Dec 9, 2018

Trump's Amazon grudge and other tech news this week

Photo: Alexander/Getty Images

Tech leaders met with President Trump this week, and a Facebook document dump showed new evidence of its aggressiveness. Here are five other stories in tech you may have missed.

Catch up quick: A task force created by Trump said the U.S. Postal Service should charge more to ship some packages; after a fan uproar, Netflix renewed “Friends” for a hefty price; marketers are risking free advertising to target smart speaker owners; the ACLU outed facial recognition plans from the Secret Service; and Canada revealed a series of fraud charges against a Huawei executive.

Postal report puts muscle behind Trump's Amazon grudge

  • Why it matters: Amazon faces a politically perilous moment. At home, it has become a symbol of the outsized wealth the tech boom put in the hands of the few, and it fields regular attacks from Trump. Across the Atlantic, it is under antitrust investigation. — Axios’ David McCabe and Erica Pandey

After fan uproar, Netflix renews “Friends” for a hefty price (Wall Street Journal)

  • Why it matters: The deal between AT&T's WarnerMedia and Netflix was unlike the streaming exclusivity deals Netflix usually has, per WSJ. As AT&T tries to build its three-tiered streaming platform, paid rights for content could become more complicated with Netflix and others along the way.

Marketers risk free advertising to target smart speaker owners (New York Times)

  • Why it matters: Americans already spend $2 billion on smart speakers, and it's predicted that nearly 80% of speaker sales will be during this holiday season. However, smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home do not offer paid advertising, so marketers are trying to find other ways to earn listeners’ ears for free.

ACLU outs facial recognition plans from Secret Service (The Verge)

  • Why it matters: The Secret Service revealed plans for facial recognition surveillance around the White House Tuesday, but the American Civil Liberties Union pointed out that the plan was published and enacted earlier in November. It’s currently looking for employees, but could eventually be used for “subjects of interest.”

Canada reveals allegations against Huawei executive

  • Why it matters: Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou's arrest and possible extradition has become a flash point in trade tensions between the U.S. and Canada, as Huawei is one of China's most highly valued technology companies. — Axios' Dan Primack

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 5,653,821 — Total deaths: 353,414 — Total recoveries — 2,325,989Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 6 p.m. ET: 1,694,599 — Total deaths: 100,047 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Public health: Fauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine — Nearly half of Americans say someone in their household has delayed medical care.
  4. Business: African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs saysDisney plans phased reopening on July 11Author Ann Patchett says bookstores are innovating to stay connected with customers.
  5. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  6. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 30 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump administration to eliminate nuclear waivers tied to Iran deal

Pompeo testifies on Iran in February. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The U.S. is ending waivers that had allowed foreign companies to work at Iran's civilian nuclear facilities, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday.

Why it matters: This will eliminate most elements of U.S. sanctions relief still in place two years after President Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Pompeo said "continued nuclear escalation" made the move necessary, but critics warn it will encourage further Iranian enrichment.

Top Senate Democrat says State Dept. is working on new Saudi arms deal

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs reporters on May 20. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/pool/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) wrote in a CNN op-ed on Wednesday that he learned that the State Department is currently working to sell thousands of additional precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia.

Why it matters: Democrats say that Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general who was ousted on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's recommendation, was investigating the administration's previous effort to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval.