure business in those markets.In May, the search giant shut down the initiative, known as “Isolated Region” and which sought to address nations’ desires to control data within their borders, the employees said. The action was considered a “massive strategy shift,” according to one of the employees, who said Isolated Region had involved hundreds of workers scattered around the world.Alphabet Inc.’s Google is pouring money into cloud computing, part of a broader effort to find new sources of growth beyond search advertising. Google Cloud generated $8.9 billion in revenue in 2019 -- a 53% increase over the previous year -- as it has pushed into sectors such as finance and government that require special security clearance and features that shield confidential data. Rivals Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. already offer these capabilities via their cloud units.Google’s recent decision to nix the Isolated Region project was made partly because of global political divisions, which were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the two employees, who requested anonymity because the project hasn’t previously been made public. The geopolitical issues placed demands on Isolated Region that it couldn’t deliver, according to one of the employees. Documents provided to workers also detailed global tensions and their influence on Isolated Region’s closure, the employee said.The initiative would have allowed Google to set up cloud services controlled by a third party, such as a locally owned company or a government agency. The result would be a business sequestered from Google’s existing cloud computing services, which include data centers and computer networks.In January 2019, amid growing tensions between the U.S. and China, Google decided to pause its plans for Isolated Region in China and instead began to prioritize potential customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to the two employees. But the project was scrapped entirely this May, the two employees said. Google has since weighed a pared back cloud offering to enter China, according to the two employees.‘Other Approaches’A Google spokeswoman, speaking after the story was published, said Isolated Region wasn’t shut down over geopolitical concerns or the pandemic. She also said the company isn’t weighing options to offer the Google Cloud Platform in China.Isolated Region was shelved because “other approaches we were actively pursuing offered better outcomes,” she said, declining to detail those approaches. “We have a comprehensive approach to addressing these requirements that covers the governance of data, operational practices and survivability of software,” the spokeswoman said. “Isolated Region was just one of the paths we explored to address these requirements.”“What we learned from customer conversations and input from government stakeholders in Europe and elsewhere is that other approaches we were actively pursuing offered better outcomes,” the spokeswoman said. “Google does not offer and has not offered cloud platform services inside China.”According to one of the employees, the plan involved selling cloud services in what Google calls “sovereignty sensitive markets,” such as China and the E.U., where there are strict laws for companies offering services that involve the collection or processing of people’s data.The project, which began in early 2018, sought to address rules in China that require Western companies to form a joint venture with a Chinese partner company when they provide data or networking services, one of the employees said. In such a relationship, the partner company would have retained both physical and administrative control over user data. The arrangement was intended to satisfy Chinese authorities while also providing a barrier between Google’s Isolated Region cloud services and the rest of its data center network, which stores and processes emails, documents, photographs and other data from its users, the employee said.By handing over control of user data to third party companies in foreign countries, Isolated Region also aimed to appease privacy concerns about the U.S. government’s potential ability to carry out covert surveillance of Google’s Cloud services, the employee said. Those concerns increased in March 2018, following the passing of the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, better known as the CLOUD Act, a federal law that granted U.S. law enforcement agencies more power to request personal data stored by American technology companies even if the data is stored on servers located outside of the U.S., the employee said.Data SovereigntySome employees expressed concern about the Cloud project in China and questioned their superiors about it, according to one of the employees. But it’s not known if employee opposition was a factor in Google’s decision to stop the initiative in China or elsewhere.Isolated Region was part of a larger Google project known as “Sharded Google,” which has sought