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Google is quietly making it easier to switch from iPhone to Android – Protocol

Apple has been making it easy to move from Android to iPhone for seven years. Now Google is trying to do the same.
Google just launched an iOS app that helps iPhone users switch to Android.
Switching from iPhone to Android is easier said than done. First there’s the whole iMessage thing, which keeps iPhone users locked in just to avoid the hassle of losing texts. Apple also encourages users to store their data in iCloud, which makes it easy to access across Apple devices. There are workarounds — for instance, uploading data to Google Drive and downloading it to a new Android device — but Apple makes the switch from Android a whole lot easier than Google has done for iPhone users. Until now.
On Monday, Google quietly launched a Switch to Android app for iOS, which, as you might guess, helps users transfer chunks of data from their iPhones to Android. If you search for the app in the iOS App Store, you won’t find it — instead, iPhone users have to follow a direct link to install it. Google hasn’t yet responded to questions as to when the app will be searchable in the App Store.

Hints that Google planned to launch the app emerged last year, when 9to5Google found mentions of a Switch to Android app in an update of Android’s data restore tool. Another update last month signaled that the app would be able to automate the transfer of photos and videos from iCloud to Google Photos.
Apple launched its version, Move to iOS, back in 2015. Android users can download the app from the Google Play store, then place their Android phone and new iPhone close to each other. The app then establishes a private wifi network, searches for the Android phone running Move to iOS nearby and transfers content wirelessly when users punch in a security code.
For most people the process is relatively fast — about 10-20 minutes. But often, users find their networks interrupted, which can create lengthy delays. For this reason, the app only has a 2.9 star rating in the Google Play store. If Google’s version for iOS is less glitchy, that would be good news for users — but bad for Apple.
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Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering breaking news. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.
A key federal regulator said Anchorage Digital, the first federally-chartered digital asset bank, violated rules for monitoring money laundering.
The crypto company, which helps institutions buy, store and manage their digital assets, “failed to adopt and implement” required measures “for monitoring suspicious activity,” the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said Thursday.
“When institutions fall short, we will take action and hold them accountable to ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations,” acting OCC head Michael Hsu said in a statement.
The action is not expected to have an impact on Anchorage’s operations. The OCC noted that the company has “begun corrective action” to comply with anti-money laundering monitoring regulations. In a statement, Anchorage said it is “working to strengthen the areas identified” by the OCC.
Anchorage is considered a trailblazer in the crypto industry as a provider of digital assets custody and management services. The company got conditional approval for a national trust charter from the OCC in January 2021.

In July 2021, the U.S. Marshals Service signed a deal with Anchorage to help the law enforcement agency store and manage digital assets seized from criminal organizations and individuals.
Anchorage helped Visa buy CryptoPunk #7610, the payments giant’s first NFT purchase.
But the OCC order underscores the heightened focus on anti-money laundering and KYC measures embraced by crypto companies.
“The very design of these platforms seems to be tilting us in the wrong direction,” Obama said in a speech at Stanford University Thursday. “And we’re seeing the results. The fact that scientists developed safe, effective vaccines in record time is an unbelievable achievement. Yet despite the fact that we know essentially clinically tested the vaccine on billions of people worldwide, around one in five Americans is still willing to put themselves at risk and put their families at risk, rather than get vaccinated. People are dying because of misinformation.”
Misinformation on platforms have caused people to lose their ability to distinguish between fact, opinion and “wholesale fiction,” Obama said, and while platforms have implemented some measures to moderate content and add friction, tech companies alone shouldn’t decide how to tackle harmful content.
“These companies are still way too guarded about how exactly their standards operate or how their engagement ranking systems influence what goes viral, and what doesn’t,” Obama said.

“These platforms need to be subjected to some level of public oversight and regulation.”
Obama, using harsher language than he has in the past, pressed tech companies to become more transparent with their algorithms and pushed for changes to Section 230. He doesn’t think the law, which limits the legal liability of tech platforms for the content published on them, should be repealed entirely, but it should be reformed to account for the changes platforms have gone through over the past couple decades. He called for the act to require a “higher standard of care” when it comes to advertising.
“Let’s face it, these platforms are not like your old phone company,” Obama said.
Lawmakers are currently working to reform Sec. 230 with a bill that would force large tech platforms to face consequences if their algorithms drive real-world harm.

He also addressed the harms of maximizing engagement on social media platforms in the name of ad revenue. Obama blamed tech platforms for accelerating the decline of traditional media, saying newsrooms have been forced to adapt to fast-paced platforms while facing increased pressure to monetize there.
“As more ad revenue flows to the platforms that disseminate the news, rather than money going to the newsrooms … publishers reporters and editors all feel the pressure to maximize engagement,” he said.
One of Obama’s key proposals was that platforms open up about their algorithms. He said the problem with online disinformation isn’t only the content posted, but the way platforms amplify it: “Algorithms have gotten to the point where nobody on the outside of these companies can accurately predict what they’ll do.”
Elon Musk’s Boring Company just raised a fresh round of funding to build out its Loop project, an ambitious zero-emissions underground public transportation network that Musk has promised will help “defeat traffic.” The company’s first Loop is beneath the Las Vegas Convention Center, where it ferries passengers around in Teslas from one side of the massive complex to another, but will eventually extend to the Las Vegas Strip, the airport, and even Los Angeles, the company has said.
The company announced Wednesday that it has raised $675 million, bringing its total valuation to $5.7 billion. The funding will be dedicated to increasing hiring in engineering, operations, and production, as well as accelerating research on Prufrock, the company’s proprietary tunnel boring machine designed to “construct mega-infrastructure projects in a matter of weeks instead of years,” its announcement reads.
“Defeating traffic is the ultimate boss battle,” Musk said in a statement. “Even the most powerful humans in the world cannot defeat traffic.”

