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Facebook Goes After Apple

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/14/2020 - 16:25
Facebook is seeking to force a face-off with Apple over its 30% in-app purchase commission fee, which Facebook suggests hurts small businesses struggling to get by during the pandemic. From a report: Facebook has never publicly gone after Apple, a key strategic partner, this aggressively. Both companies face antitrust scrutiny, which in Apple's case has centered on the very fee structure Facebook is now attacking. Facebook is trying to position itself as friendlier to small businesses than Apple, which also faces a lawsuit from Fortnite maker Epic Games over its commission and in-app payment restrictions. Facebook said Friday that it will launch "Paid Online Events" for small businesses in 20 countries around the world to charge Facebook users to attend their classes, instructions and other events. The feature could be useful for any small business or individual offering a service, such a preacher, musician, yoga teacher or cooking instructor. Facebook asked Apple to either waive its 30% cut or let Facebook go around it and process event payments via Facebook Pay, in either case letting event hosts keep all the revenue they generate. Apple declined, according to Facebook. "Really what we're pushing on right now is to make sure all tech companies who can afford to do so join us in supporting small businesses," Fidji Simo, head of Facebook App, said on a press call Friday. Hosts will be able to collect the full ticket price from Facebook users who attend their online events via the web or Android. Facebook says it is using its own payment system on Android and letting developers keep all the money.

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DNC, RNC To Test Limits of Virtual Events as Election Enters Final Stage

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/14/2020 - 14:06
The Democratic and Republican nominating conventions, long mainstays of the US presidential election cycle, have been forced online, creating the biggest test yet for conducting life remotely during the coronavirus. From a report: Robbed of the energy of convention halls, the parties will seek to re-create that enthusiasm in high-production streaming events that beam their luminaries from around the country to online audiences. The Democrats, whose convention begins on Monday after a roughly month-long delay, have lined up the party's most visible figures, including former President Barack Obama. The Republicans, who will make their case for four more years in the White House, grab the spotlight on Aug. 24. Done with savvy and pizzazz, the Democrats and Republicans could galvanize support for their candidates -- former Vice President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump, respectively -- despite the absence of cheering crowds, over-amplified rock music and blizzards of confetti. If technical glitches hobble the proceedings, the parties risk broadcasting a mammoth Zoom call derailed by freezes, connection mishaps and mute fails.

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Google Has Stopped Responding To Data Requests from Hong Kong Authorities

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/14/2020 - 13:06
Google will stop responding to requests for data from Hong Kong authorities with the search giant instead directing requests for user data to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with the United States that is done in conjunction with the Department of Justice. From a report: The move comes after a new national security law imposed by China curbed political expression. Although Hong Kong officials have said that the law would only target a "small minority," human rights groups such as Amnesty International are concerned that police will use the new law as a way to crack down on government critics with those that are found guilty potentially facing life imprisonment. Google, Facebook and Twitter each announced in July that they were pausing the review of the Hong Kong government requests for user data to study the new law, with Google now taking the next step in stopping responding directly. "Since the new national security law was enacted in June, we have not produced data in response to new requests from Hong Kong authorities and that remains the case," a Google spokesperson tells CNET in a statement.

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Epic's Battle For 'Open Platforms' Ignores Consoles' Massive Closed Market

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/14/2020 - 12:10
Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo demand the same platform control -- and the same 30% fee. From a report: Yesterday, Epic used Fortnite to essentially wage open war against Apple's and Google's mobile app marketplaces. First it added a discounted "Epic Direct Payment" option alongside the standard iOS App Store and Google Play payment options in Fortnite, in direct violation of those stores' policies. Then, when Fortnite was predictably removed from both platforms, Epic filed lawsuits against both companies, alleging "anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices" in the mobile app marketplace. That move came alongside a heavy-handed PR blitz, including a video asking players to "join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming '1984.'" But through this entire public fight for "open mobile platforms," as Epic puts it, there is one major set of closed platforms that the company seems happy to continue doing business with. We're speaking, of course, about video game consoles. The major console makers also all exercise full control over what games and apps can appear in their own walled gardens. When it comes to iOS, Epic says that "by blocking consumer choice in software installation, Apple has created a problem so they can profit from the solution." When it comes to consoles, Epic is silent about the same state of affairs. In this sense, consoles are even more restrictive than Android, where games and apps (including Fortnite) can be sideloaded without using the Google Play Store. Yet Google has earned a lawsuit for its role in this state of affairs, while the console makers have remained undisturbed. In addition to the business implications, console makers' total control of their marketplaces also has a direct impact on the types of content that players get to play. Any game that receives an Adults Only rating from the ESRB isn't welcome on any of the three major consoles, for instance. And if you want to use UWP to code an N64 emulator that works on the Xbox One, Microsoft will pull it down as quickly as it can.

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Google Resumes Its Attack on the URL Bar, Hides Full Addresses on Chrome 86

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/14/2020 - 11:14
An anonymous reader shares a report: Google has tried on and off for years to hide full URLs in Chrome's address bar, because apparently long web addresses are scary and evil. Despite the public backlash that came after every previous attempt, Google is pressing on with new plans to hide all parts of web addresses except the domain name in Chrome 86, this time accompanied by an admittedly hover animation. The new look builds upon the animation-less hover reveal that's already in testing, but in contrast to that method, the improved variant also displays the protocol and the subdomain, which remain invisible in the older version. That's achieved with a neat sliding animation that moves over the visible part of the URL to make space for the strings preceding it.

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How Nikiya Simpson brought meaning to her workHow Nikiya Simpson brought meaning to her work

GoogleBlog - Fri, 08/14/2020 - 11:00

In 2009, Nikiya Simpson was dealing with burnout. She’d been working in data processing at a tech company for six years but recently found herself wanting “something more meaningful.” “I felt like the long nights and weekends, the overtime and stress, didn’t contribute to making anyone’s life better,” Nikiya says. “Especially my own.” 

