|Bid||318.90 x 900|
|Ask||319.05 x 900|
|Day's range||316.47 - 321.15|
|52-week range||170.27 - 327.85|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.17|
|PE ratio (TTM)||24.98|
|Earnings date||28 Jul 2020 - 03 Aug 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||3.28 (1.03%)|
|Ex-dividend date||08 May 2020|
|1y target est||308.91|
HBO Max made its official entrance into the streaming wars on Wednesday — and its day-one performance highlights how consumers are embracing the new platform.
Apple (AAPL) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- One constant in Facebook's corporate culture is the ruthless aggression when it comes to growth and competition. To take just one example: More than a decade ago, a young, upstart Facebook smashed a wage-fixing cartel that than had been imposed by older, more established tech companies and it tried to hire the best tech talent. With Facebook now among the most dominant employers in the San Francisco Bay Area labor market, the company is using its lessons from the past few months of work from home to hire remotely all across the country in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In doing so, it's telling both its own employees and tech employers across the country that competition is coming. What remains to be seen is what effect this will have on wages both in and beyond the San Francisco area, where terms are ultimately set when it comes to the compensation of tech employees.The headlines in Facebook's announcement about working from home were twofold: First, that during the next five to 10 years, as many as half of Facebook's employees could be remote; and second, that the pay of remote workers will be tied to where they work. In other words, if you're moving from Palo Alto, California, to Boise, Idaho, expect a pay cut.Although controlling employee compensation costs is surely part of the thinking, current and would-be Facebook employees should recall that today's high compensation for Silicon Valley software engineers is partly because of Facebook's rule-breaking moves in the past. Until Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg left Google for Facebook, large technology companies such including Google, Apple, Intel and Intuit had what constituted a hiring cartel to prevent employee poaching, part of an effort to retain scare talent and hold down wages. Facebook, perhaps as an early indication of the disruptive nature of the next generation of technology companies, decided it would prioritize its own growth and talent acquisition. That undermined the cartel and led to rapid growth in both employee pay and home prices in the San Francisco Bay Area during the past decade.Facebook's decision on remote work is an extension of that mindset, one that doesn't abide by any niceties when it comes to attracting and retaining elite technology workers. Although the Facebook decision might be seen as little different from similar work-from-home announcements made by other Silicon Valley companies like Twitter and Square, it serves as a watershed moment in the same spirit as Amazon's public search for a second headquarters. Both decisions reflect the high cost and limited availability of technology talent on the West Coast, and that the need to hire outside the region persists, with different companies experimenting with different models on how best to do that.What's unclear is how this will shake out for workers. Although current and prospective Facebook employees are understandably concerned about the company saying that compensation will be tied to location, as long as technology talent remains much sought after, compensation should stay high. Housing costs outside of the West Coast may still be a fraction of what they are in San Francisco or Palo Alto, but technology talent is scarce and mobile throughout the country. It's unlikely that an employee that Facebook would pay $300,000 in San Francisco will be available for $100,000 in Salt Lake City, and if they are, that gap is unlikely to last for long as the word gets out and as other San Francisco Bay Area-based technology companies mimic Facebook's approach.Facebook's latest decision may well have a comparable impact to its decision not to join the hiring cartel, lifting pay everywhere outside the San Francisco area. Many tech employers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Kansas City know their best employees could always get recruited by West Coast tech companies if those workers were willing to relocate. But there are frictions involved in relocating, and maybe companies have been willing to bet that those workers aren't willing to move because of family and community ties. But if all of a sudden it's well-known that companies such as Facebook and Google are willing to hire anywhere without demanding relocation, then other companies will be forced to raise pay or risk losing talent -- the same quandary once faced by cartel members such as Intel and Intuit.Ultimately, the question is does being based in the San Francisco Bay Area function as a moat for technology employees, guarding their lofty pay, but one that is ready to be breached ? Or is high pay a function of high productivity, demand and industry growth? If it's the latter, tech workers shouldn't worry about Facebook's work-from-home decision. But it might well be the former.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Conor Sen is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a portfolio manager for New River Investments in Atlanta and has been a contributor to the Atlantic and Business Insider.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
The coronavirus pandemic is keeping everyone indoors, helping the work-and-learn from home culture gain prominence.
