Tech

French President Emmanuel Macron, listens to Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, during a visit at the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport
French President Emmanuel Macron, listens to Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, next to Olivier Dassault and French Defence Minister Florence Parly during a visit at the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/Pool

June 17, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – A next-generation drone being developed by several European nations must be price competitive or the project designed to project European unity and strength in an increasingly uncertain world will flounder, France’s defense minister warned on Monday.

France and Germany are spearheading the development of a new manned fighter jet to replace the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter jet, as well as a range of associated weapons, including drones.

“I want to tell the companies that this program will only run its course if the drone that they propose is competitive,” Defense Minister Florence Parly said in a speech at the Paris Airshow.

“This is an issue not only for buyers already in the running — France, Germany, Spain and Italy — but also for future export customers.”

Airbus, Dassault Aviation and Leonardo in April, 2018, unveiled a first full-scaled model of the planned Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) drone at the Berlin air show.

The drone, with two turboprop engines, is planned to enter into service in the middle of next decade and will mainly focus on surveillance although a weaponized version is an option.

France’s Thales, Italy’s Elettronica, Germany’s Hensoldt, and Spain’s Indra said they would team up to offer intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance functions for the drone.

(Reporting by Sophie Louet; writing by Richard Lough; editing by John Irish)

Source: OANN

A logo of Mellanox Technologies is seen at their building in Yokneam
A logo of Mellanox Technologies is seen at their building in Yokneam, Israel March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

June 17, 2019

By Rami Ayyub and Tova Cohen

RAWABI, West Bank/TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Palestinian engineers working for Israeli chip designer Mellanox Technologies are poised to share a $3.5 million payout when the company’s takeover by U.S. chip supplier Nvidia Corp is completed.

Mellanox is one of a handful of Israeli firms that have begun to collaborate with the emerging Palestinian tech scene, bypassing the political conflict to tap a growing pool of engineers at costs they say are comparable to hiring from engineering expertise in India or Ukraine.

The chip maker offered stock options to more than 100 Palestinian engineers in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip when it hired them as contractors, even though they are not permanent staff, as a shortage of engineers in Israel makes their skills highly sought after by multinationals.

Mellanox says its Palestinian designers and coders, outsourced through software firm ASAL Technologies, will now be able to exercise those options after Nvidia’s $6.8 billion takeover closes at the end of 2019, and stand to collectively earn as much as $3.5 million.

“We’re very proud they have equity, the same as all other employees in the company,” Mellanox Chief Executive Eyal Waldman told Reuters in an interview.

“Thirty, forty thousand dollars for an employee in the West Bank or in Gaza is a lot of money,” Waldman added, noting that unemployment there hovers at around 40 percent.

The median daily wage in the West Bank is $28 and just $11 in Gaza, according to the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute.

ASAL CEO Murad Tahboub said 125 of his 350 employees work exclusively for Mellanox, which makes products that connect databases, servers and computers, and they were given options in a bid to reduce job hopping among workers.

“(Mellanox) saw value, they saw loyalty in the relationship,” Tahboub said in his office in a bustling high-tech centre in Rawabi, the first Palestinian planned city in the West Bank. “The Israeli market provides an opportunity for the whole Palestinian high-tech sector.”

ASAL’s other clients include Microsoft, Intel and Cisco. Tahboub said his engineers designed 70 percent of Cortana, the virtual assistant created by Microsoft.

High-tech provides a unique opportunity for Palestinians, whose universities produced around 3,000 engineers in 2018, Tahboub said.

Still, Tahboub said Israeli restrictions – particularly curbs on the movement of goods and people in and out of the West Bank and Gaza – deter multinationals from investing in or outsourcing from the Palestinian territories.

“(Investors) avoid risk. Why should I invest in a startup in Palestine if I’m not sure if the owner of that startup can travel to the U.S.?”, Tahboub asked.

Those challenges are intimately felt in Gaza, whose economy has suffered from years of Israeli and Egyptian blockades. Economic cooperation between Israel and Gaza is mostly limited to merchants importing goods, including cement and petrol.

Both Mellanox and ASAL agree tech can be a major boost for Gaza, and they plan to increase their joint remote workforce in Gaza from 25 engineers currently.

Waldman hopes the two companies’ collaboration will help improve relations and reduce tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

“The more positive friction there is between the two people the better it is for us, for the environment, for the Israelis, for the Palestinians,” Waldman said. “I think we can have an impact.”

(Reporting by Tova Cohen in Tel Aviv and Rami Ayyub in Rawabi; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: NVIDIA logo shown at SIGGRAPH 2017
FILE PHOTO: A NVIDIA logo is shown at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

June 17, 2019

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Nvidia Corp on Monday said it will make its chips work with processors from Arm Holdings Inc to build supercomputers, deepening Nvidia’s push into systems that are used for modeling both climate change predictions and nuclear weapons.

Nvidia was long known as a supplier of graphics chips for personal computers to make video games look more realistic, but researchers now also use its chips inside data centers to speed up artificial intelligence computing work such as training computers to recognize images.

To do so, Nvidia’s so-called accelerator chips work alongside central processors from companies such as Intel Corp and International Business Machines Corp.

At a supercomputing conference held in Germany on Monday, Nvidia said its accelerator chips will work with Arm processors by the end of the year.

Arm, owned by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, provides the underlying processor technology for the chips in most mobile phones. But companies such as Ampere Computing, headed by Intel’s former president, have been working to take those chips into data centers, where Intel’s chips are dominant.

But Arm processors are different from Intel or IBM chips in that Arm itself does not make chips. Instead it licenses out the underlying technology so others can make chips with it.

Ian Buck, vice president of Nvidia’s accelerated computing unit, said the project to build a supercomputer with Arm will be a “heavy lift” from a technical perspective.

But he said Nvidia undertook it because researchers in Europe and Japan want to develop super computing chips with Arm’s technology, essentially giving them a third option beyond IBM and Intel over which they can have more control.

“That openness … makes it very attractive,” Buck said of Arm’s technology during an interview with Reuters before the conference. “What makes Arm interesting, and why we’re announcing support is, is its ability to provide an open architecture for supercomputing.”

The move to work with Arm on supercomputers follows Nvidia’s $6.8 billion deal to buy Israeli firm Mellanox Technologies. Mellanox makes high-speed networking chips that help stitch together many smaller computers into a larger one and is found in some of the world’s most powerful supercomputers.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The brand logo of Alphabet Inc's Google is seen outside its office in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: The brand logo of Alphabet Inc’s Google is seen outside its office in Beijing, China August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

June 17, 2019

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google has appointed Stanley Chen as its managing director of Greater China sales and operations, the company said in a statement on Monday.

Chen, who will be based in Shanghai, was most recently general manager of Google Taiwan, a role he held for the last eight years, it said.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Source: OANN

Boris Johnson, leadership candidate for Britain's Conservative Prime Minister, leaves home in London
Boris Johnson, leadership candidate for Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister, leaves home in London, Britain, June 15, 2019. REUTERS/Toby Melville

June 16, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – Boris Johnson, the front-runner to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, pledged on Sunday to “end the digital divide” in Britain with the rollout of full fiber broadband by 2025.

Using his column in the Telegraph newspaper, Johnson, who was criticized for missing the first television debate on Sunday with the other contenders for Conservative Party leader, said he would speed up the rollout of full fiber broadband.

“The government has just set a new target for the 100 per cent roll-out of full fiber broadband – by 2033! … As a deadline, that is laughably unambitious,” he wrote.

“Let’s say goodbye to the UK’s manana approach to broadband and unleash full fiber for all by 2025.”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: OANN

Intel CEO Robert Swan speaks during a roundtable event with members of the media in Tel Aviv
Intel CEO Robert Swan speaks during a roundtable event with members of the media in Tel Aviv, Israel June 16, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

June 16, 2019

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Intel Corp on Sunday launched an accelerator in Israel to develop technologies in artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, and said it plans to bring the project to other countries as well.

The 20-week program, called Ignite, will host up to 15 early-stage startups, offering them business and technical support, the California-based company said.

Intel is already one of the biggest employers and exporters in Israel, where many of its new technologies are developed, and earlier this year said it was investing 40 billion shekels ($11 billion) to expand its manufacturing operations in the country.

“Israel has the deep skill base in AI, autonomous systems and the underlying technologies critical to these inflections that make it a natural choice to launch our Ignite program,” said CEO Bob Swan.

(Reporting by Tova Cohen, Editing by Ari Rabinovitch)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Huawei company logo is seen at CES Asia 2019 in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: A Huawei company logo is seen at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Asia 2019 in Shanghai, China June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

June 14, 2019

By Jan Wolfe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Huawei is demanding Verizon Communications Inc pay $1 billion to license the rights to patented technology, signaling a potential shift in the embattled Chinese company’s strategy for the U.S. market.

A Huawei executive made the demand in a February letter, a person briefed on the matter told Reuters. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the letter on Wednesday. The fee would cover licensing of more than 230 patents.

Verizon spokesman Rich Young declined to comment “regarding this specific issue because it’s a potential legal matter.”

However, Young said, “These issues are larger than just Verizon. Given the broader geopolitical context, any issue involving Huawei has implications for our entire industry and also raise national and international concerns.”

Huawei did not respond to a request for comment.

The following explains why the patent dispute is not unusual and how it could be resolved.

How common is patent licensing?

Patent licensing is very common, particularly in complex industries like telecommunications. As technology has advanced, it has become harder to avoid violating — or “infringing” — patent rights. There are millions of U.S. patents in force, and a typical smartphone implicates hundreds of thousands of them.

Companies like Apple Inc, Nokia Inc and Qualcomm Inc own many thousands of patents issued by governments around the world.

It is not unusual for these firms to try to make money from their massive patent portfolios. Nokia, for example, routinely brings in more than $1 billion a year from licensing its patents to others.

Large companies like Verizon will try to identify patents they might be violating, said Gaston Kroub, a patent lawyer in New York. But that can be a challenge because so many patents are granted every year, Kroub said.

“Sophisticated companies like Verizon understand that they could be approached by licensors of any stripe at any time,” Kroub said. The philosophy of wireless carriers and smartphone companies, Kroub said, can be “let’s deal with these claims as they arrive, because we don’t know who will knock on our door next.”

Tom Cotter, a professor of patent law at the University of Minnesota, said it was possible Huawei executives believe Verizon has been infringing their U.S. patents for some time but for business reasons waited until now to seek compensation.

Patent owners “may not enforce their patents for a period of time, but they can choose do to so whenever they want to,” Cotter said. “It happens all the time.”

What happens if Verizon does not pay?

Huawei may end up going to a U.S. court and suing Verizon for alleged patent infringement.

While some licensing disputes are resolved without lawsuits, litigation is fairly common. Huawei and Samsung Electronics Co recently settled a global legal battle on confidential terms.