Last October, Clark County Commissioners approved the full Vegas Loop, which will stretch 29 miles and include 51 stations. The current LVCC Loop is just 1.7 miles with three stations. The Boring Company will use the funding to build out the larger Loop, and also hinted at other Loop projects in development.
It’s possible that the Vegas Loop will alleviate the city’s traffic congestion, but $675 million also could’ve gone a long way toward building out a reliable, proven method of public transportation like a subway, or even extending the Las Vegas Monorail so it connects to actually useful places like the airport and downtown. It remains to be seen if Tesla tunnels are the public transit system of the future.
During Tesla’s earnings call on Wednesday, Musk also hyped Tesla’s long-awaited RoboTaxi, which is essentially a driverless Uber that also promises to be… a very big deal, or something. Tesla is slated to host a product event next year to launch the RoboTaxi for real this time, and is aiming for volume production in 2024.
“Looking at some of our projections, it would appear that a RoboTaxi ride will cost less than a … subsidized bus ticket or a subsidized subway ticket,” Musk said.
You know what’s better than just listening to podcasts? Watching them.
Spotify is finally picking up on that by introducing video podcasts in the U.S. and a few other countries. Podcasters will be able to upload their video through Anchor, Spotify’s podcast creator tool it bought in 2019. Those who subscribe to Spotify’s podcasts will have access to the videos, and the videos will work with embeds.
The platform has been working on it since at least mid-2020 when it tested video podcasts with two YouTubers. Now, it’s really leaning into it at a time when video podcasts are growing in popularity.
YouTube has already had major success with video podcasting, and it’s grown its efforts over the past few months. It promoted Kai Chuk to lead its podcasting push late last year, and sources told Bloomberg last month that it’s offering grants of up to $300,000 for creators to upload video versions of their podcasts on the platform. YouTube also lets Premium subscribers listen to videos without needing to stay on its app, which Spotify will also allow with this initiative.

Being able to watch and listen to a podcast is helpful for both the creator and viewer. Creators get a two-for-one on content. Video is much more likely to be shared than audio, which explains why some of YouTube’s most popular podcasts are the ones you can actually see. As the Verge pointed out, Elon Musk’s appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast got a ton of attention after Musk could be seen smoking a blunt on-air.
On the viewer side, it’s like getting to know your favorite podcaster on a more personal level. You can see them, their hand gestures and facial expressions. Say I’m, I don’t know, a Taylor Swift superfan and she creates her own podcast. You bet I’ll be watching it over breakfast every morning. And if I’m too busy to sit down and watch the whole thing, I know I can always have the option to listen to it. You know, the old-fashioned way. Having options is great. [Editor’s note: I aged 10 years just reading this. -BK]
Spotify is looking to cash in on some of that video engagement with its new effort. “We’ve found that podcasters love having the option to accompany their audio with visual components, and fans love having the opportunity to more deeply connect with the content,” the platform said in a release.

Alan Davidson, the Commerce Department official overseeing the disbursement of $42 billion in federal funds for building out broadband infrastructure, told Protocol the “starting gun” of the program will go off May 16, when states can officially start declaring they want the money.
The five-year plans that states are supposed to develop next, though, could hit immediate roadblocks. Those plans are dependent on identifying which areas are unserved and underserved by broadband, as measured on Federal Communications Commission maps that have been delayed for years.
“That timeline depends quite a bit on when the FCC maps are in shape to to be available for that purpose,” Davidson, the administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, told Protocol during a Thursday event on the infrastructure bill’s rollout.
The states won’t be totally on their own, Davidson said: The NTIA has “some great maps” available to compensate for the notoriously insufficient ones the FCC currently makes available. Many states have also done their own mapping, and communities often have a robust sense of local broadband coverage, he said.

“Our hope is that — working with local communities, working with the mapping data that’s available — states can begin their planning,” Davidson said. “Then when we have the final maps, we’ll be able to make those final determinations about allocations and ultimately where to deploy.”
States also get $5 million just for planning, but Davidson said the official maps are undeniably “critical.”
In the meantime, he said, the FCC and NTIA are “working hard to make sure the maps are ready as soon as possible.”
Amazon has launched a new $1 billion fund to invest in companies that will make delivery faster, further automate warehouses and, ideally, improve worker safety.
The new fund’s first round of investment includes Modjoul, a wearable safety technology company that’s main product is a belt that gathers biomechanical data on workers and is intended to reduce musculoskeletal injuries for warehouse workers. In addition, Amazon used the fund to invest in several robotics companies that make walking robots, robotic arms and other automated technologies for warehouses.
The Amazon Industrial Innovation Fund “will invest in companies that imagine solutions that incrementally increase delivery speed and further improve the experience of employees working in warehousing and logistics fields,” the company wrote in a press release.
Manufacturing issues, chip shortages and supply chain bottlenecks markedly reduced profits for Amazon and its competitors in 2021. Those issues have continued into 2022 and could continue to be a problem. While the fund alone won’t solve them, it could help buffer Amazon from the impacts.

