No risk, no reward.
That’s the lesson official Washington, D.C. should now be learning from former President Donald Trump’s foray into running a social media company, TruthSocial.com, which is currently running a successful public beta that Apple customers can download in the App Store.
As computer giant Apple considers bringing employees back to work in person while the COVID-19 pandemic winds down, some of those employees are worried that returning to work in person will make the company less diverse.
“Apple will likely always find people willing to work here, but our current policies requiring everyone to relocate to the office their team happens to be based in, and being in the office at least 3 fixed days of the week, will change the makeup of our workforce,” said an open letter written by employees. “It will make Apple younger, whiter, more male-dominated, more neuro-normative, more able-bodied, in short, it will lead to privileges deciding who can work for Apple, not who’d be the best fit.”
Apple confirmed Wednesday that it will conduct a racial equity audit of its policies, The Washington Post reported, after the tech giant lobbied against legislation intended to combat the use of forced labor in the supply chains.
Apple investors initially approved a shareholder proposal mandating the company undertake a “racial equity focused” audit of its policies on March 4, The Washington Post reported. Apple initially opposed the proposal but said Wednesday it will accept the audit.
Corporations, including Citigroup, Apple and Match, are helping their employees undergo abortions in light of new, state-level restrictions.
Citigroup announced a policy of covering travel costs for U.S.-based employees seeking abortions “in response to changes in reproductive healthcare laws in certain states” in a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing. The policy will cover airfare and lodging, according to Bloomberg.
Apple announced Tuesday it would pause the sale of all products in Russia, citing the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We are deeply concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and stand with all of the people who are suffering as a result of the violence,” Apple said in a statement. “We are supporting humanitarian efforts, providing aid for the unfolding refugee crisis, and doing all we can to support our teams in the region.”
The Internet Accountability Project (IAP), a conservative tech group, launched a nationwide ad campaign Wednesday urging the passage of a bill targeting Apple and Google.
The ads, set to launch on Newsmax, are intended to support Republican senators who backed antitrust legislation designed to curb the anticompetitive practices of major tech companies, according to a review of the ad campaign by Daily Caller News Foundation. The ads thank the senators for backing the Open App Markets Act, which if passed would prevent app stores like Google Play and Apple’s App Store from forcing developers to use the tech giants’ in-app payment systems as a condition of distribution.
Google’s Chief Legal Officer and President of Global Affairs Kent Walker accused Microsoft on Friday of “carving out” an exception to a bill targeting app stores operated by Google and Apple.
The Open App Markets Act, introduced by Republican Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Democratic Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in a near-unanimous vote Thursday. Microsoft president Brad Smith applauded the passage of the bill in tweet shortly after, writing that the legislation “would promote competition, and ensure fairness and innovation in the app economy.”
Walker responded to Smith’s tweet accusing the software company of “carving out” an exception in the legislation favoring Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console and service.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar appeared on Fox News’ Special Report Thursday night, primarily to promote an antitrust bill aimed at reforming laws that govern Big Tech and increasing competition.
A bipartisan U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted 16-6 Thursday to advance the legislation — The American Innovation and Choice Online Act — as bipartisan lawmakers seek to curtail the power and influence of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and others.
In short, the bill would prevent companies from “unfairly preferencing their own products and services” on their platforms while prohibiting “specific forms of conduct that are harmful to small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers.”
Amazon and Facebook parent company Meta spent more money in 2021 lobbying lawmakers and officials than any year before, according to lobbying disclosure filings.
Amazon spent $20.3 million on lobbying while Meta spent $20.1 million in 2021, according to a review of lobbying disclosure filings by MarketWatch. The figures are record totals for both tech companies, who spent $18.9 million and $19.7 million on lobbying in 2020, respectively.
Google’s lobbying spend for 2021 clocked in at $11.5 million, while Microsoft spent $10.3 million and Apple spent $6.5 million, according to MarketWatch’s review.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook made nearly $100 million in compensation in the company’s fiscal year, according to SEC filings published Thursday.
SEC filings show that Cook took home $98.73 million in the 2021 fiscal year, more than 500% more than the previous year’s $14.8 million, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Cook’s $3 million base salary remained stable in 2021, but he received a $12 million bonus for hitting Apple’s financial and environmental sustainability goals, $1.39 million in other compensation and $82.35 million in stock awards.
An expert on the Communist Chinese Party (CCP) who chronicles China’s current affairs reacted Wednesday to a damning report that Apple CEO Tim Cook paid the Chinese government $275 billion to curry favor with President Xi Jinping.
Simone Gao is a Chinese-born filmmaker and an award-winning reporter.
There is growing bipartisan concern over the power Silicon Valley’s oligopolies wield over American society. Amazon alone controls 72% of U.S. adult book sales, Airbnb accounts for a fifth of domestic lodging expenditures and Facebook accounts for almost three-quarters of social media visits. Just two companies, Apple and Google, act as gatekeepers to 99% of smartphones, while two others, Uber and Lyft, control 98% of the ride-share market in the U.S. Yet, for government to take robust antitrust action against Silicon Valley requires the kind of data it currently lacks: documenting the harm this market consolidation inflicts on consumers. A new RealClearFoundation report offers a look at how amending Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to require platform transparency could aid such antitrust efforts.
When it comes to Silicon Valley’s social media platforms, they have long argued that antitrust laws don’t apply to them because their services are provided free of charge. In reality, users do pay for their services: with their data rather than their money. Companies today harvest vast amounts of private information about their users every day, using that data to invisibly nudge their users toward purchases and consuming ads, or the companies simply sell that data outright.
U.S. states may have to provide funding for Apple’s plan to store government-issued identification credentials in its devices.
The company first announced partnerships with several states in September to develop a digital driver’s license and state identification card that could be stored on a person’s iPhone. However, the technical maintenance of the program, the customer support and marketing, may be paid for by taxpayer dollars and reviewed by Apple, according to documents seen by CNBC.
Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton and Democratic Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar unveiled a bipartisan bill Friday intended to restrict how major tech companies acquire and merge with smaller firms.
The bill, titled the Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, is a companion to antitrust legislation advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee in June. If enacted, the law would shift the burden in antitrust cases to the acquiring party for mergers greater than $50 million, meaning that the acquiring firm would have to prove that its acquisition of another company was not anti-competitive.
The bill explicitly targets Big Tech companies, and it applies to firms with market capitalizations over $600 billion, at least 50,000,000 U.S.-based monthly active users or 100,000 monthly active business users. This would include Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple.
On Thursday, two of the biggest tech companies in the world posted earnings that fell below market expectations, attributed to the ongoing supply chain crisis that is paralyzing the American economy, according to CNN.
For the third quarter of 2021, Amazon’s net sales amounted to around $110.8 billion, which was a 15 percent increase from the previous year; however, this ultimately fell below market analyst predictions of about $111.6 billion. Amazon’s overall net income for the same period decreased from the same period in 2020 to about $3.2 billion, when predictions estimated around $4.6 billion.
Apple’s sales during the same quarter were $83.4 billion, with iPhone sales at $38.9 billion; both were lower than original projections.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”