US pulls out of talks to tax tech giants in a blow to Europe’s plans – CNBC

French Finance and Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire (L) greets US Treasury Secretary of State Steven Mnuchin.


The United States has shocked Europe by pulling out of negotiations over an international digital tax and threatened to retaliate if the region moves ahead with plans on its own.

A number of European countries were hoping to impose taxes on digital companies above a certain revenue threshold, which would hit mainly U.S. tech firms given their size.

However, according to the Financial Times, in a letter to France, Italy, Spain and the U.K., the U.S. said international talks had reached an impasse and there wasn't even room for an interim deal. The move effectively ends any chance of a deal soon.

An official working for one of the ministries, who didn't want to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, confirmed to CNBC Wednesday the existence of the letter, adding that a joint response was being prepared. France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told a radio station Thursday that the U.S. letter was a "provocation."

"The United States does not want to continue negotiations on digital taxation at the OECD," Le Maire said on Twitter. "I confirm that there will indeed be a taxation of digital giants in France in 2020 as in 2019," he added.

The U.S. and Europe have been at odds over taxing tech giants for some time. In early 2019, European governments failed to implement an EU-wide digital tax and took the negotiations to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development seeking an international approach.

In the meantime, some European countries decided to implement a digital levy nonetheless. This was the case of France, which was the first major economy to do so.

However, the French decision sparked tensions with the United States, with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arguing the new tax was unfair on American companies. He said the U.S. would impose tariffs on certain French goods in response.

Both countries agreed in January to continue the talks at OECD level and the proposed trade tariffs and digital taxes were put on hold.

The U.K., Italy and Spain have, in the meantime, developed their own digital tax proposal in case OECD talks fail. The organization was due to present a proposal later this year.

Irrespective of the OECD negotiations, the U.S. announced earlier this month that it would investigate Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom for implementing, or proposing, new taxes on digital giants.

"I expected this, but not so soon," David Livingston, a U.S.-based analyst at Eurasia Group, told CNBC Wednesday.

"We're entering into a world of realpolitik in the digital trade space now. With the most important country the United States no longer taking part in the multilateral governance discussions, and with the WTO essentially on the sidelines amid the search for its next Director General, the US will try to deter other countries from following through on their plans through the threat of retaliatory measures," he added.

Meanwhile, Dan Neidle, a tax partner at Clifford Chance, said in an email that "there's a real prospect we end up with a trade war."

"The only real thing these taxes have going for them is that they don't need the U.S.'s consent - they are outside the scope of tax treaties. Otherwise an unprincipled mess. But this is almost certainly now what will happen," Neidle said.

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US pulls out of talks to tax tech giants in a blow to Europe's plans - CNBC

Trump kept these tech giants apart now ones a buy and the other should be avoided – MarketWatch

(This is the second in a series of stories about technology stocks that investors may be overlooking. The first story focused on IBM and FAANG stock valuations.)

Qualcomm Inc. is being discounted by technology investors based on its reasonable valuation and growth prospects as 5G service and equipment is rolled out, said Charles Lemonides, CEO of ValueWorks in New York. The investor believes Broadcom, whose attempted hostile takeover bid for Qualcomm was nixed by President Trump in 2018, is a stock to be avoided.

Shares of Qualcomm QCOM, +0.36% have returned 3.5% this year through June 17, compared with a 12% return for the S&P 500 SPX, +0.65% information technology sector. (Total returns in this article include reinvested dividends.)

Qualcomms underperformance, in part, stems from a decline in demand for smartphone chipsets from Apple Inc. AAPL, +2.61% as iPhone production in China was brought to a temporary halt. (Samsung Electronics Co. SSNLF, is also among Qualcomms major customers.)

Qualcomm and Apple settled patent litigation in April 2019, with a six-year licensing agreement for Apple to use Qualcomms chipsets.

The arrangement was predicated on products that were being developed. Those products have not made their way into iPhones yet, Lemonides, who manages about $200 million for private clients, said during an interview.

There have been reports that Apple will delay its usual September launch of new iPhones (including expected 5G capability), but Apple hasnt made an announcement.

It seems we have been hearing about the amazing world of 5G for years, but Lemonides believes we are at the cusp of a 10-year cycle of upgrades as the transformative technology is finally rolled out.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect Qualcomms sales for its fiscal 2020 ended Sept. 30 to total $20.8 billion, increasing 27% to $26.48 billion in fiscal 2021 and growing another 6% to $27.97 billion in fiscal 2022.

That is real growth, Lemonides said.

At the close June 16, Qualcomms shares traded at a much lower valuation to the consensus earnings estimate for the next 12 months than the FAANG stocks (plus Microsoft):

Scroll the table to see all the data, including projected sales increases for the next two full fiscal years, based on analysts consensus estimates.

When asked about the risk that Apple may decide to move on from its relationship with Qualcomm after the companies current deal expires, Lemonides said: Qualcomm has been able to stay at the cutting edge for 20 years and has been able to do so because they have the intellectual capital to build on. They have been the best in this space.

He pointed to a long point of contention for investors who dislike Qualcomms stock. If we exclude dividends (the stock has a current dividend yield of 2.90%), the shares are only slightly higher than they were at the end of 1999:

Then again, stock valuations toward the end of the dot-com bubble were outrageously high. The forward P/E ratio for Qualcomms stock was 169.6 at the end of 1999, according to FactSet. Its current forward P/E valuation of 19.4 is low compared with the valuation of 24.3 for the S&P information technology sector.

They are the best at 5G. And at [a market capitalization of] $100 billion, they are looking cheap to the projected $26.48 billion in sales in fiscal 2021, he said.

Lemonides predicted Qualcomms annual earnings would go to $6 to $8 within a year and a half. The company is expected by analysts to earn $3.68 a share in fiscal 2020, increasing to $5.80 in fiscal 2021 and $6.04 in fiscal 2022.

So Lemonides is out in front of sell-side analysts, although 63% of the analysts polled by FactSet rate Qualcomm a buy or equivalent.

Lemonides disagrees with the sell-side analysts when it comes to Broadcom Inc. AVGO, +3.55%.

Of 32 Wall Street analysts covering Broadcom, 24 rate the stock buy or overweight. Lemonides recommends investors avoid Broadcom because it has been built on acquisitions and cost-cutting.

It is a shark that needs to keep moving to live, he said.

Some analysts think both stocks can actually offer investors similar advantages. In a report June 16, Mizuho Securities managing director Vijay Rakesh wrote that both Qualcomm and Broadcom offer solid opportunities in the multiyear 5G ramp ahead. KeyBanc managing director John Vinh in a report June 15 included both companies among his favorite ideas.

Broadcom trades at a forward P/E of 13.9, but analysts expect its sales to grow at a pace of 6% in its next full fiscal year and 5% the year after considerably slower than Qualcomms.

Lemonides has a small short position in Broadcom, which puts him in a small group of investors only 1.37% of the companys shares available for trading were sold short, according to FactSets most recently available data, compared with 1.55% in short-sold shares for Qualcomm. (Heres an explanation of why most investors should never short-sell stocks.)