(Bloomberg) -- When Justin Sun met Warren Buffett for dinner in January, he wasn’t seeking advice on stocks. The crypto mogul had spent a record $4.6 million at a charity auction for the opportunity to lecture the world’s most famous investor on the benefits of Bitcoin.It was exactly the sort of behavior that Sun’s known for -- abrasive, ostentatious and, ultimately, impossible to ignore. Like the $200 billion crypto industry itself, he is young and hungry for the respect of traditional financiers like Buffett, who deems Bitcoin basically worthless.Still shy of his 30th birthday, Sun founded one of the largest blockchain platforms, Tron, in 2017 and turned it into a virtual Las Vegas with gambling apps. He’s rubbed shoulders with Apple Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founders, hired celebrity endorsers like the late Kobe Bryant and drawn accusations of plagiarism, which he has denied, more than once. What he says and does can move crypto prices, and his aggressive acquisitions have earned him both admiration and notoriety in the blockchain community on his way to consolidating power.“I’m a true believer of blockchain. It’s once in a lifetime,” he said in a rare in-depth interview from a luxury office suite overlooking Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. “It’s only people who don’t understand it who question me.”Making his personal fortune by embracing Bitcoin as early as 2012, and now by his own account worth somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Sun is part of a second wave of crypto entrepreneurs who envision putting more than just digital money and payments on a decentralized platform. Last week, Sun and his team touted an upcoming major update to Tron, which will include more privacy features and enterprise applications.Newer blockchains like Tron let developers build so-called decentralized apps, or dapps, on their platforms. Ethereum is the foremost among them, with its co-founder Vitalik Buterin offering a simple analogy: if Bitcoin is a pocket calculator, platforms with dapps are akin to smartphones. But unlike Android or iPhone apps, dapps are decentralized in the sense that they aren’t run on one server or by any single entity.Sun’s Tron has 342 active dapps and more than 230,000 users, both roughly half Ethereum’s totals, according to data tracker Dapp Review. It’s been accused by researchers like Digital Asset Research of copying Ethereum’s code without attribution, and by Buterin himself of stealing words from other projects’ whitepapers. Tron and Sun have denied both accusations.The bulk of business done on Tron today revolves around the largely unregulated field of crypto gambling, with a January Dapp Review report describing it as “Las Vegas on the blockchain.” In the first quarter, casino dapps comprised 92% of Tron’s $411 million total transaction volume, according to the Binance-owned researcher. Sun said the Dapp Review estimate was inaccurate and over-stated the gambling activity on the Tron blockchain. In fact, such transactions are only a fraction of the total, he said.Sun “identified niche customer bases, namely gamers and gamblers, that have great reasons to use blockchain, drive a lot of transactions, and are crypto savvy,” said Matthew Graham, chief executive officer of Sino Global Capital, a Beijing-based blockchain consultancy.Since its inception, Tron has been augmented with the acquisitions of live-streaming service DLive, briefly the exclusive online home of YouTube star PewDiePie, and file-sharing service BitTorrent Inc. Through a partnership with Samsung Electronics Co., Tron dapps can be downloaded via one of the world’s most widely distributed mobile app stores.Sun has proven himself an able marketer, raising $800,000 in under five minutes through a public token sale for his lending platform, called Just. He also commands an audience of two million Twitter followers.But he’s also been challenged on basic information. While Sun said he often covers the $5 million quarterly operational costs for Tron, Ryan Dennis, a spokesman for the nonprofit Tron Foundation that coordinates the blockchain platform’s operations, denied that figure -- saying they won’t be able to get accurate cost numbers “due to the coronavirus pandemic changing everything on a day-to-day basis.”As a sociology student in the U.S., Sun founded an online