Washington, June 2 (AP/UNB) — The U.S. Justice Department is readying an investigation of Google's business practices and whether they violate antitrust law, according to news reports.
The search giant was fined a record $2.72 billion by European regulators in 2017 for abusing its dominance of the online search market. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission made an antitrust investigation of Google but closed it in 2013 without taking action.
Now the Justice Department has undertaken an antitrust probe of the company's search and other businesses, according to reports by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Bloomberg News. They cited unnamed people familiar with the matter.
Justice Department spokesman Jeremy Edwards declined to comment Saturday. Google declined any comment.
Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., has faced mounting scrutiny as regulators around the world have focused on tech companies' business practices over the past year. In addition to the 2017 record fine, European regulators also slapped a $1.7 billion penalty on the company in March for barring websites from selling ads from rivals alongside some Google-served ads near search results.
Google says it has now ended that practice.
The company made changes voluntarily when the FTC shut down its investigation, including letting advertisers use information from their Google ad campaigns to create campaigns with rivals.
But an FTC staff report that was released years later showed that the agency staff had urged the presidentially-appointed commissioners to bring a lawsuit against Google. That never happened.
Google commands the lead in digital ad revenue by a wide margin, controlling 31.1% of global digital ad dollars, according to eMarketer's 2019 estimates. Facebook is a distant second with 20.2%.
Politicians and outside antitrust analysts have expressed concern in recent years that Google controls too much of the digital ad process. It makes the technology, hosts the largest search site where ads appear and collects data from all ad campaigns that it runs.
Los Angeles, June 01 (AP/UNB) — A transportation company is betting its sleek new hydrogen-powered electric flying vehicles will someday serve as taxis, cargo carriers and ambulances of the sky, but experts say they will have to clear a number of regulatory hurdles before being approved for takeoff years in the future.
With six rotors on the roof and seats inside for five people, a passenger model of the Skai (pronounced “sky”) unveiled Wednesday near Los Angeles resembles an oversized drone crossed with a luxury SUV.
Like a drone, the vehicle from Alaka’i Technologies takes off and lands vertically. It’s one of many similar electric flying crafts in production, including prototypes from Boeing and Airbus that made successful test flights this year, according to Vertical Flight Society, an industry group.
Most are powered by batteries, which can add a lot of weight. The Skai instead uses very light hydrogen fuel cells to run its rotors, giving it a range of 400 miles (644 kilometers) and the capacity to carry 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms) in people or freight, the company says.
“We just couldn’t get to the point where we could have enough batteries to get to the payload that we knew we needed,” CEO Stephan Hanvey said of the choice to switch to hydrogen power.
Alaka’i says it’s planning a test flight near its Massachusetts headquarters.
It would be flown by an on-board pilot using a pair of joysticks, but the technology exists to eventually fly it remotely and even autonomously, Hanvey said.
It will be years before the Federal Aviation Administration allows the autonomous flight of passenger vehicles, said attorney Thaddeus Lightfoot, a partner with the firm Dorsey & Whitney who helps companies navigate FAA rules.
Regulators are still grappling with the proliferation of smaller drones — those under about 50 pounds flown by hobbyists and filmmakers. The FAA just this year eased restrictions on flying small drones over crowds and at night.
Drone-like vehicles such as the Skai must first simply prove their airworthiness, like any common plane, Lightfoot said. After that, getting commercial certification is another convoluted process, he said.
“The technology is interesting, but the regulatory road will be very long,” said Lightfoot, adding that the idea of allowing people to fly in a large aircraft without a pilot is “well outside the current regulatory regime.”
Hanvey conceded that it could take at least a decade before the company realizes his vision of a fleet of electric flying vehicles ferrying passengers over major cities at nearly 120 mph.
Before that, he hopes to see Skai aircraft used by first responders to send in food or water following disasters like hurricanes or wildfires that can destroy infrastructure.
It could be used as an ambulance and to evacuate people, Hanvey said. Outfitted with a transmitter, one could serve as a mobile cell tower, hovering for up to 10 hours over a neighborhood to provide communication services, he said.
Dhaka, Jun 1 (AP/UNB) - In an ominous but vague warning, China said Friday that it was drawing up a list of "unreliable" foreign companies, organizations and individuals for targeting in what could signal retaliation for U.S. sanctions on the Chinese tech powerhouse Huawei.
"We think it may be the beginning of Beijing's attempt to roll out a retaliatory framework," said Paul Triolo of the global risk assessment firm Eurasia Group. "That could include a number of other elements, such as restrictions on rare earth shipments" — minerals that are crucial in many mobile devices and electric cars made by U.S. companies.