All the acquisitions lead to some complicated adjustments to earnings numbers in Broadcoms quarterly announcements. For example, Broadcom reported earnings per share of $1.17 for its fiscal second quarter, under generally accepted accounting principals (GAAP), but also adjusted non-GAAP earnings of $5.14. The adjusted numbers leave out everything that costs them money, Lemonides said.

Broadcom famously launched a hostile takeover bid for Qualcomm, which was ended after President Trump issued an executive order in March 2018 to bar a possible combination of the companies on national security grounds.


Trump kept these tech giants apart now ones a buy and the other should be avoided - MarketWatch

Apples iOS 14 will give users the option to decline app ad tracking – TechCrunch

A new version of iOS wouldnt be the same without a bunch of security and privacy updates. Apple on Monday announced a ton of new features itll bake into iOS 14, expected out later this year with the release of new iPhones and iPads.

Apple said it will allow users to share your approximate location with apps, instead of your precise location. Itll allow apps to take your rough location without identifying precisely where you are. Its another option that users have when they give over their location. Last year, Apple allowed users to give over their location once so that apps cant track a person as they go about their day.

iPhones with iOS 14 will also get a camera recording indicator in the status bar. Its a similar feature to the camera light that comes with Macs and MacBooks. The recording indicator will sit in the top bar of your iPhones display when your front or rear camera is in use.

But the biggest changes are for app developers themselves, Apple said. In iOS 14, users will be asked if they want to be tracked by the app. Thats a major change that will likely have a ripple effect: By allowing users to reject tracking, itll reduce the amount of data thats collected, preserving user privacy.

Apple also said it will also require app developers to self-report the kinds of permissions that their apps request. This will improve transparency, allowing the user to know what kind of data they may have to give over in order to use the app. It also will explain how that collected data could be tracked outside of the app.

Android users have been able to see app permissions for years on the Google Play app store.

The move is Apples latest assault against the ad industry as part of the tech giants privacy-conscious mantra.

The ad industry has frequently been the target of Apples barbs, amid a string of controversies that have embroiled both advertisers and data-hungry tech giants, like Facebook and Google, which make the bulk of their profits from targeted advertising. As far back as 2015, Apple CEO Tim Cook said its Silicon Valley rivals are gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. Apple, which makes its money selling hardware, elected not to do that, said Cook.

As targeted advertising became more invasive, Apple countered by baking in new privacy features to its software, like its intelligence tracking prevention technology and allowing Safari users to install content blockers that prevent ads and trackers from loading.

Just last year Apple told developers to stop using third-party trackers in apps for children or face rejection from the App Store.

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Apples iOS 14 will give users the option to decline app ad tracking - TechCrunch

You want diversity, inclusion in tech? Embrace remote work – ZDNet

Technology giants are pledging to hire more Black workers and people of color to address inequality, but for actions to become more than words remote work has to be a big part of inclusion efforts.

2020 will go down as the convergence of two trends that could finally move the needle on racial diversity in tech: Remote work and a movement to address racism. These trends are intertwined.

Companies are working to diversify their labor base and address inequality amid racial injustice protests, police brutality and a host of issues that have plagued the US for years. The COVID-19 pandemic forced a move to work remotely and proved that productivity can be maintained. To date, remote work has been seen as a business continuity practice, but we need to think bigger.

The remote work and diversity movements go together. How? Technology companies have typically required employees to work in places that are expensive and out of reach for those without generational wealth. Without some financial help, it is almost impossible for an upwardly mobile poor or working-class person to relocate to a region that takes more economically than it gives. These regions -- New York, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and increasingly Austin -- are out of reach for the middle class too.

By having a business practice that requires employees to move to an expensive tech hub, companies are torpedoing diversity efforts. Companies need to go where the talent is.

Here's the cycle:

Now you can replace Google with any tech company such as Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft and get the same cycle. And these companies wonder why they can't move the needle on diversity -- racial, economic or otherwise. Unless a candidate has generational wealth moving to an overpriced location isn't much of an option.

Without remote work, tech giants will stay in the cycle of hiring candidates from wealthy backgrounds. It's a prep school merry-go-round.


Google last week noted that it is looking to improve Black+ representation at senior levels by 30% by 2025 and will spend $175 million to create economic opportunity"to support Black business owners, startup founders, job seekers, and developers." Google also noted that it will "increase our investments in places such as Atlanta, Washington DC, Chicago, and London."

Investing in those locations may not help much on the diversity front since it's hard to argue those are low-cost locations although Atlanta and Chicago may hold promise. I'd be a bit less cynical if Google said they would invest in offices in Baltimore, Philly, Louisville and Camden.

Fortunately, COVID-19 just forced the greatest A/B test on remote work and accelerated a shift that would have taken years if not decades to play out. Companies are planning to close out commercial real estate leases and adopt a hybrid remote work model. That shift will enable companies to hire in more locations and diversify the employee base.

The argument against using remote work to enhance diversity efforts is that you'd create an underclass of workers that wouldn't move up to leadership ranks. That criticism may be valid, but remote work has given workers a voice they might not have had otherwise. When everyone is a square on a video conference it's just easier to speak up compared to knocking on a corner office door.

In other words, you can identify leadership remotely. And once you identify that talent remotely you can put in relocation programs to make a move economically feasible. By then, these candidates would also have a few years of salary and a financial cushion to consider relocating.

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You want diversity, inclusion in tech? Embrace remote work - ZDNet

TikTok joins the EUs Code of Practice on disinformation – TechCrunch

TikTok is the latest platform to sign up the European Unions Code of Practice on disinformation, agreeing to a set of voluntary steps aimed at combating the spread of damaging fakes and falsehoods online.

The short video sharing platform, which is developed by Beijing based ByteDance and topped 2BN downloads earlier this year, is hugely popular with teens so youre a lot more likely to see dancing and lipsyncing videos circulating than AI-generated high tech deepfakes. Though, of course, online disinformation has no single medium: The crux of the problem is something false passing off as true, with potentially very damaging impacts (such as when its targeted at elections; or bogus health information spreading during a pandemic).

The EDiMA trade association, which counts TikTok as one of a number of tech giant members and acts as a spokesperson for those signed up to the EUs Code announced today that the popular video sharing platform had formally signed up.

TikTok signing up to the Code of Practice on Disinformation is great news as it widens the breadth of online platforms stepping up the fight against disinformation online. It shows that the Code of Practice on Disinformation is an effective means to ensure that companies do more to effectively fight disinformation online, said Siada El Ramly, EDiMAs director general, in a statement.

She further claimed the announcement shows once again that internet companies take their responsibility seriously and are ready to play their part.

In another statement, TikToks Theo Bertram, director of its government relations & public policy team in Europe, added: To prevent the spread of disinformation online, industry co-operation and transparency are vital, and were proud to sign up to the Code of Practice on Disinformation to play our part.

Thats the top-line PR from the platforms side.

