Google Begins Appeal of $5 Billion Fine, Disputes Allegations it’s a Monopoly

Google began its appeal Monday of a $5 billion fine levied by a European regulator over alleged market abuses.

The European Commission slapped the tech giant with the fine in 2018 for a number of alleged anticompetitive practices, including forcing smartphone makers to pre-install the Google Chrome browser to be able to install the Google Play Store, and imposing restrictions discouraging smartphone makers from manufacturing devices that run unofficial versions of the Android operating system. The commission alleged Google used these requirements to keep out competitors and maintain its monopoly position in Android distribution.

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Apple Reportedly Developing iPhone Technology That Knows When You’re Depressed

Person holding an iPhone

Apple is reportedly working on iPhone technology capable of detecting and diagnosing depression, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The tech giant is developing the iPhone features to reliably detect and diagnose depression as well as cognitive decline, people familiar with the matter told the WSJ. The technology is being developed in partnership with researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and pharmaceutical company Biogen.

The technology is in its early stages of development, according to the WSJ, but will collect data on iPhone users’ mobility and sleep patterns, physical activity, and other behaviors. However, researchers are still unsure whether they can create algorithms that reliably detect the mental health state of users.

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Arizona Senate Candidate Blake Masters’ Plans to Tackle Big Tech’s ‘Predatory’ Business Practices

Woman in a red suit on Smartphone

Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters wants to break up Big Tech and ban their business practices he believes are harmful.

“I think Republicans need to reacquaint themselves with their history of antitrust enforcement, and realize huge concentrations of power in private hands can violate people’s liberties just as much as government,” Masters said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Masters, who announced his candidacy in July, serves as chief operating officer at investment firm Thiel Capital and runs the Thiel Foundation, a philanthropic organization founded by billionaire investor and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. He competes in a crowded Republican primary with fellow candidate and current Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich for the chance to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly in 2022.

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Apple Engaged in ‘Anticompetitive Conduct,’ Court Rules in Antitrust Lawsuit

A judge ruled Friday that Apple engaged in anticompetitive conduct in its App Store, concluding a lawsuit filed by game developers alleging the tech giant was an illegal monopolist.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled Friday that Apple’s policy of preventing app developers from linking to third-party payment systems within their apps was anticompetitive, forcing the iPhone maker to change its app store guidelines. However, Rogers ruled in favor of Apple on several other allegations, finding the tech giant did not illegally maintain a monopoly.

“While the Court finds that Apple enjoys considerable market share of over 55% and extraordinarily high profit margins, these factors alone do not show antitrust conduct,” Rogers wrote. “Success is not illegal.”

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Apple Delays Launch of Controversial Child Pornography Scanning Tool over Privacy Backlash

Apple storefront

Apple is delaying the release of a software update that scans iPhones for child pornography after criticism suggested that the features violated user privacy, the tech giant announced Friday.

“Previously we announced plans for features intended to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them and to help limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material,” the company said in a statement posted to its website Friday. “Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers, and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features.”

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Apple and Google Face First Major Challenge to Their App Store Dominance

smartphone app store

Apple and Google might change their app store business practices because of a new South Korean law similar to recent legislative efforts by U.S. lawmakers.

The new law would prohibit app stores, including Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, from forcing developers to use the tech giants’ payment systems, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bill, passed by South Korea’s National Assembly, will become law once signed by President Moon Jae-in.

The Korean bill is similar to a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Amy Klobuchar, and Marsha Blackburn to the U.S. Senate earlier this month that seeks “to promote competition and reduce gatekeeper power in the app economy, increase choice, improve quality, and reduce costs for consumers.” Both bills prevent app stores from requiring the use of their billing systems and take aim at the tech giants’ commission structure.

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States, Not Congress, Could Pose the Biggest Threat to Tech Companies

Despite calls for increased regulation of the tech industry, Congress has yet to pass any major legislation, leaving it up to the states to take action curbing tech companies’ power and influence.

Meanwhile, state legislatures have introduced and enacted legislation on data privacy, antitrust, and content moderation, while state attorneys general have issued a number of legal challenges alleging anticompetitive business practices.

