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Tech is reshaping the world — and not always for the better. Whether it’s the rules for Apple’s App Store or Facebook’s plan for fighting misinformation, tech platform policies can have enormous ripple effects on the rest of society. They’re so powerful that, increasingly, companies aren’t setting them alone but sharing the fight with government regulators, civil society groups, and internal standards bodies like Meta’s Oversight Board. The result is an ongoing political struggle over harassment, free speech, copyright, and dozens of other issues, all mediated through some of the largest and most chaotic electronic spaces the world has ever seen.

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Protesters take over NYC streets to tell Joe Biden to ‘end fossil fuels’

Demonstrators flood city streets ahead of a key United Nations climate summit with a clear message for Joe Biden: ‘end fossil fuels.’

US v. Google: all the news from the search antitrust showdown

One of the biggest tech antitrust trials since the US took on Microsoft is underway.

Would Safari have been popular without its Google integration?

Google certainly doesn’t seem to think so. In his questioning of Apple’s Eddy Cue this afternoon, Google’s John Schmidtlein took Cue on a journey through Safari history, and Cue said that Safari’s integration of a search box and URL bar was part of what made the browser worked. And that only worked because Google was there — or so the argument goes.

Also, Cue dropped a classic Apple Reality Distortion Field line: “One of the benefits that Google gets from Apple is that we’re telling the world Google is the best search engine, because that’s what customers expect us to pick.”

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The CIA is preparing to roll out its own chatbot now.

Bloomberg reports that the CIA’s chatbot will help it “find the needles in the needle field” that is the growing collection of surveillance data it buys from tech companies. Bloomberg didn’t learn what model drives the bot, which the CIA will share with other, unspecified intelligence agencies soon.

Bloomberg quotes Randy Nixon, who directs the CIA’s Open-Source Enterprise division, as saying the agency’s data stores “grow and grow with no limitations other than how much things cost.” Agents will ask the bot questions to isolate info from all that data.

I’m sure we have nothing to worry about.

Should Apple add a search engine choice screen to the iPhone setup process?

Apple’s agreement with Google doesn’t allow for that, Apple’s Eddy Cue said in court. And Cue said he doesn’t want to do it anyway: “we try to get people up and running as fast as possible.” But the DOJ is showing exhibits about all the “Ask App Not To Track” screens you see, and the Appearance settings in setup, and more. Their question is: for something as important as search, shouldn’t you let people choose for themselves?

Cue, again, says no. “We pick the best one and let users easily change it,” is his approach. And he says that’s Apple doing right by customers.

Apple’s Eddy Cue says there’s really no “valid alternative to Google.”

We finally got into open court in US v. Google! For the last 45 minutes or so we’ve been listening to Cue talk about the deal he and Sundar Pichai negotiated in 2016 to keep Google as the default search engine on Apple devices. So far, Cue’s stance is simple: Google is the best search engine, so Apple picked it. He says Apple never seriously thought about ditching Google for another provider, or building its own search engine.

The DOJ appears to be walking Cue toward to a privacy question: if you’re so worried about user privacy, shouldn’t you tell people how much Google tracks them and let them opt out? But before we could get there, we took a break. Back at it in a few.

The US v. Google court is starting in closed session today. Again.

Today’s testimony was set to start at 9:30 this morning. At 9:28, we were told to get out of the courtroom, because this morning was beginning as a closed session. Everything about this trial so far has been unusually, frankly bizarrely , frankly bizasecretive and under wraps — the reporters in the hallway with me are all betting that we’re going to be let in for five minutes at the end of the day, just to hear the plan for tomorrow that we won’t get to see either. Who knows!

Today’s an important day in US v. Google.

I’m writing this from just outside the courtroom in DC, where Apple’s Eddy Cue is set to testify today about Apple’s billion-dollar deal to make Google its default search engine. Bloomberg reports that Cue is planning to say Apple doesn’t need to build its own search, because Google is great — but I suspect the DOJ is going to have lots of questions about that.

This deal is a huge financial win for Apple, and a crucial way for Google to maintain its market share. Today’s testimony could be a bellwether for much of what’s to come.

Why the First Amendment protects liars

How a tall tale from a California water official tested the Constitution’s limits.

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Ford stops work on battery factory in Michigan.

The plant’s 2,500 future workers are now pawns in ongoing UAW talks, despite Ford not explicitly saying so:

“We are pausing work and limiting spending on construction on the Marshall project until we’re confident about our ability to competitively operate the plant.”