Howeverearlier this month the Commission warned that a coronavirus infodemic had led to a flood of false and/or misleading information related to the COVID-19 pandemic in recent months telling tech giants they must do more.

Platforms signed up to the Code of Practice must now provide monthly reports with greater detail about the counter measures theyre taking to tackle coronavirus fakes, it added warning they need to back up their claims of action with more robust evidence that the steps theyre taking are actually working.

The Commission said then that TikTok was on the point of signing up. It also said negotiations remain ongoing with Facebook-owned WhatsApp to join the code.Weve reached out to the Commission for any update.

In the almost two years since the code came into existence EU lawmakers have made repeat warnings that tech giants are not doing enough to tackle disinformation being spread on their platforms.

Commissioners are now consulting on major reforms to foundational ecommerce rules which wrap digital services, including looking at the hot button issue of content liability and asking more broadly how much responsibility platforms should have for the content they amplify and monetize? A draft proposal of the Digital Services Act is slated for the end of the year.

All of which incentivizes platforms to show willingness to work with the EUs current (voluntary) anti-disinformation program or risk more stringent and legally binding rules coming down the pipe in future. (TikTok has the additional risk of being a China-based platform, and earlier this month the Commission went so far as to name China as one of the state entities it has identified spreading disinformation in the region.)

Although the chance of hard and fast regulations to tackle fuzzy falsehoods seems unlikely.

Earlier this month the Commissions VP for values and transparency, Vra Jourov, suggested illegal content will be the focus for the Digital Services Act. On the altogether harder-to-define problem of disinformation she said: I do not foresee that we will come with hard regulation on that. Instead, she suggested lawmakers will look for an efficient way of decreasing the harmful impacts associated with the problem saying they could, for example, focus on pre-election periods; suggesting there may be temporary controls on platform content ahead of major votes.

Facebook, Google, Twitter and Mozilla were among the first clutch of tech platforms and online advertisers to sign up to the Commissions code back in 2018 when signatories committed to take actions aimed at disrupting ad revenues for entities which spread fakes and actively support research into disinformation.

They also agreed to do more to tackle fake accounts and bots; and said theyd make political and issue ads more transparent. Empowering consumers to report disinformation and access different news sources, and improving the visibility of authoritative content were other commitments.

Since then a few more platforms and trade associations have signed up to the EU code with TikTok the latest.

Reviews of the EUs initiative remain mixed including the Commissions own regular must do better report card for platforms. Clearly, online disinformation remains hugely problematic. Nor is there ever going to be a simply fix for such a complex human phenomenon. Although there is far less excuse for platforms ongoing transparency failures.

Which may in turn offer the best route forward for regulators to tackle such a thorny issue: Via enforced transparency and access to platform data.

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TikTok joins the EUs Code of Practice on disinformation - TechCrunch

For Health Tech Startups, Data Is Their Lifeline Now More Than Ever – Crunchbase News

By Vignesh Ravikumar, a principal at Sierra Ventures. Sierra is a Bay Area-based early-stage venture capital firm investing globally with a focus on next-generation enterprise and emerging technologies. Ravikumar is focused on investments in digital health/health care IT, enterprise SaaS and vertical SaaS.

Health care as an industry is undergoing a massive shift driven by high costs, shrinking margins and competitive pressure from the tech giants. As a result, entrepreneurs have raced to solve urgent problems across the health care ecosystem all with the same goal: Improved costs and better health outcomesindustry markers of success.

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A growing class of health tech companies are building software with big payoffs for patients, providers and, in some cases, payers. They include the likes of Flatiron Health, CoverMyMeds, Truven Health Analytics, Reify Health, Outsomes4Meand Deep Lens.

Fascinatingly, in resolving workflow problems, these clever startups are unearthing troves of previously hidden data that pharmaceutical companies are eating up in order to solve pain points of their own. Its a beautiful synergy that creates massive data network effects, reinventing some of the processes in drug discovery and development.

We believe this trend also may hold lessons for startup entrepreneurs losing sleep over how to ride out the COVID-19 economic downturn.

The rise of personalized medicine has created a need among pharma companies for data of unprecedented depth and granularity. However, pharma is no stranger to data. The industry has been a big consumer of data since the 1950s (witness companies like IMS Health). But the volume and variety of data thats available today is unlocking opportunities on an unprecedented scale. This is helping them fuel their transitioning business model.

Historically, pharma companies have played a numbers game, churning out scores of drug candidates in hopes that one or two in the pipelinea Lipitor or a Lyrica, for examplewill rise to blockbuster success. Once launched, a blockbuster drug like Lipitor could target millions of potential customers simply by sprinkling the word cholesterol across its marketing collateral. However, as technology has matured, new drugs like gene therapy and immunotherapy have emerged. This has resulted in a world where pharma has shifted its focus to high-value orphan drugs and rare diseases. This market nearly doubled to $135 billion from 2010 to 2019 and is expected to grow by a 12 percent CAGR through 2024.

In this new, data-intensive world of personalized medicine, that kind of broad-brush, one-size-fits-many approach doesnt fly. Instead, pharma companies need more data to identify the right biomarkers for a given disease. If a pharma company is developing a breast cancer drug thats targeted at people with the BRCA1 gene (a mutation that increases cancer risk), the company must be able to find patients that have that gene. And once the drug is launched, it must be able to sell to those patients. The ability to get the right data makes all this possible.

The rise of personalized medicine is not the only factor pushing pharma companies to reevaluate their traditional go-big-or-go-home business model. Other factors include competitive pressures from generic drugmakers and legislative efforts to rein in drug costs. Collectively, these factors are driving pharma companies to expand their portfolios and get to market quickly with more niche drugs. Again, the ability to get the right data in the form of finding patients quickly makes all this possible.

This model brings fresh challenges, such as how to identify patients for these various drugs, how to reach them early enough to help solve their problems and how to get the drugs themselves to market faster. We think startups can connect the dots leading pharma companies to the mother lode of data that can help address these challenges.

Flatiron is a very recent example of a company that unlocks a treasure trove of data for pharma. It solves a workflow problem facing oncology centers in need of an electronic medical record system that could gather and structure data in an easily searchable format. Combining big data and machine learning, the Flatiron platform captures structured and unstructured oncology data from scattered sources, such as community clinics, medical centers, hospitals, laboratories and more.

In doing so, Flatiron generates a ton of secondary data that happens to offer a rich vein of opportunity for pharma companies like Roche. While this newly available data was able to help Roche improve clinical trial results, it more importantly provided hard real-world outcomes data about the efficacy of Roches drugs. Roche acquired the company in 2018 for $2.1 billion as a result.

Outcomes4Me is another great example of a company looking at tackling this problem. The company offers an easy-to-use app that helps patients navigate the deluge of information they have to wade through after getting a cancer diagnosis, starting with breast cancer. The app helps them learn about treatment options, understand symptoms, and explore clinical trials. They can ask questions, share their journey and connect with other breast cancer patients across the country.