to develop new data storage and processing facilities, known as “shards,” that are walled off from the rest of the company’s systems, according to the employees.Major cloud providers are all racing to develop data centers that are either physically separated or rely on complex software to keep information flows apart.It’s a costly process, driven by rising demand on two fronts. One is from firms in specific industries, such as finance, that want isolated machinery for security reasons. Another comes from laws that require data reaped inside the country to stay there, with China being perhaps the most stringent example.Both trends are accelerating. More than 100 countries have some sort of data sovereignty laws in place, according to David Gilmore, chief executive officer of DataFleets Ltd., an enterprise software firm. In the U.S., state policies, such as California’s new consumer privacy law, provide further restrictions on how cloud companies handle data. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.France and Germany recently started Gaia-X, an effort to build the continent’s own data storage systems over the internet without relying on U.S. technology giants.Cloud RegionsProtectionism is a major force in these calls for data localization, said Trey Herr, director for the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council. “Part of it is security,” he said. “A lot of it is economic.”Google’s competitors in this space, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, have dominated the market in recent years. Cloud regions let companies offer the horsepower and security of multiple data centers. Microsoft has more than 60 cloud regions globally, more than double AWS and Google. The Google spokeswoman said the company defines regions differently.In 2018, Google considered building an isolated version of its systems to support a classified U.S. government computer network. The system, known as “air gap,” would have been disconnected from the internet and from Google’s existing servers, and was designed to be used only on high-security government networks that store secret information.But the air gap project was shelved after internal opposition. Some employees said they feared the system would lead to work with the U.S. military, which they opposed for ethical reasons. Other employees opposed it on technical grounds and thought it would be too hard to deliver.In China, Google has long been eyeing ways to access the country’s lucrative marketplace, where there are approximately 900 million internet users. While Amazon and Microsoft sell their cloud services in mainland China, Google hasn’t. But about three years ago, the company began talks with Chinese firms about providing its main data storage service in the nation through a joint venture, as Amazon and Microsoft do. Google also provided some of its free machine learning tools in China, and the company started working on projects to provide more software tools to developers there.Most of those efforts, however, were shut down by Google Cloud Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kurian, shortly after he took over the division in January 2019, according to one person involved in the plans. At that time, political and economic tensions between the U.S. and China were rising. In addition, Google’s actions in the country had come under increased scrutiny, following leaks about a plan for a censored Chinese version of its search engine.Isolation Region was conceived as another potential product for Google to offer in China, according to one of the Google employees. But key political impediments contributed to the decline of the project in China and elsewhere, including the U.S. national security orders against China telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies Co. and the fallout from the pandemic, according to the employee; Google disputes that the pandemic or geopolitical issues were factors.Kurian didn’t scrap all of Google Cloud’s China-related work. According to one of the Google employees, and another person familiar with Google’s cloud operations, the company has continued to explore the possibility of rolling out a service called Anthos in the country. Launched in 2019, Anthos lets companies using one cloud provider easily add on another. Businesses across the globe have adapted this strategy as a way to hedge financial and infrastructure risk. The Google spokeswoman said the company has no plans to provide Anthos in China.In a September 2019 interview with CNBC, Kurian said that Google’s cloud business was seeing “enormous growth” and hadn’t been affected by the U.S. trade war with China. He pointed to the company’s large presence in Hong Kong and Taiwan and didn’t rule out expanding into China’s cloud market. “We continue to monitor the demand for our technology from Chinese customers,” he said.(Updates with additional comments from Google starting in the sixth 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.