magazine about current affairs -- though it closed after he was accused of plagiarism by another author. Sun has denied the accusation, saying he merely imitated the author’s style.He then made the switch to tech.After an unsuccessful attempt to set up China operations for American crypto company Ripple in 2014, Sun went back to the drawing board with $5 million of venture-capital money from backers like IDG Capital and ChinaEquity Group. He tried almost every hot idea in China’s internet space, finally finding success in Peiwo, which let users connect with random strangers via voice messages. That app would later be slammed by China’s top state news agency for spreading vulgar and pornographic content.On social media, he billed himself as Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma’s first millennial protégé, since he was picked up in 2015 by the billionaire’s MBA program. When fellow tech entrepreneurs ran into cash crunches, he was often quick to say he would lend them money. He said he had a 100 million-yuan ($14 million) charity budget for 2019, part of which was distributed in cash giveaway campaigns via his Weibo account.Sun’s dinner with Buffett is still the banner image on his Twitter profile. The meeting had been scheduled for last July, but three days before the planned date Sun rescheduled, citing a bout of kidney stones. Later that week, he took a selfie and then live-streamed himself with San Francisco’s Bay Bridge in the background to rebut a news report that he was under Chinese border control. He then apologized on Weibo to the Chinese regulators and public for his “excessive self-promotion.” He was banned from the microblogging site at the end of 2019. (Sun now has a team, including a photographer, to manage his Twitter and Instagram accounts.)Read more: Buffett Lunch Mystery Deepens as His Date Apologizes to SocietyWhen Sun finally sat down with Buffett, his entreaties crashed against a wall of skepticism.“It’s not just Buffett, the Chinese government also has the same attitude,” Sun said.Sun shut down his Beijing offices last year, after China launched a renewed crackdown on a crypto industry it views with suspicion. He said he hasn’t returned to mainland China since the end of 2018, though he’s not prohibited from doing so.During the Covid-19 pandemic, the jet-setting entrepreneur has been stuck in Hong Kong. But he has continued to stumble into controversy. In February, Sun bought the social network Steemit, billed as “owned and operated by its users,” along with 30% voting control over its platform. Fearing that gave Sun too much power, part of the Steemit community temporarily froze his stake and then split the blockchain into a whole new branch.“His playbook might be the optimal strategy during the early barbaric growth period of the crypto industry,” said Wayne Zhao, analyst and managing partner of researcher TokenInsight. “You are nothing without people’s attention, no matter if it’s good or bad.”(Updates with Sun’s comment in the eighth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Stocks were supposed to be mired in a bear market after they plunged in March as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered business and sent U.S. unemployment to its highest rate since the Great Depression.Even a 62% recovery by the S&P 500 Index by the middle of May failed to comfort experts like billionaire money managers Stan Druckenmiller and David Tepper , who characterized stocks as the worst investments of their careers. They weren't alone; amid an estimated 47% collapse in gross domestic product, fewer than a quarter of respondents to an Evercore ISI survey said they expected the next 10% move in the market to be higher.So far, though, stocks have held their own as economic indicators sagged, regaining 37% of their value from the low point in mid-March. “The stock market looks increasingly divorced from economic reality,” a New York Times article on the phenomenon proclaimed.Or maybe not — not if you think of it as the Microsoft market. No company has defied the pessimism more than Microsoft Corp., and for a lot of sensible reasons. The Seattle-based maker of global business and consumer software led all publicly traded companies most of the year with a $1.4 trillion market valuation, exceeded only by Saudi Arabian Oil Co. which isn't yet freely traded.Unlike