It is the resulting byproduct data that has massive appeal to pharma companies. With it they can identify patients faster and match them with the right drug and treatment. In this new world, finding patients, enrolling them in trials, and maintaining a relationship with them is critical. Startups that can solve this problem drive massive value, and those that control the data are best poised to win.

Our current economic scenario is causing health tech startups to question how they can navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is yet another example of where data may play a critical role.

Health care as an industry is expected to be resilient given that it is critical in keeping people safe and, as weve seen all too clearly, ensuring that our economies can continue to run and remain strong. Even though coronavirus will continue to dominate the headlines, diseases like cancer are not going anywhere anytime soon, which we expect will sustain the drive for data.

That said, health tech companies selling to the enterprise will need to make some tough decisions in the short term. In order to survive, theyll have to put nonessential activities on hold and focus on protecting their existing book of business. Theyll have to manage cash to extend their runway, and some companies may have to pivot as they gain new insights from the data they have amassed.

On the plus side, the venture capital industry itself has gone through a massive boom in fundraising over the past few years. We expect funding to be available for the companies that are able to weather the storm. However, the bar to receive funding will be significantly higher.

The determining factor in who gets funding and who doesnt will be the urgency of the problems they target. Companies offering must-have products and services rather than nice-to-have onespainkillers vs. vitamins, if you willwill naturally be more attractive to investors and will ultimately survive.

At the heart of these investments will be the way startups leverage data. Investors, like my partners at Sierra Ventures, will not only look at how the companies use data to set their products and services apart, but also at whether the secondary data they unearth has value to contribute to innovation elsewhere.

Its time to think big, and its all in the data.

Image: iStock

[Note: Outcomes4Me, Deep Lens, and Reify Health are Sierra investments.]

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For Health Tech Startups, Data Is Their Lifeline Now More Than Ever - Crunchbase News

Andrew Yang wants people to get paid for data collected by tech giants – The Daily Dot

Andrew Yang, the technology entrepreneur and former 2020 presidential candidate, announced the launch of a program on Monday that will advocate for internet users to be compensated for data collected by tech companies.

The program, called the Data Dividend Project (DDP), hopes to mobilize one million people over the next year to establish and enforce data property rights under laws such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The CCPA is an internet privacy bill that went into effect in California at the beginning of this year. It allows users to opt-out of the sale of their personal information and requires more transparency about data that is being collected.

However, it appears that the Data Dividend Project will aim to create enough of a movement to push laws like the CCPA further, demanding that data is a persons property and that they should be compensated for its use.

DDP is building a movement of Americans who are fed up with technology companies taking advantage of them and who have collectively decided to take a stand, the projects website reads. By signing up with DDP, you give us the ability to collectively advocate for your data rights and your right to be compensated for the use of YOUR data, which is YOUR property. With a critical mass of Californiansand eventually, all Americansdemanding their fair share, technology companies will no longer be able to get away with hoarding the gains made off your data.

Yang brought up data property during his 2020 presidential campaign. While announcing his proposal last October, he wrote that data was more valuable than oil.

Our data is oursor it should be. At this point our data is more valuable than oil. If anyone benefits from our data it should be us. I would make data a property right that each of us shares, Yang wrote on Twitter at the time.

Yang, in a video announcing the Data Dividend Project, said the program will also work with legislators in states that do not have data laws to get laws on the books.


*First Published: Jun 22, 2020, 11:09 am

Andrew Wyrich is the deputy tech editor at the Daily Dot. Andrew has written for USA Today,, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).

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Andrew Yang wants people to get paid for data collected by tech giants - The Daily Dot

DoF faces uphill battle in taxing tech giants The Manila Times – The Manila Times

THE Department of Finance (DoF) and the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) are working on a program to collect value-added tax (VAT) from digital sales by tech giants such as Netflix, Google, Amazon and Facebook, Finance Secretary Carlos Sonny Dominguez 3rd told reporters last Friday, and are looking ahead to imposing an income tax regime on these firms in the near future. In spite of Secretary Sonnys optimism in describing the objectives, they should probably be filed under the heading, Dont hold your breath.

To be fair to the Finance chief, he probably has no illusions of just how big a challenge imposing taxes on something as nebulous as streamed entertainment will be; after all, he was intentionally and prudently vague in describing a timeline for the rollout of VAT collection efforts, saying only that it would happen as soon as possible. With respect to imposing an income tax collection scheme, Dominguez earlier suggested that proposals for the necessary tax reforms could only be developed once an international agreement is reached on cross-border digital transactions.

There is no question of a legal basis for collecting both VAT and income tax on digital business in the Philippines; goods and services are not less real for not having a physical form, although some changes in the Tax Code may be needed to ensure loopholes are closed. The issue has lately caused a great deal of angst because of the recent circular of the BIR requiring online businesses to register and pay taxes, which will adversely affect tens of thousands of new online entrepreneurs who are not prepared for the effort and expense of tax compliance and will probably have a crushing effect on the economy.

However, while the BIR directive may be ill-timed and poorly constructed, the unavoidable fact is that it is conceptually in line with the governments revenue-collection authority and responsibilities.

The same applies to the imposition of VAT and income tax on cross-border digital transactions The government doesnt just have a choice to collect these taxes, it has a legal obligation to do so. The only flexibility that can be applied is in finding a cost-effective way to do it without excessively discouraging the business activity providing the revenues.Between the two VAT and income tax VAT is probably the easier to manage, but still presents a host of thorny problems that need to be overcome, and based on the tone-deaf nature of the BIRs recent circular on online commerce, it is difficult to have confidence that the governments chief revenue-collecting agency is up to the task. Defining the types of transactions that are done seems to be the biggest task, as there are an almost infinite number of ways activity on the internet can be monetized. For example, how would VAT be applied to a scheme such as Google Adsense, wherein as many as four different parties (Google, a third-party advertising aggregator, a website hosting platform and a website owner) are earning revenue in different ways?

When it comes to income tax on tech firms doing digital business in the Philippines, however, Dominguezs hope that an international agreement could allow the DoF and BIR to begin working on it soon is at this point entirely misplaced and will be as long as the administration of the Tangerine Tyrant Donald Trump is in power in the United States.

Last week, the US scuttled negotiations on an international tax agreement with France, Spain, Great Britain and Germany, saying the proposed agreement which French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said was centimeters from being completed unfairly targeted US companies. Countries can still impose their own tax schemes, which is precisely what France intends to do, but the reason some kind of international framework is being sought, and is of critical importance to a country like the Philippines, is that it would help avoid creating another area for trade disputes. Case in point: Frances suggestion that it would begin taxing big US tech firms such as Google and Facebook immediately provoked a threat from Cheeto Mussolini to impose a retaliatory tax on French wine.