  • Slack co-founder: We will be more aggressive with acquisitions
    Yahoo Finance

    Slack co-founder: We will be more aggressive with acquisitions

    Yahoo Finance catches up quickly with Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield in the wake of the company announcing its sixth-ever acquisition.

  • 3 Overlooked Games That Could Help Activision Beat Expectations This Year
    Motley Fool

    3 Overlooked Games That Could Help Activision Beat Expectations This Year

    "Call of Duty" is thriving, but these three titles could also help the company surpass sales and earnings targets.

  • Motley Fool

    IBM to Buy WDG Automation

    IBM (NYSE: IBM) has reached an agreement to buy WDG Automation, a robotic process automation (RPA) company. The Brazilian company produces software based on artificial intelligence (AI) that enhances access to intelligent automation using software robots.

  • Is Okta Stock a Buy?
    Motley Fool

    Is Okta Stock a Buy?

    The cloud-based identity specialist Okta (NASDAQ: OKTA) is poised to profit from the secular shift to cloud computing. But with its stock price close to its all-time highs after having more than doubled from its March lows, is it still a good time for investors to get involved? Gaining market share in the growing identity and access management market Enterprises have been moving applications and infrastructures to the cloud over the last several years to profit from increased flexibility.

  • Signal Tops Hong Kong Downloads After Fears of China Law Deepen
    Bloomberg

    Signal Tops Hong Kong Downloads After Fears of China Law Deepen

    (Bloomberg) -- Signal has become the most-downloaded app in Hong Kong after Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law on the city that stirred fears of curbs on civil liberties.The messaging app, endorsed by whistle-blower and privacy advocate Edward Snowden, provides end-to-end encryption to secure messages from being read by a third party as they travel between users. It has topped both Apple Inc.’s and Google’s mobile app stores, according to App Annie data.Hong Kong detailed on Monday unprecedented online policing powers under the new law, including warrants for “any action” necessary to remove content deemed in violation. But the nonprofit responsible for Signal said that it won’t cooperate with any requests for user data from Hong Kong courts -- joining tech giants like Microsoft Corp. in the wake of the law’s passage -- in part because it doesn’t collect any data to begin with.“We never started turning over user data to HK police. Also, we don’t have user data to turn over,” it wrote on Twitter.Signal’s privacy-first ethos includes the app’s deliberate ignorance of what its users are doing, which goes above and beyond the likes of Telegram, another secure messenger that’s been popular in Hong Kong amid protests against the Beijing government. Virtual private networks, designed to disguise a user’s digital footprints, also saw a big spike in downloads in May as plans for the national security law started to emerge from the Chinese capital.Read more: VPN Downloads Surge in Response to Hong Kong Security LawThe controversial law went into effect June 30 and has already had a chilling effect on free expression in Hong Kong. It forbids speech and actions that might be seen as encouraging secession from China, terrorism, subversion of state power or collusion with foreign forces. Private messaging platforms have become a refuge as a result, with Hong Kongers retreating to unmonitored forms of communication.(Updates with data from App Annie in second 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.

  • Why Electronic Arts Stock Rose 23% in the First Half of 2020
    Motley Fool

    Why Electronic Arts Stock Rose 23% in the First Half of 2020

    The game maker's biggest titles saw a spike in engagement during COVID-19, and investors are hopeful for what the next console generation might bring.

  • Microsoft makes Teams video meetings less tiring with its new Together mode
    TechCrunch

    Microsoft makes Teams video meetings less tiring with its new Together mode

    While we've had quite a bit of anecdotal evidence for this, Microsoft today released some of the research it did in this area, as well as new features in Teams that it hopes will make video meetings easier and less tiring. The first of these is Together mode. To be able to change backgrounds or add background blur, Teams already features Microsoft's AI segmentation technology to detect and cut out a participant's image from the background.

  • Bloomberg

    Microsoft Introduces Virtual ‘Theater’ Seating to Help Relieve Video Meeting Fatigue

    (Bloomberg) -- After months of staying home, almost every office worker is probably sick of virtual meetings. Microsoft Corp. said it has a few new ways to make videoconferencing more interactive and easier to figure out who’s talking, or who is trying to.New features for the company’s Teams videoconferencing software announced Wednesday include one in which participants are arranged side-by-side in white chairs seated in auditorium-style tiers. The company also developed a touch-screen display as a companion to a computer that can be used with Teams to access calendars, messages and calls. The voice-controlled devices will be made by partners like Lenovo Group Ltd. and will be available later this year.Microsoft has seen usage of Teams explode as the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to shutter offices and move to remote work. Teams vies with Slack Technologies Inc. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. for corporate customers, and Microsoft is trying to rapidly improve its video-conferencing product and add new features.The theater-style seating is called “together mode.” Microsoft said the idea is to better show participants and let them interact with each other — you can sort of virtually high-five your neighbor for example. You can more easily see when someone in the meeting wants to speak or is tuned out, which might be a problem for many frequent meeting-goers. The feature will be available to all users in August, the company said in a statement. New views will be added in the future.Microsoft said its internal testing found the new virtual mode has increased the amount of time participants look at others and choose to keep their cameras on, helps them better retain content and have a stronger memory of who attended big meetings. When brain activity is measured, this mode has been associated with more calm and focus. The company had been working on different conferencing prototypes and sped up “together mode” when the pandemic hit. “It’s really a design specific to this current situation and to try to make our circumstances a little less miserable,” said Jaron Lanier, a Microsoft researcher, who is considered a virtual reality pioneer. “For the moment it makes pandemic-era meetings less miserable, less isolating, less fatiguing, less weird, although a little weird in its own way.”Later this year, Teams will make it possible to note who said what in live transcripts. The app now has live captions and will soon add speaker attributions, which are helpful for meetings in which the user doesn’t know everyone. The company also plans to expand meeting capability to 1,000 participants, all of whom can talk, chat and appear on video. Microsoft will add a feature for presentations or classes, where attendees listen and watch but don’t participate, for as many as 20,000 people.  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.