the largest fossil fuel company, which lost 13% since its December $1.9 trillion initial public offering, Microsoft is within 5% of its Feb. 11 record high and appreciated $947 billion since 2015, more than any of the 10 largest companies, including Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. The gap between Microsoft and Aramco narrowed to $229 billion from $840 billion, a trend likely to continue amid weak global growth in the months ahead.That's because Microsoft, unlike Aramco, is a mainstay of the global economy, developing and supplying 75% of the operating systems used by computers and servers worldwide, according to the market-analysis company IDC.Microsoft's vast infrastructure and productivity applications enable companies, governments and individuals to navigate increasing social and workforce disruption caused by the pandemic and other disasters stoked by global warming and climate change.As one of the anchors of the Nasdaq 100 Index (more than 80% are technology firms) Microsoft signifies the growing dependence of the economy on these companies, which this year outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average by the most since 2000 (Nasdaq 100 gained 8% as the DJIA lost 10%), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“Microsoft could emerge stronger than most of its rivals once the Covid-19 crisis subsides, in our view, as enterprises spend more to upgrade their infrastructure and applications, translating into above-consensus, double-digit sales growth from fiscal 2022-2021,” said Anurag Rana, a senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence in a May 15 report. “Its deep portfolio of cloud products, client relationships and security spending are differentiators.”Such confidence is prompted by the past five quarters, when Microsoft earnings for the first time exceeded forecasts by at least 10% after beating the average of analyst estimates in all but one of the 23 quarters since 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Unlike its five more glamorous peers — Facebook Inc., Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (Alphabet) — Microsoft has an uninterrupted growth rate with the least volatility, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.To be sure, the Faang companies and similar technology marvels retained much of their value during the Coronavirus pandemic. Netflix has gained 28% since the end of 2019; Amazon is up 30%, Apple 9%, Facebook 10%. Tesla Inc., the maker of electric, battery-powered vehicles, rallied 93% since the end of 2019 and is worth just $59 billion less than No. 1 Toyota Motor Corp.Tesla anticipated the remotely engaged economy by selling its vehicles online and improving the customer experience with periodic, automatic software upgrades. The traditional auto companies haven't fared well. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, is down 24% since the end of 2019 and General Motors Co., the largest U.S. auto maker, declined 28% and is worth only 26% of Tesla's current market capitalization of $149 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.That's why the Dow, once the benchmark of corporate America, is a shadow of its former self as industrial companies represent just 9% of the average, down from 16% in 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“Microsoft already had a great relationship with Fortune 2000 tech departments because of its dominance in Windows and Office software products,” said Bloomberg's Rana in a recent interview. “As these legacy companies look to invest more digitally transforming their business post Covid-19, Microsoft should get its fair share of work” — lifting the stock market as it helps transform the economy.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Matthew Winkler, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Bloomberg News, writes about markets.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) looks like it's well on its way to meeting Tim Cook's goal, set out in early 2017, to double its services revenue by this year. Apple's services revenue growth has been driven largely by continued growth in its installed base and increased penetration of digital subscriptions. Apple introduced several big new services last year -- News+, Arcade, TV+, and the Apple Card -- but those are still in the relatively early stages.