The retail giant has also struggled to recruit enough workers to supply its massive and growing logistics network. The company cited increased labor costs and new hiring incentives as major reasons for high operating costs in its October 2021 earnings report.
Over the past several years, the company has seen warehouse injury rates above the national averages. A report out this month from Strategic Organizing Center, a pro-union organizing group, revealed that Amazon’s warehouse injury rates continue to sit at about double that of its major competitors, according to Occupational Health and Safety Administration data. Worker safety at Amazon’s warehouses has become a national flashpoint, particularly in the wake of a tornado that killed six Amazon workers in Edwardsville, Illinois, last December.
“Even as we have continually improved our operations to better the employee experience and enhanced safety through the development of new workstations with better ergonomics, we hope this fund opens the door for more collaboration,” said Alex Ceballos Encarnacion, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide corporate development, in the press release.
European YouTube and and Search users will now have the option to reject all cookies when they visit websites. Previously, the company offered users a range of options to customize their cookie preferences, with a single, bolded button suggesting they should “accept all.” If users wanted to customize their preferences, they were forced to navigate through different menus in a tedious process. Clicking “accept all” was simply easier. (We’ve all been there.)
France argued that those options made it more difficult for users to control how they were tracked online, and actually constituted a dark pattern scheme to encourage users to permit cookies. Because of this, the French regulator CNIL fined Google €150 million (the agency also fined Facebook for similar reasons). CNIL also threatened an additional €100,000 per day in fines should the company not comply with the country’s regulations within three months.
Google said in a blog post explaining the change that it also needed to adapt to updated rules in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the U.K.. “We’re committed to meeting the standards of that updated guidance and have been working with a number of these authorities,” the company said.

The cookie pop-ups are a result of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, which went into effect in 2018. The rules require companies to give users the option to consent or opt out of being tracked around the web. Last summer the EU fine-tuned the rules on cookies, saying that walls which restrict a user who declines cookies from accessing content were prohibited. Regulators also said that companies needed to offer users a clear way to opt out of consenting to cookies, as Europeans had been complaining that the web became unusable because of all the options they had to click through. (Relatable.)

And while Google hasn’t yet tweaked its options for American users, tech companies had to make changes to adhere to GDPR’s privacy requirements that ended up benefitting users globally. Fingers crossed the “reject all cookies” option makes it across the pond, too.
The world’s most famous tennis star is doubling down on her tech focus, investing in a startup with the goal of adding more than 100,000 Black engineers to the industry within the next decade.
Serena Williams is making “a strategic investment” in interviewing company Karat to “significantly scale” its Brilliant Black Minds program, which gives free interview practice, feedback and coaching for aspiring Black software engineers. The investment was for an undisclosed amount.
A Seattle-based startup that helps companies interview candidates remotely, Karat has grown significantly over the last few years, raising $110 million in 2021 in a Series C funding round led by Tiger Global that values the company at $1.1 billion. It calls its flagship product the “Interviewing Cloud,” essentially an “interviewing-as-a-service” platform which trains technical interviewers to conduct live technical interviews.
This isn’t Williams’s first rodeo investing in the tech sector. She has her own VC firm, Serena Ventures, which raised $111 million in its inaugural fund and launched in 2014.

This specific investment will focus on closing what Karat calls the “Interview Access Gap,” which according to the company disproportionately impacts Black software engineers, of which only 50% have experienced a technical interview before looking for a job. The gist is that more interview practice means a greater shot at success, with Karat survey respondents with more than three practice interviews reporting being six times more likely to have an engineering internship than those that have never had a practice interview.
“The technology industry is focused on solving some of the world’s biggest challenges. My focus is ensuring the solutions to those challenges are developed by all of us,” Williams said in a statement.
For context, only 5% of all software engineers in the U.S. are Black, a consequence of structural inequities like limited early exposure to STEM curriculum, as well as fewer professional networks and access to opportunities and industry connections.

CNN+ will celebrate its one-month anniversary by shutting down.
According to Variety, CNN’s incoming CEO Chris Licht invited staffers to a meeting at noon ET on Thursday, at which the announcement was said to be made official.
The service will officially shutter on April 30, according to an email Licht sent to CNN+ staffers that was obtained by Axios.
“In a complex streaming market, consumers want simplicity and an all-in service, which provides a better experience and more value than stand-alone offerings,” Licht wrote.
Whether CNN+ was successful or not is up to debate — the service had a reported 150,000 subscribers three weeks after its launch, with a goal of signing up 2 million in its first year. However, its launch coincided with the corporate merger of Discovery and WarnerMedia, and it became clear quickly that Discovery’s leadership had no interest in a separate news subscription service. Discovery executives quickly ceased marketing spend to promote the service and laid off CNN’s chief financial officer.

CNN+ staffers will continue to be paid and receive benefits for 90 days while they are given the opportunity to apply for other positions within CNN and Warner Bros. Discovery. Licht also announced that CNN+ head Andrew Morse will leave the company.
“While today’s decision is incredibly difficult, it is the right one for the long-term success of CNN,” Licht concluded in his email to staff. “It allows us to refocus resources on the core products that drive our singular focus: further enhancing CNN’s journalism and its reputation as a global news leader.”
It’s expected that some of the CNN+ catalog, including shows like the late Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations,” will find its way to HBO Max. The fate of the service’s new programming, and new interactive formats like the “Interview Club,” is unknown at this time.
Sheryl Sandberg is now under an internal investigation at Meta related to her attempts to pressure a U.K. newspaper against reporting a negative story about Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The report on Kotick was ultimately never published, though it’s not clear how large a role Sandberg’s intervention may have played.
Sandberg and Kotick began dating starting in 2016, and the relationship lasted three years. In that time, Sandberg reportedly tried to dissuade The Daily Mail on two separate occasions against reporting on a temporary restraining order taken out against Kotick by a former partner. The report states that the former girlfriend ended her relationship with Kotick in March 2014 and called the police on the executive after he showed up unannounced to her home, resulting in an emergency protective order and eventual temporary restraining order that lasted roughly three weeks.