  • Competition Stirs Up in Video Game Space With Tencent's Efforts
    Zacks

    Competition Stirs Up in Video Game Space With Tencent's Efforts

    Tencent's (TCEHY) aggressive steps, including the launch of its new studio, are expected to boost its competitive position against Google, NVIDIA, Amazon, NetEase and Microsoft in gaming space.

  • Big Tech’s China Face-Off Presages an Exodus From Hong Kong
    Bloomberg

    Big Tech’s China Face-Off Presages an Exodus From Hong Kong

    (Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc., Google and Twitter Inc. -- all of which are blocked in the mainland -- are now headed toward a showdown with China that could end up making Hong Kong feel more like Beijing.Hours after Hong Kong announced sweeping new powers to police the internet on Monday night, those companies plus the likes of Microsoft Corp. and Zoom Video Communications Inc. all suspended requests for data from the Hong Kong government. ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok, which has Chinese owners, announced it would pull its viral video app from the territory’s mobile stores in the coming days even as President Donald Trump threatened to ban it in the U.S.Their dilemma is stark: Bend to the law and infuriate Western nations increasingly at odds with China over political freedoms, or simply refuse and depart like Google did in China a decade ago over some of the very same issues. Much like that seismic event shook the mainland in 2010, Big Tech’s reaction now could have a much wider impact on Hong Kong’s future as a financial hub -- potentially sparking an exodus of professionals and businesses.“Google is pretty important to people here, and if that’s cut off then it’s really extremely serious,” said Richard Harris, a former director at Citi Private Bank who now runs Port Shelter Investment Management in Hong Kong. “In Hong Kong we don’t know where the boundaries are, and that’s threatening to a lot of business people.”Over the past week, Hong Kong authorities have begun explaining how they’ll enforce a law that officials in Beijing called a “sword of Damocles” hanging over China’s most strident critics. The legislation, which sparked the threat of sanctions from the Trump administration and outrage elsewhere, has had a chilling effect on pro-democracy protesters who demonstrated for months last year while also raising fresh questions for businesses.On Monday night, the Hong Kong government announced sweeping new police powers, including warrant-less searches, property seizures and online surveillance. If a publisher fails to immediately comply with a request to remove content deemed in breach of the law, police can seek a warrant to “take any action” to remove it while also demanding “the identification record or decryption assistance.”“We are absolutely headed for a showdown, and there are no indications that the Hong Kong government is particularly prepared if Facebook or another company refuses a removal request,” said James Griffiths, a journalist and author of “The Great Firewall: How to Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet.” “These companies appear to have realized that there is no compromise they could make that would truly satisfy Beijing or make them seem trustworthy. This could make them more willing to stand up against Chinese censorship in Hong Kong.”American internet giants have made overtures toward Beijing in recent years as the market exploded, but few have so far actually acceded to China’s censorship framework.Of the rare examples, Microsoft’s LinkedIn censors content to allow it to operate a Chinese version, while Apple Inc. complies with local regulations in policing its app store and other services. Reports that Google entertained the notion of returning -- via potentially a censored version of search called Project Dragonfly -- enraged lawmakers and its own employees torpedoed the idea.Worldwide CensorshipTwitter and Facebook have never been consistently available in China, but Mark Zuckerberg also flirted with Beijing before abandoning the notion as regulatory scrutiny and a user backlash grew at home. In both instances, external factors helped scupper the feasibility of operating in the world’s No. 2 economy.