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Apple bans Fortnite from App Store until appeals are exhausted – Aljazeera.com

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Apple sent a letter to Epic Games Tuesday saying that it ‘will not consider any further requests for reinstatement until the district court’s judgment becomes final and nonappealable’.

Apple Inc. plans to keep Fortnite off of its App Store until appeals are exhausted in its legal fight with Epic Games Inc., the maker of the popular battle-royale game.

Apple sent a letter to Epic Tuesday saying that it “will not consider any further requests for reinstatement until the district court’s judgment becomes final and nonappealable.” The letter, sent to Epic’s lawyers from a firm representing Apple, was published on Twitter by Epic Chief Executive Officer Tim Sweeney. That process could take five years, he said.

Epic sued Apple in August 2020 after the iPhone maker removed Fortnite from its App Store, citing a workaround that circumvented Apple’s commission on purchases. The battle came to a head this month, with U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers mostly siding with Apple — though she said the company should allow app developers to point users to outside payment systems. The ruling doesn’t take effect until early December, and Epic has already said it will appeal.

On Sept. 16, Sweeney asked Phil Schiller, Apple’s executive in charge of the App Store, to reinstate Epic’s developer account. That would allow the future resubmission of Fortnite and let the gaming company develop its Unreal Engine and other software for Apple devices. “Epic promises that it will adhere to Apple’s guidelines whenever and wherever we release products on Apple’s platforms,” Sweeney wrote in an email, which he published on Twitter Wednesday.

Sweeney said that if Epic gets its developer account back, it plans to rerelease Fortnite for Mac computers “as soon as possible” and reincorporate Fortnite for iPhones and iPads into its Unreal Engine development process. He said, however, that the company would only rerelease Fortnite on Apple’s most popular products if Apple updates its review guidelines to match the “plain language” of the recent ruling.

While the judge’s ruling clearly states that Apple can no longer ban developers from pointing users to the web to complete transactions — bypassing the in-app-purchase system — the ruling doesn’t state outright that Apple cannot collect its commissions. That has led some observers to believe that Apple could still take its cut of revenue via other means.

In addition to Epic’s appeal, Apple could choose to contest the ruling itself or seek a stay from the court to delay changes.

Mark Perry, a lawyer representing Apple, said the company won’t reinstate the developer account immediately because of Epic’s “duplicitous conduct” in the past and statements made by Sweeney after the ruling.

Sweeney said at the time that the ruling wasn’t a win for developers or for consumers.

Following the decision, Epic paid Apple $6 million for circumventing the company’s in-app-purchase fees. During the trial, Apple said it would reinstate Fortnite if Epic followed the same App Store rules as other developers.

“Apple lied,” Sweeney said Wednesday. “Apple spent a year telling the world, the court and the press they’d ‘welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else.’ Epic agreed, and now Apple has reneged in another abuse of its monopoly power over a billion users.”

In his email to Schiller, Sweeney said that even if Apple changes its rules to allow Fortnite to point users to the web to complete transactions, it still takes issue with Apple’s stance of barring third-party app stores.

Representatives for Epic and Apple declined to comment further.

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Facebook to pay up to $14.25 million to settle U.S. employment discrimination claims

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Facebook Inc has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle civil claims by the U.S. government that the social media company discriminated against American workers and violated federal recruitment rules, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.

The two related settlements were announced by the Justice Department and Labor Department and confirmed by Facebook. The Justice Department last December filed a lawsuit accusing Facebook of giving hiring preferences to temporary workers including those who hold H-1B visas that let companies temporarily employ foreign workers in certain specialty occupations. Such visas are widely used by tech companies.

Kristen Clarke, assistant U.S. attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, called the agreement with Facebook historic.

“It represents by far the largest civil penalty the Civil Rights Division has ever recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act’s anti-discrimination provision,” Clarke said in a call with reporters, referring to a key U.S. immigration law that bars discrimination against workers because of their citizenship or immigration status.

