Tag Archives: U.S.

Top U.S. antitrust official uncertain of need for four wireless carriers
June 1, 2018 6:11 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, declined on Friday to support the Obama administration’s firm backing of the need for four U.S. wireless carriers.

FILE PHOTO: A man uses a smartphone in New York City, in this picture taken November 6, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Asked about T-Mobile’s plan to buy Sprint for $ 26 billion, Delrahim declined to reiterate the view of President Barack Obama’s enforcers, who had said that four wireless carriers were needed.

Instead, Delrahim told reporters, “I don’t think there’s any magical number that I’m smart enough to glean.”

He also said the department would look at the companies’ arguments that the proposed merger was needed for them to build the next generation of wireless, referred to as 5G, but that they had to prove their case.

Bill Baer, a former head of the antitrust division, had told the New York Times in 2014: “It’s going to be hard for someone to make a persuasive case that reducing four firms to three is actually going to improve competition for the benefit of American consumers.”

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Dan Grebler

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U.S., China nearing deal to remove U.S. sales ban against ZTE: sources
May 22, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

BEIJING (Reuters) – Washington and Beijing are nearing a deal that would remove an existing U.S. order banning American firms from supplying Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE Corp, two people briefed on the talks told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO – Visitors pass in front of the Chinese telecoms equipment group ZTE Corp booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Picture

The people, who declined to be identified because the negotiations were confidential, also said the deal could include China removing tariffs on imported U.S. agricultural products, as well as buying more American farm goods.

ZTE, hit by a seven-year ban in April which effectively crippled its operations, would gain a major reprieve after the world’s two largest economies stepped back from the brink of a fully blown trade war following talks last week.

The company did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

White House advisors have said publicly that the ban against ZTE is being reexamined, but that the firm would still face “harsh” punishment, including enforced changes of management and at board level.

One person told Reuters there was a “handshake deal” on ZTE between U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He during talks in Washington last week that would remove the U.S. Commerce Department’s ban on American companies selling to ZTE in exchange for the purchase of more U.S. agricultural products.

The second person said China may also eliminate tariffs on U.S. agriculture products it assessed in response to U.S. steel duties as a part of the deal, and that ZTE could still be forced to replace its corporate leadership, among other penalties.

Both sources said the deal, while not yet cemented, was likely to be finalised before or during a planned trip by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to Beijing next week to help finalize a broader trade agreement to avert a trade war.

The company, publicly traded but whose largest shareholder is a Chinese state-owned enterprise, had been hit with penalties for breaking a 2017 agreement after it was caught illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran and North Korea, in an investigation dating to the Obama administration.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Additional reporting by Se Young Lee and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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U.S. court revives challenge to Seattle's Uber, Lyft driver union law
May 11, 2018 6:02 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Friday revived a business group’s challenge to a Seattle law, the first of its kind, that would allow drivers for ride-hailing services such as Uber Technologies Inc UBER.UL and Lyft to unionise.

A driver displays Uber and Lyft ride sharing signs in his car windscreen in Santa Monica, California, U.S., May 23, 2016. This logo has been updated and is no longer in use. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the city did not have the power to regulate payment arrangements between companies like Uber and Lyft and their drivers.

The litigation is unfolding amid a national debate over whether workers in the “gig economy” are independent contractors, who typically cannot form unions, or employees.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which sued over the law last year and counts Uber and Lyft among its members, did not respond to a request for comment. Neither did a spokesman for the Seattle city attorney’s office.

Seattle’s law, passed in 2015, requires the city to select a union as the exclusive bargaining representative of the estimated 9,000 drivers in Seattle who work for Uber, Lyft and other services. The law was put on hold pending the outcome of the Chamber’s lawsuit.

The Chamber argued that by allowing drivers to bargain over their pay, which is based on fares received from passengers, the city would permit them to essentially fix prices in violation of federal antitrust law.

A federal judge in Seattle last year disagreed, saying the state of Washington had specifically authorized its cities to regulate the for-hire transportation industry.

But the 9th Circuit on Friday said state law allows the city to regulate rates that companies charge to passengers, but not the fees that drivers pay to companies like Uber or Lyft in exchange for ride referrals.

The court sent the case back to the judge in Seattle to reconsider the Chamber’s antitrust claim.

The city and supporters of the law, including labor unions, have said that allowing drivers to unionize would improve their working conditions, making ride-sharing services safer for passengers.

Lawyers for the city had told the 9th Circuit that in some cases, drivers were engaging in unsafe behavior such as driving on little or no sleep because they are not paid adequately.

Uber is appealing a state’s judge dismissal of a separate lawsuit the company filed challenging Seattle’s law. A third lawsuit by Uber drivers was dismissed last year.

The case is U.S. Chamber of Commerce v. City of Seattle, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 17-35640.

Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Phil Berlowitz

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U.S. 'net neutrality' rules will end on June 11 -FCC
May 10, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission said in a notice on Thursday that landmark 2015 U.S. open-internet rules will cease on June 11, and new rules handing providers power over what content consumers can access will take effect.

FILE PHOTO: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) logo is seen before the FCC Net Neutrality hearing in Washington, U.S., February 26, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

The FCC in December repealed the Obama-era “net neutrality” rules, allowing internet providers to block or slow websites as long as they disclose the practice. The FCC said the new rules will take effect on June 11.

A group of states and others have sued to try to block the new rules from taking effect. The revised rules were a win for internet service providers like AT&T Inc (T.N) and Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) but are opposed by internet firms like Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O).

“The agency failed to listen to the American public and gave short shrift to their deeply held belief that internet openness should remain the law of the land,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said Thursday. “The FCC is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American people.”

The U.S. Senate is set to vote as early as next week on whether to reject the FCC repeal of the net neutrality rules – but that effort faces an uphill battle.

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Proponents currently have the backing of 47 Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats, as well as Republican Senator Susan Collins. With the prolonged absence of Republican Senator John McCain due to illness, proponents believe they will win on a 50-49 vote.

Senator Ed Markey said it was “likely” the vote will take place in the middle of next week. On Wednesday, senators officially filed a petition to force a net neutrality vote and 10 hours of floor debate under the Congressional Review Act.

Following the FCC announcement, Markey wrote on Twitter, “the Senate must act NOW and pass my resolution to save the internet as we know it.”

The FCC voted 3-2 to reverse Obama-era rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain online content.

Once they take effect, the new FCC rules would give internet service providers sweeping powers to change how consumers access the internet but include new transparency requirements that require them to disclose any changes to consumers.

If the Senate approves the measure, it would not likely pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. If the legislation were to pass the House, President Donald Trump would be expected to veto it.

In February, a coalition of 22 state attorneys general refiled legal challenges intended to block the Trump administration’s repeal of net neutrality.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has often said he is confident the agency’s order will be upheld.

Democrats have said they believe the issue would be key in November’s midterm congressional elections, especially among younger internet-savvy voters.

Republicans have said the FCC repeal would eliminate heavy-handed government regulations, encourage investment and return the internet to pre-2015 rules.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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U.S. sends rules on drone regulation to White House for review
May 9, 2018 6:04 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Transportation Department has sent two proposed rules to the White House to regulate the increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles, the agency said on Tuesday as it prepared to unveil the winners of new drone pilot projects.

One of the new rules would allow drones to fly over people while the other would allow for remote identification and tracking of unmanned aircraft in flight. After both are formally proposed, it would take months or even more than a year before they are finalized.

Current rules prohibit nighttime drone flights or operations over people without a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA has no requirements or voluntary standards for electrically broadcasting information to identify an unmanned aircraft.

The FAA has said regulations are necessary to protect the public and the National Airspace System from bad actors or errant hobbyists. Several incidents around major airports have involved drones getting close to aircraft.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in December a September collision between a small civilian drone and a U.S. Army helicopter was caused by the drone operator’s failure to see the helicopter because he was intentionally flying the drone out of visual range.

The helicopter landed safely but a 1-1/2 inch (3.8 cm) dent was found on the leading edge of one of its four main rotor blades and parts of the drone were found lodged in its engine oil cooler fan.

Later on Tuesday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will unveil the winners for 10 drone projects involving cities, universities, an Indian tribe, counties and states. Reuters reported Tuesday that major technology and aerospace companies including Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc, Intel Corp, Qualcomm Inc and Airbus SE are vying to take part in the new slate of drone tests.

The wide interest in the U.S. initiative, launched by President Donald Trump last year, underscores the desire of a broad range of companies to have a say in how the fledgling industry is regulated and ultimately win authority to operate drones for purposes ranging from package delivery to crop inspection.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang

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Exclusive: U.S. to reveal winners of drone program that has attracted top companies
May 8, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

(Reuters) – Major technology and aerospace companies including Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), Intel Corp (INTC.O), Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), Raytheon Co (RTN.N) and Airbus SE (AIR.PA) are vying to take part in a new slate of drone tests the United States is set to announce on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich talks about the new Yuneec Typhoon H drone, which he said was the first consumer drone equipped with Intel’s RealSense sense and avoid technology, during his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, U.S., January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

The wide interest in the U.S. initiative, launched by President Donald Trump last year, underscores the desire of a broad range of companies to have a say in how the fledgling industry is regulated and ultimately win authority to operate drones for everything from package delivery to crop inspection.

The pilot program will allow a much larger range of tests than are generally permitted by federal aviation regulators, including flying drones at night, over people and beyond an operator’s line of sight.

The U.S. Transportation Department is set to announce 10 winning state, local or tribal governments to host the experiments out of 149 applicants. Secretary Elaine Chao will make the winners public on Wednesday. The governments in turn have partnered with companies who will play a role in the tests.

FILE PHOTO: An Amazon Prime Air Flying Drone is displayed during the ‘Drones: Is the Sky the Limit?’ exhibition at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City, U.S., May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

At least 200 companies applied as partners in the program, a U.S. official said.

Companies including Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Boeing Co (BA.N) and Ford Motor Co (F.N) have also expressed interest in the program, the sources said, though it was unclear whether they all had joined applications and what they would be testing.

Qualcomm confirmed it is on at least three applications, and Intel said it hopes to participate in the program. The other companies did not immediately answer requests for comment.

Changes to U.S. policy that result from the tests are not expected for some time. Package delivery, which can be particularly complex, might not take place until later on during the program.

Earl Lawrence, who directs the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s unmanned aircraft systems integration office, told a Senate panel on Tuesday that many of the other projects “could go forward under the FAA’s existing rules, including with waivers where appropriate.”

He said after “the 10 selections for the pilot program are announced, the FAA will be reaching out to other applicants, as well as interested state and local authorities, to provide additional information on how to operationalize their proposed projects.”

The FAA is also working on proposed regulations to ensure the safety of drones and their integration into U.S. airspace.

The initiative is significant for the United States, which has lagged other countries in drone operations for fear of air crashes. That had pushed companies like Amazon to experiment overseas.

In the United Kingdom, the world’s largest online retailer already sends some packages by drone. It completed its first such mission in late 2016, taking 13 minutes from click to delivery.

Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco and David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Stephen Nellis and Paul Lienert; editing by Chris Sanders and David Gregorio

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U.S. considering restrictions on China's telecoms companies: WSJ
May 2, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is considering executive action to restrict some Chinese companies’ ability to sell telecommunications equipment in the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The move, which if implemented would likely affect Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp, two of the world’s major telecommunications equipment manufacturers, was based on national security concerns, the Journal said, citing several people familiar with the matter.

U.S. lawmakers and the Trump administration have pressured U.S. companies to not sell Huawei or ZTE products, saying they potentially could be used to spy on Americans. Earlier this year they pushed AT&T to drop a deal with Huawei to sell its smartphones in the United States.

The White House did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Representative of Huawei and ZTE could not be reached immediately for comment, though both have denied allegations that their products are used to spy.

Any executive action would come on the heels of a series of U.S. moves aimed at stopping or reducing access by Huawei and ZTE to the U.S. economy, including recent restrictions on U.S. suppliers of ZTE set by the Commerce Department, amid allegations the companies could be using their technology to spy on Americans. [nL3N1RX1NT]

The U.S. Department of Defense has already stopped selling mobile phones and modems made by the Chinese technology companies Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL] and ZTE Corp in stores on its military bases, citing potential security risks.

As of April 25, the Pentagon ordered that these and related products be removed from its stores worldwide, according to Pentagon spokesman Major Dave Eastburn.

“These devices may pose an unacceptable risk to the department’s personnel, and mission,” Eastburn said.

The Army and Air Force have more than 3,100 stores around the world, and also sell goods online to military personnel. The Navy Exchange has more than 300 stores worldwide, as well as stores aboard more than 100 ships.

Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; editing by David Alexander and James Dalgleish

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U.S. probing Huawei for possible Iran sanctions violations: sources
April 25, 2018 6:08 pm|Comments (0)

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Federal prosecutors in New York have been investigating since at least last year whether Chinese tech company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] violated U.S. sanctions in relation to Iran, according to sources familiar with situation.

FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The prosecutors have been investigating alleged shipping of U.S.-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of U.S. export and sanctions laws, two of the sources said on condition of anonymity.

The probe, first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, is being run out of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, the sources said. John Marzulli, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the investigation.

The Department of Justice in Washington declined to comment.

Huawei, which makes handsets and telecommunications network equipment, said it complies with “all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including the applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.”

News of the Justice Department probe follows a series of U.S. actions aimed at stopping or reducing access by Huawei and Chinese smartphone maker ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) to the U.S. economy amid allegations the companies could be using their technology to spy on Americans.

In February, Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, cited concerns about the spread of Chinese technologies in the United States, which he called “counterintelligence and information security risks that come prepackaged with the goods and services of certain overseas vendors.”

Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton have introduced legislation that would block the U.S. government from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment from Huawei or ZTE, citing concern the Chinese companies would use their access to spy on U.S. officials.

U.S. authorities last week banned American companies from selling to ZTE (000063.SZ) for seven years, saying the Chinese company had broken a settlement agreement related to Iran sanctions with repeated false statements – a move that threatens to cut off ZTE’s supply chain.

The ZTE ban was the result of its failure to comply with an agreement with the U.S. Commerce Department reached last year after it pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions by illegally shipping U.S. goods and technology to Iran.

In 2016, the Commerce Department made documents public that showed ZTE’s misconduct and also revealed how a second company, identified only as F7, had successfully evaded U.S. export controls.

In a 2016 letter to the Commerce Department, 10 U.S. lawmakers said they believed F7 to be Huawei, citing media reports.

In April 2017, lawmakers sent another letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asking for F7 to be publicly identified and fully investigated.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru, Karen Freifeld in New York, Eric Auchard in London; Editing by Frances Kerry and Paul Simao

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Facebook will not testify at U.S. House hearing on social media
April 25, 2018 6:02 pm|Comments (0)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Facebook Inc said Wednesday it has declined an invitation to testify at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing Thursday on filtering practices by social media companies, a company spokesman said.

A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

The company said that even though it will not appear, it looks “forward to a continuing dialogue with members of the committee about Facebook’s strong commitment to being a platform for all voices and ideas.”

Alphabet Inc and Twitter Inc have also been invited to testify at the House Judiciary Committee hearing, but have not said whether they will appear. Some Republicans have criticized social media companies for censoring some conservative viewpoints, a charge the firms have denied.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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U.S. biotech companies Alnylam, Dicerna settle trade secrets case
April 20, 2018 6:01 pm|Comments (0)

BOSTON (Reuters) – Dicerna Pharmaceuticals Inc on Friday said that it will pay $ 15 million plus stock to Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc to resolve a lawsuit claiming it stole trade secrets about gene-silencing technology used to develop drug treatments.

The settlement between the two biotech companies resolves a lawsuit that Alnylam filed against Dicerna in 2015. The accord came ahead of a jury trial that was set to begin on Monday in state court in Woburn, Massachusetts.

Under the agreement, Dicerna will pay Alnylam $ 2 million up-front plus 983,208 shares of its common stock, worth around $ 13.7 million based on the stock’s price at midday on Friday. Dicerna’s stock price was up 38.68 percent.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Dicerna said it will also pay Alnylam another $ 13 million over the next four years, the timing of which is dependent on revenue Dicerna receives pursuant to future RNAi technology-based partnerships under its GalXC brand.

“With today’s announcement of a settlement with Alnylam, we are now able to focus the entirety of our resources on the advancement of our key clinical and discovery programs,” Dicerna Chief Executive Douglas Fambrough said in a statement.

Alnylam, also Cambridge-based, did not respond to a request for comment.

Alnylam’s lawsuit accused Dicerna of misappropriating confidential information related to RNAi technology Alnylam acquired when in 2014 when it bought a Merck & Co Inc subsidiary in a deal it valued in court papers at $ 325 million.

(Corrects settlement amount in first paragraph to say $ 15 million)

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Tom Brown

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