Dow Jones' journey past 25,000 points this week could mark the beginning of a series of gains ahead, owing to some major tailwinds.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Buried in a set of little-known data are early signs that the hardware side of the technology sector may be rebounding from the pandemic-driven plunge.Investors generally need to wait until a few weeks after a quarter closes to get a sense of how well (or badly) business has been, or hope that a company will provide an update when the situation changes. Except in Taiwan. A decades-old regulation requires companies there to report sales every month. This information isn’t useful only to investors in locally traded stocks. What’s listed is a broad range of companies that make chips, components, half-assembled modules and final products used in almost every electronics device in the world. The numbers can also provide a snapshot of output in China, where most Taiwanese technology manufacturers have the bulk of production.As early as January, it became obvious that the coronavirus would be a nightmare for tech companies. We now know that Apple Inc. posted a 7.2% drop in March-quarter sales of iPhones and iPads, while its major supplier, Foxconn Technology Group, suffered its biggest dive in revenue for seven years.More interesting is to see what’s been going on since. A look at April sales data from Taiwan enabled me to crunch numbers. What we find is a bounce in revenue that gives some hope for the global sector.Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Foxconn’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. are the most famous names in this data set, because they’re the biggest in their category and have a VIP client list that includes Apple, Qualcomm Inc., Huawei Technologies Co. and Sony Corp. Yet hundreds of others, such as Pegatron Corp., Quanta Computer Inc. and Largan Precision Co., collectively supply most of the industry.By aggregating the data month by month, comparing to a year earlier to smooth out seasonality, and looking at the sub-sectors within tech — defined by the Taiwan Stock Exchange — such as components suppliers, chipmakers, or computer assemblers, we can get an understanding of what was happening just a few weeks ago.Computers and peripherals, which include major PC and server makers Quanta and Compal Electronics Inc., showed the largest rebound, from an 11.9% drop in the January to March period to a 7.9% rise in April. Electronics parts and components, such as circuit-board supplier Compeq Manufacturing Co., turned a mild decline into solid growth, from a 3.1% decline into a 9.1% increase. Other electronics, including Hon Hai, which not only assembles iPhones but servers and networking equipment, went from an 11.8% fall to flat. Chips, headlined by TSMC, remained incredibly strong. Optoelectronics, which is largely displays and camera modules, shows a prolonged decline.One of the key takeaways is the relative strength in corporate-focused hardware, and possible continued weakness in gadgets. Foxconn pointed to this earlier in May, when it told investors that its consumer-devices division, which encompasses iPhones, would fall at least 15%, while enterprise products would climb 10%.There are two important caveats to the data.The first is that they track just Taipei-listed companies, and not some big names like Huawei and Samsung Electronics Co., which also manufacture their own hardware. However, it’s a like-for-like comparison — those companies aren’t included in last year’s data, either — and the broad reach of Taiwan’s tech sector means that even Huawei and Samsung are likely part of its supply chain.A more important note is that this is just for one month. Some of that April uptick is simply catch-up production for time lost at the height of the pandemic. Yet clients wouldn’t place orders if they didn’t feel that there’s end-demand somewhere. Autos and textiles are cutting production and shuttering factories in the knowledge that such a pickup in sales isn’t likely. With global turmoil making companies reticent to give predictions, investors wait in the dark for an update or a quarterly conference call. Even if we don’t know whether this is a true rebound, or merely a dead-cat bounce, at least there’s more timely data available to examine.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tim Culpan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has acquired Inductiv, a machine-learning (ML) start-up that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically identify and correct errors that may be lurking in data, according to a Bloomberg report. This marks the second such acquisition in as many months aimed at improving the functionality of Siri, the iPhone's voice-activated digital assistant. The company confirmed the deal using its typical boilerplate language, saying that Apple "buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."
Try this trade on for size amidst the brewing battle between President Trump and social media companies.
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With a portfolio worth more than $200 billion, you would think Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B)(NYSE: BRK.A) Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett maintains a significant level of diversification. What is this stock that Buffett is betting so heavily on? Here's a closer look at Buffett's Apple investment -- and why investors may want to consider investing alongside the Oracle of Omaha on this one.
Apple has been accused of abusing its power to unfairly favour one of its own products over that of a smaller rival, in a move that could exacerbate the tech giant’s regulatory woes in Europe. In a letter sent to European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager on Tuesday, California-based tracking app maker Tile argued that Apple was making it more difficult for users to operate its product on their smartphones compared to Apple’s own rival application, FindMy, by selectively disabling features that allow for a seamless user experience. Tile, whose Bluetooth tracking technology allows users to find their keys, phones or other items, also called on the European Commission to open a probe into Apple’s business practices, having made similar accusations in the US earlier this year.
(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a major chipmaker to Apple Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co., has hired a new lobbyist in Washington to help stave off the impact of deteriorating U.S.-Chinese relations on its business.Former U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive Nicholas Montella joined the Taiwanese company in May as its director of government relations, just months after Intel Corp.’s former top lobbyist Peter Cleveland became TSMC’s vice president for global policy. The company confirmed the appointment of Montella, who previously focused on Japan, Korea and APEC policy, according to his LinkedIn profile.The world’s biggest contract chipmaker joins a growing number of companies, including Huawei, with business links to China that are increasing their lobbying activities in the U.S., looking to gauge and lessen the impact from Washington’s ongoing dispute with Beijing.The stakes for TSMC became even higher earlier this month when a new round of U.S. curbs thrust it into heart of tensions over Huawei. Under the rules from the U.S. Department of Commerce, TSMC will have to apply for waivers from Washington for future orders from Huawei. The Chinese tech giant is TSMC’s largest customer after Apple, according to Bloomberg supply chain data, contributing roughly 14% of the chipmaker’s revenue.The Commerce Department announcement came hours after TSMC said it would build a $12 billion plant for advanced 5-nanometer chips in Arizona, a desicion designed to allay U.S. national security concerns and shift more high-tech manufacturing to America.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Appeals court judges unanimously reaffirmed that online platforms' rules against hate speech don't violate the First Amendment, because tech companies aren't part of the government.
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. bought machine-learning startup Inductiv Inc., adding to more than a dozen AI-related acquisitions by the technology giant in the past few years.The engineering team from Waterloo, Ontario-based Inductiv joined Apple in recent weeks to work on Siri, machine learning and data science. Apple confirmed the deal, saying it “buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.”Inductiv developed technology that uses artificial intelligence to automate the task of identifying and correcting errors in data. Having clean data is important for machine learning, a popular and powerful type of AI that helps software improve with less human intervention.The work falls under the category of data science, a key element of Apple’s broader machine-learning strategy. In 2018, the company brought on several engineers from Silicon Valley Data Science, a consulting firm that focuses on this field.John Giannandrea, the Apple executive in charge of Siri and machine learning, has been upgrading the underlying technology that goes into the Siri digital assistant and other AI-powered products from the company.Read more: Big Tech Swallows Most of the Hot AI StartupsInductiv was co-founded by machine-learning professors from Stanford University, the University of Waterloo and the University of Wisconsin, Madison.The professor from Stanford, Christopher Ré, previously co-founded another AI company, Lattice Data, that was bought by Apple in 2017. It’s unclear if Ré, or the other Inductiv co-founders, Theodoros Rekatsinas and Ihab Ilyas, have joined Apple.Apple has bought several other AI and data companies in recent years, including Xnor.ai, Tuplejump, Laserlike, Turi and Perceptio.This year, the company bought Voysis to boost speech recognition in Siri, virtual-reality startup NextVR, and the popular iPhone weather app Dark Sky.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
We screened for strong chip stocks that investors might want to consider buying for the coronavirus rally and beyond...