The move follows additional measures this week that deepen the bite of U.S. sanctions imposed on Huawei in mid-May amid an escalating trade war, whose backdrop is the two powers' struggle for long-term technological and economic dominance.
Several leading U.S.-based global technology standards-setting groups announced restrictions on Huawei's participation in their activities under the U.S. Commerce Department restrictions, which bar the sale and transfer of U.S. technology to Huawei without government approval.
Such groups are vital battlegrounds for industry players, who use them to try to influence the development of next-generation technologies in their favor. Excluding Huawei would put the company at serious disadvantage against rivals outside China.
Also Friday, The Financial Times said the company had ordered employees to cancel technical meetings with Americans and sent home U.S. employees working at its Chinese headquarters.
Huawei is the world's No. 1 network equipment provider and second-largest smartphone maker. U.S. officials claim Huawei is legally beholden to China's ruling Communists, which could use the company's products for cyberespionage, though the U.S. has presented no evidence of intentional spying.
In blacklisting Huawei, the Commerce Department cited the company's theft of intellectual property and evading of Iran sanctions. A 90-day grace period allows continued support of existing Huawei equipment. But under the export restrictions, U.S. suppliers including Qualcomm, Intel, Google and Microsoft cannot ship computer chips, software and other components for new Huawei equipment.
In apparent response, a spokesman for China's commerce ministry said Friday in Beijing that it was establishing a list of foreign enterprises, organizations and individuals deemed to be "unreliable entities."
Entities are "unreliable" if they "fail to comply with market rules, break from the spirit of contracts and block or stop supplying Chinese enterprise for non-commercial reasons, seriously damaging the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises," ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a news briefing. Gao said "necessary measures" against the transgressors would be announced "in the near future."
He said the creation of China's list is justified by national security concerns and Beijing's opposition to trade protection and "unilateralism" — a likely reference to the Trump administration's go-it-alone approach to global trade and security policy.
But China's options are limited.
Triolo of Eurasia Group said China doesn't have any retaliatory options that don't also hurt China's business climate. Cutting exports of rare earth minerals to the U.S., for instance, could also hurt China, as the country is the leading exporter of such materials.
In the latest blow to Huawei, the world's largest association of technical professionals, IEEE, moved this week to restrict employees of the Chinese company from peer-reviewing research papers , citing the U.S. sanctions.
The New Jersey-based IEEE is a leading developer of telecommunications, information technology and power generation standards and claims 422,000 members in more than 160 countries , more than half of them outside the United States. It has about 200 different publications.
IEEE media officials did not return phone calls and emails seeking clarification on a leaked email widely circulated online . The email advises editors-in-chief of IEEE journals of potential "severe legal implications" if Huawei employees aren't removed from the peer-review process on scientific papers.
Huawei had no comment on the IEEE action. But China's state news agency Xinhua said Chinese scientists have no choice but to leave IEEE, calling the decision a "smear" that will damage the scientific organization's objectivity and authority.
"We all believe that IEEE is an international society, not just one belonging to the U.S," Zhang Haixia, a nanotechnology scientist at Peking University, posted on her lab's social media account. She said she was leaving two IEEE editorial boards .
Also this week, two major international standards organizations — the Wi-Fi Alliance and SD Association — said they were temporarily restricting Huawei participation in activities covered by the U.S. restrictions.
Austin, Texas-based Wi-Fi Alliance, which has more than 550 members and certifies wireless network products, did not respond to questions seeking clarification on what activities it was restricting.
Kevin Schader, spokesman for the San Ramon, California-based SD Association , said Huawei is unable to participate in developing standards for memory cards. The group has 900 members worldwide.
The development of standards for next-generation 5G wireless equipment — in which Huawei has played a central role — is exempt from the U.S. restrictions until the grace period ends on Aug. 21. That exemption could be extended.
Many analysts consider the restrictions a pressure tactic by Washington to encourage a wholesale ban by European allies on Huawei equipment in their 5G rollouts, which countries including Britain, France and Germany have resisted.
The Financial Times, meantime, quoted Huawei's chief strategy architect, Dang Wenshuan, as saying that U.S. citizens working in research and development at the company's Shenzhen headquarters were sent home two weeks ago.
It said a workshop underway at Huawei at the time was "hastily disbanded, and American delegates were asked to remove their laptops, isolate their networks and leave the Huawei premises."
The paper quoted Dang as saying that Huawei was also limiting interactions between its employees and American citizens.
Huawei declined to comment on the FT report.
