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    • By Usama Jawad96
      Most devices, including iPhones, could soon be forced to use USB-C charging
      by Usama Jawad

      Image via Google The European Commission (EC) has put forward a new proposal according to which all hardware manufacturers will be forced to use USB-C as the charging port for most devices. The motivation behind the proposed standard is that it will aid in reducing e-waste since consumers will be able to utilize charging cables from their old devices instead of purchasing new ones. The EC has also suggested that manufacturers drop chargers from their packaging altogether, something that several OEMs are already doing.

      The proposal covers the use of USB-C charging in smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld consoles. Meanwhile, smartwatches, earbuds, and fitness trackers are exempt. EC executive vice-president Margarethe Vestager had the following to say about the proposal:

      In totality, the EC has stated that USB-C with a unified fast charging technology implementation should become the standard. While the charger should be unbundled by OEMs, they are required to be more transparent towards consumers in terms of informing them about charging performance and support for fast charging, so that users can judge if their existing chargers fulfill respective criteria.

      In terms of next steps, the legislation will need to go through a vote in the European Parliament today, and if successful, it will become law. Should that happen, hardware manufacturers will have up to two years to adopt USB-C as the standard. The legislation is most likely to affect Apple devices such as iPhones the most, as they still come with proprietary Lightning ports and cables. Should the proposal become law, Apple will be forced to substitute Lightning connectivity with USB-C ports across its device portfolio - where applicable - within the next two years.

    • By zikalify
      Facebook rebukes the UK's CMA over its position on the Giphy acquisition
      by Paul Hill

      The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has published a letter it has received from Facebook. It is in response to the CMA’s concerns over Facebook’s purchase of Giphy. The social media firm accused the CMA of failing to show how the Giphy acquisition has lead to a ‘substantial lessening of competition’ and it says that the CMA has failed to list alternatives to address concerns it has.

      According to the CMA, Giphy had just started getting into advertising when it was acquired by Facebook, and according to the regulator, this deprived the ad market of a much-needed competitor. Facebook says this is really none of the CMA’s concern though because Giphy’s ads didn’t operate in the UK.

      In its letter, Facebook said:

      The CMA has not yet responded to Facebook’s letter but it’s very unlikely it'll stop going after Facebook just yet. As Facebook doesn't seem very compliant, this fight between the CMA and Facebook could drag on for a while yet.

    • By zikalify
      UK competition body raises concerns over Facebook's Giphy merger
      by Paul Hill

      The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has raised concerns over Facebook’s acquisition of the internet’s largest provider of GIFs, Giphy. According to the CMA, the merger could negatively impact competition between social media platforms and also deprive the internet of another advertising player as Giphy was engaged in the ads space until Facebook stopped these operations.

      One of the CMA’s two main concerns with the deal is that Facebook’s takeover of Giphy could see it restrict GIFs on the platform from being shared on social media platforms other than Facebook. If Facebook does allow the GIFs to be shared to other platforms, it could attach strings such as requiring access to rival platforms’ user data which it could then go on to use for targeted advertising.

      The other concern is that this merger gives Facebook even more control over the digital advertising space. Before the merger, Giphy was offering paid advertising in the United States and was looking into expanding its advertising operations into other markets including the United Kingdom. Had these plans gone ahead, there would have been more competition in the digital ads space, making for a more vibrant ad marketplace. Under the merger agreement, Facebook has terminated Giphy’s paid ad partnerships making its position in ads more monopolistic.

      The CMA has been working with other competition bodies in multiple countries to work out what to do on this matter. The CMA says interested parties can submit their responses to the provisional findings by September 2 and their notice of possible remedies by August 25. The submissions will be taken into account as it writes up its final report on the matter which is due by October 6.

    • By Jay Bonggolto
      Google vows to let UK's competition regulators oversee its online tracking changes
      by Jay Bonggolto

      Google tried to assuage growing online privacy concerns in 2019 by introducing new web standards that would put limits to how advertisers access user data to target their ads as part of the Privacy Sandbox project. The goal was to control third-party cookies that allow unauthorized tracking on the web with new digital advertising tools. Earlier this year, though, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into the project.

      Now, the CMA has announced that it has secured Google's commitments to limit how it uses data in order to address privacy and competition concerns. The competition watchdog is now seeking feedback from interested third parties before it accepts Google’s commitments.

      Privacy Sandbox involves assigning users to a cohort based on their interests while keeping their identity private. This method lets a browser analyze the users' habits on-device without sending them to a server. The changes, however, have sparked concerns that Google's replacement for third-party cookies could hamper competition in the digital advertising space.

      As part of its commitment, the search giant vows to not access synced Chrome browsing histories once third-party cookies are eliminated. This will presumably prevent Google from favoring its own advertising business or websites at the expense of its rivals.

      In addition, the company promised to give regulators a say on the results of its testing of alternatives. The CMA can request a "standstill period" of two months if Google fails to address any of their outstanding concerns. During this period, they can reopen an investigation and implement interim measures.

      The CMA and the Information Commissioner's Office will consult on Google's commitments until July 8 with input from third parties. The regulators also noted that these commitments will be legally binding if accepted.

    • By zikalify
      Voters in California say gig economy drivers are contractors
      by Paul Hill

      While most people’s attention has been on the Presidential election, voters in California got to vote on something called Proposition 22 too. It asked voters whether app-based drivers should continue to be classified as contractors or whether they should be considered employees and gain extra rights; 58.42% said they should continue to be classified as contractors while 41.58% were in favour of changing their status.

      Unsurprisingly, the big tech firms with a stake in the measure such as Uber, Lyft, Instacart and DoorDash backed the bid to classify workers as contractors. The firms were so invested in keeping their costs low, in fact, that they invested more than $200 million, which is a record, trying to convince people to vote in their favour.

      Drivers and unions were hoping the public would vote the other way. Nicole Moore, a driver and organiser at Rideshare Drivers United, said that tech firms outspent the competition by 20:1 but ultimately, the decision will not stop workers and unions from demanding better working conditions. Had drivers been classified as employees, they would have been eligible for the minimum wage, unemployment benefits, and health insurance.

      While the result is not what a lot of drivers wanted, Proposition 22 still requires some concessions from the likes of Uber and Lyft. They will have to provide some benefits such as vouchers to access subsidised health insurance and guarantee hourly earnings. The companies will also bolster safety by performing more background checks on drivers.

      Source: The Guardian