A defendant in a patent case typically argues that it does not actually infringe the asserted patents, or that they were mistakenly issued and should be revoked.

In a lawsuit, a patent owner can ask a judge to block sales of infringing products. While such injunctions are rarely granted in the United States, the threat of one can motivate a defendant to settle with the patent owner.

Legal experts said Huawei is likely prepared to go to court.

“I don’t know how you can make a demand of $1 billion and not be prepared for the answer to be no, at least at first, and for the need to litigate,” Kroub said.

Has Huawei been an aggressive enforcer of its patents?

Huawei has long been known for defending itself against U.S. patent infringement claims, rather than bringing them. But that could be changing.

George Koomullil, a patent analyst at Pleasanton, California-based technology company Relecura, said that 10 or 15 years ago Huawei applied for a relatively modest number of patents. But the company has been more aggressive about applying for patents since around 2007, and particularly in recent years, Koomullil said.

Huawei may be more inclined to monetize its U.S. patents now that the U.S. government has limited its ability to sell products in the country, Kroub said.

The National Defense Authorization Act last year placed a broad ban on the use of federal money to purchase products from Huawei, citing national security concerns.

Last month, the Trump administration banned Huawei from buying vital U.S. technology without special approval and effectively barring its equipment from U.S. telecom networks.

Kroub said Huawei’s licensing demand could reflect a “desperation to come up with ways of generating revenue in the U.S. market, especially considering the traditional ways of offering products and selling things to business is closed to them.”

Franklin Turner, a government contracts lawyer at McCarter & English in Washington, said the patent licensing demand may also be a way for Huawei to “retaliate” against the United States.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio said on Twitter on Thursday that the demand against Verizon was an “attempt by (Huawei) to retaliate against the U.S. by setting the stage for baseless, but costly, patent claims.”

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by David Sherpardson and Karen Freifeld; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

Source: OANN

Depleted Western Balkan rivers hit power generation, up prices
FILE PHOTO: A pig feeds on sandbanks which emerged amid Danube River’s lowest water levels this year, in Beska, Serbia, October 30, 2018. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

June 14, 2019

By Sonia Elks

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Artificial intelligence can predict where conflicts over scarce water will break out up to a year in advance and allow action to prevent them, researchers said on Friday.

An early warning tool that tracks water supplies worldwide and mixes in social, economic and demographic data to flag up potential crises is being developed by the Netherlands-based Water, Peace and Security partnership (WPS).

During tests, the system predicted more than three quarters of water-related conflicts in Mali’s Inner Niger Delta, said WPS, which plans to launch it globally later this year.

“We want to detect conflict early enough…to then engage in a dialogue process that helps to address these conflicts – ideally mitigate them early on or resolve them,” said Susanne Schmeier from the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, which leads the WPS.

Climate change often impacts on water – from driving droughts to sea level rises – which in turn can fuel clashes over diminishing resources and force people to migrate from their home areas.

Previous attempts to predict crises have often failed because the causes of conflict are so varied and can be very locally specific.

The WPS said their tool is a step forward as it draws together advances in remote sensing, machine learning and big data processing to provide alerts that can be acted upon.

The system uses data from NASA and European Space Agency satellites that monitor water resources around the world.

It then analyses the information with data from governments, international bodies and research organizations to identify hotspots of potential conflict.

“The machine learning is able to detect patterns in the data where humans can’t,” said Charles Iceland from the World Resources Institute, which is also working on the system.

The alerts can then be used to further investigate the causes of water conflicts and direct targeted help to areas that need it most, the researchers said.

Artificial intelligence can also give a fuller picture of areas where security concerns mean it is not possible to have staff on the ground, they added.

In tests last year using 2016 data from the Inner Niger Delta, the tool correctly predicted water conflicts would break out further south in 2017 as the population grew while resources were diminished by the diversion of water to cash crops.

“The early warning system serves as a prioritization tool,” Iceland told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We can determine the hotspots – the places you have to really tackle immediately – versus other places that may just be simmering or are fine.”

(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Ros Russell. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Broadcom Limited company logo is pictured on an office building in Rancho Bernardo, California
FILE PHOTO: Broadcom Limited company logo is pictured on an office building in Rancho Bernardo, California May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

June 14, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – European semiconductor stocks fell on Friday after U.S. chipmaker Broadcom warned a U.S.-China trade conflict and export restrictions on Huawei were causing a broad slowdown in demand for chips.

Shares in ASML, STMicroelectronics, Siltronic, ASM International, Infineon, and AMS tumbled by 2.7% to 6.6% as the warning reignited fears chipmakers would not keep to their promises of a second-half recovery.

“It’s not just Huawei, it’s deeper than that. Visibility is shot. OEMs [carmakers] aren’t ordering. Inventory concerns, which were supposed to ease, have not gone away,” said a trader.

“Goodbye H2 recovery hopes!” he added.

The falls in chipmakers – which make components used in sensors for smartphones, cars, and medical equipment – drove Europe’s tech sector index down 1%, the worst-performing sector in Europe on Friday morning.

They followed an overnight fall in U.S. semiconductor stocks after California-based Broadcom’s warning of a broad slowdown in chip demand.

The CEO of chipmaker Micron Technology also said the ban on Huawei brings uncertainty and disturbance to the semiconductor industry.

(Reporting by Helen Reid, Editing by Josephine Mason and Susan Fenton)

Source: OANN

Journalists wait for Sony Corp's new President and Chief Executive Officer Kenichiro Yoshida's news conference on the company's business plan at Sony's headquarters in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO: Journalists wait for Sony Corp’s new President and Chief Executive Officer Kenichiro Yoshida’s news conference on the company’s business plan at Sony’s headquarters in Tokyo, Japan May 22, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

June 14, 2019

By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

(Reuters) – Daniel Loeb’s activist hedge fund Third Point LLC called on Sony Corp on Thursday to spin off its semiconductor business and sell off stakes in Sony Financial and other units, in order to position itself as a leading global entertainment company.

This marks the second time in six years that Loeb, one of the world’s highest-profile activist investors, has targeted the Japanese electronics maker – although last time he pushed for a radically different shake-up, pressing for a spin-off of entertainment assets.

Reuters reported in April that Third Point was once again targeting Sony. Its stake in the company is now worth $1.5 billion, Third Point said in a letter to investors.

In a 102-page presentation, the New York-based hedge fund also said Sony’s stock was undervalued in part because of its complex structure, and urged bold action by management to simplify it.

The semiconductor division is “often treated by investors as an afterthought” and should be spun off into a Japan-listed company called Sony Technologies, Loeb said.

While Japan pioneered the semiconductor industry, other Asian countries have eaten into its market share even as Sony has “held its own,” Loeb told investors in the letter.

“New Sony” would become a creative entertainment leader with gaming, music, pictures and electronics businesses, he said.

Sony should also consider selling stakes in Sony Financial Holdings Inc, M3 Inc, Olympus Corp and Spotify Technology SA, Third Point wrote.

By selling off these stakes, Third Point said Sony could “meaningfully reduce complexity” that has been a major negative factor in the company’s valuation.

Sony said it would take the input of shareholders “seriously” and “engage in constructive dialogue” with shareholders.

“Sony welcomes investment in the company. We decline to comment on specifics of our dialogue with shareholders,” the company said in a statement, when asked about Third Point.

The Japanese company has hired Goldman Sachs to advise on dealing with Third Point, a person familiar with the matter said. A Goldman spokesman declined to comment

Shares of Sony rose as much as 4 percent in Tokyo trade on Friday. The stock is up nearly 15 percent since early April, when Reuters first disclosed that Loeb was building a stake in Sony. That compares to a 3 percent drop in the Nikkei 225 index over the same period.

BIG BUSINESS

Makoto Kikuchi, chief executive of Myojo Asset Management in Tokyo, which does not own Sony shares, questioned the wisdom of spinning off the semiconductor unit, which he said benefited other businesses including the PlayStation.

“It doesn’t make sense for Sony to spin off its semiconductor unit as it is one of the successful businesses that contributes to its earnings,” he said.

Loeb threw his weight behind Sony Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida, saying he could create a “Stronger Sony” by shifting his focus to unlocking the value of its assets.

So far the relationship has been cordial and the two sides met in New York last week, when Loeb and several colleagues walked Sony executives, including Yoshida, through the presentation and the hedge fund’s thinking.

For weeks, rumors had surfaced about what Loeb might want Sony to do and how Sony would respond. So far Sony has not indicated what it would do in response to Third Point’s suggestions.

When Loeb first approached Sony in 2013, he built a position of roughly $1 billion and hand-delivered a letter to chief executive Kazuo Hirai, calling on the company to spin off part of its entertainment arm. He walked away with a 20 percent gain on his investment, he has said publicly, regretting that he missed out on bigger gains.

Six years later, Hirai has stepped aside as CEO at Sony and a number of tax regulations have changed in Japan, making it more attractive for companies to potentially spin off businesses that don’t fit together well.

Loeb is also arriving anew amid a fresh wave of activism in Japan where investors like ValueAct, King Street Capital Management and Fir Tree Partners have pushed for change at Olympus Corp, Toshiba Corp and Kyushu Railway Company.

Japanese companies accustomed to their ways are often reluctant to succumb to investor pressure. However, Loeb is no stranger to challenging companies with long odds of success. Last year, he sought to oust the entire board of Campbell Soup Co, despite the founding family’s members controlling much of the U.S. food company. He ended up settling for two board seats.

Third Point returned 9 percent in the first quarter of 2019 fueled largely by gains at Nestle, which was publicly critiqued by the hedge fund in 2018 for its “muddled strategic approach.”

(Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in New York; Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa, Taro Fuse and David Dolan in Tokyo; Editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates)

Source: OANN

The Google logo is displayed outside the company offices in New York
FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is displayed outside the company offices in New York, U.S., June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

June 14, 2019

By Paresh Dave

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google is trying to plug a surge of public scrutiny around the world by overhauling how its policy office operates, with increased emphasis on having policy staffers and top company executives alike building relationships with governments, people familiar with the matter said this week.

Government officials in the United States, India, Ireland, Singapore, Australia and at least several other countries have threatened regulation or launched probes concerning Google’s user privacy practices, its policing of inappropriate videos and apps, and the potential abuse of its dominance in internet search and advertising.

The negative attention on Google’s power and its data collection practices could hurt its public image and force costly business changes.

Google’s global policy office had gone years without a major strategy shift until Karan Bhatia was hired last June from General Electric Co, where he also led government affairs and policy.

In his first year, he has added “government affairs” to his unit’s name before “public policy” to stress relationship building over whitepaper writing, overhauled reporting lines and begun to cut a roster of contract lobbyists, eight of the people said.

The moves aim to get Google’s separate units including cloud computing, consumer hardware and YouTube – along with each unit’s senior leaders – to take a bigger role in lobbying on issues affecting them and set the company up to uniformly challenge similar regulatory threats in different parts of the world, sources said.