“I worked hard to make this happen. But we could never come to agreement on what it would take for us to operate there, and they never let us in,” he said last year in a speech at Georgetown University. “And now we have more freedom to speak out and stand up for the values we believe in and fight for free expression around the world.”Still, the internet heavyweights are already censoring content across the world for both authoritarian regimes and western democracies, according to Ben Bland, a research fellow at the Lowy Institute in Australia. After a mass shooting last March in Christchurch, New Zealand, top social media companies joined with more than 40 countries in a concerted call to end the spread of extremist messaging online.Germany has banned online Nazi and right-wing extremist content, and most countries have blocks in place against online pornography and criminal activity. In Thailand, strict lese majeste laws lead to censorship of content deemed offensive to the royal family, while Communist-run Vietnam expunges anything deemed “anti-state.”Reputational DamageBig tech companies must gauge the importance of the markets in China and Hong Kong with possible reputational damage in other places they operate, according to Stuart Hargreaves, a law professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong who researches surveillance and privacy issues.“I do not expect to see the Great Firewall extended from mainland China to Hong Kong, at least in the medium term,” he said. “It is not necessary for Beijing’s goal of tamping down certain sentiments and would be the obvious end of Hong Kong as a global city and its particular role as an Asian finance hub.”The exit of TikTok, the viral video app that has insisted it operates independently of Beijing, could actually benefit the Communist Party by removing a forum pro-democracy protesters have used to post videos calling for an independent Hong Kong. Last year, demonstrators used the Reddit-like forum LIHKG as well as Telegram to organize leaderless protests.TikTok on Tuesday played up its U.S. ties while pushing back against comments by U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who said the government is considering a ban of the short video app. Trump later said the move may be one possible way to retaliate against China over its handling of the coronavirus.“We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” a TikTok spokesperson said, adding that it’s led by an American CEO.Platforms like Telegram that provide end-to-end encryption could become increasingly popular, said Joyce Nip, senior lecturer in Chinese Media Studies at the University of Sydney. Telegram said it has never shared data with Hong Kong authorities, adding that it doesn’t have servers in the territory and doesn’t store data there. Signal has become the most-downloaded messaging app in the city, topping the communications category in Apple’s and Google’s mobile app stores.‘Knife Edge’Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, didn’t answer a question Tuesday on her response to tech companies that stopped processing data requests from her government. Still, she played down any long-term impact on the city’s position as a financial hub around the same time that Pompeo released a statement blasting the Communist Party’s “Orwellian censorship” in Hong Kong.There “has been an increasing appreciation of the positive effect of this national security legislation, particularly in restoring stability in Hong Kong as reflected by some of the market sentiments in recent days,” Lam said a day after local stocks entered a bull market. “Surely this is not doom and gloom for Hong Kong.”The regulations stemmed from a new national security committee created by the law that includes Lam and Luo Huining, Beijing’s top official in the city. While China’s leaders know Hong Kong needs a free flow of information to function as a world-class financial center, “much seems to rest in the hands of the few newly empowered bureaucrats who will police the new laws,” according to Steve Vickers, chief executive officer of Steve Vickers and Associates, a political and corporate risk consultancy.“Foreign firms are on something of a knife edge here, caught between their natural affinity with freedom of information and their commercial desire to operate in the huge Chinese market,” said Vickers, a former head of the Royal Hong Kong Police Criminal Intelligence Bureau. “It is now more a matter of what is actually done, as opposed to what is being said -- by either China or the foreign IT companies -- that will be the key.”(Updates with Signal’s rise in the 19th 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.

By using Yahoo, you agree that we and our partners can use cookies for purposes such as customising content and advertising. See our Privacy Policy to learn more