Nikiya decided to leave her job in tech and pivot toward a career in academic research, beginning work at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences College of Public Health. “I built a web-based application that disseminated county-level health data for the state of Arkansas,” she says. That led to more work creating systems for public health and institutional research. Today, she still supports that very first project, as well as works on creating new web and mobile applications focused on digital health and access for people in underserved areas. 

Nikiya is also a Women Techmakers Ambassador in her town of Little Rock, Arkansas. Women Techmakers is a Google-created community that works to promote the visibility and opportunities for women in tech. I recently caught up with Nikiya to learn more about her career in making public-facing tech applications, as well as how Women Techmakers has helped her find community. 


What do you get out of the Women Techmakers community?

I feel so empowered, included and supported as part of Women Techmakers. Everyone deserves to be valued and heard and to have access to opportunities that help us grow as developers or any industry. The group gives us amazing tools to be able to uplift women and support them in their careers. There’s something about being part of a community that helps you when you feel like giving up; that encourages you to keep going.

Community organizing takes a lot of effort. It means reaching out to people who tell you “no” sometimes. Starting a community like this is an incredible experience in teaching, leadership, perseverance and organization. I learn a lot. Not just about tech, but also about people and how to figure out what the community needs. 

What inspired you to enter the public health space?

I want to be a technologist for social good. I get to work with students, epidemiologists, data scientists, researchers and clinicians with different areas of expertise and different areas of research and be a part of their amazing work. I believe the pandemic has shown us the importance of looking out for others. I’m hopeful that by combining my love for education, science and technology, I can be a part of making our community better.

What is the tech industry in Little Rock like?

There’s a lot of opportunity for tech here, although many may not realize this at first. Major employers like Walmart, Sam's Club and Tyson Foods are located here. There’s also a small tech community in the central area around Little Rock, as well as a few startups.

There are a lot of misconceptions about the tech industry. What do you wish more people knew?

Sometimes when we think about tech, we think about “big tech.” I’m challenging myself and others to think about how we can use tech in traditionally non-tech spaces. I ask myself, how can we use tech to improve education, fair housing, healthcare? To reduce poverty, prejudice and racial injustice? 

Do you have any advice for other women in tech?

As a woman, it has been a lot to juggle a career, raise a family, pursue more education and take care of myself. My call to action is to show yourself some grace. Be kind to yourself, too. There are days when it’s not all going to get done. You will probably drop a ball or two. It’s OK. 


Meet Nikiya Simpson, a developer focused on public work and Google Women Techmakers Ambassador from Little Rock, Arkansas.
Categories: Technology

China Sets Trial Run For Digital Yuan in Top City Hubs

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/14/2020 - 10:00
Chinese authorities will expand test use of the country's prototype digital currency across the nation's three leading urban clusters centered on Beijing, Shanghai and the southern cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. From a report: The move, announced by the Ministry of Commerce, expands the coverage area for testing the cyber currency to a potential user base of around 400 million, or 29% of the country's population. It has been trialed since April in four cities with a combined population of 41 million, Work on the digital yuan, which is intended to be interchangeable with the country's paper currency, started more than five years ago but accelerated after Facebook unveiled its Libra digital currency project in June 2019. Rising concerns that the U.S. could try to throttle China's access to the global dollar-based financial system, amid mounting tensions between Washington and Beijing, have fed further interest in the effort. "The digital yuan as a competitor of the greenback is more of a long-term phenomenon," said Andrew Collier, managing director of financial research company Orient Capital Research in Hong Kong. "Digitalization doesn't address the lack of free convertibility of the yuan," he said. "However the digitalization of the currency and other settlement systems gives an advantage to its (China's) institutions, which will be significant when the currency is liberalized."

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A Third of TikTok's US Users May Be 14 or Under, Raising Safety Questions

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/14/2020 - 09:04
If Microsoft or another company buys TikTok before President Trump bans the Chinese-owned video app on national security grounds, it will acquire a giant community of devoted fans and a lucrative platform for selling ads. It might be buying something else, too: a big population of users ages 14 and under. The minimum age for using TikTok is 13. From a report: In July, TikTok classified more than a third of its 49 million daily users in the United States as being 14 years old or younger, according to internal company data and documents that were reviewed by The New York Times. While some of those users are likely to be 13 or 14, one former employee said TikTok workers had previously pointed out videos from children who appeared to be even younger that were allowed to remain online for weeks. The number of users who TikTok believes might be younger than 13 raises questions about whether the company is doing enough to protect them. In the United States, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act requires internet platforms to obtain parental permission before collecting personal information on children under 13. The operators of Musical.ly, an app that was merged into TikTok in 2018, paid a $5.7 million fine last year to settle accusations from the Federal Trade Commission that it had broken those rules.

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TikTok's US Employees Plan To Sue Trump Administration Over Executive Order

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/14/2020 - 06:30
TikTok's US employees are planning to file a lawsuit challenging a Trump administration executive order they say would make it illegal for their employer to pay them. From a report: Last week, President Donald Trump issued an executive order barring any US transactions with ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, and its subsidiaries. The language of the order is broad, so it's unclear if it would bar TikTok from paying its employees. The Trump administration didn't respond to questions about how the order would impact TikTok's employees. The order, which would take effect Sept. 20, would effectively ban the short-form video app from operating in the US if ByteDance doesn't sell TikTok. Microsoft has acknowledged it's discussing a deal to buy TikTok's service in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Negotiations could be completed by Sept. 15, which is before the executive order's deadline.

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