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FAANG Report: Amazon demands retraction of Chinese computer spy chip story; US pressures Google

Facebook executive departures approaching exodus levels; Apple CEO to flag trust and humanity in privacy speech; Netflix denies profiling subscribers on the basis of race
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Amazon demands retraction of Chinese computer spy chip story.

A senior official in Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) has demanded that a Bloomberg story about Chinese spy chips being embedded in its servers be retracted, a report by CNBC said.

Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services, echoed the same accusation by Apple CEO Tim Cook that the story is not true.

Stephen Schmidt, said in an Amazon blog post there are so many inaccuracies in the report "that they're hard to count."

"At no time, past or present, have we ever found any issues relating to modified hardware or malicious chips in SuperMicro motherboards in any Elemental or Amazon systems. Nor have we engaged in an investigation with the government," the post said.

Amazon shares declined 1.8% to trade at $1,757.

READ: Amazon and Apple's denials of cyber-security hack apparently backed up by British security agency

Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) chief executive Tim Cook is expected to endorse the idea of a "comprehensive federal privacy law" for the US in a speech he will deliver on Wednesday, a report by Tech Crunch said.

He will also back Europe’s approach to data protection and privacy - recently enshrined in place via the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - essentially saying technology does not have to be creepy to be innovative. Nor should the tech itself be a cause of harm, the report said.

Cook will be addressing the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), which is being held in Brussels this year to coincide with the introduction of GDPR.

Silicon Valley’s response to the prospect of an overarching US privacy law has been predictably disingenuous, with attempts to reframe the issue under broad brush, malleable concepts like "control" or "accountability," and lobbying efforts aimed at steering regulators away from drafting rules anywhere near as robust as GDPR.

Apple shares slipped 0.1% to $220.42.

Alphabet Inc's Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is coming under increasing pressure from the US government to share location information possibly on thousands of innocent people, a report by Forbes said.

“This fishing expedition infringes on the privacy rights of so many possible people who had the misfortune of being in an area where a crime is alleged to be committed,” said Jerome Greco, staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society.

“We should not allow for such broad access to the data of so many on the mere speculation that a suspect may have used a cellphone near the location of the crime,” he added.

The way it works, according to the report, is that police send Google specific coordinates and timezones within which crimes were committed. Then Google is asked to provide information on all users within those locations at those times, most likely including data on many innocent people.

Those users could be Android phone owners, anyone running Google Maps or any individual running Google services on their cell, not just criminal suspects.

Google shares shed 0.05% to $1,100.65.

READ: Facebook names new head of Instagram a week after co-founders of photo-sharing app resign

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) seems to be facing an exodus of key officials leaving the social media giant, a report by Vanity Fair said.

The latest is Brendan Irribe, the former CEO and co-founder of Oculus. His departure follows that of Instagram's co-founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

Alex Stamos, the company’s chief security officer who helped guide the company through the Cambridge Analytica data-privacy scandal, left in August. Two longtime communications executives, Rachel Whetstone and Elliot Schrage, also departed the company, the report said.

After eight years, Facebook’s top lawyer, Colin Stretch, announced his exit in July. Dan Rose, vice president of partnerships, announced his departure in August, the same month that Alex Hardiman, the head of news products, announced she was leaving, too.

The report said if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg can’t hold onto the heads of the companies he acquires, he may find it difficult to lure top talent in the increasingly competitive environment of Silicon Valley.

Separately, Facebook is rolling out a redesign of its chat app, Messenger, so people can realize that it can be used for chatting with businesses as well as their friends, a report by CNBC said.

Facebook stock fell 0.5% to $153.97.

Streaming giant Netflix Inc (NASDAQ:NFLX) is defending itself against accusation it targets viewers by using race to promote its various television series and films, a report by IndieWire said.

Netflix said in a statement that it’s impossible for the website to target viewers via race since they have no way of knowing what the specific race is of each subscriber.

The streaming giant said it promotes shows based on its algorithm, which takes into consideration what subscribers have streamed in the past.

“We don’t ask members for their race, gender, or ethnicity so we cannot use this information to personalize their individual Netflix experience. The only information we use is a member’s viewing history," it said.

Netflix stock added 1.19% to $333.13.

Reporting by Rene Pastor, contactable on [email protected]

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February 14 2019

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