Technology

Why it matters: From the Valley to D.C., Big Tech players like Facebook, Google and Amazon are under more scrutiny than ever as new technology develops and privacy and antitrust concerns grow in lockstep with companies’ ambitions.

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Wall Street's obsession with an esoteric airwaves fight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wall Street has become fascinated with a battle over 5G airwaves at the Federal Communications Commission — not because of the next-generation technology itself, but because of the potential investment wins.

Why it matters: The twists and turns of the FCC's debate over a swath of satellite airwaves has put billions on the line and shows a divide between D.C. and Wall Street on how to think about 5G.

FCC to propose fining wireless carriers for location sharing

FCC commissioners, with chairman Ajit Pai at left, testify before a House committee in Dec. 2019. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The FCC plans to propose fines against wireless carriers totaling roughly $200 million for improperly sharing customers' location information with outside parties, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: Lawmakers and others have been calling for agency action for over a year after revelations that location data from AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint made its way to a resale market used by bounty hunters.

Facebook sues mobile analytics company for scraping user data

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook on Thursday sued OneAudience, a mobile data analytics company, for collecting data from its users beginning in September 2019.

Details: Facebook alleges that OneAudience plugged software development kits (SDK) — designed to scrape user data from its site as well as Google and Twitter — into shopping and gaming apps distributed through stores like Google Play.

Amid lawmaker pressure, FCC plans California outing to probe fires

Firefighters watch as the Kincade Fire burns in Healdsburg, California, in October 2019. Photo: Philip Pacheco/AFP

The Federal Communications Commission is planning a field hearing in California following bipartisan pressure to get out of Washington and hear firsthand how last fall's wildfires affected communications networks in the state.

Why it matters: Power outages prompted by the fires brought cell sites down, interrupting wireless service for California residents. Policymakers hope informed guidance out of Washington could help minimize widespread outages next fire season.

Facebook cancels F8 conference over coronavirus concerns

Photo: Andrej Sokolow/picture alliance via Getty Images

Facebook has canceled its annual developer conference in San Jose, scheduled for May 5–6, due to concerns over the coronavirus, the company said on Thursday.

The big picture: Facebook's F8 is the latest tech conference to be canceled over these health concerns given the international nature of its attendees. Mobile World Congress, the annual confab in Barcelona, was also canceled, as was another small Facebook conference, while a number of major sponsors have pulled out of other events, like the RSA security conference and the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Fear of a hackable planet

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As the tech industry weaves its products into the fabric of the physical world, it's also extending the insecurities and dangers of digital systems in perilous new ways.

Why it matters: Just as we're finally getting used to the idea of protecting our online accounts and data, we have to start thinking about the vulnerability of the spaces and objects around us to small acts of trickery and sabotage that mess with computers' heads.

Microsoft and other tech firms sound alarm over coronavirus impact

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

More companies are saying publicly that disruptions caused by the coronavirus are hitting their bottom lines. Microsoft warned Wednesday that its personal computing unit, which includes Windows and Surface, will likely miss revenue expectations due to a slower-than-expected return to production after the Lunar New Year.

The big picture: Although Apple was the first big tech company to warn of a financial impact from the outbreak, most industry watchers said they expected the impact to be felt broadly across the industry, which depends heavily on China for manufacturing.

Scoop: Facebook hire aims to infuse ethics into product design

Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Facebook has hired the World Economic Forum's former head of technology policy, Zvika Krieger, as its new director of responsible innovation, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: In the wake of its many scandals and amid growing regulatory scrutiny, Facebook is looking to make sure it addresses ethical issues earlier in the design and engineering processes.

Huawei makes its case against U.S. hostilities

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Two top Huawei U.S. executives are at the RSA Conference in San Francisco this week, hoping the crowd of security experts will be more receptive to its position than have been policymakers in Washington, where the Chinese giant has gotten an increasingly hostile reception.

The big picture: Huawei's business has been under all manner of attack from the U.S. government, from trade sanctions to criminal charges to efforts to persuade allies not to buy their gear.

Uber and Lyft's rise may be fueling climate change

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new analysis provides the latest evidence that the explosive growth of ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft is making it harder to fight CO2 emissions from transportation.

Driving the news: The Union of Concerned Scientists studied the triple-whammy of trips replacing climate-friendly transit, inducing new travel and "deadhead" miles — that is, when ride-hailing vehicles move without passengers.

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