In Washington, lawmakers long have raised concerns about Google’s executives not engaging enough to address their concerns or personally weigh in on policy discussions, according to lobbyists. The issue attracted attention last September when senators pointedly left an empty seat for Google at an intelligence committee hearing on election integrity after the company declined to send a top executive to testify.

The empty-seat blunder, as Google’s Washington leadership eventually recognized it, and a string of policy defeats on issues such as copyright in Europe and censorship in Asia have given Bhatia a wide opening to bring changes, sources said. Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, has traveled to Washington each quarter since Bhatia joined, including for a meeting with President Donald Trump.

The company declined to comment for this story. Spokespeople have declined multiple requests to interview Bhatia since his hiring.

NEW STRUCTURE

Bhatia centralized policy crafting through a set of “centers of excellence,” each focused on a separate issue such as data privacy rules, competition law or economic policy, sources said.

Google’s policy team has been organized regionally, a vestige of the company gradual’s expansion into new countries. But different regions with limited coordination each had their own projects to create proposals for addressing the same concern.

Under Bhatia, those regional teams now focus more on interacting with lawmakers and regulators out of the office, sources said.

The four regional heads reporting to Bhatia include Ted Osius for Asia Pacific and Doron Avni for Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Greater Russia. Leaders for U.S.-Canada and Europe have not been named.

Also reporting to Bhatia are Leslie Miller, who supervises the centers of excellence, and Wilson White, who oversees teams focused on relaying insights to YouTube, Google Cloud and other business units.

MORE INTERNAL INVOLVEMENT

Getting Pichai and his product executives to be more involved has been a challenge over the years because Pichai has been reluctant to make engaging with government policymakers a core duty, people said, in contrast to CEOs such as Apple Inc’s Tim Cook and General Motors Co’s Mary Barra.

Bhatia may end up drawing product leaders into government affairs by having individual Google units hire lobbying firms directly in the future, sources said.

He has already begun to reset lobbying contracts. Google recently fired one long-time lobbying firm in Europe and has threatened to drop as many as 20 of its U.S. lobbying firms from the 26 it worked with last year, sources said.

One U.S. firm said it was told its last day would be June 30, while three others said they were awaiting word from Google. All declined to be named because they were not authorized to comment on their client.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources, that Google has fired six U.S. lobbying firms, which together accounted for about half of its $20 million domestic lobbying budget.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Brad Haynes in Sao Paulo and Foo Yun Chee in Brussels; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Leslie Adler)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An attendee takes a photograph of a sign during Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose
FILE PHOTO: An attendee takes a photograph of a sign during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

June 13, 2019

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc has enlisted more than a dozen companies including Visa Inc, Mastercard Inc, PayPal Holdings Inc and Uber Technologies Inc to back its new cryptocurrency, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

Each company will invest around $10 million in a consortium that will govern the cryptocurrency, the WSJ reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The money will fund the creation of the coin, which will be pegged to a basket of government-issued currencies, the report said.

Facebook, Mastercard, Paypal, Visa and Uber did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang)

Source: OANN

Broadcom Limited company logo is pictured on an office building in Rancho Bernardo, California
FILE PHOTO: Broadcom Limited company logo is pictured on an office building in Rancho Bernardo, California May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake

June 13, 2019

By Sayanti Chakraborty and Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Broadcom Inc on Thursday warned of a broad slowdown in chip demand, blaming a trade conflict between the United States and China and export restrictions on Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and the chipmaker cut its revenue forecast for the year by 8%.

Shares of the San Jose, California-based company fell 8% to $258.75 in extended trading and the remarks dragged down stocks of other chipmakers, including Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Skyworks Solutions.

“It is clear that the U.S.-China trade conflict including the Huawei export ban is creating economic and political uncertainty and reducing visibility,” Chief Executive Officer Hock Tan said on a conference call with analysts.

Shares of Broadcom have been under pressure after the U.S. government put Huawei on a trade blacklist last month. Huawei accounted for about $900 million, or 4%, of the company’s overall sales last year.

Tan said that if consumer demand for smartphones remains steady, other phone makers could start taking Huawei’s market share, and those phone makers are likely to buy chips from Broadcom. However, he cautioned that the process will take up to six months.

“What’s the impact of the Huawei ban on a company like us selling components and technology? Well, short term, keep in mind we’ll see a very sharp impact simply because (there are) no purchases allowed and there’s no obvious substitution in place,” Tan said.

Revenue from semiconductor solutions, Broadcom’s biggest business unit, fell 10% to $4.09 billion in the second quarter, while revenue from its infrastructure software business came in at $1.41 billion

Demand for enterprise and mainframe software remained stable, mainly in North America and Europe, Tan said.

The company, known for communications chips that power Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS connectivity in smartphones, lowered its full-year revenue forecast by $2 billion to $22.50 billion, saying that its customers are actively reducing inventory levels.

Net revenue rose to $5.52 billion in the quarter ended May 5, from $5.01 billion a year earlier, but missed analysts’ estimates of $5.68 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net income attributable to ordinary shares fell to $691 million, or $1.64 per share, in the quarter, from $3.72 billion, or $8.33 per share, a year earlier. (https://reut.rs/2F8Mgyt)

Excluding items, the company earned $5.21 per share, beating analysts’ estimates of $5.16 per share.

(Reporting by Sayanti Chakraborty in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by James Emmanuel)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A collection of Bitcoin (virtual currency) tokens are displayed in this picture illustration
FILE PHOTO: A collection of Bitcoin (virtual currency) tokens are displayed in this picture illustration taken December 8, 2017. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

June 13, 2019

By John McCrank

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bakkt, the startup cryptocurrency platform affiliate of New York Stock Exchange-owner Intercontinental Exchange Inc, said on Thursday it would begin letting users test two physically-settled bitcoin futures contracts on July 22.

The crypto-platform, which has faced regulatory delays since ICE announced plans for the new venture last August, said trading was expected to begin sometime in the second half of the year. Bakkt still needs regulatory approval of its custody warehouse, where the digital assets will be stored.

Bakkt aims to draw more traditional financial institutions into the cryptocurrencies space and it has partnered with ICE’s clearinghouse and futures exchange to bring new products to the market. The futures will be listed on ICE Futures U.S., cleared at ICE Clear U.S., and physically delivered to Bakkt’s warehouse.

Exchange operators CME Group and Cboe Global Markets already offer bitcoin futures in the United States, though Cboe’s last contract settles this month and has not been renewed.

Unlike CME and Cboe’s cash-settled futures, Bakkt’s contracts will be physically settled, meaning bitcoin will be delivered to the Bakkt warehouse when the contracts expire.

(Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

US-MONZO-USA
A Monzo Mastercard. Courtesy Monzo/REUTERS

June 13, 2019

By Anna Irrera and Lawrence White

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Fast-growing British digital bank Monzo is launching in the United States through a limited rollout of its app-based checking account and connected debit card, it said on Thursday.

Monzo will make available a few thousand cards at in-person sign-up events over the next weeks in cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, as it seeks to replicate the word-of-mouth support that boosted its UK launch, it said.

It hopes to attract an engaged early-user base which will provide feedback to help tailor the company’s offering to the U.S. market, Chief Executive Tom Blomfield said in an interview.

“We are taking it slow to start with,” Blomfield said. “We want to understand how U.S. consumers think and feel about their money.”

Starting on Thursday, potential customers will also be able to join an online waiting list to receive a card, Monzo said.

Monzo, which was founded in 2015 and is valued at more than 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion), is one of Europe’s best-known “neobanks” that have launched in recent years to compete with established banks by offering more user-friendly digital services.

It has more than 625 million pounds ($793 million) in deposits from around 2 million customers, and says it adds 200,000 users per month.

The bank has seen rapid success in winning customers from the six large incumbent banks in Britain such as Lloyds and RBS, although many customers have yet to switch their monthly pay checks to Monzo.

Around 30 percent of customers use Monzo as their primary bank account, Blomfield said.

In the United States, it will face competition from incumbent banks and their digital offshoots, as well as banking startups such as Chime and Varo Money, and other financial technology companies that have recently launched checking accounts.

It also faces a tougher regulatory landscape than at home.

“For UK fintechs looking to fly the nest, one major contrast will be the complexity of federal- and state-level laws, compared to the UK’s fintech-friendly regulatory environment,” said Richard Lumb, group chief executive for financial services at consulting firm Accenture.

Monzo is launching in the United States with no minimum balance requirements and no monthly fees or foreign transaction fees, but will not pay interest on deposits.

The company has applied for a U.S. banking license, Blomfield said. It is launching in the country through a partnership with Ohio-based Sutton Bank, which is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

(Reporting by Anna Irrera and Lawrence White; Additional reporting by Iain Withers; Editing by Sinead Cruise and Mark Potter)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The Walmart logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE in New York
FILE PHOTO: The Walmart logo in New York, U.S., May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

June 13, 2019

(Reuters) – IBM, Merck and Walmart have been chosen for a U.S. Food and Drug Administration pilot program that will explore using blockchain technology to improve the security of prescription drug supply and distribution.

The companies said they would work with consultancy KPMG to create a shared blockchain network that will allow real-time monitoring of products in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

The project has been authorized under the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) that was set up to increase regulatory oversight of counterfeit, stolen, contaminated or otherwise harmful drugs.

The FDA has previously used the DSCSA to issue a warning letter to drug distributor McKesson Corp for violations involving opioid medications.

Opioids have been tied to thousands of overdose deaths and state and local governments across the United States have filed lawsuits seeking to hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for the epidemic of abuse.

The new project is aimed at reducing the time needed to track and trace prescription drugs, improving access to reliable distribution information and ensuring products are handled appropriately and stored at the right temperature while being distributed, the companies said in a statement.

Blockchain technology, originally conceived a decade ago as the basis for the cryptocurrency bitcoin, will help stakeholders establish a permanent record and can be integrated with existing systems used to trace products while they are distributed.

The project is scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019 and results will be published in a report, the companies said.

(Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Volkswagen carmaker is seen at the entrance of a showroom in Nice
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Volkswagen carmaker is seen at the entrance of a showroom in Nice, France, April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

June 13, 2019

HAMBURG (Reuters) – Volkswagen and Ford are close to reaching a deal on a partnership for developing self-driving cars, the German carmaker’s chief executive said on Thursday.

Volkswagen and the No. 2 U.S. automaker have been in talks for months. The comments on progress are the most definitive from Volkswagen in some time.

The talks are “going well and are nearly complete”, VW CEO Herbert Diess told some 500 of the company’s top managers from around the world gathered at its headquarters in Wolfsburg.

The possible venture comes as the companies compete for investment and engineering talent with peers as well as technology companies.

The partnership also comes as Volkswagen, navigating global trade conflicts, views its relationship with Ford as strategically important.

