Big Tech

The big picture

Tech's biggest upcoming battles in 2020

Tech firms' battles this year will touch every part of our lives.

Jan 6, 2020 - Technology
Sundar Pichai's Alphabet to-do list

The new CEO of Google's parent company inherited a long list of issues in need of tackling.

Dec 17, 2019 - Technology
The sovereign state of Facebook

It's making the kinds of world-shaping decisions that used to be in the hands of governments.

Nov 1, 2019 - Technology
For tech, it's all hard problems now

The giants must navigate treacherous political, social, and ethical rapids at every turn.

Oct 9, 2019 - Technology

All Big Tech stories

Why Apple may move to open iOS

Photo illustration: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Apple may finally allow iPhone owners to set email or browsing apps other than Apple's own as their preferred defaults, according to a Bloomberg report from last week.

The big picture: Customers have long clamored for the ability to choose their preferred apps, and now Apple, like other big tech companies, finds itself under increased scrutiny over anything perceived as anticompetitive.

Privacy group says Facebook isn't sharing all off-platform data with users

Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images)

Facebook is now offering users a feature that lets them see what data it has collected about their activities beyond Facebook, but a new report from Privacy International says that not all the advertisers that have uploaded individual user data to Facebook are included.

Why it matters: As the report notes, without more complete information, it is hard for users to fully exercise their rights under the EU's GDPR and other privacy laws.

Coronavirus forces more companies to skip tech conferences

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sony and Oculus parent Facebook both said on Thursday that they are pulling out of next month's Game Developer Conference in San Francisco over coronavirus concerns. Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon are joining IBM in skipping next week's RSA security conference in San Francisco.

The big picture: While these two shows are still slated to continue, other events have been scrapped altogether, including Barcelona's Mobile World Congress, one of the tech industry’s biggest global events, and Facebook's global marketing conference.

Lawmakers add staff to tech antitrust investigation

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee is staffing up as it works to finish its investigation into the competitive impact of tech giants.

Why it matters: The House probe's findings will help shape legislation that may aim to toughen antitrust law for the digital era, and they could offer fuel for similar investigations already under way by state and federal antitrust enforcers.

Trump administration backs Oracle in Google fight

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo via The Washington Post.

The Trump administration is siding with Oracle in the database giant's dispute with Google before the Supreme Court — a move that comes as Oracle's founder hosts a high-dollar fundraiser for the president.

Why it matters: Billions of dollars — and, Google argues, the future of software innovation — are at stake as a long-running copyright dispute between the two giant companies heads to the Supreme Court next month.

Google releases developer version of Android 11

Image: Google

Google released an earlier-than-expected test version of Android 11, offering developers a glimpse of what to expect in the final release later this year. Among the changes in the early code are improved support for 5G and foldable devices, as well as more granular security protections.

The big picture: Once upon a time, Google waited until its spring I/O developer conference to share code for the next version of Android, but has been moving the release earlier in recent years to give developers more time to prepare for the under-the-hood changes.

Coronavirus hits China's tech manufacturing production across the board

Photo: Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus outbreak in China is affecting nearly every sector of tech manufacturing, leading analysts to reduce production estimates for everything from TVs and smartphones to laptops and video game consoles.

Why it matters: Apple's earnings warning on Monday was a wake-up call for investors, but the virus' impact will be felt farther and wider.

Justice Department takes aim at Big Tech's shield

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration is turning up the heat on one of Big Tech's most important legal protections, as the Justice Department convenes a debate over changing a law that protects platforms from suits over content their users post.

Why it matters: The threat to remove immunity granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is one of a handful of weapons that Washington is mulling using against Facebook, Google, and other tech giants. Trump administration enthusiasm for revoking or revising the protection could give such proposals a boost in Congress.

Europe nixes Facebook's plea for friendly rules

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook is doubling down on its big pitch to lawmakers across the globe: regulate us.

Yes, but: Key regulators aren't buying it. Hours after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with lawmakers in Europe to discuss the company's new proposals for regulation, a French commissioner overseeing the EU's data strategy rejected the plan, saying "It’s not enough. It’s too slow, it’s too low in terms of responsibility and regulation."

Zuckerberg: Election meddlers are getting better at hiding their tracks

Photo: Sven Hoppe/dpa via Getty Images

Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at a fireside chat at the Munich Security Conference, said that since 2016, Facebook has "played a role in helping to defend the integrity of" more than 200 elections around the world.

Why it matters: On top of growing revenue and the number of users on Facebook, Zuckerberg also has to ensure that the platform is not blamed for negatively influencing elections and does not buckle on freedom of speech.

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