Dhaka, May 30 (UNB)- Airtel subscribers can avail up to 15 percent cashback on purchase of data packs. The customers have to purchase a minimum of 30 taka data pack to enjoy the offer.
This is the first time a cashback offer has been introduced in the telecom sector.
The offer will provide cashback in the main account of the customers and can be used for any purpose. All Airtel prepaid customers can enjoy the offer.
The cashback is available only on the easy load and USSD recharge data pack.
Washington, May 30 (AP/UNB) — Facing new trade sanctions and a U.S. clampdown on its top telecommunications company, China issued a pointed reminder Wednesday that it has yet to unleash all its weapons in its trade war with the Trump administration.
Chinese state media warned that Beijing could cut America off from exotic minerals that are widely used in electric cars and mobile phones. The threat to use China's rich supply of so-called rare earths as leverage in the conflict has contributed to sharp losses in U.S. stocks and sliding long-term bond yields.
For months, the world's two biggest economies have been locked in a standoff over allegations that China deploys predatory tactics — including stealing trade secrets and forcing foreign companies to hand over technology — in a drive to supplant U.S. technological dominance.
The Trump administration has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and is planning to tax the $300 billion in imports that have so far been spared. And it escalated the stakes this month by putting the Chinese telecom giant Huawei on a blacklist that effectively bars U.S. companies from supplying it with computer chips, software and other components without government approval.
The U.S. claims Huawei is legally beholden to China's ruling Communist Party, which could order it to spy on their behalf. Washington has offered no evidence that the Huawei has done that, however.
Huawei is trying to beat back one punitive U.S. measure in federal court. In a motion filed late Tuesday in eastern Texas, the company argued that a 2018 law that bars it from selling telecom gear to U.S. government agencies and contractors should be struck down as unconstitutional. The move for summary judgment in a case filed against the U.S. government in March says the law violates a constitutional prohibition against "trial by legislature" of individual entities. Congress thus acted unconstitutionally when it "adjudicated Huawei's guilt and blacklisted it," the motion argues.
An attorney representing Huawei in the U.S. case, Glen Nager of Jones Day, asserts that Congress alone cannot constitutionally impose punishment on an individual company — which the punitive law does in singling out Huawei by name.
The law "is intended to drive Huawei out of the U.S. — i.e., to banish it," Nager argued. It "stigmatizes Huawei as a tool of the Chinese government" with no right to a fair hearing, he added.
Steven Schwinn, a professor at John Marshall Law School in Chicago, suggested that Huawei's arguments fall short constitutionally, and "given that this relates to national security, we can expect the courts to be fairly deferential to the government."
The nationalistic Chinese newspaper Global Times warned that China has plenty of ways to retaliate against the United States, including the threat of cutting off supplies of rare earths. China last year produced 78% of the world's rare earths, according to researchers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
If the U.S. fails to exercise restraint, it will see that "China is far from running out of cards, and we have the will and determination to fight the U.S. to the end," the paper's editorial said. An official of China's top economic planning agency did not rule out using rare earths as a countermeasure against "the U.S.'s unwarranted suppression."
President Xi Jinping visited rare earth-related businesses in southeastern Jiangxi province earlier this month. He called rare earths "an important strategic resource" while stressing the importance of owning independent core technologies, the state-run China Daily reported.
China has used rare earths as a cudgel before. Five years ago, the World Trade Organization slapped down China's attempt to restrict the export of rare earths, rejecting its claim that it just wanted to protect the environment and conserve supplies. Instead, the move appeared to be aimed at hurting Japan with which Beijing was having a diplomatic tiff.
Scott Kennedy, director of the project on the Chinese economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Chinese might benefit even less if they try to weaponize rare earths again.
"It's not the threat that it was ... when the Chinese threatened to cut off the Japanese," he said.
First, users of rare earths have stockpiled the minerals for a "rainy day." Second, they also have figured out how to "use less rare earth to achieve the same results" in such products as lasers and magnets. And third, different minerals and chemicals are increasingly being used as rare earth substitutes.
Kennedy predicts that once investors have "realized the threat wasn't as dire, markets would bounce back."
Still, he isn't optimistic about the U.S.-China trade negotiations, which broke off May 10 after an 11th round of talks failed to produce an agreement. U.S. officials accused the Chinese of reneging on agreements they'd made in earlier rounds.
"The Chinese first are going to have to signal they will talk," he said. Then they will have to go back to where they stood before they backpedaled on earlier concessions. "I don't see any body language from the Chinese that they're about to do that," Kennedy said.