US seeks to rein in Google on search – Financial Times

There hasn’t been anything as big as this since the US government took on Microsoft and its monopolistic practices more than 20 years ago.

Today, Google became antitrust enemy number one, as the Department of Justice accused it in a lawsuit of squelching competition in search and search advertising.

It called it “a monopoly gatekeeper for the internet” and alleged that the company, owned by Alphabet, had used a “web of exclusionary” deals to stymie competitors in the search business.

“If we let Google continue its anti-competitive ways, we will lose the next wave of innovators and Americans may never get to benefit from the ‘next Google’,” said William Barr, the US attorney-general. “The time has come to restore competition to this vital industry.”

The action, filed in federal court in Washington just two weeks before the presidential election, comes as bipartisan scepticism of large technology companies has taken hold in the US capital. Read more

The Internet of (Five) Things

1. Intel’s $9bn memory deal
Intel, which reports earnings on Thursday, is selling a non-core memory chip business to Korea’s SK Hynix for $9bn. It makes plain old Nand flash memory, while Intel is more interested these days in its high-end Optane memory product for data centres. Lex says the deal should make the Korean group the world’s second-biggest Nand producer and boost its margins.

2. Facebook faces political heat in US and France
France’s citizenship minister summoned representatives of Facebook and other social media services to a meeting on “cyber-Islamism” on Tuesday and demanded they take responsibility for content on their platforms, which is alleged to have motivated the beheading of a teacher. Today’s Big Read looks at how Facebook’s success or failure in protecting the US election’s integrity may dictate how regulators craft future policies.

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3. Russian hacks, Sweden’s China fears
The US has charged six Russian military intelligence officers with hacking targets including Emmanuel Macron’s party, the International Olympic Committee and the UK government lab that investigated the poisoning of Sergei Skripal. Elsewhere, Sweden has become the latest country to ban Chinese telecoms groups Huawei and ZTE from its 5G mobile networks as it took aim at what it labelled Beijing’s spying and “theft of technology”.

4. Robots in demand in pandemic
The number of professional services robots in operation around the world is expected to rise by 38 per cent this year and logistics robots are expected to double in number between 2019 and 2021. Automation in medicine and cleaning is also increasing sharply due to coronavirus.

Column chart of Number of robots in use by type ('000) showing Use of robots is forecast to rise rapidly

5. Nasa’s 4G moon network
Maybe it’s worried about hacking or just doesn’t need the bandwidth, but Nasa is opting for a 4G mobile network for the moon as part of its Artemis programme to establish sustainable operations there by the end of the decade. Nokia has just won the contract. Nasa’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft will briefly touch down on a large asteroid today to retrieve rock and dust samples to be returned to Earth for study.

Tech tools — Candy’s smart laundry

Italian appliance maker Candy introduced a smart Wi-Fi washing machine today as part of its new WashPass subscription service. Alexa and Google Assistant enabled, it will recommend suitable cycles, reorder supplies when they run low and send notifications regarding its upkeep. Customer service and live diagnostics are also available via the Candy Simply-Fi app. The machine is included in the subscription, which requires a one-off payment of £69 and a monthly cost of £6.90, plus 80p per wash charge to cover soap and support. As you can see from the photo, it looks a lot like HP’s Instant Ink printer service, right down to the cartridges.

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