Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Hashtag Trending March 18 – Tech merger bill; Netflix’s new fee; Amazon wage strikes

A new bill could ban tech mergers worth over $5 billion, Netflix is enforcing a new fee to stop password sharing with multiple households, and Amazon warehouse workers walk out.

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That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Friday, March 18th, and I’m your host, Pragya Sehgal.

A new Congressional bill could ban tech mergers worth over $5 billion. The Prohibiting Anticompetitive Mergers Act (PAMA) would make it illegal to pursue prohibited mergers, including those worth over $5 billion or which provide market shares beyond 25 per cent for employers and 33 per cent for sellers. In addition, the bill would give antitrust regulators the ability to stop and review mergers. They would have the power to reject mergers outright, without requiring court orders. According to an Engadget report, the Federal Trade Commission has signalled a willingness to split up tech giants such as Meta despite approving mergers earlier. PAMA could make it easier to unwind those acquisitions and force brands like Instagram and WhatsApp to operate as separate businesses. While the act isn’t solely focused on tech companies, Senator Elizabeth Warren made clear that the industry was a target.

If you share a Netflix password with multiple households, you may be a target of a new fee. The
streaming service will soon launch a test directed at cracking down on password sharing outside a user’s household. The test will begin within the next few weeks in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru. The company will later decide whether to bring it to other markets. Through the test, Netflix will start letting standard and premium plan customers add accounts for up to two people they don’t live with for an extra monthly charge. “Extra members” will have their own profiles, logins and passwords. In its terms and conditions, Netflix prohibits password sharing but hasn’t strongly enforced the policy over the years. In 2016, the company even said it was fine with users sharing their passwords as long as customers didn’t sell them. However, in the past few years, Netflix has attempted to stop the practice.

On Wednesday this week, workers at three Amazon warehouses in the New York City and Washington, D.C., metro areas walked off the night shift. This move was in an effort to demand $3-an-hour raises and the reinstatement of 20-minute rest breaks. In 2021, Amazon announced it was scaling backrest breaks from 20 to 15 minutes, ending a COVID-era work benefit intended to give workers extra time to maintain social distancing and safety procedures. Striking workers say their wages of roughly $15.75 to $17.25 an hour are not enough to survive with the recent surge of inflated prices on the cost of housing, food, and gas, Vice reports. This strike coincides with a surge in organizing at Amazon warehouses around the country. In Staten Island, warehouse workers at JFK8, which is the city’s largest Amazon warehouse, will vote in person on whether to unionize later this month.

And now for something a bit different. Ford is experimenting with sci-fi-like technology to create a steering system controlled by the mind. Revealed in a recently published U.S. patent filing, the design plans detail a system that uses a computer interface to predict driver behaviour. While this may seem extremely futuristic, the proposal is not as extreme as the title and diagrams might suggest. The system does not replace a traditional steering wheel or pedals but instead uses brain scans to preempt the decisions a driver could be preparing to make and adjusts vehicle settings such as autonomous emergency braking and “adaptive front steering” accordingly. According to an article from Drive, the implications are that the technology could be used for full telepathic driving in the future or to aid active safety systems, and determine if a driver has spotted an obstacle ahead.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash briefings or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. Also, catch the next episode of Hashtag Tendances, our weekly Hashtag Trending episode in French, which drops every Thursday morning. If you have a suggestion or a tip, drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thank you for listening, I’m Pragya Sehgal.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Pragya Sehgal
Pragya Sehgal
Born and raised in the capital city of India - Delhi - bounded by the river Yamuna on the west, Pragya has climbed the Himalayas, and survived medical professional stream in high school without becoming a patient or a doctor. Pragya now makes her home in Canada with her husband - a digital/online marketing fanatic who also loves to prepare delicious meals for her. When she isn’t working or writing around tech, she’s probably watching art films on Netflix, or wondering whether she should cut her hair short or not. Can be contacted at psehgal@itwc.ca or 647.695.3494.

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