That is a risk the Philippines cannot afford to take and Dominguez certainly realizes that, which is why he specified the pre-condition of an international agreement. Unfortunately, no international agreement will be possible as long as US trade policy is dictated by a narrow, protectionist view, so it is pointless to even broach the subject now. If were lucky, it may be something the DoF can work on after January of next year, but even that best-case scenario leaves little time to accomplish it before the end of the Duterte administration in 2022.

ben.kritz@manilatimes.netTwitter: @benkritz

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DoF faces uphill battle in taxing tech giants The Manila Times - The Manila Times

Juneteenth across the tech world – POLITICO – Politico

With help from Doug Palmer, Cristiano Lima, Steven Overly and John Hendel

Programming announcement: Our newsletters are evolving. Morning Tech will continue to publish daily for POLITICO Pro subscribers, but starting in fall 2020 will consolidate to a weekly newsletter for all others. There will be no changes to the policy newsletters available to POLITICO Pro subscribers. To continue to receive Morning Tech daily, as well as access POLITICO Pros full suite of policy tools and trackers, get in touch about a Pro subscription. Already a Pro subscriber? Learn more here.

Tech world honors Juneteenth: Tech workers across the San Francisco Bay Area are gathering in observance of Juneteenth, using an evening vigil to talk about how the legacy of slavery affects them today at Amazon and calling on Jeff Bezos and other tech CEOs to do more to address racism.

Digital tax drama: After the U.S. pulled out of global negotiations over how to collect revenue from internet companies operating overseas, Europe warns it may move ahead with an EU-wide digital services tax anyway a penalty that would affect Silicon Valleys leading tech giants.

Sit-down with Brad Smith: In a live-streamed interview with my colleague Cristiano Lima, Microsofts president said the time is ripe for antitrust regulators to turn their scrutiny to the app stores run by some of his companys biggest rivals, Apple and Google.

ITS FRIDAY; WELCOME TO MORNING TECH. Im your host, Alexandra Levine.

Got a news tip? Write me at [emailprotected], or follow along @Ali_Lev and @alexandra.levine. An event for our calendar? Send details to [emailprotected]. Anything else? Full team info below. And don't forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.

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JUNETEENTH IN SILICON VALLEY A new grass-roots group known as Bay Area Amazonians, and the Workers Collective, a labor coalition for Amazon, Whole Foods, Target and FedEx workers, are coming together today for a vigil in observance of Juneteenth a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in America and often called the countrys second Independence Day. The recent, sweeping protests over racial violence and police brutality have prompted a social justice reckoning across Silicon Valley, and now, companies including Twitter, Square, Lyft and Postmates have decided to make Juneteenth a permanent company holiday. (POLITICO this week made that same call.)

Bay Area Amazonians inaugural event is tonights Juneteenth vigil. The group, co-founded by Amazon employees Adrienne Williams and John Hopkins, both of whom are black, said it wants to highlight how the legacy of slavery in the U.S. is today affecting them in their jobs. They want people to see how racism manifests in things like what Amazon's General Counsel David Zapolsky said about another black organizer to justify his firing, Williams said. It's things like Jeff Bezos saying slavery ended a long time ago while not paying a living wage. The group is also looking to draw a thread between police brutality, and the economic oppression we face in these so-called unskilled jobs, Hopkins said in an email.

Tonights Juneteenth vigil will honor the lives of black women killed through police violence and co-workers lost during the pandemic. Organizers will also demand that Amazon and other tech giants do more than simply releasing statements expressing solidarity with the black community and ask that leadership take a closer look at exploitative, dangerous labor practices at their companies. The structural violence being perpetrated against Black women and all low-wage workers in the workplace is a product of the same system of racism that leads to police brutality against Black bodies, the coalition said in a release.

DIGITAL TAX DISPUTE HEATS UP European officials on Thursday threatened to move ahead with an EU-wide digital services tax after the United States stepped away from negotiations at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development over how to collect revenue from the foreign business operations of internet companies like Facebook and Google. The action increases the chances that the Trump administration (which believes the taxes are unfairly aimed at American tech companies) could slap duties on billions of dollars of European goods. More here from my colleagues across the U.S. and Europe.

Up next: On June 6, USTR launched new investigations against five countries Austria, India, Indonesia, Italy and Turkey that it said have adopted some form of a digital services tax. It also targeted four countries Brazil, the Czech Republic, Spain and the U.K. plus the European Union, that it said are considering a DST. USTR is in the midst of a public comment period for those 10 investigations that ends on July 15. After that, its next steps presumably would be to make a determination that the taxes are unfair and discriminatory, announce 10 sets of proposed retaliation lists and then hold another public comment period before imposing any tariffs.

KEY MOMENTS FROM OUR INTERVIEW WITH MICROSOFTS BRAD SMITH Microsoft President Brad Smith told Cristiano during a POLITICO Live interview Thursday that he thinks its time for antitrust regulators to scrutinize the app stores run by rivals like Apple and Google more thoroughly (see Stevens report). During a wide-ranging interview, he also called on Congress and the White House to agree on permanent protections for Dreamers in the wake of the Supreme Courts ruling upholding DACA. A few other highlights:

Microsoft isnt currently providing facial recognition to federal law enforcement, Smith said, a week after announcing a moratorium on sales of the software to U.S. police that notably left out any mention of federal agencies. We certainly won't provide facial recognition technology in any scenario that either leads to bias against people, people of color or women, the two groups that have most been found to be subject to bias, he added. And we won't allow our technology to be used in any manner that puts people's fundamental rights at risk. He noted, though, that there are plenty of federal agencies that arent law enforcement.

On Section 230: We can't throw this baby out even if we don't like the bathwater, Smith said in response to a question about Trumps recent executive order aimed at narrowing liability protections for social media companies. If we were to eliminate Section 230, we would largely, I think, eliminate the opportunity for social media to thrive, he said. But at the same time, Smith said theres been a clear call for the tech sector to step up and exercise more responsibility in curtailing illicit material. And he said hes seen the greatest concern around the globe about two types of material: violent extremist content and online child exploitation.

MEET THE NEW ADVOCATES FOR CONTENT MODERATORS As Washington homes in on the laws that govern content moderation on social media, a new group has taken shape to focus on the people who enforce companies policies. The San Francisco-based Trust and Safety Professional Association aims to represent the thousands upon thousands of content reviewers, engineers and other employees within companies like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter whose job is to keep offensive content from going viral. Co-founders Adelin Cai, a veteran of Google, Twitter and Pinterest, and Alex Macgillivray, an Obama administration official and former Twitter general counsel, told POLITICO the group plans to offer career guidance to employees in the growing field and recommendations to the companies that rely on them to defend their reputations.

TSPAs efforts will include, for instance, suggestions on how to provide health and wellness resources to content reviewers, whose constant exposure to violent and graphic content can take a toll on their mental health, Cai said. Dont expect the group to weigh in on bills before Capitol Hill or White House executive orders, though. To be super clear, we're not a lobbying organization, so we're not going to be taking positions on legislation, Cai noted. The group got three years worth of financial support from Google, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Postmates and other firms, but Cai said the association does not consider them members or represent their interests.