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Apple to Overhaul Its App Store in $100 Million Class Action Settlement

Apple proposed a settlement with app developers Thursday, requiring the tech company to restructure its app store and change some of its more controversial practices.

The agreement, still pending court approval, would settle a class action antitrust lawsuit filed by app developers against Apple for alleged anticompetitive practices in its app store.

The company will now permit app developers to use information obtained in their apps to directly communicate with consumers about payment options outside the app store, Apple announced in court filings Thursday. This helps developers avoid paying Apple a commission on app purchases, and grants developers greater control over their apps.

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Apple Lets Children Access Sex Apps, Investigation Finds

Apple allows underage users to access dating and pornography applications, according to a recent investigation by a technology watchdog group.

The findings, released by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) Wednesday, reveal that users with an underage Apple ID can download and access applications “limited to people 17 and older” by Apple’s App Store. Such applications include many like Tinder or Bumble as well as some that are of an explicitly pornographic nature.

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Bipartisan Bill Targets Apple, Google for App Store Tactics

Marsha Blackburn

Senators from both parties introduced a bill Wednesday targeting alleged anticompetitive conduct among Apple and Google app stores.

The Open App Markets Act, introduced Wednesday by Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn along with Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar, would prevent app stores such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store from requiring developers to use the tech giants’ in-app payment systems as a condition of distribution. The bill would also stop Apple and Google from taking “punitive action” against developers who offer different pricing terms in other app stores.

“This legislation will tear down coercive anticompetitive walls in the app economy, giving consumers more choices and smaller startup tech companies a fighting chance,” Blumenthal said in a joint statement.

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Apple Will Scan All U.S. iPhones for Illegal Child Abuse Imagery, Prompting Privacy Concerns

Apple plans to scan all iPhone in the U.S. for potential child abuse imagery.

The move announced Thursday generated shock waves among security experts who say it could allow the company to surveil many millions of phones for reasons unrelated to images of child abuse.

“This sort of tool can be a boon for finding child pornography in people’s phones. But image what it could do in the hands of an authoritarian government,” tweeted Johns Hopkins professor and cryptographer Matthew Green.

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Big Tech Profits Continue to Surge, Latest Earnings Show

Man on phone, looking at desktop computer

Big Tech companies reported massive, record-breaking earnings figures as their sales continued to surge amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Google, Apple, Microsoft and Twitter all beat earnings estimates and showed large revenue growth, executives for the tech companies said during earnings calls Tuesday evening. The four companies’ earnings reports suggested that the growth experienced by Big Tech during the pandemic will continue apace.

“Our long-term investments in AI and Google Cloud are helping us drive significant improvements in everyone’s digital experience,” Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a statement Tuesday, explaining his company’s strong performance.

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Congress’ Antitrust Legislation Avoids Regulating Many Big Tech Companies

Last-minute changes to major antitrust legislation working its way through the House appears to exempt several Big Tech companies from being affected by its regulations.

The legislation, which has been months in the making and was crafted to take on Big Tech monopolies, targets a handful of companies while excluding others that also have massive market power, a leading expert told the Daily Caller News Foundation. Existing federal and state antitrust law already prohibits a wide range of anticompetitive business activity across all industries like unlawful mergers and monopolization.

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Commentary: Big Tech Only Has Itself to Blame for Republican Rethinking of Antitrust

Smartphone with display of social media apps

There are few, if any, political issues that now generate the breadth and intensity of bipartisan backlash as does the rise of Big Tech.

During Donald Trump’s presidency, the major parties largely diverged on their specific grievances against the woke Silicon Valley monopolists who serve as gatekeepers for America’s 21st-century public square. Republicans, by and large, focused on censorship of conservative online speech. Democrats, by contrast, tended to focus on economic concentration; the five American corporations with the largest market caps, for example, are tech behemoths Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google Alphabet, and Facebook. This divergence has stymied efforts to rein in the Big Tech oligarchy on issues such as Section 230, the 1990s-era provision permitting platforms to engage in publisher-like content-moderation decisions without being legally treated as publishers.

Conservatives still have myriad concerns with Big Tech’s noxious brew of speech suppressions, shadow bans, and unaccountable deplatformings. Those concerns are both legitimate and justified by Big Tech’s ever-expanding list of misdeeds. But there is an emerging sea change in the way conservatives conceptualize the relationship between Big Tech’s unfettered content-moderation leeway and the sheer economic clout wielded by the relevant corporate actors.

