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Politics • American • US
Google to block election ads after November 3
Google to block election ads after November 3
Credit: Rajeshwar Bachu

Axios reports that Google informed its advertisers that the company would broadly block election ads after polls close on November 3.

Google's ban will target ads that are explicitly election-related, or ads referencing the elections, or targetted ads to election-related search queries.

It is not clear how long the ban would last, but advertisers have been told that they should expect it to last for at least seven days after Election Day and that Google would review the situation every week if it extends longer.

Technology • Internet & Web
U.S. judge halts order to remove WeChat from app stores
U.S. judge halts order to remove WeChat from app stores
Credit: WeChat

Early Sunday, the U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler blocked the Commerce Department from requiring Apple and Google to remove WeChat for downloads. The judge issued a preliminary injunction at the request of the U.S. WeChat Users Alliance.

The preliminary injunction also blocked the order barring other transactions with WeChat in the United States that could have degraded the site’s usability for current U.S. users.

Technology • Internet & Web
After Trump "blessing" of Oracle deal, the U.S. will delay TikTok app store ban by one week
After Trump "blessing" of Oracle deal, the U.S. will delay TikTok app store ban by one week
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Logos TikTok & Oracle (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The U.S. Commerce Department on Saturday announced a one-week delay until September 27 on order to remove TikTok app from mobile application stores owned by Apple and Google. The decision came after President Trump has given tentative approval to an Oracle-Wallmart deal that will keep TikTok alive in the country.

Trump said, on Saturday, that "I have given the deal my blessing, I approve the deal in concept."

Climate & Environment
Google says its carbon footprint is now zero

Google says it has wiped out its entire carbon footprint by investing in "high-quality carbon offsets". It became carbon-neutral in 2007 and says it has now compensated for all of the carbon it has ever created.

Technology • Games
Apple and Google removed Fortnite from App Store and Play Store
Apple and Google removed Fortnite from App Store and Play Store
Credit: Epic Games

Apple has removed Fortnite from the App Store after Epic Games implemented Thursday its in-app payment system that bypassed Apple’s standard 30% fee. Later Thursday Google also removed the game from the Android Play Store.

Epic Games responded with a series of calculated actions, including an antitrust lawsuit claiming Apple's App Store is a monopoly, a video mocking the iconic "1984" Apple ad, and encouraging fans to use #FreeFortnite on their communications with Apple.

Spotify’s spokesman Adam Grossberg said, "We applaud Epic Games' decision to take a stand against Apple and shed further light on Apple's abuse of its dominant position." 

Technology • Internet & Web
TikTok tracked Android users’ device identifiers until late last year
TikTok tracked Android users’ device identifiers until late last year
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday TikTok’s Android app collected its users’ MAC addresses for 18 months in violation of the platform rules. The MAC address serves as a unique identifier for each user’s device.

Since 2015, both the App Store and the Google Play Store had banned the collection of MAC addresses as a matter of policy, but the video app used a loophole. According to the Journal, nearly 350 apps on the Google Play Store used a similar loophole, generally for ad-targeting purposes.

Business • Jobs & Careers
Facebook extends WFH policy until July 2021
Facebook extends WFH policy until July 2021
Credit: pexels.com/Pixabay

Facebook has announced that it is extending its work from home policy until July of 2021 for all of its 48,000 employees. Facebook is the latest tech giant to offer prolonged remote work amid the pandemic, following Google and Twitter.

"Based on guidance from health and government experts, as well as decisions drawn from our internal discussions about these matters, we are allowing employees to continue voluntarily working from home until July 2021. In addition, we are giving employees an additional $1,000 for home office needs," so Facebook spokesperson Nneka Norville.

Technology • Internet & Web
Google will prevent minors in the UK and EU from seeing ads for unhealthy food and drinks from October on
Google will prevent minors in the UK and EU from seeing ads for unhealthy food and drinks from October on
Credit: unsplash.com / Robin Stickel

Google has updated its "Other restricted businesses policy" and will start "to restrict the serving of High Fat Sugar Salt (HFSS) Food and/or Non-Alcoholic Beverages (F&B) advertising for minors in the United Kingdom and European Union".

The policy will be applied to the Google Display Network and YouTube and there apply to all people under the age of 18. Google stated that the new policy will be enforced from the 6th of October.

Some examples for the products that fall under these advertisement restrictions are sweetened beverages, cakes, pizza, salt, butter, pork and a number of other products.

Politics • American • US
US House Antitrust Subcommittee will question tech CEOs over dominance of online platform
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Credit: Anthony Quintano (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The chief executives Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Tim Cook (Facebook) and Sundar Pichai (Google) will be questioned today by the United States House Antitrust Subcommittee that currently investigates the into market dominance of online platforms.

Rep. David Cicilline, chairman of the subcommittee has stated that "these platforms have been allowed to run wild and free from really any constraints" adding that the committee has to clarify "what the impacts are of the lack of competition in the digital marketplace".

Business • Real Estate, Housing & Infrastructure
Google announces new internet subsea cable connecting United States and Europe
Google announces new internet subsea cable connecting United States and Europe
Credit: Google

Google has announced that it'll build a new subsea internet cable to connect the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain. The so-called "Grace Hopper" cable will be used to "better resilience for the network that underpins Google’s consumer and enterprise products" according to the press announcement.

The new cable connection will be the first private one for Google between the United States and the United Kingdom as well as Google's first one to Spain. The latter one will be connected to the planned "Google Cloud region in Madrid" and used to integrate it into the global infrastructure. Google has signed the contract with the subsea cable provider SubCom and expects the project to be completed in 2022.