The WSJ reports that there were representatives of both Meta and Activision Blizzard involved in the effort to squash the story, in addition to third-party legal and public relations advisors, with the goal of minimizing damage to Sandberg’s reputation and her advocacy efforts for women in the workplace.
At the crux of the matter were disagreements about how severe the situation with Kotick really was, and whether Sandberg’s intervention into the matter constituted a threat. The WSJ report says Sandberg personally contacted The Daily Mail to inform the paper that the restraining order had been retracted and that it was based on misleading or false accusations against her then-boyfriend. Kotick had reportedly told associates that Sandberg threatened The Daily Mail by telling the paper its relationship with Facebook would be in jeopardy if it published the story.
Kotick denied the claim in a statement to the WSJ, saying, “I never said anything like that,” and told the outlet that the story never ran in the Daily Mail because it was untrue. A representative for Sandberg also denied the claim she threatened the tabloid. “Sheryl Sandberg never threatened the MailOnline’s business relationship with Facebook in order to influence an editorial decision. This story attempts to make connections that don’t exist,” a Meta spokesperson told Protocol in a statement.
In a statement to Protocol, the Activision Blizzard Board of Directors said it “continues to have full confidence” in Kotick’s leadership:
In a statement to Protocol, Kotick’s former girlfriend, who is not disclosing her name publicly, said, ““I told the Wall Street Journal that what I said 8 years ago about Bobby was false. It is still false. In fact, in 2014, I signed a sworn statement making clear that what I had said was untrue. Nonetheless, the Journal decided to exploit me for an article it wanted to publish about Bobby.”
Regardless of what Sandberg may have said in her communications with the Daily Mail, the WSJ quotes sources within Meta saying that any intervention of any kind from a high-ranking executive at the company may have had a significant chilling effect on the report and its likelihood of making it to publication. The Daily Mail and its parent company News Corp. have at various points since 2016 been an official news partner for the Facebook platform’s editorial efforts, and Facebook drives substantial traffic to The Daily Mail’s website.

Meta is currently investigating Sandberg’s role in the whole affair to see whether the executive, who is No. 2 at Meta behind CEO Mark Zuckerberg, violated any of the company’s policies. The WSJ reports that the review started only after it began investigating the situation last year.
Kotick’s job at Activision Blizzard is currently in limbo as a deal to be acquired by Microsoft undergoes antitrust scrutiny. Reports following the acquisition announcement have suggested Kotick will leave the company once it moves under the Xbox gaming division, but that he may be eligible for a golden parachute to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars due both to Activision stock he owns and contractual obligations built into his role as CEO.
The Microsoft deal was instigated by a separate Wall Street Journal report last fall revealing how Kotick was well aware of rampant sexism, harassment and discrimination of female employees at the video game company long before California opened an investigation into its workplace practices and filed a lawsuit last summer.
Update April 21, 11:40AM ET: Added statements from Meta and Activision Blizzard’ Board of Directors.
Update April 21, 12PM ET: Added statement from Bobby Kotick’s former girlfriend.
Elon Musk has secured the funding he needs to acquire Twitter. Like, for real this time.
According to a new filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk has received commitments from a collection of banks led by Morgan Stanley to provide $46.5 billion to take Twitter private. Musk’s first offer to Twitter was contingent on his ability to secure financing, but the filing reads, Musk’s proposal “is no longer subject to financing as a result of the Reporting Person’s receipt of the financing commitments.”
Given his, er, rocky history of making grand promises about having the “funding secured” to take over Tesla — promises which were later found by a court to be false — skepticism has abounded regarding Musk’s ability to actually make good on his Twitter offer. Even the richest man in the world’s not that liquid. Musk himself had seemed a little uncertain about the source of funding during an interview at TED the day news of his offer became public. “I have sufficient assets,” he said at the time. “I mean, I can do it if possible.”

Musk also used that opportunity to rewrite history about his infamous tweet about having sufficient funding to buy Tesla. The shareholder who took Musk to court over that tweet and won is now seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent Musk from continuing to make that claim.
Musk’s offer to buy Twitter remains non-binding, so he can still walk away at any time. He also wrote in the filing that as Twitter’s board has “not responded” to his proposal, he may pursue a tender offer, meaning he would skip the board and go directly to other shareholders seeking to buy their Twitter stock.
Meanwhile, Twitter’s board has already laid out its poison pill defense against the takeover. If anyone, Musk included, acquires more than 14.9% of the company’s shares, Twitter will offer all other shareholders additional stock at a discounted price. That would dilute Musk’s stake and make it even more expensive for him to acquire the company.
Musk’s desire to privatize Twitter is driven by his belief that the platform doesn’t sufficiently allow for free speech. During his discussion at TED, Musk said that Twitter ought to allow all legal speech in the countries where it operates. That, of course, doesn’t account for the fact that laws around online speech in, say, Russia, India or, more recently, Europe, are more restrictive than in the United States.
Twitter employees in particular have worried that a Musk takeover would undo the work they’ve done to enhance content moderation and safety on the platform in recent years. Staffers focused on ethics at the company publicly celebrated when Twitter announced Musk would no longer be joining the board.
But the ordeal is far from over — and it’s only gotten more politicized. Just this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis threatened Twitter with a lawsuit over the board’s rejection of Musk’s offer. (Florida, through a state pension fund, is a Twitter shareholder.) Musk, meanwhile, is facing a suit from a different Twitter shareholder who claims Musk delayed disclosing his stake in the company so he could acquire more shares at a lower price.