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Border Patrol Announces Seizure of $7 Million Worth of Counterfeit Apple Airpods

Person holding latest Apple Airpods

U.S. Customs and Border Protection this week announced that it had discovered and seized tens of thousands of counterfeit Apple Airpods, a bust the agency said was likely worth around $7 million.

CBP officials earlier this month “inspected three large shipments from China and found what appeared to be tens of thousands of earbuds in violation of Apple’s protected configurations,” the agency said in a press release.

“Each shipment contained 12,000 fake AirPods, for a total of 36,000,” the press release stated. “Although each package had a declared value of $5,280, the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price for all the AirPods would have been $7.16 million had they been genuine.” The bogus products were bound for a Kentucky address.

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Silicon Valley Tech Platforms Receive Failing Grades on Quarterly Censorship Report

According to a the most recent quarterly censorship report card from the Media Research Center (MRC), most of the major Silicon Valley tech titans are failing to protect freedom of expression.

“By almost any measure, the first three months of 2021 were the worst ever for online freedom. Amazon, Twitter, Apple, Google, Facebook, YouTube and others proved to the world that the Big Tech censorship of conservatives is a reality,” the group said. “And they did so in disturbing, authoritarian ways that highlight their unchecked power over information and our political process.”

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Apple CEO’s Pay Increased by Nearly 30 Percent During Pandemic

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s annual compensation increased by 28% in 2020 even as the coronavirus pandemic sparked a recession, according to filings.

Tim Cook’s 2020 compensation totaled $14.7 million, which was mainly comprised of performance-based pay, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings released Tuesday, Business Insider reported. While the coronavirus pandemic sparked a recession in the spring, Apple consistently reported positive financial figures including increased revenue and growth throughout 2020.

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Netflix Raising US Streaming Prices Amid Booming Growth

Netflix is raising most of its U.S. prices by 8% to 13% as its video streaming service rides a wave of rising popularity spurred by government-imposed lockdowns that corralled people at home during the fight against the pandemic.

The increases imposed Friday boost the cost of Netflix’s most popular U.S. streaming plan by $1 to $14 per month, while a premium plan that allows more people to watch the service on different screens simultaneously will now cost $2 more at $18 per month. Netflix’s basic U.S. plan remains at $9 per month. It marks Netflix’s first price changes in the U.S. since an increase rolled out early last year.

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Apple Developing Search Engine as Google Comes Under Antitrust Scrutiny: Report

Apple has ramped up development of its own search engine technology as antitrust U.S. and European Union regulators scrutinize Google, according to a Financial Times report.

The Silicon Valley tech giant has subtly started the transition away from its reliance on the Google search engine, The Financial Times reported. Apple’s latest software update iOS 14, for example, directs users directly to links when they search for a term on their device’s home screen.

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‘Oil Barons and Railroad Tycoons’: Big Tech Must Be Restructured, House Report Says

Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have abused their monopoly power and must undergo significant restructuring, according to a House report released Tuesday.

Lawmakers who wrote the report said the four tech companies had grown into monopolies akin to “oil barons and railroad tycoons” and suggested an overhaul to U.S. antitrust laws, according to The New York Times. The lengthy report, spearheaded by Democratic Reps. Jerrold Nadler and David Cicilline, is the result of a 15-month House Judiciary Committee investigation into the companies collectively known as Big Tech.

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Apple Is the First American Company to be Valued at $2 Trillion

Apple is the first U.S. company to boast a market value of $2 trillion, just two years after it became the first to reach $1 trillion.

Apple shares have gained nearly 60% this year as the company overcame the shutdown of factories in China that produce the iPhone and the closure of its retail sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Virginia First to Roll Out Pandemic App from Apple, Google

Virginia has rolled out a smartphone app to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, becoming the first U.S. state to use new pandemic technology created by Apple and Google.

But hopes for a nationwide app that can work seamlessly across state borders remain unrealized, and there are no known federal plans to create one. State officials say their new app won’t work as well outside Virginia, at least until a group of coordinating public health agencies gets a national server up and running and other states join in.