The case centered on Facebook’s use of the so-called permanent labor certification, called the PERM program.

The U.S. government said that Facebook refused to recruit or hire American workers for jobs that had been reserved for temporary visa holders under the PERM program. It also accused Facebook of “potential regulatory recruitment violations.”

Facebook will pay a civil penalty under the settlement of $4.75 million, plus up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of what the government called discriminatory hiring practices.

“While we strongly believe we met the federal government’s standards in our permanent labor certification (PERM) practices, we’ve reached agreements to end the ongoing litigation and move forward with our PERM program,” a Facebook spokesperson said, adding that the company intends to “continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the U.S. and around the world.”

The settlements come at a time when Facebook is facing increasing U.S. government scrutiny over other business practices.

Facebook this month faced anger from U.S. lawmakers after former company employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen accused it of pushing for higher profits while being cavalier about user safety. Haugen has turned over thousands of documents to congressional investigators amid concerns that Facebook has harmed children’s mental health and has stoked societal divisions.

The company has denied any wrongdoing.

In Tuesday’s settlements, the Justice Department said that Facebook used recruitment practices designed to deter U.S. workers such as requiring applications to be submitted only by mail, refusing to consider American workers who applied for positions and hiring only temporary visa holders.

The Labor Department this year conducted audits of Facebook’s pending PERM applications and uncovered other concerns about the company’s recruitment efforts.

 Facebook is not above the law,” U.S. Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda told reporters, adding that the Labor Department is “committed to ensuring that the PERM process is not misused by employers – regardless of their size and reach.”

 

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Will Dunham)

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U.S. FCC commissioner wants new restrictions review for Chinese dronemaker DJI

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A Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday said he wants the U.S. telecommunications regulator to begin the process of imposing new restrictions on Chinese drone maker SZ DJI Technology Co.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said the agency should takes steps toward adding DJI, the world’s largest dronemaker, to the so-called “Covered List” that would prohibit U.S. Universal Service Fund money from being used to purchase its equipment.

DJI, which accounts for more than 50% of U.S. drone sales, said its “drones are safe and secure for critical and sensitive operations… Our customers know that DJI drones remain the most capable and most affordable products for a wide variety of uses, including sensitive industrial and government work.”

In March, the FCC designated five Chinese companies as posing a threat to national security under a 2019 law aimed at protecting U.S. communications networks.

The FCC named Huawei Technologies Co, ZTE Corp, Hytera Communications Corp <002583.SZ), Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co and Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co.

Carr noted that the FCC has a separate ongoing effort to decide whether to continue approving equipment from entities on the Covered List for use in the United States.

DJI  drones and the surveillance technology on board these systems are collecting vast amounts of sensitive data-everything from high-resolution images of critical infrastructure to facial recognition technology and remote sensors that can measure an individual’s body temperature and heart rate,” Carr said in a statement. “We do not need an airborne version of Huawei.”

He said the FCC in consultation with national security agencies “should also consider whether there are additional entities that warrant closer scrutiny.”

In December, DJI was added by the U.S. Commerce Department to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist.

In January 2020, the U.S. Interior Department said it was grounding its fleet of about 800 Chinese-made drones, and earlier halted additional Interior Department purchases of such drones.

In May 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned U.S. firms of the risks to company data from Chinese-made drones.

(Reporting by David ShepardsonEditing by Bill Berkrot, William Maclean)

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Google announces Pixel 6 phone with new chip, subscription service

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Alphabet Inc’s Google on Tuesday announced the newest iteration of its smartphone – Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro – which will be powered by the company’s first chip called Tensor.

The tech giant also launched Pixel Pass, a subscription service starting at $45 per month for U.S. customers that will include the Pixel 6 and access to the premium versions of YouTube and YouTube Music.

Pricing for the Pixel 6 will start at $599, while the Pixel 6 Pro, which includes a telephoto lens and upgraded front camera, starts at $899.

The phones will go on sale at U.S. wireless carriers on Oct. 28.

 

(Reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; Editing by Richard Chang)

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