Amazon has long held a tight grip over its third-party merchants. Sellers get access to its massive fulfillment centers, shipping services and the coveted Prime logo if they sell on Amazon.com. But now, Amazon is loosening some of its hold on merchants by allowing them to sell goods with Prime benefits on their own sites, which could allow the e-commerce giant to swallow more of the industry.
The company is introducing Buy With Prime, which lets merchants who use Amazon’s services (warehouses and delivery) add a button to their site that allows customers to purchase with Prime benefits. That means Prime subscribers who buy goods off a third-party site will still have access to free shipping, next-day delivery and free returns. Amazon said the initiative will start with Amazon sellers using Fulfillment by Amazon, and it’ll expand to other merchants throughout this year.
The initiative is another push for Amazon to become the biggest delivery service in the game. Dave Clark, the company’s head of worldwide consumer, said late last year that it’s on track to overtake UPS and FedEx as the biggest package delivery service in the U.S. By adding Prime benefits to sites other than Amazon’s, it’ll be increasingly convenient to use the company’s fulfillment and delivery services to attract more customers (even with its added fuel and inflation fees).

“For over 20 years, we’ve been empowering small and medium-sized businesses with opportunities to grow,” Peter Larsen, Amazon’s VP of Buy with Prime, said in a release. “Allowing merchants to offer Prime shopping benefits on their own direct-to-consumer online stores is an exciting next step in our mission to help merchants of all sizes grow their business — whether on Amazon or beyond.”
Buy With Prime also shows that Amazon is becoming a bit more like Shopify, which already allows merchants to build their own storefronts. Shopify doesn’t provide its own marketplace for sellers, but instead gives merchants the tools to get started and takes care of marketing goods and payment.
Worker surveillance technologies — which can track keystrokes or mouse movements, watch which programs are open on a computer and record how long workers stay on a website — have a new challenge in the California State Assembly.
The Workplace Technology Accountability Act, or Assembly Bill 1651, would regulate the use of worker surveillance technology to protect worker privacy, Cal Matters reported Tuesday. Specifically, the bill would require employers to give workers advance notice about any monitoring technology that was being used to track them. Employers would also be banned from monitoring workers on personal devices or after hours, and workers would be able to view and correct data about themselves, according to Cal Matters.
AB 1651 would also ban employers from using electronic monitoring systems that use “facial recognition, gait, or emotion recognition technology.” (Emotion AI is also popping up on sales calls, in customer service software, in delivery and passenger vehicles and in the classroom.)

The bill moved past the Assembly’s Committee on Labor and Employment on Wednesday with a 5-2 vote, according to the office of Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, who introduced the bill on Monday. Assemblymen Kelly Seyarto, R-Murrieta, and Heath Flora, D-Ripon, opposed it. Next stop is the Appropriations Committee before the bill can hit the Assembly Floor.
After some question of will-he-or-won’t-he, Elon Musk joined Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call Wednesday. Surprisingly to some, the Tesla CEO had nothing to say about his current side project — making a hostile takeover bid for his favorite social network, Twitter — and instead focused on what appears to be his new favorite topic: lithium mining.
Tesla had a huge quarter, significantly beating analyst estimates with profit of $3.32 billion on $18.7 billion in revenue (up 81% year-over-year). And while many had hoped Musk would give some hints as to what’s next with Twitter, he instead outlined what’s next for Tesla. Here are a few key takeaways from Tesla’s earnings call.

Tesla absolutely crushed Wall Street expectations.

According to Barron’s, Wall Street anticipated earnings of $2.20 to $2.30 a share and around $18 billion in revenue, estimates that Tesla beat handily. The company also made around $1 billion more in operating profit than analysts expected. Tesla’s share price jumped around 5% in after-hours trading, up to $1,017 per share from closing at around $976.

Musk wants more people to get into the lithium business.

The supply chain is squeezing Tesla tight. One major supply chain challenge the company is facing is lithium, though not because of there’s a shortage of it. Musk said the element is “almost everywhere,” but the steps to refine it are expensive and arduous. Musk sees this as an issue for the entire EV industry. His solution? More people need to get into the lithium business, he said.
“Can some more people please get into the lithium business?” Musk said. “Do you like minting money? Well the lithium business is for you.”
The supply chain issues lead to one boon for the company: Part of the reason it had a high profit margin is that due to the higher average selling price of its vehicles (the company raised the prices of its entire fleet by 5% to 10% this past quarter). But because of this, he doesn’t anticipate vehicle prices will rise again soon.
“Our prices of vehicles ordered now are really anticipating supplier and logistics cost growth that … we believe will happen over the next six to 12 months,” Musk said. “That’s that’s why we have the price increases today, because a car order today will arrive in some cases a year from now.”
The company will host a product event for its long-awaited RoboTaxi next year.
Musk has been talking about a Tesla RoboTaxi, essentially a driverless Uber, for years. Now it looks like the company is closer to actually getting them on the road. Musk didn’t divulge too many details, but said the company is planning to host a product event next year, and is aiming for volume production in 2024.
He also anticipates that they will be really, really cheap.
“Looking at some of our projections, it would appear that a RoboTaxi ride will cost less than a … subsidized bus ticket or a subsidized subway ticket,” Musk said.
We’ll believe it when we see it.

