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Google and News Corp. Strike A Deal

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Google finally strikes a new deal with media publishers after years of pressure to add regulation.

What We Know:

  • Pre-existing imbalances between tech platforms and legacy news outlets are responsible for the new laws being put into place. Major tech firms like Facebook and Google have benefitted for years from displaying and sharing links to news sites. News Corp Chief Executive, Robert Thomson, called these media platforms out as parasites to news organizations as far back as 2009. They are “the tapeworms of the internet,” he states. News Corp is an American mass media publishing company, and they operate news media, cable television, book publishing, and digital real estate information.
  • The Australian government has now proposed a new media bargaining law that’s supposed to help them achieve that. News publishers want compensation for their work that Google and Facebook share onto their platforms. They are well within their rights to make moves to fight for what they want. However, they do have some critics.
  • Currently, News Corp’s influence is far and wide beyond just Australia. The company is a parent to Fox News and the Wall Street Journal. Critics argue that a deal of this magnitude won’t actually change much, at least for smaller scale publications.

Professor Jeff Jarvis, of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, didn’t seem very optimistic about the deal either. “A bad day for news. A bad day for the net.”, he asserted.

  • Facebook faced almost immediate criticism by going the opposite route Google took. The tech firm blacked out links to news sites, cutting the public off from having access to vital information during a pandemic. While it’s true that Google and Facebook’s domination of online ads indirectly hurt news revenue for large and small outlets, that doesn’t mean the answer to the problem is cutting the cord. It should not be underestimated how dangerous it is to block vital information to the public, regardless of its source.

The news of Google finally giving leeway to News Corp seems to have mixed reactions, with some finally getting what they’ve been asking for and others believing this is how journalism actually suffers.

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Business

The European Commission Will Begin Antitrust Probe into Google’s Advertising Unit

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The European Commission believes Google favors its own display ad technology services. If the European Commission’s claims are true, this means Google breached antitrust rules.

What We Know:

  • The Commission’s Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager announced her intentions in a tweet. The probe will investigate Google’s restrictions on accessing data about user identity and behavior; usually, Google places these limitations on advertisers, publishers, and other third parties.

  • The Commission will also investigate complaints on Google not allowing competitors to broker ad buys on YouTube. Furthermore, Officials will examine if the corporation blocks user-tracking technologies on their platforms.
  • Google quickly responded to the claims via email. A spokesperson for Google wrote that thousands of European businesses use Google’s advertising products daily for their competitiveness and effectiveness. In addition, the spokesperson declared the tech company would “engage constructively” with the European Commission to answer their questions.
  • This is Google’s second investigation in one month. On June 7, CNBC reported that the French completion authority fined the tech giant €220 million, or $268 million, for abusing its market power in the ad industry. Google chose to pay the fine and also revealed it would give publishers more choice and better results when using its platforms.
  • Additionally, the European Commission already found Google guilty of breaching antitrust rules in 2019. Officials determined that Google imposed restrive clauses in contracts with third-party websites. The limiting sections prevented Google’s competitors from placing search ads on these pages. As a result, the Commission made Google pay €1.49 billion, or $1.77 billion.
  • The Commission does not know when it will finish its investigation on the tech titan.

Alongside Google, the European Commission also placed fines and punished other corporations such as Facebook for violating antitrust laws over the years.

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Attorneys General Say the Proposal to Slow Down U.S. Postal Service Should be Rejected

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The attorney generals of 20 states want the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission to reject plans to slow down some first-class deliveries. They believe that the plan could harm local governments’ ability to carry out essential functions.

What We Know:

  • In March, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy suggested the United States Postal Services (USPS) slow down first-class delivery. Instead of people receiving their mail between one to three days, they would get it between one to five; he introduced this as part of his plan to cut $160 billion over the next decade.
  • The state prosecutors believe the new proposal sacrifices speed for reliability, which would slow down a significant portion of mail. As a result, city and state governments would take longer to complete their duties.
  • Led by New York’s AG, the lawyers asked the commission to urge the USPS to “abandon this misguided effort and instead focus its attention on improving its performance in delivering First-Class Mail and other market-dominant products.”
  • Alongside this unpopular proposition, the USPS also wanted to elevate most mail postage prices by 7%, making the cost go from 3 cents to 58 cents. However, a coalition of retailers, newspapers, printers, greeting card companies, and others rejected the motion. Furthermore, DeJoy wanted to cut retail hours and close locations to save money.
  • DeJoy’s ideas stem from the fact that the USPS has suffered significantly over the past few years. Throughout the last decade, mail volume declined by 28%. In addition, single-piece first-class mail volume went down 47%. The post office also dealt with poor delivery performance throughout the pandemic because of an influx of packages and fewer workers.
  • Because of the USPS’ monetary issues, a bipartisan group of 20 Senators introduced legislation that would provide the company with $46 billion in financial relief over the next decade.

The directive would remove a requirement that the USPS pre-fund retiree health benefits for 75 years. It would also make post office workers enroll in the Medicare government-retiree health plan.

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Supreme Court Favors Nestle and Cargill in Child Slavery Lawsuit

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The U.S. Supreme Court sides with food corporations Nestle and Cargill in child slavery lawsuits.

What We Know:

  • The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of the two corporations on claims brought up by six men who use to work for them. The six men say that they were taken from Mali as children and were made to work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast. The group reports that they had to work between 12 to 14 hours a day on the farms; they were hardly paid for their work and had armed guards watch them as they slept, to prevent them from escaping.
  • The group’s case had been dismissed twice before reaching the US. Appeals of the 9th Circuit. They argued the case back in December and former President Donald Trump, supported both corporations. The men were suing the corporations for a case action suit that included all the child workers that the corporations used in the past. They also claimed that corporations “aided and abetted” their child workers and purchased cocoa beans from other farms that did the same.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the 9th Circuit shouldn’t have allowed this case to be tried on U.S. land, as the claims happened overseas. The 9th Circuit allowed the case to be held because the corporations supposedly made “major operational decisions” in the country. He also said that the six men failed to provide enough evidence to sue under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), proving that the companies committed labor abuse on overseas farms.
  • West Africa contributes to almost 70% of the cocoa distributed throughout the world, and the U.S. receives a majority of it. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, about 1.56 million children work on cocoa farms in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
  • Paul Hoffman, the group’s lawyer, says that his clients are disappointed, but they aren’t giving up. He says the group will see if a lower court will amend the lawsuit and hopefully this meets the court’s requirement for ATS. Hoffman also believes that Nestle and Cargill were aware of what went on at the farms and they should be held accountable for not putting an end to it. However, neither corporation owns a cocoa farm in the Ivory Coast and only provided equipment and service to them.

Both corporations have maintained their innocence and said to be doing their parts to prevent child slavery from happening within their industry.

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