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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at Alphabet



Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Pics or it didn’t happen.

The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with a host of Silicon Valley executives this week, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz, and Virgin founder Richard Branson, photos show.

Widely known as “MBS,” the Prince stopped by Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California. to rub elbows with a handful of company leaders.

Here he is shaking hands with Hiroshi Lockheimer, the Google SVP who runs Android, Chrome, and other platforms, while CEO Sundar Pichai, Google’s SVP of technical infrastructure, Urs Hölzle, and leader of Google’s cloud business, Diane Greene, appear in the background.

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Apple rejected nearly 1 million new apps in 2020: Here’s why



Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) at the San Jose Convention Center in San Jose, California on Monday, June 4, 2018.

Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty Images

Apple said Tuesday it rejected almost 1 million apps that were submitted to its App Store for the first time in 2020.

The announcement is the latest sign that Apple is becoming more transparent about how it approves and rejects iPhone apps in response to scrutiny including a lawsuit from Epic Games and regulatory attention from lawmakers.

Apple argues that by having a system where the company approves each of the 1.8 million apps on the store and their updates, checking the apps against a lengthy list of App Store rules, it can keep iPhone users safe from scams, malware, and poor-quality user experiences.

Apple offered a number of statistics about its app rejection process in 2020.

  • It rejected almost 1 million apps that were submitted for the first time
  • It rejected almost 1 million app updates.
  • 48,000 apps were removed for using “hidden or undocumented features,” often software tools that Apple uses internally for its own apps.
  • 150,000 apps were removed because they were spam or copied another app.
  • 215,000 apps were removed because they collected too much user data or other privacy violations.
  • 95,000 apps were removed for fraud, often because they changed after Apple’s review to become a different kind of app, including gambling apps or pornography.
  • Apple booted 470,000 accounts from its developer program because of fraud.

In addition, Apple said that last month, it rejected 3.2 million installations of apps that use an enterprise certificate, which is a way to evade the App Store with a tool that big companies use to install internal-use apps on company iPhones.

The disclosure comes as Epic Games’ antitrust case against Apple has focused on App Store’s failures. The maker of Fortnite is seeking to force Apple to let it offer its own app store for iPhones and bypass Apple’s 30% App Store fee for in-app purchases.

Epic’s lawyers have argued that Apple’s App Store is a “walled garden” that hampers competing software makers and that Apple’s rules are applied unevenly to different developers.

Epic also said Apple’s process is imperfect, sometimes allowing malicious software to be approved for the store, and that Apple’s own employees sometimes say its process is not good enough to prevent fraud. In the trial, Epic Games questioned Apple senior director Trystan Kosmynka, who runs Apple’s App Review department, and got him to concede that Apple does make mistakes on some apps it approves or rejects.

Apple said in a slide deck presented in the trial that it has used a combination of 500 human reviewers and automated checks to review roughly 5 million apps per year, including updates, between 2017 and 2019, with rejection rates ranging from 33% to 36%. Apple employees argued at the trial that the number of mistakes it makes is tiny in comparison with the scale of its App Store.

Apple has defended the App Store as an essential and indivisible part of its business, saying it’s the only way for consumers to install software on an iPhone.

Last week, an Apple lawyer argued that allowing users to install software from outside the App Store, as Android does, would create security risks and that Apple does not want to be Android.

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Google Pay now lets U.S. users send money to India and Singapore



The Google Pay app now lets U.S. users make money transfers to India and Singapore thanks to integrations with Wise and Western Union.


Google is jumping into the massive remittances market.

The tech giant’s mobile payments service Google Pay announced Tuesday that users in the U.S. will now be able to send money to India and Singapore.

The company has teamed up money transfer firms Wise and Western Union on the feature, integrating their platforms into the Google Pay app. Users can choose between Wise or Western Union to move their money abroad. Google will take a small cut of the cross-border transactions made through its app.

Google Pay launched a new version of its app in the U.S. last year, marking a push into banking services with the addition of checking accounts from lenders like Citi, as well as rewards and budgeting insights.

Google is one of many large tech firms pushing deeper into the financial world. Apple launched its own credit card in partnership with Goldman Sachs in 2019. Facebook is making a number of moves in digital currency and payments. In China, Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial and Tencent have become formidable players in the digital payments space.

Still, these Big Tech companies have no apparent ambitions to become banks.

“We’re not planning to become a bank or a remittance provider,” Josh Woodward, Google Pay’s director of product management, said in an interview with CNBC. “We work with the ecosystem that already exists to build these products.”

Google’s latest financial services push will see it enter the huge remittances market. The World Bank forecasts that remittances into low- and middle-income countries were worth $508 billion in 2020. That’s actually down 7% from 2019, a decrease the bank attributed to the Covid pandemic’s impact on migration.

The news is a big win for Wise. The London-based fintech firm, formerly known as TransferWise, is increasingly selling its platform as a service to banks like France’s Groupe BPCE, Britain’s Monzo and Germany’s N26. Rival Western Union has been upping its digital strategy lately to ward off upstarts like Wise and WorldRemit.

Going forward, Google wants to expand its remittances feature into the 80 countries Wise operates in and, eventually, the 200 nations Western Union covers.

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Facebook has been told to stop processing German WhatsApp data



The WhatsApp messaging app is displayed on an Apple iPhone on May 14, 2019 in San Anselmo, California. Facebook owned messaging app WhatsApp announced a cybersecurity breach that makes users vulnerable to malicious spyware installation iPhone and Android smartphones. WhatsApp is encouraging its 1.5 billion users to update the app as soon as possible.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

LONDON — A German regulator ordered Facebook to stop processing data on its citizens from messaging service WhatsApp.

The Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, or HmbBfDI, said Tuesday that it has issued an injunction that prevents Facebook from processing personal data from WhatsApp.

Facebook said it is considering how to appeal the order.

Mark Zuckerberg’s social media giant has been looking for new ways to monetize WhatsApp, which is used by around 60 million people in Germany, ever since it acquired it for $19 billion in 2014.

In the latest move, WhatsApp users worldwide have been invited to agree to new terms of use and privacy that gives the company wide-ranging powers to share data with Facebook.

WhatsApp users are being told to agree to the new terms by May 15 if they want to continue using the app, which now competes with rivals like Signal and Telegram.

The majority of users who have received the new terms of service and privacy policy have accepted the update, Facebook said.

But the update isn’t legal, according to Johannes Caspar, who leads the HmbBfDI. He has issued a three-month emergency order that prevents Facebook from continuing with WhatsApp data processing in Germany.

“The order is intended to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the many millions of users throughout Germany who give their consent to the terms of use,” he said in a statement. “It is important to prevent disadvantages and damages associated with such a black box procedure.”

Caspar said the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the data leak that affected more than 500 million Facebook users “show the scale and dangers posed by mass profiling,” adding that profiles can be used to manipulate democratic decisions.

“The order now issued refers to the further processing of WhatsApp user data,” said Caspar. “Global criticism of the new terms of use should give rise to a fundamental rethink of the consent mechanism. Without the trust of the users, no data-based business model can be successful in the long run.”

Caspar also urged a panel of European Union data regulators to follow suit, so the ban applies to all 27 EU members states.  

A WhatsApp spokesperson told CNBC that the Hamburg Data Protection Authority’s order against Facebook is “based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and effect of WhatsApp’s update and therefore has no legitimate basis.”

They added: “Our recent update explains the options people have to message a business on WhatsApp and provides further transparency about how we collect and use data. As the Hamburg DPA’s claims are wrong, the order will not impact the continued roll-out of the update. We remain fully committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone.” 

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