REPUBLICANS SET BROADBAND PRIORITIES Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and House Energy and Commerce member Greg Walden (R-Ore.) on Thursday outlined a framework for broadband spending as part of coronavirus relief. The outline touches on many known priorities, from funding the FCCs broadband mapping efforts to providing regulatory relief to wireless carriers (no dollar figures included, sadly).

Expect more chatter. As Bloomberg reported, the administration is mulling funds for internet connectivity in new infrastructure ambitions, and House Democrats on Thursday floated billions for broadband in a new transportation package.

THE NEW LIGADO ARGUMENT: AN ADMIN ABOUT-FACE? Satellite company Ligado Networks is accusing the Trump administration of politicizing the government review of the companys 5G plans in contradiction of past government assessments and is telling lawmakers its got the emails to prove it messages that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, whose agency approved Ligados plans in April, was quick to tout Thursday.

The Pentagon argues Ligados operations would scramble GPS, but in its new letter to lawmakers, Ligado is sharing emails, allegedly from officials within DoD, that it says undermine those public attacks. According to Ligado, one unidentified member from the Defense Department chief information office recently contacted the company to praise the FCC approval's engineering and regulatory soundness. Pai quickly seized on this apparent Pentagon contradiction, tweeting the message and saying at an event that Ligados letter shows there are technical experts out there who are willing to look at the facts without any sort of institutional lens.

Ligado said its own direct discussions with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration back up what Commissioner Mike ORielly asserted Tuesday during his reconfirmation hearing (that NTIA only became so hostile to Ligado following Administrator David Redls departure last year).

When asked about Ligados letter and the alleged emails Thursday, the Pentagon did not confirm if the messages were genuine, saying only that it is standing by its objections to the companys plans. Pai's defense comes less than a week before an oversight hearing before Senate Commerce.

House Energy & Commerce, meanwhile, just received a briefing late Thursday from NTIA, FCC and Pentagon officials on the Ligado fight. One tidbit: During the call, telecom subcommittee ranking member Bob Latta (R-Ohio) called for a subcommittee hearing on Ligado to allow for further scrutiny, an E&C aide told John.

Civil rights activist and athlete Colin Kaepernick is joining Mediums board of directors. Michelle Duke, president of the National Association of Broadcasters Leadership Foundation, will in July also become the groups chief diversity officer.

Lobbying latest: Google has tapped Robert Babcock of the lobbying firm Clark Hill to advocate on federal appropriations related to its cloud services and suite of office products, disclosure documents show. Babcock is a Hill veteran who previously served as a regional administrator for the General Services Administration. Google has shed more than a half-dozen lobbying firms in recent years, and its spending to lobby the federal government has declined as a result. In 2019, Google spent $11.8 million on federal lobbying.

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ICYMI: Facebook on Thursday took down Trump campaign content and political ads that featured Nazi insignia that had been used during the World War II era to label prisoners in concentration camps, I reported for POLITICO.

Meanwhile, the latest Trump tweet label: Twitter added a warning to a post from President Trump about a racist baby on Thursday, saying the tweet contained manipulated media designed to mislead people, NYT reports the first time Twitter has used that label on one of the presidents tweets.

Google lawsuit: A group of black YouTube creators filed suit against the company this week, WaPo reports, alleging that the platform has been systematically removing their content without explanation.

Facebook lawsuit: The social giant filed lawsuits in Europe and the U.S. over the use of unauthorized automation software on Facebook and Instagram, the company announced Thursday: The defendants in the European lawsuit operated a Spain-based fake engagement service, and the defendant in the US lawsuit operated a data scraping service with ties to California.

Amazon lawsuit: The search giant and luxury shoe brand Valentino filed a joint lawsuit against a New York-based fashion company for allegedly counterfeiting Valentino shoes and offering them for sale online, Reuters reports.

Techs DACA takeaways: The tech industry roundly praised the Supreme Court's decision Thursday to strike down a Trump administration policy that would have threatened the deportation of about 650,000 undocumented Dreamers who were brought to the U.S. as children, Steven reports. But industry groups also said the job isn't done and called on Congress to make the Dreamers' protections permanent.

Across the pond: Frances highest constitutional authority struck down the core of the countrys new hate-speech law before it could go into effect, WSJ reports.

Taking to Twitch: Black Lives Matter protesters have been using Amazon-owned Twitch to broadcast their fight for racial justice, NYT reports.

Does anyone even read privacy policies?: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) wants lawmakers to stop pretending that people do, WaPo reports, and to instead [shift] the burden away from consumers and onto companies.

Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Bob King ([emailprotected], @bkingdc), Heidi Vogt ([emailprotected], @HeidiVogt), Nancy Scola ([emailprotected], @nancyscola), Steven Overly ([emailprotected], @stevenoverly), John Hendel ([emailprotected], @JohnHendel), Cristiano Lima ([emailprotected], @viaCristiano), Alexandra S. Levine ([emailprotected], @Ali_Lev), and Leah Nylen ([emailprotected], @leah_nylen).


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Juneteenth across the tech world - POLITICO - Politico

Big Tech Zeros In on the Virus-Testing Market – The New York Times

This gives our companies, our employees great peace of mind because they know that everybody thats coming into the laboratory to do the research is negative, Dr. Kathiresan said. So its an expense that is well worth it.

He said he expected employee-testing costs to decrease significantly over time as home self-collection kits, which allow people to swab their own noses or collect saliva samples and then send them to labs, became more available.

Updated June 22, 2020

A commentary published this month on the website of the British Journal of Sports Medicine points out that covering your face during exercise comes with issues of potential breathing restriction and discomfort and requires balancing benefits versus possible adverse events. Masks do alter exercise, says Cedric X. Bryant, the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise, a nonprofit organization that funds exercise research and certifies fitness professionals. In my personal experience, he says, heart rates are higher at the same relative intensity when you wear a mask. Some people also could experience lightheadedness during familiar workouts while masked, says Len Kravitz, a professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico.

The steroid, dexamethasone, is the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients, according to scientists in Britain. The drug appears to reduce inflammation caused by the immune system, protecting the tissues. In the study, dexamethasone reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and deaths of patients on oxygen by one-fifth.

The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who dont typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the countrys largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was very rare, but she later walked back that statement.

Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus whether its surface transmission or close human contact is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nations job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you arent being told to stay at home, its still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

If youve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

Federal health authorities, however, have so far provided little guidance for businesses on testing employees for coronavirus.

In late May, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidelines on Resuming Business, which recommended that employers prepare a plan for conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and/or temperature screening) before employees enter the facility. But the guidelines mentioned employee testing for the virus only in passing.

One concern is that the diagnostic tests could give employees a false sense of security, public health experts said. Because the virus can take several days to develop, they said, the time between taking a test and getting the lab results back could cause some employees who have the virus to receive false negative test results. Despite comprehensive testing, for instance, a group of Army recruits and instructors at Fort Benning, Ga., recently suffered a major outbreak of the virus.