The UAW wants battery workers paid the same high wages as other autoworkers, but Ford says that it already can’t compete with Tesla or foreign-owned EV makers in the US due to high labor costs.

Net neutrality is making a comeback, baby.

Sources speaking to both Bloomberg and Reuters say that the FCC is ready to launch a grueling effort to reinstate net neutrality rules rescinded under Trump, after Democrats took majority control of the five-member agency on Monday. FCC chair Rosenworcel will reportedly outline the initiative later today, followed by months of notice and comments and voting and, inevitably, lawsuits backed by broadband providers like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast and the lawmakers they help elect.

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The stans have discovered facial recognition.

This report by 404 Media discusses an unnamed Taylor Swift fan TikTok account with 90,000 followers that finds people in viral videos and releases their information, like name, occupation, and social media profiles. It does this using PimEyes, one of several facial recognition search engines. And at least so far, TikTok has declined to remove it.

One target told me he felt violated after the TikTok account using facial recognition tech targeted him. Another said they initially felt flattered before “that promptly gave way to worry.” All of the victims I spoke to echoed one general point—this behavior showed them just how exposed we all potentially are simply by existing in public.

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Wellness influencers sued.

Consumers, states, and the FTC are taking marketing claims from wellness companies more seriously — and, increasingly, there are legal consequences.

The lawsuits come as online promoters move from endorsing other companies’ products to creating and pushing their own. Meanwhile regulators are looking more closely at influencer marketing, which is expected to exceed $21 billion this year, according to an industry report.

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Intel is getting a billion dollars back from Europe — down from $1.4 billion — because its monopoly power WAS bad but maybe not THAT bad.

It’s a convoluted story! Intel paid a $1.4B fine in 2009, lost its challenge in 2014, won its challenge in 2022, and today the EU says it still owes a fine of $400 million (via AP).

Antitrust: Commission re-imposes €376.36 million fine on Intel

[European Commission - European Commission]

The Google antitrust trial is still maddeningly locked-down.

It is frankly shameful that Judge Amit Mehta still hasn’t ruled on opening up access to documents in this industry-shaking trial, let alone made it clear when any of the trial itself would be open to the public. Today, Apple’s John Giannandrea testified in closed court while reporters waited outside with no communication from the court at all. Ridiculous.

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Is a tax surprise the worst surprise?

Alert — if you resold your Taylor Swift tickets you bought on Ticketmaster, you may be on the hook for the profits. Ticketmaster has turned your info over to the IRS already, thanks to a new law, and:

The average price for Taylor Swift tickets sold in the U.S. on StubHub was $1,095, with the best seats going for thousands of dollars, according to the company, which operates an online market for people to resell and buy tickets.

Also, the number of fan resellers skyrocketed.

Climate Week NYC: news and protests surrounding the UN Climate Ambition Summit

Hundreds of governments and thousands of protesters descended upon New York City this week to ramp up action on climate change.

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Apple’s retail employees are getting lower raises this year.

Bloomberg reports that annual increases for Apple’s retail employees, including AppleCare technical support, will be about 4 percent this year, down from eight to 10 percent last year. Bloomberg cites labor shortages, inflation, and unionization efforts as factors in last year’s higher increases. Guess things are back to normal?

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Anthropic releases new responsible AI policy so it can mitigate “catastrophic risks.”

Sam McCandlish, CEO of the Claude chatbot maker, said its Responsible Scaling Policy (RSP) can manage the development and deployment of powerful AI models. RSP is heavily inspired by the US government’s Biosafety research levels and involves Anthropic classifying AI models based on risk levels and scaling safety responses. The company did not specify what else RSP entails.

Anthropic told Venture Beat it wants to solve “key safety problems so that developing safer, more advanced AI systems unlock additional capabilities, rather than reckless scaling.”

Joe Biden and Brazil’s President Lula launched a partnership for workers’ rights.

They’ve agreed on five goals for both countries, including mitigating the impact of clean energy and digital economic transitions on workers and harnessing new technologies, like artificial intelligence, to benefit those workers.

There are still no specifics on how they will develop this partnership and reach those goals, but they want to take the initiative to other international forums and allow other nations and organizations to join.

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Former TikTok workers say they faced racism at the company.

And when they complained to TikTok about their treatment, they were retailiated against, according to a complaint filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Nnete Matima and Joël Carter say their work was sabotaged.

“I did everything in terms of filing complaints, reporting things going up the chain of command — I did everything I possibly could do, but found that the more I spoke up for myself, the worse I was treated,” Matima said in an interview with Bloomberg.