“Today we are de facto a very Chinese-oriented company. For this we need a counterweight in the U.S.,” Diess said, according to prepared remarks seen by Reuters.

(Reporting by Jan C. Schwartz; Writing by Tom Sims; Editing by Michelle Martin)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The logo of AB InBev is pictured outside the brewer's headquarters in Leuven
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Anheuser-Busch InBev is pictured outside the brewer’s headquarters in Leuven, Belgium February 28, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

June 13, 2019

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the world’s largest beer maker, said on Thursday it was opening a cybersecurity unit in Israel to help protect itself from a growing number of attacks.

Israel is a leader in cybersecurity and many of the world’s largest companies have opened centers there or acquired Israeli tech firms to defend themselves against hackers as the reliance on digital networks and cloud storage becomes more prevalent.

AB InBev’s Tel Aviv hub will focus on analyzing threats and potential attacks, said Luis Veronesi, vice president of global security and compliance. The company did not disclose financial details of the move.

Veronesi told Reuters that AB InBev and the entire industry have been facing increased cyber attacks, ranging from “financially motivated” hacks to attempts at disrupting operations.

“With increasing digitalization, we have to be prepared to defend against anything coming,” he said.

The maker of about 500 brands including Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois began operating in Israel a year ago when it acquired startup Weissbeerger, which developed a platform to analyze beverage consumption at point of sale by connecting beer taps to the internet and collecting data from the register.

Weissbeerger became the company’s local research and development center and it plans to expand its workforce, AB InBev said.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Source: OANN

The Telegram app logo is seen on a smartphone in this illustration
The Telegram app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

June 13, 2019

By Cate Cadell and Josh Horwitz

(Reuters) – The chief executive of Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging app, said on Wednesday the messaging service experienced a “state actor-sized” cyber attack and pointed to China as its likely country of origin.

The service was hit by a “powerful DDoS attack” originating from IP addresses mostly inside China, Paul Durov, Telegram’s CEO, said in a tweet.

The attack coincided with protests in Hong Kong, he added.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks involve sending large numbers of requests in a targeted attack, causing partial or full service interruptions.

Hundreds of thousands of protestors have marched in Hong Kong this week in opposition to a controversial law that would allow people in the city to be extradited to China.

Chinese state media have sharply condemned the protests, which they say is motivated by outside forces and undermines social stability in Hong Kong.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which oversees the country’s cyber policy, did not respond immediately to a faxed request for comment.

Telegram and other encrypted messaging apps are popular tools for protesters globally, who use them to coordinate without tipping off authorities.

Durov added that historical attacks of the same size had coincided with protests in Hong Kong, adding, “This case was not an exception.”

Other apps have faced blocks in China as well during political movements in Hong Kong. In 2014, at the height of the city’s Umbrella Movement, Beijing cut access to photo-sharing app Instagram inside the mainland.

Chinese officials have previously denied allegations of cyber attacks, pointing out that China is a frequently a victim of outside attacks.

(Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Cate Cadell in Beijing, and Josh Horwitz in Shanghai, Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Rashmi Aich)

Source: OANN

Workers are seen near the booth of Huawei Technologies Co under construction at the venue of China International Big Data Industry Expo in Guiyang
FILE PHOTO: Workers are seen near the booth of Huawei Technologies Co under construction at the venue of China International Big Data Industry Expo in Guiyang, Guizhou province, China May 22, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

June 13, 2019

By Marco Aquino

LIMA (Reuters) – Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has asked Peruvian authorities to trademark its “Hongmeng” operating system, a sign it may be deploying a back-up plan in key markets in case U.S. sanctions hit its current business model.

Peru’s anti-trust agency Indecopi said Huawei filed the trademark request on May 27, days after the United States put Huawei on a blacklist that barred it from business with global tech companies such as Alphabet Inc, whose Android operating system is used in Huawei phones.

Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer division, told German newspaper Die Welt in an interview earlier this year that the company has a back-up operating system in case it was cut off from U.S.-made software.

According to local newspaper Diario Correo, there are some 5.5 million users of Huawei cellphones in Peru, a country of 32 million people.

Anti-trust regulator Indecopi said it needed additional information from Huawei before it could register a trademark for Hongmeng. In an emailed statement, Indecopi did not provide details on the documents it said it had requested from Huawei, but said it had given the company up to nine months to respond.

Representatives for Huawei in Peru declined to provide immediate comment and the Chinese embassy in Lima did not respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Marco Aquino, writing by Mitra Taj, editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

Yi Huiman, chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission, attends a meeting of Fujian delegation on the sidelines of the National People's Congress (NPC), at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Yi Huiman, chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), attends a meeting of Fujian delegation on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress (NPC), at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China March 5, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

June 13, 2019

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China announced on Thursday the formation of a Nasdaq-style tech board, the Star Market, based in Shanghai.

China’s top securities regulator Yi Huiman announced the new market at a financial forum in the city.

(Reporting by Li Zheng Shen and David Stanway; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Source: OANN

Uber's Volvo XC90 self driving car is shown during a demonstration of self-driving automotive technology in Pittsburgh
FILE PHOTO: Uber’s Volvo XC90 self driving car is shown during a demonstration of self-driving automotive technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

June 12, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc on Wednesday unveiled its newest Volvo self-driving car in Washington as it works to eventually deploy vehicles without drivers under some limited conditions.

Uber said the new production XC90 will be assembled by Volvo Cars in Sweden and have human controls like steering wheels and brake pedals, but also with factory-installed steering and braking systems designed for computer rather than human control.

Uber Advanced Technologies Group chief scientist Raquel Urtasun showed off the company’s artificial intelligence technology that allows it to drive autonomously for long distances on highways without maps and “on the fly” plot its course and navigate construction zones.

“Our goal is get each one of you to where you want to go much better, much safer, cheaper,” Urtasun said.

Other companies are also working to deploy self-driving vehicles in limited areas as the race to push out autonomous cars across the globe heats up.

Ford Motor Co’s majority-owned autonomous vehicle unit, Argo AI, launched its new fleet of self-driving test vehicles – Ford Fusion Hybrid – in Detroit on Wednesday, expanding to five U.S. cities.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker also opened a research center in Tel Aviv, joining a growing number of major automakers and suppliers setting up shop in the Israeli tech hub.

General Motors Co in January 2018 sought permission from U.S. regulators to deploy a ride-sharing fleet of driverless cars without steering wheels or other human controls before the end of 2019, but is still struggling to win regulatory approval.

Alphabet Inc’s Waymo unit is operating a robotaxi service in Arizona and said last month it is partnering with Lyft Inc to serve more riders.

Carmakers have struggled to maintain profit margins faced with the rising costs of making electric, connected and autonomous cars. They are setting up alliances and outside investors to combat spiraling development costs.

Previously, Uber had purchased about 250 Volvo XC90 SUVs and retrofitted them for self-driving use.

The new vehicles – known by the internal code number 519G and under development for several years – are safer, more reliable and will “soon” replace the older vehicles in Uber’s fleet, said Eric Meyhofer, the head of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group.

“This is about going to production,” said Meyhofer in an interview at an Uber conference in Washington on Tuesday.

The new vehicle also has several back-up systems for both steering and braking functions as well as battery back-up power and new cybersecurity systems.

HUMAN CONTROLS

Uber is not ready to deploy vehicles without human controls, Meyhofer said.

“We’re still in a real hybrid state,” Meyhofer said. “We have to get there and we’re not going to get to thousands of cars in a city overnight. It’s going to be a slower introduction.”

The new XC90 vehicles have an interior fish-eye camera to scan for lost items, Uber said. They also do not have sunroofs since the self-driving vehicles have large sensors on the roof and are equipped with auto-close doors to prevent an unsafe departure.

Uber, which has taken delivery of about a dozen prototypes of the new vehicle but has not yet deployed them on public roads, said the car’s “self-driving system will one day allow for safe, reliable autonomous ridesharing without the need” for a safety driver.

Asked if Uber will deploy self-driving cars without safety drivers in limited areas in the next few years, Meyhofer said “Yes – way before that.” But he added that Uber wants to be in “the good graces of public trust and regulatory trust” before making the business decision to deploy.

In December, Uber resumed limited self-driving car testing on public roads in Pittsburgh, nine months after it suspended the program following a deadly accident in Arizona.

In March 2018, authorities in Arizona suspended Uber’s ability to test its self-driving cars after one of its XC90 cars hit and killed a woman crossing the street at night in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe, Uber’s largest testing hub. The crash was the first death attributed to a self-driving vehicle.

In March 2019, prosecutors in Arizona said the company was not criminally liable in the crash and would not pursue charges. Uber ended testing in Arizona but plans to eventually resume testing in Toronto and San Francisco, Meyhofer said.

The death prompted significant safety concerns about the nascent self-driving car industry, which is racing to get vehicles into commercial use.

Volvo Cars Chief Executive Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement that “by the middle of the next decade we expect one-third of all cars we sell to be fully autonomous.”

Volvo Cars, which is owned by China’s Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, will use a similar autonomous base vehicle concept for the introduction of its first commercially available autonomous drive technology in the early 2020s.

Volvo and Uber said in 2017 that the rideshare company planned to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo from 2019 to 2021 using the self-driving system developed by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group. An Uber spokeswoman said Tuesday that the company plans “to work with Volvo on tens of thousands of vehicles in the future.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Christopher Cushing and Alistair Bell)

Source: OANN

A Huawei company logo is seen at CES Asia 2019 in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: A Huawei company logo is seen at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Asia 2019 in Shanghai, China June 11, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

June 12, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Huawei Technologies Co Ltd has told Verizon Communications Inc that the U.S. carrier should pay licensing fees for more than 230 of the Chinese telecoms equipment maker’s patents and in aggregate is seeking more than $1 billion, a person briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

Verizon should pay to “solve the patent licensing issue,” a Huawei intellectual property licensing executive wrote in February, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier. The patents cover network equipment for more than 20 of the company’s vendors including major U.S. tech firms but those vendors would indemnify Verizon, the person said. Some of those firms have been approached directly by Huawei, the person said.

The patents in question range from core network equipment, wireline infrastructure to internet-of-things technology, the Journal reported. The licensing fees for the more than 230 patents sought is more than $1 billion, the person said.

Huawei has been battling the U.S. government for more than a year. National security experts worry that “back doors” in routers, switches and other Huawei equipment could allow China to spy on U.S. communications. Huawei has denied that it would help China spy.

Companies involved, including Verizon have notified the U.S. government and the dispute comes amid a growing feud between China and the United States. The licensing fee demand may be more about the geopolitical battle between China and the United States rather than a demand for patent fees.

Huawei and Verizon representatives met in New York last week to discuss some of the patents at issue and whether Verizon is using equipment from other companies that could infringe on Huawei patents.

Verizon spokesman Rich Young declined to comment “regarding this specific issue because it’s a potential legal matter.”