Business • Economy
Google will reportedly keep staff working remotely until at least July 2021
Google will reportedly keep staff working remotely until at least July 2021
Credit: unsplash.com/ Greg Bulla

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Google plans to keep its 200,000+ employees working remotely until at least July 2021. Google would be the first technology company to extend the Covid-19 remote work measures into the next year.

Education • Further Education
Google announces "digital jobs program" funding 100,000 scholarships for career certificates
Google announces "digital jobs program" funding 100,000 scholarships for career certificates
Credit: unsplash.com/Mitchell Luo

Google has announced that it will fund 100,000 scholarships for career certificates of their own "Google Career Certificates" program in order to "help Americans get qualifications in high-paying high-growth job fields".

The goal is to educate people on a need-basis through their online program in order to "help America's economic recovery". In addition, the technology company has announced that it'll commit $10 million in job training Google.org grants distributed through multiple organizations for communities throughout America.

Technology • Internet & Web
Tech platforms accused of having up to thousands of subcontracts with US law enforcement agencies
Tech platforms accused of having up to thousands of subcontracts with US law enforcement agencies
Credit: unsplash.com / Morning Brew

The non-profit Tech Inquiry has discovered alleged ties between technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft with the United States law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, Department of Defense, Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Prisons and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Tech inquiry has analyzed over 30 million governmental contracts from the past five years and sub-contracts below them. They discovered that Google and Amazon several hundreds of subcontracts with United States law enforcement agencies while Microsoft several thousand.

Politics • Asian • China
Tik Tok will exit Hong Kong following new security law
Tik Tok will exit Hong Kong following new security law
Credit: Kon Karampelas

TikTok plans to pull out of the Hong Kong market after China imposed a new security law on the city that gives authorities sweeping new powers, raising concerns about data privacy.

A spokesman for the company told BBC: "In light of recent events, we've decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,".

Other companies including Google, Facebook, Telegram and Twitter have suspended processing government access requests for user data in Hong Kong.

Technology • Internet & Web
Google acquires smart glasses company "North"
Google acquires smart glasses company "North"
Credit: Image Composition: Pendect; Logos via Google & North

On Tuesday, Google announced that it has acquired North, "a pioneer in human computer interfaces and smart glasses," that was founded in 2021.

"They've built a strong technology foundation, and we're excited to have North join us in our broader efforts to build helpful devices and services," so Google's announcement. "North’s technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future."

North has also issued a statement on their website: "We are excited to announce today that North has been acquired by Google. [...] Over the last while, it became clear that aligning with Google would significantly advance our shared vision."

Politics • Asian • India
India bans TikTok, WeChat and 57 other Chinese apps
iPhone displaying the TikTok app
iPhone displaying the TikTok app Credit: Kon Karampelas

The Ministry of Information Technology of India announced Monday the ban of 59 Chinese mobile applications, including TikTok and WeChat. In a press release, the Ministry, states the ban is a response "of the emergent nature of threats" and that the apps "are engaged in activities which is prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.".

At the moment, all listed apps are still available on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store, and it is not clear how the Indian Government plans to enforce the ban.

Technology • Internet & Web
Google to pay publishers for quality news content and absorb paywall costs
Google to pay publishers for quality news content and absorb paywall costs
Credit: Tony Webster (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Google announced on Thursday that it would begin paying publishers to license “high-quality” content in a licensing deal that initially has media groups in Australia, Brazil and Germany signed up.

The first publishers that will be licensing their content are Australian groups Schwartz Media, The Conversation and Solstice Media, Brazil’s Diarios Associados, and Germany’s Der Spiegel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit and Rheinische Post.

Google will also offer to pay for free access for users to read paywalled articles on a publisher’s site. The goal is to let paywalled publishers grow their audiences and open an opportunity for people to read the content they might not ordinarily see.

Technology • Internet & Web
New Google data retention police will delete users' location, web history after 18 months
New Google data retention police will delete users' location, web history after 18 months
Credit: Cesar Solorzano (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Google is switching to an auto-delete setup as its default for web browsing and app history. The company will automatically delete some web and location history after 18 months for new users, and make it easier for existing customers to change their settings.

Previously users had ways to limit data collection and delete history — location history, search, voice, and YouTube activity data — but it was an opt-out experience.

In a blog post, Sundar Pichai CEO of Google stated: "Today, we are announcing privacy improvements to help do that, including changes to our data retention practices across our core products to keep less data by default."

Technology • Internet & Web
Google launches Pinterest competitor named Keen
A look at Google's new product "Keen2
A look at Google's new product "Keen2 Credit: Google / StayKeen

Two teams at Google, Area 120 and PAIR, have launched a Pinterest competitor named Keen to the public. Similar to its competitor the website functions as a curation tool for content on the internet. Keen automatically suggests content based on keywords that the user can then filter. In addition, Keen enables the saving of other content from the web and the collaboration with others. According to the co-founder CJ Adams, the underlying machine learning technologies by the People + AI Research (PAIR) team at Google enable Keen to give better recommendations over time as more content is curated by the user.

Technology • Internet & Web
Surprise cancellation of Google's trial photo printing service
Surprise cancellation of Google's trial photo printing service
Credit: unsplash.com/Nathana Rebouças

Google has cancelled its automatic, algorithm-based photo printing service just months after it was launched. The subscription photo service was introduced as a trial to US-based Google Photos users and send users physical photos on a monthly bases. Google sent an email to subscribers, announcing the cancellation of the service by June 30: "Thank you for your invaluable feedback these last several months. You have provided us with a lot of helpful information about how we can evolve this feature, which we hope to make more widely available. Please keep your eyes open for future updates. Although we will be ending the trial program, we hope that you have experienced some joy from the prints you received along the way."