Another concern is that scaling employee-testing programs nationwide could lead to unnecessary medical screening particularly for workplaces where employees, wearing masks, can be spaced far enough apart to adhere to social-distancing guidelines and might overwhelm labs that are running more urgent coronavirus tests for patients with serious symptoms. And some employees may object to being required to take medical tests and have the results automatically sent to their employers.

Dr. Lee, the Verily executive, said the company would consult with employers to tailor virus testing and workplace safety protocols to the number of their employees, workplace locations, the prevalence of coronavirus in the local community and the type of work employees performed.

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Big Tech Zeros In on the Virus-Testing Market - The New York Times

From now on, we will divide history into before and after this pandemic – The Guardian

Lenin had it right when he said that there are decades when nothing happens, and there are weeks when decades happen. Had he been with us through lockdown, he might have added: there are months when centuries happen, too.

My main task as the BBCs first media editor has been reporting on a technological revolution. Many of the stories that I have covered in the past few years have the same arc: a ludicrously rich tech giant unleashes something it cant control; unforeseen consequences abound; democracies around the world declare Up With This We Will Not Put! and convene a meeting or hold hearings. And then nothing happens except the tech giants keep getting richer.

Why does this keep happening? Some will say there is a mismatch in competence and intelligence: the tech giants have the worlds best engineers and very clear global ambitions; democratic states are easily distracted, focused on their own national preferences, and they dont pay nearly as well. But I have started to think the real divide is speed. Innovation is fast and unpredictable. Regulation is slow and consensual. Democracies are always playing catch-up.

Tony Blair famously claimed, in 2006, that the great political divide was no longer left versus right but open versus closed. But today the more important split in politics and in media is fast versus slow.

In some ways, this isnt a new development: centuries ago, the invention of the printing press suddenly sped up European history, prompting rebellions and revolutions everywhere. The difference today is how much faster information moves: what took 10 days in the age of Gutenberg seems to happen in 10 seconds in the age of Zuckerberg. The speeding up of history is itself speeding up.

This is the great acceleration. And it leaves a lot of people behind. For those who benefit from hyper-mobility, and have excellent cognitive training, change can mean gains; for those unable or quite reasonably unwilling to adapt to the revolution, change means pain. The other great driver of history is a youth bulge. In the west, the end of the war prompted a population burst. One explanation for the cultural energy of the 1960s is that postwar babies were reaching young adulthood.

Today, the west is old and getting older, whereas parts of Asia and Africa are young.

When you put together technology and demography the rise of Silicon Valley and Asia, basically it becomes clear we are living through one of historys hinge moments. For half a millennium the locus of global power was in the battles between western empires, then states. In this century, it will shift east.

And then Covid-19 happened; from now on we will divide history into before and after this pandemic. If anyone doubted that the ideological scaffolding of the post-1945 global settlement was crumbling, the last few months have provided definitive proof. We can see that something like a new era a post-pandemic world is struggling to be born. And a national conversation is beginning about what it should look like including a collective reappraisal of how we should live. This includes fallen statues of slave traders, but for most of us, the adjustments of the new era will be personal rather than geopolitical. Video conferencing might supplant the commute or the office. An exhilarating connection with birdsong might become part of the daily routine. Fresh bonds with neglected neighbours could lead to happier, healthier streets.

But the bigger picture also needs a rethink and the future of our politics, society and economy feels very much up for grabs.

Our political parties were founded as responses to a society that doesnt exist any more. Since 1979, British politics has often felt sequential, not adversarial: New Labour accepted much of Thatcherism; the coalition years were New Labour minus the spare change. Today, all that has been torn up, and political allegiance is driven more by cultural values than socioeconomic interests.

Scrambling to understand this new world, some analysts argue that it is easier for the right to move left on economics than it is for the left to move right on culture. But they seldom ask why this might be so.

The answer may have something to do with education and economics. In a post-pandemic world, we have to ask anew: what is education for? For generations, we have upheld cognitive skill as the gold standard of human endeavour in our achievement societies. There are good reasons for doing so: meritocracy may be the worst form of society, except for all the others that have been tried. But the extraordinary depth of the education divide today, with graduates pitted against non-graduates in ever more distinct voting blocs and media universes, is not conducive to social harmony. These degrees of separation, as it were, need a rethink.

In economics, what should follow the worst recession for centuries? Exorbitant inflation in asset prices, and a declining share of wealth going to workers, are entrenched, alarming trends. Today, Apple is worth more than $1.5tn, only two years after crossing the $1tn mark. Just five companies account for one-fifth of the S&P 500 index. Five years ago it was less than 10%. This is the biggest asymmetry of knowledge, wealth and power in the history of our species. Who, among capitalisms champions, is willing to defend these outcomes?

How a new world is forged from the old depends on the calibre and courage of leaders, and the intellectual ambition of the rest of us. At the BBC, we can shape the latter but not the former. In the coming months, we shall plot not just what is happening, but what ought to happen.

Amol Rajan is the BBCs media editor and former editor of the Independent. He presents Rethink: The Edge of Change on Radio 4 at 9am today, part of a week-long collaboration with Radio 5 Live and World Service. A series of Rethink essays is available on BBC Sounds


From now on, we will divide history into before and after this pandemic - The Guardian

The Consequences Of Shifting To A Hybrid Work Model – ABCN’s Officing Today

The pandemic has accelerated many workplace trends that were already in motion. Remote work was gaining traction, especially among startups, as it enabled them to source talent from virtually anywhere and provide flexibility as a benefit to employees, while saving capital.

Now, with physical distancing measures proving that remote work is feasible and productive for many people, a hybrid model of both in-office and remote work is likely to become normal.

To date, tech giants Google, Facebook and Amazon have already taken the lead by announcing their workforces will remain remote (or will have the option to remain remote) through 2021.

This could even be extended further, and perhaps become permanent. If it does, it could have a huge knock-on effect on major cities if the requirement to report to headquarters is now lifted. Many are speculating this will likely have a large impact on rent prices, as many tech workers will consider permanently relocating.

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The path back to normal will likely be a long one. When it does finally come time to return to the office, it likely wont resemble anything we would recognize from before.

With more employees expecting the ability to work remotely and more employers finally on board, the shift from traditional in-office workforces to a remote or hybrid concept wont come without consequences.

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The Consequences Of Shifting To A Hybrid Work Model - ABCN's Officing Today

S. Korea to launch $825mn fund to compete with Netflix, YouTube – Business Insider India

Seoul, June 22 (IANS) South Korea said Monday that it plans to launch a 1 trillion-won ($825 million) fund and sharply cut red tape in order to help local players better compete with global media giants like Netflix and YouTube.

Under the plan, the local media market will be valued at 10 trillion won by 2022, and its exports will top 13.4 trillion won, according to the ICT Strategy Council.

The fund and eased regulations will help local players better respond to the fast-changing business environment, the council said.


Local video streaming service providers will also be allowed to rate content, reports Yonhap news agency.

The 1 trillion-won fund will be spent to create high quality content, as well as make greater use of artificial intelligence in the creation of media materials.