However, Young said, “These issues are larger than just Verizon. Given the broader geopolitical context, any issue involving Huawei has implications for our entire industry and also raise national and international concerns.”

Huawei and U.S. wireless carriers T-Mobile US Inc and AT&T Inc did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment. Sprint Corp declined to comment.

The United States last month put Huawei on a blacklist that barred it from doing business with U.S. companies on security grounds without government approval, prompting some global tech firms to cut ties with the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker.

Washington is also seeking the extradition of Huawei Chief Financial Executive Meng Wanzhou from Canada after her arrest in Vancouver last December on a U.S. warrant.

China has since upped the pressure on Canada, halting Canadian canola imports and in May suspended the permits of two major pork producers.

(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Anil D’Silva, Sriraj Kalluvila and Sandra Maler)

Source: OANN

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes his keynote speech during Facebook Inc's annual F8 developers conference in San Jose
FILE PHOTO: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg makes his keynote speech during Facebook Inc’s annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

June 12, 2019

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc uncovered emails that appear to show Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s connection to potentially problematic privacy practices at the company, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Shares of the Menlo Park, California-based company fell 2.5% to $173.64.

(Reporting by Sayanti Chakraborty in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Stickers bearing the Facebook logo are pictured at Facebook Inc's F8 developers conference in San Jose
FILE PHOTO: Stickers bearing the Facebook logo are pictured at Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

June 12, 2019

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc said on Wednesday monthly users to its Watch video service had doubled since December while announcing more partnerships with international broadcasters and publishers in its bid to take on Alphabet Inc’s YouTube.

Some 720 million people monthly and 140 million people daily now spend at least one minute daily on Facebook Watch, the company said, as it outlined the expansion of its money-generating Ad Breaks service into Canada and five new languages.

The company rolled out the video service globally last year, one year after it was launched in the United States, and had 75 million people spending at least a minute on the service daily in December.

Facebook said it was partnering with global publishers to bring popular shows like The Voice Germany, Germany’s Next Top Model and match previews, as well as highlights of the ongoing Cricket World Cup, to the Watch platform.

The company, which is also investing in its own “Originals” content for the service, is pushing ahead with the expansion into YouTube’s territory despite increasing scrutiny of how user-generated videos can serve as gateways for radicalization.

Facebook has received flak from regulators over the past year for how it moderates content on its platforms and it has controls in place for publishers seeking to make money for their content through Ad Breaks.

To be eligible, pages need to have been creating 3-minute videos that have generated more than 30,000 1-minute views in the past two months, have 10,000+ Facebook followers, and be located in a country where Ad Breaks is available.

All videos with ad breaks also undergo a partially automated, partially human-driven review process aimed at ensuring it meets the company’s content guidelines.

(Reporting by Mekhla Raina and Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham)

Source: OANN

The Ford logo is seen on a vehicle at the New York Auto Show in New York
FILE PHOTO: The Ford logo is seen on a vehicle at the New York Auto Show in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

June 12, 2019

(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co’s majority owned autonomous vehicle subsidiary, Argo AI, launched its new fleet of self-driving test vehicles – Ford Fusion Hybrid – in Detroit on Wednesday, expanding its presence to five U.S. cities.

The new cars are equipped with upgraded sensors, including radars and cameras with higher resolution and range, the company said.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker is in talks with German car maker Volkswagen AG to develop self-driving vehicles as its autonomous vehicles unit competes for investment and engineering talent with peers as well as technology companies.

General Motors’ majority owned Cruise robotaxi business, Aurora, recently announced a partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, while Alphabet and Uber are also investing in their self-driving projects.

Argo already operates vehicles in Pittsburgh, Palo Alto, Miami and Washington D.C.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: People pose with mobile devices in front of projection of Youtube logo in this picture illustration taken in Zenica
FILE PHOTO: People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Youtube logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

June 12, 2019

By James Pearson

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam has asked companies not to advertise on videos hosted by Google’s YouTube that contain “anti-state propaganda,” state media said on Wednesday, as the Southeast Asian country ramps up pressure on global tech giants.

Despite economic reforms and increasing openness to social change, the ruling Communist Party retains tight media censorship in Vietnam and does not tolerate dissent.

“Google was found to loosely manage its content, allowing users to buy ads directly from YouTube and Google without the involvement of domestic ad agents,” the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) said, referring to a June 7 announcement by the Ministry of Information and Communication.

The ministry listed several foreign companies, including Samsung Electronics, Huawei Technologies, Yamaha Motors and ride-sharing app Grab, which were found to have advertised on videos containing “illegal and malicious content,” it added.

Vietnam’s information ministry has identified about 55,000 YouTube videos it deemed “harmful”, or in violation of Vietnamese law, the agency said. Of these, 8,000 were deleted at the request of Vietnamese authorities.

“In the near future, the authorities will ask YouTube to identify Vietnamese channels, and only certified ones will be considered for ad revenue sharing,” it added, without elaborating.

A controversial law on cybersecurity took effect in January that requires companies to set up offices in Vietnam and store data there.

Global technology firms and rights groups have pushed back against the law, and some company officials have privately expressed concern it could allow authorities to more easily seize customer data and expose Vietnamese employees to arrest.

In the months before introduction of the law, Facebook increased curbs on content by more than 500% in Vietnam, the social media giant said last month.

In January, days after the new law took effect, Vietnam said Facebook had violated it by letting users post anti-government comments.

Vietnam’s information ministry has asked businesses to “actively review” their advertising on social media, VNA said.

“The (information) ministry will work with the State Bank of Vietnam and relevant agencies to closely manage ad revenue flows on YouTube and Google,” it said.

Reuters could not immediately reach a Google spokesman to seek comment.

(Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich
FILE PHOTO: An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich, Switzerland December 5, 2018. Picture taken with a fisheye lens. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

June 12, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Bipartisan U.S. efforts to give news outlets new tools to collectively negotiate with large tech firms collecting the bulk online advertising revenue won support on Tuesday at a U.S. House Committee hearing on the fate of local journalism.

U.S. newspapers have cut thousands of jobs as the industry’s ad revenue has fallen 65% to $16.4 billion since 2005, while companies like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc have seen a dramatic jump in online ad revenue.

The bill, which gives small publishers a four-year safe harbor to band together to negotiate with online platforms, won industry backing at an antitrust subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

The bill, which would exempt publishers from some antitrust rules, was introduced by the chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on antitrust, David Cicilline, a Democrat, and Representative Doug Collins, the top Republican on the panel.

At the hearing, Cicilline said local journalism had been pushed “to the verge of extinction” and that the bill would provide “a much-needed lifeline to local publishers who have been crushed by Google and Facebook.”

“We must do something in the short term to save trustworthy journalism before it is lost forever,” Cicilline said.

Collins noted that “if individual news outlets could count on being able to negotiate fair attribution and advertising-revenue agreements with the online platforms, the bleeding could be stopped.”

Richard Gringras, vice president of News at Google, said in an emailed statement that Google drives “over 10 billion clicks to publishers’ websites, which drive subscriptions and significant ad revenue.”

Matt Schruers, a vice president at the Computer & Communications Industry Association whose members include Google, Facebook and Amazon.com Inc, told the committee that “attempting to preserve public interest news with another antitrust exemption for news publishers is unlikely to succeed.”

He added that “permitting favored businesses to cartelize runs counter to U.S. antitrust norms and would disrupt an otherwise functioning market economy.”

David Chavern, who heads the News Media Alliance representing over 2,000 newspapers, said control by “a small cadre of tech giants … over news distribution and monetization threatens the very survival of news organizations.”

News Corp General Counsel David Pitosky told the committee that “the marketplace for news is broken. Healthy markets should incentivize investment, risk and effort by rewarding companies that actually develop superior products.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang)

Source: OANN

The logo of Qualcomm is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Qualcomm is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

June 12, 2019

(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday said in a court filing that mobile chip supplier Qualcomm Inc should not be allowed to put a sweeping antitrust ruling against it on hold as it pursues an appeal.

The filing in federal court in San Jose, California, follows a May 21 decision by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh that would drastically alter the business model of Qualcomm, which supplies modem chips to connect phones to mobile data networks but makes most of its profits through licensing patents.

Among other things, Koh’s decision would require Qualcomm to license its patents to rival chip makers instead of phone makers, which could potentially slice its patent royalties from several dollars per phone to pennies.

Qualcomm on May 28 asked Koh to set aside her decision while it pursues an appeal. The company said that Koh’s decision would entail “radically restructuring its business relationships” in ways that would be impossible to reverse if it wins an appeal.

It also argued that Koh’s ruling raised “serious legal questions” because, among other things, Koh blocked market evidence showing that Apple Inc dropped Qualcomm in favor of rival chip supplier Intel Corp.

In its filing on Tuesday, the FTC argued that Koh’s ruling should stay in place while Qualcomm appeals, saying that a prompt enforcement of the Court’s order is in the public interest.

Qualcomm has signaled its intention to file an appeal but has not yet filed one or fully revealed its legal arguments. Tuesday’s filing by the FTC only concerns whether the ruling’s provisions will be put on hold temporarily as any appeal plays out.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Additional reporting by Ishita Palli; Editing by Bill Rigby)

Source: OANN

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addresses students during a town hall at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi
FILE PHOTO: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey addresses students during a town hall at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi, India, November 12, 2018. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

June 11, 2019

By Paul Sandle

LONDON (Reuters) – Square, the payments company co-founded by Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, has launched an initiative to enable refugee entrepreneurs to accept card and mobile payments, to help get their businesses off the ground.

Square, which Dorsey set up to provide financial services to people neglected by banks, is partnering with The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN) to give cards readers and waive transaction fees for participants.

Speaking at a London Tech Week event, Dorsey told Reuters that nothing the company does “is more important than serving folks like refugees, who are just getting started, in an entirely new culture, entirely new community and an entirely new language in many cases, and just need a little bit of help.”

Muzaffar Sadykov, one of three refugee entrepreneurs to join Dorsey on stage to launch the collaboration, said Square was helping him serve more customers, more quickly, at his street-food business ‘Oshpaz’.

“Nowadays people want to pay contactless,” Sadykov, who came to Britain from Kyrgyzstan, said.

The fact that payments via Square arrived in his account within a day had persuaded him to get involved, he said, given that he was relying on his savings to fund the business.

Dorsey said communities needed to help people of all backgrounds participate in the economy, particularly those who had suffered hardship. “I think that’s critical to a healthy society.”

Asked about the often polarized discussions about refugees on social media, he said it was “necessary to have these conversations, and to address the issues and to acknowledge it and work to fix it.”

Square, which was co-founded by Dorsey in 2009, arrived in Britain just over two years ago with the objective of helping small businesses accept card payments.

Dorsey said he wanted all of Square’s customers to have full control of their data.