(Bloomberg) -- A federal appeals court rejected claims that tech giants Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc., Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google conspired to suppress conservative views online.The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Wednesday affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit by the nonprofit group Freedom Watch and the right-wing YouTube personality Laura Loomer, who accused the companies of violating antitrust laws and the First Amendment in a coordinated political plot.A three-judge panel held in a decision only four pages long that the organization didn’t provide enough evidence of an antitrust violation and that the companies aren’t state entities that can violate free speech rights.“In general, the First Amendment ‘prohibits only governmental abridgment of speech,’” the judges wrote, quoting a previous decision.Larry Klayman, a lawyer for Freedom Watch and Loomer, said in an interview that he’d file a petition to have the case reheard by an enlarged, “en banc” panel of the court’s judges and take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary. He said he believes the court chose Wednesday to issue its decision as a response to President Donald Trump’s threat to regulate or shutter social media companies for their alleged anticonservative bias.Klayman said the brief decision gave “short shrift” to an important social issue.Two of the three judges on the appellate panel were appointed by Republican presidents and one by a Democrat. The district court judge who dismissed the case, Trevor McFadden, was appointed by Trump.The companies said in a joint brief in March that courts had repeatedly rejected claims that operating a widely used forum for speech by others “is a public function that amounts to state action.” Subjecting private companies to First Amendment requirements would chill efforts to police pornography and cyberbullying, they said.“Private property owners, no matter their social importance, are not the government and are not subject to the constitutional constraints that limit governmental regulation of speech,” the companies said.Read More: Trump Retweets Far-Right Activists in Attack on Social MediaThe case is one of several filed by conservatives linking social media bans to the market dominance of big tech companies. The suit blamed an illegal conspiracy by the companies for a “complete halt” of Freedom Watch’s organizational growth and Loomer’s 30-day ban from multiple social media platforms after she said Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, favors Sharia law and is “anti-Jewish.”The D.C. Circuit’s decision comes after two unlikely allies weighed in on behalf of Freedom Watch and Loomer, asking the court not to affirm the dismissal of the suit without a full proceeding. The District of Columbia’s government and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed briefs challenging the trial judge’s conclusion that the D.C. Human Rights Act doesn’t ban discrimination online.(Adds Klayman quote and context below it)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- French lawmakers from the National Assembly voted in favor of a contact tracing app meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus, following an intense debate over privacy rights as the government prepares to lift more lockdown measures next week.The application, dubbed StopCovid, was designed by a state-led task force, including the leading phone carrier Orange SA, software company Dassault Systemes SE, as well as Inria, the institute for research in digital science and technology. User data collected on the app will be sent to the nation’s health authorities in a bid to contain any re-emergence of the deadly virus.National Assembly lawmakers backed the app use with 338 votes in favor and 215 votes against. The project has drawn criticism from privacy activists in France, who argue such tools accelerate state-surveillance technology on citizens. Digital Minister Cedric O defended the project and said it includes guarantees protecting privacy rights. He said downloading the app is voluntary and data collection and the app itself are both meant to be temporaryFrance started to relax lockdown rules on May 11 and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is expected to further ease controls next week. The app will be available to download on June 1 on the Apple and Alphabet’s Google app stores, O said on Wednesday.Read More: Apple-Google Virus-Tracking Rules Put Apps in a Privacy BindStopCovid will work with a smartphone’s bluetooth technology and will send out an alert to its user if they come within a meter of a person carrying the virus for more than 15 minutes. In case of exposure, the user will be asked to self-isolate quickly, reach out to their doctor and get tested. The app received the backing from the privacy watchdog CNIL on Tuesday.The approval didn’t come without warnings from lawmakers. Damien Abad, member of the National Assembly for opposition party Les Republicains criticized the app, associating it with a “nightmarish Orwellian society,” of state surveillance in a debate before the vote on Wednesday. Other lawmakers like Virginie Duby-Muller argued this app wasn’t enough to compensate for a lack of testing since the pandemic struck.Read More: The World Embraces Contact-Tracing Technology to Fight Covid-19Contact tracing apps have had a mixed result across the world so far. Singapore was one of the first to launch TraceTogether in March but due to its relatively low adoption, a lockdown couldn’t be avoided in the country. In Australia, which launched its own tool last month, only one person has been identified using data from it, the Guardian reported on May 23. There are still “strong doubts” about StopCovid’s compatibility with similar apps from other European countries, O told lawmakers on Tuesday.The French app, which is similar to one being developed in the U.K., is designed by national players, unlike the apps in Switzerland and Germany, which are based on a platform jointly developed by Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google.Read More: France Says Apple Bluetooth Policy Is Blocking Virus TrackerO pushed for the homegrown solution and criticized Apple for not changing its bluetooth settings to allow the French state to ease its app’s use. France’s conflict with Apple is part of a broader debate about how much data U.S. tech giants should collect and who should have access to it.StopCovid is “too serious a hindrance to our right to secrecy,” Sacha Houlie, member of the National Assembly for Macron’s party said before the vote on Wednesday. “I fear the surveillance society.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.