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S. Korea to launch $825mn fund to compete with Netflix, YouTube - Business Insider India

Boomerangs and Frisbees: The effect of COVID-19 on HR trends – Thomsons Online Benefits

As we hit 100 days since the WHO labelled COVID-19 a pandemic, countries around the world continue in their efforts to contain the virus while planning a route both economic and medically to normality. Politicians and journalists continue to talk about the crisis as unprecedented with a 1600% increase in use of the word this year alone.[1]Yet these black swan events are becoming less and less uncommon.In my working career I have lived through four. The dot com crash, 9/11, financial crisis and now a global pandemic.

Of all of these Black Swans, this will have the most horrific impact on many around the world.It will change our lives for ever. It will also undoubtedly have the most significant effect on the way that we all work.

Very early on, Mercer shaped the way business leaders can think about the stages of the Pandemic into Respond, Return and Reinvent.As Ive watched what has been happening, have read many articles and talked to colleagues in Mercer as well as many clients, I have tried to understand what our new normal will look like and how clients can reinvent themselves.

As we enter the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it somehow feels appropriate to think about each trend as being either a Boomerang it will swing back to the way things were or a frisbee we will end up in a new place.

Here are some of my observations.

The chasm between the technology have and have nots has widened dramatically as a result of the current crisis. Technology has fundamentally changed the work that we do and the way that we do it. In these times, those who have access to technology and the resulting data to track whats going on across their entire organization have a huge advantage over those that don't.

Not only can they identify areas of increased risk, or opportunities to change tack quickly, but they can also get a better picture of the individual circumstances of their employees. This

means they can provide more personalised, relevant and meaningful support to employees who need it most. Many organisations have sped tech projects up as a result of coronavirus, doing away with levels of bureaucracy that previously meant projects took 12 months to deliver, to now just over 9 weeks.

Its hard to imagine organisations going back to a less agile way of working, so I call technology adoption a Frisbee trend.

Technology has also been a huge enabler in allowing some organizations to continue operating with employees working from home. In March 2020 423 US public company transcripts mentioned working from home. Thats more than there were in the last decade combined nearly all in conjunction with mentions of coronavirus.[2]

Many of the tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter have announced that it will allow their employees to work from home forever if they wish and are able to, allowing them to continue with their emphasis on decentralisation.[3]More companies will no doubt adopt the same strategy, but we still dont fully understand the impact on employee mental health and engagement prolonged working from home as an entire organisation has.

There are some employees who are able to work from home and who are loving it. And others who have had this forced upon them and miss the social and collaborative environment coming in to work provides. Not to mention those who cant work from home at all. There will also be a generational impact to consider older employees are more likely to have children or elderly parents they want to spend more time with, whereas younger employees may not be set up to work from home effectively.

I believe that for some mainly younger generations - this will boomerang back, for others mainly older employees they will never come back to work in the same way. And then there will be those who will be be somewhere in between. Maybe in the office 2 days a week.Companies will need to think about working practices and creating a culture for these different employee groups to work effectively together.

Covid-19 has led to a massive shift of power. With current G7 jobless totals varying widely, from 30 million in the United States to 1.76 million in Japan[4], mass unemployment means that job seeking in many industries has become a buyers market. Many people have now painfully realised the pitfalls of freelance work and the gig economy, with the inherent insecurity leaving people craving stability even more.

Talent is the most important thing for organisations to remain successful, and there will be a huge focus on retaining it as we come out of pandemic. But according to the FT the economic fallout from the pandemic looks to be one of the biggest shocks in generations. Normal economic activity has been disrupted on an unprecedented scale in peacetime as the patterns of everyday life have been upended.[5]

The employer/employee relationship is likely to boomerang as the economy slowly improves however there are no clear indications of how long this will take.

The last, but most important trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic, is organisations recognising employees are human beings. Not only are employers getting a glimpse into their colleagues home life from cats, to family, to juggling home schooling with work priorities. The relationships you have with your colleagues, teams and leaders has at once humanised and relaxed.

Mental health apps in Britain have been downloaded more than one million times since the start of the crisis, with employers also pivoting their benefit offerings to support their employees in adapting to their new working lives.[6]Whether creating flexible spending accounts to buy office equipment to work more comfortably at home, increasing awareness of wellbeing support offerings or even sending care packages employers are focusing on supporting the individual.

This trend has slowly grown over the past few years, but coronavirus has brought into sharp relief the much-needed shift to recognise employees as humans and to support them to be the best they can be. This trend is surely a Frisbee.

As time goes on and we emerge from this crisis, more and more trends will change dramatically, with increasing Frisbees

and fewer boomerangs. There is a reason unprecedented has become the word of 2020 this pandemic has changed the face of the working world as we know it. Some for the better and some for the worse, but surely the one thing we can take from this as we move forward is that we are all in this together, and we are all human. Lets look after each other.







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Boomerangs and Frisbees: The effect of COVID-19 on HR trends - Thomsons Online Benefits

Five key questions about Google and Apple’s contact tracing system – The Telegraph

NHS tests found the Apple-Google system could not tell if another phone was one or three metres apart.

However, the NHSX projectquickly raninto a host of basic technical challenges.

To work, the contact tracing app needed to work smoothly with all smartphones. In other words, whatever phone or operating system you own had to be able to communicate effectively via Bluetooth with any other person's phone.

But developers soon found that they did not. For example,iPhones that fell idle or which were locked would no longer be able to match to other iPhones. The app would also not work on older versions of Android, Googles operating system used on most non-Apple devices.

The problem for the Government is the system Apple and Google were developing would store data in a different way to the UKs planned app. It would store all data locally on phones. In theory, this is more private.

Matt Hancock blamed Apple for refusing to make changes to its iOS software that would have allowed the UK app to work. He said: As it stands, our app won't work because Apple won't change their system.

The Government awarded contracts worth more than 11 million to companies to help develop its contact tracing app before its U-turn to work withAppleand Google.

According to Government records published online so far, 11 contracts have been awarded to private firms aiding the app's development totalling 11,297,811.

Apple and Googles system is based ona differentdecentralised model. It is not an app, per se, it is a software system that health authorities can build on.

Germany, Italy and Switzerland have all built and launched apps based on its technology.

The Apple/ Google system is different in the following ways:

This system, which stops a health authority from collecting masses of data on its population, is seen as more private by Apple and privacy advocates. Theyfear mission creep where governments might start to collecthuge amounts of other health data unchecked.

Crucially, Apple and Google aretackling some ofthe key technical challenges encountered by NHSX to allowiPhones tostill be able to collect data, even when they are left idle.

The tech giants launched their software tool on May 20, giving governments access to detect when Android and iOS devices came in close contact with one another when official apps were installed.

Apple and Googles application programming interface (API), which was released after five weeks of discussions with various states, operates on a centralised basis. The two tech giants argue its system is considerably more private than the alternative that has been pursued by the UK up until now.

The rest is here:

Five key questions about Google and Apple's contact tracing system - The Telegraph