“That starts with the customers of our sellers, then it continues to our sellers,” he said. “This is their data and they need to use it in a way that is insightful so they can grow their business – but their customers should also be able to turn it off.”

However, the company has made some missteps, including sending some digital receipts to the wrong customers, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

“As we develop products we are going to find new ways of doing things, things that don’t work, and we are going to correct them,” Dorsey said.

Dorsey said Square could seek similar partnerships elsewhere.

“Right now we are experimenting and we love what we are seeing,” he said. “What unifies (the entrepreneurs) is the sense of ambition, the sense of hustle and doing whatever it takes to make it work.”

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Jan Harvey)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Logo of Google is seen at VivaTech fair in Paris
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Google is seen at the high profile startups and high tech leaders gathering, Viva Tech,in Paris, France May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

June 11, 2019

(Reuters) – Global technology companies are cutting ties with China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd after the U.S. government put the world’s largest telecom equipment maker on a trade blacklist, citing national security concerns.

The United States has effectively banned its companies from doing business with Huawei, exacerbating an ongoing Sino-U.S. trade war. The ban applies to goods that have 25% or more of U.S.-originated technology or materials, and may affect non-American firms.

Huawei is allowed to buy U.S. goods until Aug. 19 to maintain existing telecoms networks and provide software updates to its smartphones.

Following are companies that have suspended business with the Chinese firm:

** ALPHABET INC: Google on May 19 suspended the transfer of hardware, software and technical services to Huawei, except what it has made publicly available via open source licensing.

** U.S. CHIPMAKERS: Intel Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Xilinx Inc and Broadcom Inc told their employees they will not supply critical software or components to Huawei until further notice, Bloomberg reported on May 19.

** LUMENTUM HOLDINGS INC: The optical components maker said on May 20 it discontinued all shipments to Huawei, adding it “intends to fully comply with U.S. imposed license requirements”. Huawei represented 18% of the company’s total revenue in the latest quarter.

** QORVO INC: The radio frequency chipmaker said on May 21 it expects first-quarter revenue to take a $50 million hit due to a halt in shipments to Huawei. The Chinese firm represents 15% of Qorvo’s total revenue in the year ended March 30.

** ANALOG DEVICES INC: Chief Executive Officer Vincent Roche on May 22 said http://bit.ly/2QfqzRz his company will not be shipping anything to Huawei for the foreseeable future.

** INPHI CORP: The optical communications chipmaker on May 22 lowered its second-quarter earnings forecast based on its understanding of the U.S. government blacklisting of Huawei, which accounted for 14% of Inphi’s http://bit.ly/2HI5GKW sales in 2018.

** ARM: The British chip designer, owned by Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, said on May 22 it has halted relations with Huawei to comply with the U.S. ban.

** PANASONIC CORP: The Japanese electronics giant said on May 23 it had stopped shipments of certain components to Huawei. It will still sell some components to Huawei, a point it made clear on its China website.

** NEOPHOTONICS CORP: The optical components maker said on May 23 it wrote down certain inventories as a result of the U.S. ban on Huawei, while “fully complying with the restrictions” by ceasing shipments of products.

** SYNOPSYS INC: The electronic products and software maker said on May 23 the company was restricting trade with Huawei and this will impact its revenue.

** MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC: Chief Financial Officer David Zinsner said on May 23 the chipmaker, which earned 13% of its revenue in the first and second quarter from Huawei, was restricted from exporting additional product to the Chinese company.

** MICROSOFT CORP: The software maker has stopped accepting new orders from Huawei as it moves to comply with the U.S. ban, a South China Morning Post report on May 24 said. The two areas of business between Huawei and Microsoft – Windows operating systems for laptops and other content-related services – have been suspended http://bit.ly/2HyZNRj.

** IQE Plc: U.K.-based maker of semiconductor wafers used in chips said on May 24 that the U.S. ban of Huawei could lead to delay in orders and the need for adjustment of supplier managed inventory levels, mainly in its wireless business unit. IQE supplies wafers to multiple chip companies, some of whom supply to Huawei.

** MAXLINEAR INC: The maker of radio-frequency chips said it had discontinued all shipments to Huawei and its affiliates and cannot predict as to when it will be able to resume shipments.

** SKYWORKS SOLUTIONS INC: The semiconductor maker on June 4 said it ceased all shipments to Huawei and its affiliates and cannot predict as to when it will be able to resume shipments. The company also lowered its third quarter profit and revenue forecasts.

** EMCORE CORP: The maker of optics components lowered its revenue forecast range for the third quarter by $1 million on June 10, citing negative impact to its chip business from the Huawei-related U.S. export restrictions.

** CREE INC: The LED and chip manufacturer said it does not expect to ship any additional products in the fourth quarter for the Huawei build-out and cannot predict when it will be able to resume shipments. It also lowered its fourth quarter revenue and profit forecasts, citing the Huawei ban and softer-than-expected demand for its LED products as global trade uncertainties persist.

(Compiled by Sayanti Chakraborty and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Arun Koyyur)

Source: OANN

The Ford logo is seen on a vehicle at the New York Auto Show in New York
FILE PHOTO: The Ford logo is seen on a vehicle at the New York Auto Show in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

June 11, 2019

By Steven Scheer

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Ford Motor Co may be taking a cautious approach to its autonomous driving program, but its chairman rejected claims that the U.S. automaker was falling behind its peers.

“I don’t agree,” Bill Ford said at an auto tech conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday when asked about losing market share.

“Our self-driving system, Argo, is incredibly competitive. On the technology side, we are right up there with the very best in terms of time of development but we want to take great care before we let people in these vehicles.”

In Israel for the first time to launch an innovation center, Ford said the timing for marketing self-driving cars was unclear given that safety issues need to be resolved.

“We are dealing with people’s lives. We have to be absolutely sure these are ready for prime time in all conditions,” he told the EcoMotion conference.

The carmaker is working with several Israeli self-driving technology firms like Intel unit Mobileye.

Ford told Reuters that ultimately, self-driving cars will come down to trust by customers.

“It’s unknown when the perception gets good enough that it is going to be ready for mass consumer adoption and that’s the part I want to make sure we are incredibly comfortable with before we launch it,” Ford said.

After Ford bought Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-based self-driving startup in 2017, the company has taken aim at providing autonomous vehicle services to multiple partners, who in turn would offer them to their customers under their own brand names.

But with spiraling development costs for autonomous cars in recent years, the company and other carmakers have sought alliances and outside investors.

(Editing by Susan Fenton)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO : A mock of self-driving car e-Palette is displayed at a news conference by Monet Technologies Inc., a joint venture of SoftBank Corp and Toyota Motor Corp that will develop self-driving car services, in Tokyo
FILE PHOTO : A mock of self-driving car e-Palette is displayed at a news conference by Monet Technologies Inc., a joint venture of SoftBank Corp and Toyota Motor Corp that will develop self-driving car services, in Tokyo, Japan March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

June 11, 2019

By Sam Nussey and Naomi Tajitsu

TOKYO (Reuters) – The self-driving car joint venture of SoftBank Corp and Toyota Motor plans to begin operating in Southeast Asia next year, in its first overseas foray, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Monet, which is developing an on-demand self-driving service platform, is planning to export a basic version of the system, Chief Executive Junichi Miyakawa told Reuters.

“Our first step will likely be to Southeast Asia, as applications like transportation services in smart cities, or airport shuttle systems,” Miyakawa said, adding that Monet could begin introducing such services in 2020.

Monet is the first-ever alliance between Japan’s No. 3 telco and its largest automaker. SoftBank Corp, a unit of investment behemoth SoftBank Group Corp, is the largest shareholder in the venture, which was announced last October, with a 40.2% share, while Toyota owns 39.8%.

It plans to roll out on-demand bus and car services in Japan in the next year, and a platform to operate self-driving vehicles as early as 2023 based on Toyota’s boxy “e-palette” multi-purpose vehicle.

Honda Motor Co and Toyota’s truck making subsidiary Hino Motors took a roughly 10% stake each in the venture in March, and Miyakawa said that it would soon take more investment from the domestic auto industry.

“We’re planning to announce an expansion in our stakeholders sometime this month,” he said.

(Reporting by Sam Nussey and Naomi Tajitsu; Additional reporting by Maki Shiraki; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Source: OANN

A member of staff from Alibaba Group introduces the company's newly released cut-price voice assistant speaker Tmall Genie during a press conference in Beijing
A member of staff from Alibaba Group introduces the company’s newly released cut-price voice assistant speaker Tmall Genie during a press conference in Beijing, China, July 5, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

June 11, 2019

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd on Tuesday said its voice-controlled assistant will feature in local vehicles from Audi AG, Renault SA and Honda Motor Co Ltd, as the tech giant expands in artificial intelligence.

The Tmall Genie Auto smart speaker will allow drivers to use voice commands to, for instance, place orders on Alibaba’s online retail platform and buy movie tickets, Alibaba said at the CES Asia 2019 technology trade show in Shanghai.

In the near future, the speaker will also allow drivers to monitor and control smart devices at houses equipped with a Tmall Genie-compatible device, Alibaba said in a joint statement with the three automakers, without specifying vehicle models.

“We are thrilled to partner with global, distinguished auto brands such as Audi, Renault and Honda,” said Miffy Chen, general manager at Alibaba AI Labs. “Together, we can greatly enhance our in-car services and make driving experiences more intelligent and interconnected.”

The Tmall Genie is akin to Amazon.com Inc’s Echo. Alibaba launched the device in 2017 and released an auto version in April last year. Other automakers that have said they will install the device in their vehicles include BMW and Volvo Cars.

Amazon also has a vehicle version of its Echo, dubbed the Echo Auto, which it announced in September.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Josh Horwitz; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

Source: OANN

The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles, California
FILE PHOTO: The Comcast NBC logo is shown on a building in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

June 10, 2019

By Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a bid by cable operator Comcast Corp to throw out racial bias claims accusing the company of discriminating against black-owned television channels.

The justices will review a decision by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that cleared the way for a $20 billion civil rights lawsuit against Comcast to proceed. At issue in the litigation is the refusal by Comcast to carry channels operated by Entertainment Studios Networks, owned by African-American comedian and producer Byron Allen.

The justices did not act on a similar appeal by Charter Communications involving claims by Allen. That case will likely be guided by the outcome in Comcast’s appeal.

The cable operators said their business decisions were based on capacity constraints, not race, and that Allen’s channels, including JusticeCentral.TV, Cars.TV, Pets.TV and Comedy.TV, did not show sufficient promise or customer demand to merit distribution.

Entertainment Studios Networks sued in Los Angeles federal court, accusing the cable companies of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which forbids racial discrimination in business contracts.