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Facebook’s Software Kit to Blame for Popular Apps Crashing

Friday’s widespread crashes of popular apps running on the iPhone’s iOS operating system — including Tinder, Spotify and Pinterest — serve as a reminder that Facebook is still tracking you through your phone using sophisticated software, even if you’re not browsing the social network.

Early Friday, users of the apps reported crashes when they tried to open them up. Facebook attributed the problem, which was quickly fixed, to a bug in its software development kit, or SDK, a tool developers use to integrate their apps with Facebook.

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Apple Closes Stores in Four States, Again, as Infections Rise

Apple is closing 11 stores in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina that it had reopened just few weeks ago as coronavirus infections rates in some regions in the U.S. begin to rise.

The decision announced Friday is another sign that the pandemic might prevent the economy from bouncing back as quickly as some states have been hoping. Those concerns sent stocks on Wall Street lower Friday.

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Censorship, Antitrust Probes: Big Tech Is Back to Fighting Familiar Foes After Taking on Coronavirus

Amazon, Twitter, and other major tech companies are facing intense criticism on antitrust issues and censorship claims in the months since government officials reportedly began asking for help from Silicon Valley on ways to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The president and lawmakers have turned their sights on Twitter and Amazon, respectively, while Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other attorneys general are reportedly ratcheting up their antitrust investigation targeting Google’s business model. The White House asked them in March to fight coronavirus disinformation while also assisting the government in its virus response.

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Commentary: Big Tech’s Toadying to Chinese Communists Demands Action

As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, China has become infamous for its role in allowing the virus to spread. From misleading the World Health Organization about the virus’s contagious elements, restricting the access of global investigators to infected sites, and lying about their infection numbers, China single-handedly stole months of preparation from other countries that have been savaged by the disease.

China has also hoarded masks and personal protective equipment from desperate countries and threatened to withhold critical medicines relied upon by millions of Americans.

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Apple’s Digital Assistant Siri Told Users Israel’s Reuvin Rivlin Was the ‘President of the Zionist Occupation State’

by Chris White   Apple’s voice-controlled assistant told the big tech company’s customers Saturday night that Israel President Reuvin Rivlin is the leader of the Zionist occupation state.” Someone changed Rivlin’s Wikipedia page to describe Israel’s president as the “main child of Israel,” Israel’s i24 News reported Saturday. Apple and Google often rely…

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SCOTUS: iPhone Users Can Sue Apple for App Monopoly

by Kevin Daley   The Supreme Court ruled Monday that iPhone users can bring an antitrust lawsuit against Apple alleging the tech giant has monopolized the market for software applications. Justice Brett Kavanaugh delivered the 5-4 decision, joined by the high court’s liberal bloc, which may have far-reaching consequences for Silicon Valley.…

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When Asked If They Identified as ‘American,’ Many US Corporations Stand Silent

by Tim Pearce   Ten international corporations contacted by The Daily Caller News Foundation got their start in the U.S. but stayed silent when asked if they saw themselves as “American” companies. Nine others responded to TheDCNF’s inquiry by either identifying with their American heritage, obscuring their loyalties or declining to comment…

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Apple Busts Facebook for App That Tracks Phone and Web Use

Apple says Facebook can no longer distribute an app that paid users, including teenagers, to extensively track their phone and web use. In doing so, Apple closed off Facebook’s efforts to sidestep Apple’s app store and its tighter rules on privacy. The tech blog TechCrunch reported late Tuesday that Facebook…

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Apple Is Dropping $1 Billion to Put 5,000 Jobs in Texas With Expansions Planned in Major Cities

by Tim Pearce   Apple is investing $1 billion to nearly double its workforce in Texas and is hiring thousands more employees in offices across the U.S., the company announced Thursday. Apple is adding 5,000 positions to its Austin, Texas, campus on top of the 6,200-strong workforce already there. The…

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Paris Climate Accord Backers Won’t Say if They Support Ban on Private Jets

by Michael Bastasch and Chris White   Big businesses largely came out in support of the Paris Agreement on global warming, but most contacted by The Daily Caller News Foundation were silent on whether they would give up flying private jets. TheDCNF wanted to test the commitment of big companies,…

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