I still have a bit of a cough but the doctor assures me my email is no longer contagious.
Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,334 words (~ 5 min read)
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The tech industry was scrambling yesterday after President Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on the $300 billion worth of goods the U.S. imports from China annually that are not yet subject to such taxes.
Why it matters: Until now, the U.S. has tried to target the tariffs on items that consumers wouldn't feel as directly, but this new round would appear to hit all manner of everyday goods, including nearly all types of consumer electronics.
Between the lines: The Trump administration announced the moves even as it described recent trade talks with China as "productive." That's leaving many wondering whether the administration actually plans to levy these new taxes.
Details: Expected to be included in the new tariffs are all the "List 4" items not included in prior rounds, including everything from cellphones, laptops and game consoles to landline telephones, batteries and printer cartridges.
What they're saying:
Of note: Although the tariffs would appear to affect nearly all tech products not already covered, companies can seek case-by-case exemptions, something many are likely to do.
Several tech companies contacted by Axios, including Apple and Google, declined to comment.
Apple says it is putting a worldwide hold on a program that had contractors listening to some Siri queries in an effort to grade the digital assistant on its responses. When the program returns, Apple says users will have the choice whether to participate.
Why it matters: Apple touts privacy as a key selling point, making the idea that someone might be listening to Siri queries unsettling, even if only a tiny fraction were being monitored.
Driving the news: The issue came to light after a report by The Guardian last week that Apple contractors "grading" Siri's responses had been privy to all sorts of conversations, including couples having sex and people at doctors' appointments.
Between the lines: Digital assistants are in their early days, so the tech giants want to find ways to both see how well they are doing and identify areas for improvement. However, digital assistants are often awakened accidentally, and as such, can end up being privy to sensitive conversations.
The Federal Trade Commission's antitrust probe of Facebook is looking at whether the social network used acquisitions to take out its competition, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Why it matters: It suggests that the agency was serious when it said it might look at already-completed mergers and acquisitions as part of a broader review of the tech sector, Axios' David McCabe writes.
Flashback: The major acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp have given Facebook a shield against declining user growth on its classic social platform for nearly a decade.
In recent years, critics have contended that those deals allowed Facebook to stifle competition.
Yes, but: The exact nature of the FTC's inquiries are not yet clear. Investigations are generally cloaked in secrecy and can take years.
The big picture: The increased antitrust scrutiny of major tech giants may already be affecting their decisions about what companies to acquire — and whether the extra fight in D.C. is worth the effort.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.
The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to require broadband service providers like Comcast and Verizon to provide more granular information about where their services are available. The goal of the data is to help the agency create more precise broadband maps, Axios' Kim Hart reports.
Why it matters: The agency uses its maps to determine where billions of dollars in broadband subsidies should be allocated. But the mapping data used has long been criticized for overstating the availability of broadband services and speeds to consumers, especially in rural areas where coverage is spotty.
How it works: The FCC currently requires fixed broadband service providers — not wireless providers — to report broadband availability by census block.
The new requirements will make service providers report broadband access using "shapefiles," which are a more precise measurement to indicate where companies have broadband networks.
Meanwhile, Democratic commissioners said they were disappointed the agency didn't commit to publishing the data in the National Broadband Map. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said affordability and price should be accounted for in the map, in addition to availability.
1. Texas is joining a lawsuit of more than a dozen states seeking to block T-Mobile's purchase of Sprint. Meanwhile, a judge granted the states' request to delay the trial until December.
2. DoorDash is buying food delivery rival Caviar from Square for $410 million in cash and stock, the companies announced yesterday.
3. Microsoft has signed popular Fortnite player Tyler "Ninja" Blevins to broadcast exclusively on Mixer, its Twitch rival.
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