Musk predicts Tesla Bots will be a bigger business than cars.
Musk is a big believer in Tesla’s company’s Optimus project, which aims to create full-fledged humanoid robots called Tesla Bots. Tesla Bots, first announced last August, will be 5’8″ tall, weighs 125 pounds, and can move at about five miles per hour. It’ll run an Autopilot system similar to that of Tesla cars. Musk said in the earnings call that the program’s importance “will become apparent in the coming years.”
“I was surprised that people did not realize the magnitude of the Optimus robot program,” Musk said. “Those who are insightful or looking listen carefully will understand that Optimus ultimately will be worth more than the car business.”
Well, OK! We look forward to seeing how Musk’s many projects turn out. In the meantime…lithium mining, anyone?
Binance.US said Wednesday it is leaving the Blockchain Association and will set up its own government affairs team in Washington.
The departure of the U.S. arm of the world’s biggest crypto exchange appeared to be a serious blow to the industry’s key lobbying organization.
“We believe it’s time we had a clear voice with meaningful impact in the emerging policy debates around digital assets and cryptocurrencies in Washington,” a company spokesman told Protocol.
Binance.US said it would build its own lobbying operation “to actively engage in direct and constructive dialogue with U.S. policymakers.”
In a statement, the Blockchain Association, which has more than 80 member companies, said it “wishes Binance.US the best of luck as they build out their operation in Washington.”
The company’s exit marked an unexpected twist for the Blockchain Association, which has played a critical advocacy role for crypto at a time when the industry is facing heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Two years ago, another crypto powerhouse, Coinbase, left the Blockchain Association after the group accepted Binance.US as a member. Binance, a Coinbase rival, has been a controversial player in crypto. The company has been repeatedly accused of violating regulations and not having enough checks against money laundering.
The withdrawals of Coinbase and Binance.US “reflect internal misalignment of leadership within the Blockchain Association, which is not surprising given the differences in the track records of the two exchanges from a compliance standpoint,” Michael Fasanello, chief compliance officer of LVL, a banking and crypto trading company, told Protocol.
“The digital assets space is not a one-size-fits-all environment from a policy and regulatory standpoint,” he said. “Different businesses will have different wants and needs. These are unlikely to be the only two defections from the Blockchain Association.”
Anyone who has tried to buy a car or home appliance lately knows the chip shortage is still pretty bad. But it has become so dire that large industrial companies are buying washing machines in order to rip out the chips and repurpose them, according to ASML CEO Peter Wennink.
“Now, we could say that’s an anecdote,” he said on the company’s earnings call Wednesday. “But to be honest, it happens everywhere — it is 15-, 20-, 25-year-old semiconductor technology that is now being used everywhere.”
Wennink said that internet of things is likely driving the demand for these older chips found inside home appliances.
The Dutch company makes lithography tools that chip giants such as TSMC, Intel, and Samsung use to manufacture their most advanced processors. Wennink has a unique view of the semiconductor supply issues since ASML deals with a wide range of businesses around the world. And business is good: It reported a net profit of €695.3 million ($754.3 million) on sales of €3.53 billion.

ASML itself is struggling to build all of the tools its customers want, and is trying to figure out how to produce just over 700 lithography tools in total every year. Wennink said in the earnings call that he would be happy if he could fulfill 60% of the orders ASML has received this year. According to Bernstein analyst Mark Li, it is likely ASML will struggle to fulfill demand through 2023.
Apple is introducing a safety feature that scans messages sent to and from children using AI, starting with phones in the U.K, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, The Guardian reported.
The feature will scan for nudity when photos are sent or received by children using Apple’s messaging app. If the new tool, which is an expansion of Apple’s communication safety features in Messages, is turned on and detects nudity in a received photo, the photo will be blurred, and the receiver will get a warning that the photo might contain sensitive content. Similar features go into effect when a photo with nudity in it is sent by a child, encouraging them not to send the image and giving them to option to “Message a Grown-Up.”
“The feature is designed so that no indication of the detection of nudity ever leaves the device,” Apple said in a statement to The Guardian. “Apple does not get access to the messages, and no notifications are sent to the parent or anyone else.” (Apple originally planned to notify parents of users 13 and under if they’re using family accounts and opt to send or receive the images anyway, but did not include this feature in the latest update, according to The Guardian.)

Apple delayed the rollout of its child-protection features in September after backlash from privacy advocates who claimed the move gives Apple the tools to snoop on users’ devices. Sharon Bradford Franklin, co-director of the Security and Surveillance Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Protocol in an interview in August that the feature poses potential risks to LGBT and other vulnerable youth, as well as “undermine(s) a prior industry standard for providing encryption and security to users of Apple products.”
Though Apple maintained that the features were “intended to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them and to help limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material,” the company paused its original rollout due to the controversy.

This story was updated April 21, 2022 to reflect the additional countries in which the feature is rolling out.

Apple retail employees in Atlanta have filed to hold a union election, Bloomberg Law reported Wednesday, making the Cumberland Mall Apple Store location the first of the company’s more than 270 stores in the U.S. to do so.
The proposed union, which would be called the Apple Workers Union, would have 107 workers. Around 70% of the store’s workers signed cards in support of the election, and plan to file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board Wednesday afternoon. The effort is backed by the Communication Workers of America.
“Right now, I think, is the right time because we simply see momentum swinging the way of workers,” Cumberland Apple Store employee and union organizer Derrick Bowles told Bloomberg Law. “As we sat back and re-evaluated, what we realized is that we love being at Apple — and leaving Apple, that’s not something any of us wants to do. But improving it is something we wanted to do.”