The suits pinned the rejections primarily on racial discrimination, accusing cable executives of giving insincere or invalid excuses and granting contracts to carry white-owned networks during the same period.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

Source: OANN

The Ericsson logo is seen at the Ericsson's headquarters in Stockholm
The Ericsson logo is seen at the Ericsson’s headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Olof Swahnberg

June 10, 2019

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Ericsson expects a negative impact on operating income in segment Networks in the current quarter after it reached an agreement to end all patent infringement lawsuits with Intellectual Ventures, the Swedish company said on Monday.

The Swedish mobile gear maker said the agreement included a lawsuit that went to trial earlier this year, resulting in a $43 million jury verdict in favor of patent licensing company Intellectual Ventures.

“While the terms of the agreement are confidential, Ericsson expects a negative impact on operating income within segment Networks in Q2 2019,” Ericsson said in a statement.

(Reporting by Helena Soderpalm; editing by Niklas Pollard)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Workers transport soil containing rare earth elements for export at a port in Lianyungang
FILE PHOTO: Workers transport soil containing rare earth elements for export at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, China October 31, 2010. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

June 10, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – Rare earth exports by China, the world’s dominant producer, fell 16% in May from a month earlier amid an increased focus on the raw materials due to the Sino-U.S. trade war, although the drop was in line with usual trading.

Exports by China, the key supplier of a group of 17 chemical elements used in everything from high-tech consumer electronics to military equipment, swing sharply from month to month, often by 20 percent or more, customs data shows.

May’s exports fell to 3,640 tonnes from 4,329 tonnes in April, but were not far off the 4,264-tonne monthly average since January 2018, according to data published on Monday by China’s General Administration of Customs.

Rare earth prices recently hit multi-year highs following a flurry of state media reports that Beijing could use its supply-dominance of the prized minerals in its trade war with Washington.

China is home to at least 85% of the world’s capacity to process rare earth ores into material that manufacturers can use, according to research firm Adamas Intelligence.

It supplied 80% of the rare earths imported by the United States from 2014 to 2017.

A visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping in May to a rare earths plant fueled the speculation that China would use its dominant position in rare earths as leverage in the trade war.

(Reporting by Shivani Singh; editing by Richard Pullin)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The XBox booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles
FILE PHOTO: The XBox booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2017. REUTERS/ Mike Blake/File Photo

June 10, 2019

By Arjun Panchadar

(Reuters) – Microsoft Corp on Sunday unveiled its next-generation Xbox console, known as “Project Scarlett,” which is set to hit store shelves during the 2020 holiday season.

The device will be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X console and be powered by an Advanced Micro Devices chip, the company said during its Xbox E3 conference in Los Angeles.

The console will show up to 120 frames per second, or twice the average TV, and include a solid-state drive, Microsoft said, allowing games to load much faster than on its older mechanical hard drives.

The latest version of Microsoft’s popular “Halo” videogame will be launched along with the new console.

Rival Sony Corp has also revealed plans of its next-generation PlayStation 5 console, with similar specifications including an AMD chip, but no official release date has been announced. Analysts expect a late 2020 release.

Microsoft said its game-streaming service “Project xCloud” will go into preview in October. Rival Alphabet Inc’s Google on Thursday started taking pre-orders for its Stadia game-streaming service which will launch in November.

A new feature will allow users to stream games directly from their own Xbox console, instead of Microsoft’s servers, the company said.

“Two months ago we connected all Xbox developers to Project xCloud,” Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s executive vice president for gaming, said. “Now, the console streaming service will “turn your Xbox One into your own personal and free xCloud server.”

“Whether you’re using a console in our data center or your console at home, this October you’ll be able to use our hybrid gaming cloud to play your games wherever you go. Where you play is now entirely your choice,” Spencer said.

The company announced “Project xCloud” last October saying it was testing a new game streaming service designed to work across PCs, consoles and mobile devices.

Since then, Microsoft has revealed that the service uses hardware similar to that in its existing Xbox One gaming consoles.

“That means an existing library of more than 3,500 games will work on the service without any changes or modifications required by the developer,” Microsoft said in a blog post in May.

Analysts have said Microsoft is better positioned than most to capitalize on cloud gaming, citing its strength in infrastructure, content it owns, and experience in gaming.

Several technology companies are looking to boost services revenue through games streaming, including Nvidia Corp, Sony and Electronic Arts while Amazon.com Inc is reportedly working on its own service as well.

(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang)

Source: OANN

Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso poses next to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda for a family photo during the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting, in Fukuoka
Japan’s Finance Minister Taro Aso poses next to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda for a family photo during the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting, in Fukuoka, Japan, June 8, 2019. Franck Robichon/Pool via REUTERS

June 9, 2019

By Stanley White and Jan Strupczewski

FUKUOKA, Japan (Reuters) – Group of 20 finance ministers agreed on Sunday to compile common rules to close loopholes used by global tech giants such as Facebook to reduce their corporate taxes, a final version of the bloc’s communique obtained by Reuters showed.

Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other large technology firms face criticism for cutting their tax bills by booking profits in low-tax countries regardless of the location of the end customer. Such practices are seen by many as unfair.

The new rules would mean higher tax burdens for large multinational firms but would also make it harder for countries like Ireland to attract foreign direct investment with the promise of ultra-low corporate tax rates.

“We welcome the recent progress on addressing the tax challenges arising from digitization and endorse the ambitious program that consists of a two-pillar approach,” the final version of the communique showed on Sunday. “We will redouble our efforts for a consensus-based solution with a final report by 2020.”

Britain and France have been among the most vocal proponents of proposals to tax big tech companies that focus on making it more difficult to shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions, and to introduce a minimum corporate tax.

This has put the two countries at loggerheads with the United States, which has expressed concern that U.S. Internet companies are being unfairly targeted in a broad push to update the global corporate tax code.

Big Internet companies say they follow tax rules but they pay little tax in Europe, typically by channelling sales via countries such as Ireland and Luxembourg, which have light-touch tax regimes.

The G20’s debate on changes to the tax code focus on two pillars that could be a double whammy for some companies.

The first pillar is dividing up the rights to tax a company where its goods or services are sold even if it does not have a physical presence in that country.

If companies are still able to find a way to book profits in low tax or offshore havens, countries could then apply a global minimum tax rate to be agreed under the second pillar.

Earlier this year, countries and territories agreed a roadmap aimed at overhauling international tax rules that have been overtaken by the development of digital commerce.

(Reporting by Stanley White and Jan Strupczewski, Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The Electronic Arts Inc., logo is displayed on a screen during a PlayStation 4 Pro launch event in New York
FILE PHOTO: The Electronic Arts Inc., logo is displayed on a screen during a PlayStation 4 Pro launch event in New York City, U.S., September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

June 8, 2019

(Reuters) – Electronic Arts Inc said on Saturday it would launch the second season of its popular battle royale game “Apex Legends” on July 2.

Apex Legends tussles for dominance in the battle royale genre with global smash hits “Fortnite” and “PUBG”.

“Apex Legends Season 2 – Battle Charge” will be available on Sony Corp’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft Corp’s Xbox One and personal computers via Origin, EA said.

It comes with a new Battle Pass, which will have daily and weekly challenges, fresh rewards, new skins for characters and the ability to earn crafting metal.

EA forecast in May that net bookings, or the game publisher’s adjusted revenue, from Apex Legends will be in the range of $300 million to $400 million in fiscal year 2020, adding that the forecast did not assume any contribution this year from future mobile versions or games in the Chinese market.

Apex Legends signed up 10 million players within three days of its launch on Feb. 4, EA has said, a milestone that “Fortnite” took two weeks to reach.

Since the release of its battle royale mode in September 2017, Fortnite has gone on to amass nearly 250 million registered players across the globe, according to a report in Engadget, while Apex Legends had 50 million players as of March 2019.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

Source: OANN

US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin delivers a speech during the G20 Ministerial Symposium on International Taxation in the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Fukuoka
US Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin delivers a speech during the G20 Ministerial Symposium on International Taxation in the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Fukuoka on June 8, 2019.Toshifumi Kitamura/Pool via REUTERS

June 8, 2019

FUKUOKA, Japan (Reuters) – Group of 20 finance ministers agreed to push ahead on compiling common rules that will close loopholes that global technology giants like Facebook use to reduce their corporate tax burden.

Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other large tech companies have come under criticism for cutting their tax bills by booking profits in low-tax countries regardless of the location of the end customer, practices seen by many as unfair.

The new rules mean higher tax burdens for large multi-national firms, but will also make it more difficult for countries like Ireland to attract foreign direct investment with the promise of ultra-low corporate tax rates.

“It sounds like we have a strong consensus,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday at a two-day meeting of G20 finance ministers in the southern Japan city of Fukuoka.

“So now we need to just take the consensus across here and deal with technicalities of how we turn this into an agreement.”

Mnuchin spoke at a panel on global taxation at G20 after the French and British finance ministers expressed sympathy with Mnuchin’s concerns that new tax rules do not discriminate against particular firms.

Big internet companies say they follow tax rules but have paid little tax in Europe, typically by channeling sales via countries such as Ireland and Luxembourg, which have light-touch tax regimes.

The G20’s debate on changes to the tax code focus on two pillars that could be a double whammy for some companies.

The first pillar is dividing up the rights to tax a company where its goods or services are sold even if it does not have a physical presence in that country.

If companies are still able to find a way to book profits in low tax or offshore havens, countries could then apply a global minimum tax rate to be agreed under the second pillar.

“We cannot explain to a population that they should pay their taxes when certain companies do not because they shift their profits to low-tax jurisdictions,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said at the panel.

Britain and France have been the most vocal about the need for a so-called “digital tax,” arguing that corporate tax codes are no longer fair in the age of the large-scale provision of services and the sale of consumer data over the Internet.

The U.S. government has expressed concern in the past that the European push for a “digital tax” unfairly targets U.S. tech giants.

However, Mnuchin said on Saturday G20 countries should issue “marching orders” to their respective finance ministries to negotiate the technical aspects of an agreement after listening to presentations by Le Maire and British finance minister Philip Hammond.

Officials from major countries are expected to meet again twice this year to hammer out the finer details with the aim of finalizing an agreement next year.

Earlier this year, countries and territories agreed a roadmap aimed at overhauling international tax rules, which have been overtaken by development of digital commerce.

(Reporting by Stanley White and Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A Huawei logo is seen outside the fence at its headquarters in Shenzhen
FILE PHOTO: A Huawei logo is seen outside the fence at its headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

June 7, 2019

By Lisandra Paraguassu

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao on Friday told journalists that the government will not exclude Chinese telecom company Huawei Technologies Co from operating a fifth-generation (5G) mobile telecoms network in Latin America’s largest economy.

The United States has asked countries to reject Huawei technology in the development of new mobile phone networks, arguing that it could be vulnerable to Chinese eavesdropping. Huawei denies its equipment is a security risk.

U.S. President Donald Trump raised the issue with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during a White House visit in March.

