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Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp wants Australia to break up Google

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Late last year, the Australian watchdog issued a preliminary report identifying concerns about the way digital platforms favor their own businesses. While the agency recommended greater scrutiny and regulatory oversight for how tech companies handle personal data and advertising services, it stopped short of suggesting divestment.

In February, Google submitted a response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s findings.

“The Preliminary Report bases many of its recommendations on the mistaken premise that Google has market power in search, search advertising, and news media referrals,” the tech giant said, claiming that it faces “fierce competition.”

Tech behemoths such as Google and Facebook are now facing increased scrutiny from regulators around the world.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential hopeful, unveiled a plan last week to break up several big tech companies, including Google, Amazon and Facebook. Lawmakers in the U.S. and in the U.K. have gone after the social network following a scandal that revealed personal data was improperly gathered from its users.

Meanwhile, the European Union last year fined Google $5 billion for abusing the dominance of its Android mobile operating system.

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India Lok Sabha elections results

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Tolga Akmen | AFP | Getty Images

India’s massive elections concluded this week. The counting of votes began at 8 a.m. local time today and final results are expected thereafter.

According to the Election Commission of India’s website, the BJP was leading.

More than 900 million people were eligible to vote in the polls that stretched over seven phases from April 11 to May 19. A record number of people had turned up to cast their ballot and voter participation was more than 67%, the Election Commission said, making it the largest-ever democratic exercise.

Exit polls have predicted a clear majority for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition, the National Democratic Alliance. According to local media, it is expected to win nearly, or above, 300 seats in India’s lower house of parliament, or Lok Sabha as it is known. Out of a total of 545 seats in parliament, 543 were being contested and a party, or a coalition, needs at least 272 votes to form a government.

How Modi and the BJP fare at the polls will factor into his policy priorities. If he comes back with a bigger mandate than what he had in the 2014 elections, it would be seen as an endorsement of his national security-focused campaign, according to Eurasia Group’s South Asia analyst, Akhil Bery. That, he added, would likely affect Modi’s foreign policy toward India’s arch rival Pakistan.

Earlier this year, BJP’s efforts to return to power looked to be on shaky grounds, especially after the party lost three key state elections in December. People across India have had mixed reactions to some of Modi’s landmark economic reforms and policies. They include the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax and demonetization — where the government unexpectedly withdrew all its 500 and 1,000-rupee notes, and replaced them with 500 and 2,000-rupee denomination currencies.

Then, a terrorist attack in Kashmir, and India’s subsequent response to it, shifted the momentum in Modi’s favor.

“That reinvigorated the campaign and took the attention away from, quite frankly, the not-so-great economic record,” Bery told CNBC’s “Squawk Box ” on Thursday.

“You had a slowing economy and also the leaked jobs report, which showed that India’s unemployment rate was at a 45-year high. By shifting to national security, Prime Minister Modi was able to take attention away from those negative stories, ” he added.

Still, Modi’s government will likely have its work cut out: India’s economy is slowing down, its shadow banking sector is in crisis, credit lending from banks is still relatively weak. More needs to be done to spur private investments so that the country doesn’t only rely on consumption to grow, according to analysts.

The Nifty 50 was up 1.39% in early trade. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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Our own operating system could be ready this year

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A view of Huawei phones, seen in the shopping street in the Old Town of Amman on Jan. 30, 2019.

Artur Widak | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Huawei could have its own operating system for smartphones and laptops ready for use in China by fall this year, the head of the company’s consumer division told CNBC.

Still, he stressed that would only happen if the company were completely stopped from using Google’s and Microsoft’s software.

The Chinese technology giant was placed on a U.S. blacklist that required American firms to get permission from the government before selling anything to Huawei. That meant Huawei would no longer be able to license the version of Google’s Android operating system that’s complete with all of the U.S. firm’s services.

However, Washington granted a temporary 90-day reprieve for Huawei, which will allow it to continue using American technology — for now.

Huawei has said in the past that it has its own operating system waiting in the wings if it were to be permanently blocked from Google and Microsoft software. Now, one of the company’s top executives has told CNBC that the operating system could be ready by the fourth quarter of this year, with a version for its markets outside of China available in either the first or second quarter of 2020.

“Today, Huawei, we are still committed to Microsoft Windows and Google Android. But if we cannot use that, Huawei will prepare the plan B to use our own OS,” Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business, told CNBC on Thursday.

If Huawei isn’t allowed to use Android, it could be damaging because the phones won’t have the Google Play Store where consumers can download apps. Instead, users would need to find other ways to install their favorite applications.

However, Yu said Huawei’s own app store, known as the App Gallery, would be available on its own operating system. The App Gallery is installed on Huawei’s devices currently, but Google’s Play Store is often the default app store for consumers.

The Huawei executive stressed that Huawei’s own operating system would only be rolled out if the company were permanently blocked from using Google or Microsoft products.

“We don’t want to do this but we will forced to do that because of the U.S. government. I think the U.S., this kind of thing, will also not only be bad news for us, but also bad news for the U.S. companies because we support the U.S. business, so we will be forced to do this on our own,” Yu said. “We don’t want to do this but we have no other solution, no other choice.”

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Two US Navy ships sail through strategic Taiwan Strait

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The Strait of Taiwan, located between the coast of southeast China and Taiwan.

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The U.S. military said it sent two Navy ships through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday, a move likely to anger Beijing at a time of tense relations between the world’s two biggest economies.

Taiwan is one of a growing number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which also include a trade war, U.S. sanctions and China’s increasingly muscular military posture in the South China Sea, where the United States also conducts freedom-of-navigation patrols.

The voyage will be viewed by self-ruled Taiwan as a sign of support from the Trump administration amid growing friction between Taipei and Beijing.

The transit was carried out by the destroyer Preble and the Navy oil tanker Walter S. Diehl, a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,”  Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, said in a statement.

Doss said all interactions were safe and professional. 

The United States has no formal ties with Taiwan but is bound by law to help provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms. 

The Pentagon says Washington has sold Taipei more than $15 billion in weaponry since 2010.

China has been ramping up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the island, which it considers a wayward province of “one China” and sacred Chinese territory.

Beijing said a recent Taiwan Strait passage by a French warship, first reported by Reuters, was illegal.

China has repeatedly sent military aircraft and ships to circle Taiwan on exercises in the past few years and worked to isolate it internationally, whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency released a report earlier this year describing Taiwan as the “primary driver” for China’s military modernization, which it said had made major advances in recent years.

On Sunday, a U.S. military warship sailed near the disputed Scarborough Shoal claimed by China in the South China Sea, angering Beijing.

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