The move comes after a group of Apple Store employees at the Grand Central flagship store in Manhattan on Monday announced their intention to try to form a legally-recognized union. The group, which calls itself the Fruit Stand Workers United, have to convince at least 30% of their retail peers at the Grand Central location to sign union interest affiliation cards.
Both groups aim to raise base wages, with the Atlanta location seeking a $28 per hour starting wage and Manhattan store seeking $30 per hour, up from the $20 per hour base pay Apple currently offers retail employees. The Manhattan store is also asking for better benefits, including increased tuition reimbursements and 401(k) matches. Reports of unionization efforts at Apple retail locations first emerged in February, with two then-unnamed stores planning to file union paperwork with the NLRB.
“Somebody has got to be the first to do something,” Bowles told Bloomberg Law. “Being first doesn’t matter to us — doing it is what matters to us. And if we have to be first we will be first.”
Tech company employees have in recent months been organizing for improved working conditions. This month, Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island formed the company’s first union following a hard fight to organize in the face of Amazon’s pushback. Google Fiber contract employees also successfully unionized in late March, becoming the Alphabet Workers Union’s first recognized bargaining unit.
Instagram announced on Twitter Tuesday that users involved in the test now will see just two tabs: Top, where the most popular content will be displayed, and Reels, where you’ll see videos (presumably many of which will be lifted straight from TikTok).
Instagram parent company Meta has been transparent about how much it’s relying on Reels for growth. Facebook’s user growth declined for the first time last quarter, but Zuckerberg said Reels were Meta’s fastest-growing content type. And even though most Reels content is just 3-week-old TikToks, Meta continues to lean in to the short-form video format. Instagram rolled out a menu of options for creators to monetize Reels in mid-February, and the algorithm pushes the looping videos more than most other content. Now, the company is being a little less discreet, increasing the odds users scroll through the videos by eliminating other options.

Hashtags are a key way for people to find content on Instagram, so the change might not be a welcome one for users who rely on hashtags to surface new posts instead of simply the most popular posts or cringe-worthy Reels that were lifted straight from TikTok. But Instagram may decide not to roll out the test widely.

Coinbase has unveiled a long-awaited NFT marketplace, amping up the competition in a fast-growing sector that’s been dominated by a single player, OpenSea.
The crypto exchange announced Wednesday the beta launch of Coinbase NFT where users can check out an initial collection for sale on the Ethereum blockchain.
Beta testers will be able to buy and sell NFTs with a Coinbase wallet or a self-custody wallet. The company is waiving transaction fees “for a limited time,” Sanchan Saxena, vice president of product for ecosystem products, said in a blog post.
Fees eventually will be added and will be “in-line with Web3 industry standards, and we’ll provide notice before anything changes,” Saxena said. OpenSea charges a 2.5% fee, and allows NFT creators to set their own fees, including royalties on subsequent sales.
Coinbase announced late last year that it was expanding to NFTs which exploded last year into a $40 billion market.

The move is seen as a direct challenge to OpenSea, which shares investors with Coinbase, most notably Andreessen Horowitz. Coinbase is betting on its ability to offer a better and simpler way for users to dabble in NFTs, which is known to be a complicated and expensive process. OpenSea doesn’t offer its own wallet, and recommends Coinbase’s wallet among others.
Users “don’t just want better tools to buy and sell NFTs: they want better ways to discover them, better ways to find the right communities, and better spaces in which they can feel connected with each other,” Saxena said.
Coinbase is starting with a select group of users from a waitlist who will be invited to check out the NFT marketplace.
Less than a year after Grubhub was tossed around like a hot potato, the company that ended up buying the food ordering platform is looking to sell. Just Eat Takeaway.com, GrubHub’s current owner, is reportedly exploring a sale, so get those oven mitts ready.
The European company is facing pressure from shareholders to sell all or part of its U.S. arm. Just Eat bought Grubhub for $7.3 billion at the time, and its market value now sits at about $5.8 billion. The dip in valuation is due in part to demand for services like food delivery dropping off as pandemic-related restrictions wane. In a trading update, Just Eat said order fell 1% in the first quarter, with an even steeper decline of 5% in North America.

The company’s board said in that update that it “confirms its alignment with shareholders in wanting to both create and realize value from the company’s highly attractive portfolio of assets.” The European company couldn’t guarantee a sale or timeline for such a move, but it said “further announcements will made as and when appropriate.”

“We are in talks with people around this (a sale), but I need to caution that doesn’t automatically lead to a transaction,” Just Eat CEO Jitse Groen said. Groen added that the company hired banks to look into a sale, and buyers have showed strong interest.
GrubHub took a winding road to get to this point. It began looking for a buyer in early 2020, a few months before the pandemic shuttered the world. Both Uber and Delivery Hero both showed interest, with things heating up in May 2020. Those talks fell apart a couple of months later, and that’s when Just Eat emerged as a buyer. The company finalized the purchase of GrubHub in June 2021. The marriage has been rocky from the start, though, at least in some shareholders’ eyes.
Even before Tuesday, Just Eat investors have pressed the company to sell Grubhub. Activist investor Cat Rock Capital asked Just Eat to sell in October, saying it needs to “refocus its business on Europe.” At the time, Groen said Just Eat wouldn’t look into a sale and instead look for “strategic partnerships.” But with orders down and the world continuing to reopen, it looks like the calculus has changed.
Tesla asked a California judge to delay a lawsuit brought by the California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing accusing the company of racial discrimination in its facility in Fremont, Calif., Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Tesla alleges that the state agency filed its lawsuit in February as part of a “turf war” with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is investigating the company separately. Tesla’s lawyers said in a filing that the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s three-year investigation prior to suing was “bare bones,” and that the agency didn’t make the company aware of many worker complaints until after the lawsuit was filed.
Tesla is seeking to pause the lawsuit for 120 days, as well as make the agency mediate with the company outside of court, according to Reuters.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing brought the lawsuit in mid-February, alleging that Tesla’s factory in Fremont is a racially-segregated workplace. Kevin Kish, the agency’s director, told the Wall Street Journal in February that the factory’s Black employees are discriminated against in job assignments and pay, “subjected to racial slurs” by supervisors and managers and faced racist graffiti in the factory’s restrooms and work stations.

Tesla responded to the lawsuit in a blog post, calling the agency’s efforts “misguided,” and a “narrative spun by the DFEH and a handful of plaintiff firms to generate publicity.” Tesla said in its blog post from February that it intended to ask the court pause the case once the lawsuit was filed.
This isn’t Tesla’s first run-in with allegations of discrimination. Six employees filed lawsuits against the company for alleged sexual harassment in December, and in October, former employee Owen Diaz won a lawsuit claiming that Tesla subjected him to a racially hostile workplace — though his award was reduced from a nearly $137 million to $15 million last week. More than 100 Tesla employees have been granted the right to sue in the past three years, mostly on the basis of race-based complaints.
Prominent civil rights attorneys are suing Amazon on behalf of the victims of a deadly Amazon warehouse collapse in Edwardsville, Illinois caused by a tornado in December 2021, accusing the company of failing to let its workers heed tornado warnings and negligence in its warehousing construction and maintenance.
Six Amazon employees were killed by the Edwardsville tornado, one of several tornadoes that wreaked havoc across Illinois and Kentucky and killed more than 80 people on Dec. 11. The distribution center where they were working partially collapsed and injured several more workers, including four delivery drivers who are named in the new suits against the company.
The lawsuits against Amazon were filed on behalf of Deon January, the mother of killed worker DeAndre Morrow, and four drivers who were injured by the collapse: Jamarco Hickman, Evan Jensen, Jada Williams, and Deontae Yancey. The plaintiffs are represented by Ben Crump, the attorney who represented George Floyd’s family and also represents a former Google recruiter suing the company over racial discrimination, as well as Bob Hilliard of Hilliard Martinez Gonzales and Patrick King and William Miller of MillerKing Law Firm.

The suit accuses Amazon of failing to address safety hazards in the warehouse, failing to properly follow tornado warning procedures, and failing to provide adequate tornado shelters, among a number of other allegations. Federal regulators with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration have a still-ongoing investigation into the tornado collapse; OHSA regulators investigate all workplace fatalities as a standard practice. Members of the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee also requested information from Amazon about working conditions and warehouse safety with regard to the Edwardsville tornado earlier this month.
“Amazon had numerous warnings and opportunities to put their employees’ safety first, but they chose their bottom line instead,” Crump said in a press release about the lawsuits.
Amazon did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing the state’s legislature to bring Disney under a measure allowing lawsuits against social media companies for their content moderation decisions.
The move comes after Disney declared it would work against a separate state law that bans the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation up to third grade, and likely limits it across ages.
In a surprise announcement on Tuesday expanding the agenda for a special legislative session, DeSantis said an exemption in the social media law for companies that operate “a theme park or entertainment complex” was “unnecessary to effectuate the law,” and he pushed for an unspecified amendment.
In his announcement, DeSantis also noted that a federal court, which has paused the social media law, cast doubt on the constitutionality of the exemption, which was widely understood to benefit Disney as a major employer, tourist draw and campaign donor.
In granting a preliminary injunction against the social media law last summer, however, a judge emphasized that the central purpose of the statute — which allowed consumer lawsuits for inconsistent “censorship” by tech platforms — was to dictate how platforms moderate content, in violation of the First Amendment. Florida is appealing that ruling.

DeSantis, a rising Republican star who has a built his brand on offending liberals and using government policy to punish those who disagree with him, signed the social media law in response to allegations that companies like Twitter and Facebook are biased against conservatives. Two tech trade groups sued to stop it.
In addition to taking steps to allow Disney to come under the scope of the censorship law, DeSantis also suggested state lawmakers should put an end to “special districts,” including the one that allows the company to act almost as a government authority on its own park.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian confirmed on Tuesday that the airline is testing SpaceX’s satellite internet service. He told the Wall Street Journal that the company has held talks with Starlink about bringing its satellite Wi-Fi on board, and has conducted exploratory tests, but didn’t release and further details of the partnership. The tests could mean that Starlink service will be available for free on Delta flights, given that Bastian previously told the Wall Street Journal that in-flight Wi-Fi should be a free service.
Delta has deployed Viasat’s satellite internet service, which costs passengers $5, on 300 planes so far. Moving to Starlink would likely take a few years, given that Delta would have to outfit its planes with Starlink equipment (and presumably the company has a deal with Viasat).
SpaceX has been building out Starlink for the past several years, and has been considering expanding to airlines since last year. Jonathan Hofeller, SpaceX’s vice president of Starlink and Commercial Sales, said at a conference last June that the company was “in talks with several” airlines about providing travelers with in-flight service. Hofeller also said at a conference last month that Starlink believes in-flight internet needs to be upgraded, and that “the expectation has changed faster than the technology,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

CEO Elon Musk also tweeted last year that he was working on getting regulatory approval for its use in the Boeing 737 and A320 to “serve most number of people.” However, SpaceX has some competition in airline Wi-Fi, with Intelsat and Viasat already offering services to thousands of planes.
Inking a contract with Delta could prove to be a big boost for Starlink, as the high cost of materials recently forced the company to hike its installation fees by 20% and its monthly residential subscription by 10%. The company last year had also been working on cutting the production cost of Starlink terminals, which reportedly ran around $1,000 per terminal.

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