But Mourao, who met with Huawei Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei on a trip to China last month, said Brazil has no plans to bar Huawei when it launches its 5G network next year.

Huawei has already been locked out of the U.S. market. Australia and New Zealand also blocked it from building 5G networks. Japan’s government said last year it will ban government purchases of equipment from the Chinese company.

Mourao told Valor Economico newspaper that there was no distrust of the Chinese company within the Brazilian government and Brazil needs the telecom technology it has to offer.

Wireless carrier TIM Participacoes SA announced this month that it was using Huawei technology to conduct 5G network tests in southern Brazil.

Huawei also relaunched its smartphone business in Brazil recently after a false start in 2014, and now plans to manufacture phones in the country.

The company said on Friday that it is taking the lead in the global 5G market and has secured 46 commercial contracts in 30 countries.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; writing by Anthony Boadle; editing by Susan Thomas)

Source: OANN

The sign in the lobby of the corporate headquarters of Dish Network is seen in the Denver suburb of Englewood
FILE PHOTO: The sign in the lobby of the corporate headquarters of Dish Network is seen in the Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado April 6, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

June 7, 2019

(Reuters) – Dish Network Corp is open to merging its satellite television business with AT&T Inc’s pay TV service DirecTV, CNBC reported, citing a media report.

Dish and AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A FedEx delivery worker carries a package for a delivery in Wilmette
FILE PHOTO: A FedEx delivery worker carries a package for a delivery in Wilmette, Illinois, October 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

June 7, 2019

(Reuters) – FedEx Corp said on Friday it “has made the strategic decision to not renew the FedEx Express U.S. domestic contract with Amazon.com Inc”.

Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment.

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A FedEx delivery worker carries a package for a delivery in Wilmette
FILE PHOTO: A FedEx delivery worker carries a package for a delivery in Wilmette, Illinois, October 27, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

June 7, 2019

(Reuters) – FedEx Corp said on Friday it “has made the strategic decision to not renew the FedEx Express U.S. domestic contract with Amazon.com Inc”.

Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment.

(Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

Source: OANN

A Huawei company logo is seen at a shopping mall in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: A Huawei company logo is seen at a shopping mall in Shanghai, China June 3, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

June 7, 2019

PARIS (Reuters) – A sale ban on China’s telecoms equipment makers would add about 55 billion euros ($62 billion) to the cost of 5G networks in Europe, according to an industry analysis seen by Reuters.

The figure is part of a report by telecoms lobbying group GSMA and reflects the total additional costs implied by a full sale ban on Huawei Technologies and Chinese peer ZTE for the rolling out of the 5G networks in Europe.

“Half of this would be due to European operators being impacted by higher input costs following significant loss of competition in the mobile equipment market,” the report reads.

“Additionally, operators would need to replace existing infrastructure before implementing 5G upgrades.”

(Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic in Paris; Additional reporting by Douglas Busvine in Frankfurt; Writing by Mathieu Rosemain, Editing by Inti Landauro)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: People pose with mobile devices in front of projection of Youtube logo in this picture illustration taken in Zenica
FILE PHOTO: People are silhouetted as they pose with mobile devices in front of a screen projected with a Youtube logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica October 29, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

June 7, 2019

By Paresh Dave and Christopher Bing

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Fourteen Russia-backed YouTube channels spreading disinformation have been generating billions of views and millions of dollars in advertising revenue, according to researchers, and had not been labeled as state-sponsored, contrary to the world’s most popular streaming service’s policy.

The channels, including news outlets NTV and Russia-24, carried false reports ranging from a U.S. politician covering up a human organ harvesting ring to the economic collapse of Scandinavian countries. Despite such content, viewers have flocked to the channels and U.S. and European companies have bought ads that run alongside them.

The previously unpublished research by Omelas, a Washington-based firm that tracks online extremism for defense contractors, provides the most comprehensive view yet of the Russian government’s success in attracting viewers and generating revenue from propaganda on YouTube, which has 2 billion monthly viewers worldwide.

YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, introduced a policy in February of 2018 to identify channels predominantly carrying news items and are wholly or partly funded by national governments, in order to help users make informed viewing decisions.

YouTube said on Wednesday that following inquiries from Reuters it added the state-funding disclaimer to 13 additional Russian channels, including eight of the channels spreading disinformation.

Twelve other Russia-sponsored channels identified by Omelas with misleading or inaccurate news reports already had the state-funding label.

Collectively, the 26 channels drew 9 billion views from January 2017 through December 2018, Omelas found. Another 24 Russian channels with no apparent ties to disinformation attracted an additional 4 billion views, Omelas said.

Omelas estimated those 13 billion total views could have generated up to $58 million from ads, including some from Western advertisers. It estimated that Russia could have received $7 million to $32 million under YouTube’s standard revenue-sharing program, while YouTube itself would have pocketed from $6 million to $26 million.

An accurate analysis is difficult because YouTube shares limited audience and sales data. YouTube declined comment on the channels’ revenue. Calls and emails to the Russian government and the country’s embassies in the United States and Britain were not returned.

It is not uncommon for state broadcasters around the world to put videos on YouTube. Russia’s channels, though, have faced more scrutiny since the United States concluded that Russian operatives attempted to disrupt the 2016 presidential election by posting fake news to social media from fabricated personas and news organizations. Russia has denied any wrongdoing.

“YouTube continues to enable the monetization of state propaganda, fringe conspiracies and intentional outrage,” said Ryan Fox, chief operating officer of cybersecurity firm New Knowledge.

MONEY-MAKER FOR GOOGLE

YouTube said it welcomes governments in its revenue-sharing program and does not bar disinformation.

“We don’t treat state-funded media channels differently than other channels when it comes to monetization, as long as they comply with all of our other policies,” YouTube spokeswoman Alex Krasov told Reuters. “And we give users context for news-related content, including by labeling government-funded news sources.”

The Russian-sponsored YouTube channels come from government ministries and state media networks, some dating back 13 years, according to Omelas, which based its research on a public database from the European Union of online disinformation sources.

The channels listed by Omelas, of which NTV was the most viewed, contain nearly 770,000 videos, including singing competitions, talk shows and news clips, some more clearly biased or inaccurate than others. A few of the channels are in English, French or other languages but most are in Russian.

YouTube mostly generates its revenue from selling ads placed adjacent to, before or during videos on its service. Some Western advertisers, which were unaware their ads were appearing on Russian channels, told Reuters they were concerned about being associated with questionable content.

Grammarly, an online grammar-checking service whose ads appeared on Russian channels with deliberately misleading news, told Reuters it would never knowingly associate with misinformation.

“We have stringent exclusion filters in place with YouTube that we believed would exclude such channels, and we’ve asked YouTube to ensure this does not happen again,” spokesperson Senka Hadzimuratovic said in a statement.

Other ads reaching viewers on Russian-funded conspiracy videos came from insurer Liberty Mutual, the European Central Bank and software firms Adobe Inc, Yandex NV and Wix.com Ltd, according to research by Omelas and Reuters.

The ECB, Adobe and Yandex declined to comment. Liberty Mutual and Wix did not respond to requests for comment.

John Montgomery, a global executive vice president at ad buying company GroupM, said advertisers can set filters to automatically avoid supporting some objectionable channels but they are imperfect.

“Disinformation is probably the biggest challenge we’ve got on the internet today,” he said.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco and Christopher Bing in Washington; Editing by Greg Mitchell, Dan Grebler and Bill Rigby)

Source: OANN

Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Amazon Jeff Bezos unveils his space company Blue Origin's space exploration lunar lander rocket called Blue Moon during an unveiling event in Washington
FILE PHOTO: Founder, Chairman, CEO and President of Amazon Jeff Bezos unveils his space company Blue Origin’s space exploration lunar lander rocket called Blue Moon during an unveiling event in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

June 6, 2019

By Jeffrey Dastin

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said on Thursday he expects there will be commercial robots in the next 10 years that can grasp items as reliably as humans, a development that could lead to the automation of warehouse jobs around the world.

The remark, made on stage at Amazon’s “re:MARS” conference in Las Vegas, underscored how companies and university researchers are rapidly developing technology to perform human tasks, whether for elder care in the home or for the picking and stowing of goods in retail warehouses.

“I think grasping is going to be a solved problem in the next 10 years,” he said. “It’s turned out to be an incredibly difficult problem, probably in part because we’re starting to solve it with machine vision, so (that means) machine vision did have to come first.”

Bezos did not discuss any Amazon deployments of the technology, which it has tested from the Boston-area startup Soft Robotics, for instance, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters previously https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-automation-exclusive/exclusive-amazon-rolls-out-machines-that-pack-orders-and-replace-jobs-idUSKCN1SJ0X1.

The company has said it views automation as a way to help workers.

Still, Amazon is known for its drive to mechanize as many parts of its business as possible, whether pricing goods or transporting items in its warehouses. It employs hundreds of thousands of people, many of whose primary task is grasping, scanning and placing customer orders.

A variety of companies other than Amazon have also rolled out robotic hands for limited warehouse pilots.

In the on-stage interview, Bezos also discussed Project Kuiper, Amazon’s recent bet to launch thousands of satellites to expand broadband internet access, which he said was “close to being a fundamental human need.”

“It’s also very good business for Amazon because it’s (a) very high capex undertaking; it’s multiple billions of dollars of capex,” he said. “Amazon is a large enough company now that we need to do things that if they work can actually move the needle.”

Asked whether people ever say “no” to Bezos, the world’s richest person and a famously scrupulous boss, he joked, “No! Certainly not twice. No, seriously, I do get told ‘no’ all the time. I seek it out.”

“People who are right a lot, they listen a lot. They also change their mind a lot,” he said earlier in the interview. “They wake up, and they re-analyze things all the time.”

(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin in Las Vegas; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

Source: OANN

A 3D-printed Twitter logo displayed in front of Russian flag is seen in this illustration picture
FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Twitter logo displayed in front of Russian flag is seen in this illustration picture, October 27, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

June 6, 2019

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s communications watchdog Roskomnadzor hopes to make a decision in January on how to force Twitter and Facebook to move its Russian user data onto servers inside the country, the TASS news agency quoted its head as saying on Thursday.

Alexander Zharov said he hoped Russia would not have to block Twitter and Facebook and would prefer to fine them for any breaches, TASS reported.

(Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; editing by John Stonestreet)

Source: OANN

Employees wait for a shuttle bus at a 5G testing park at Huawei's headquarters in Shenzhen
Employees wait for a shuttle bus at a 5G testing park at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China May 29, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

June 6, 2019

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s industry ministry said on Thursday that it will continue to welcome foreign enterprises to actively participate in the country’s 5G market after it granted licences to four domestic companies.

Miao Wei, who heads the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, made the comments in a speech, according to a transcript published on ministry’s website.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh in Shanghai and Sijia Jiang in Hong Kong; editing by Uttaresh.V)

Source: OANN


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