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Facebook, Google and Twitter C.E.O.s return to Washington to defend their content moderation.

For more than two decades, internet companies have been shielded from liability for much of what their users post by a once-obscure rule called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Now that shield — and how internet companies moderate content on their sites — is being questioned by lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle.On Wednesday, the chief executives of Google, Facebook and Twitter will testify before a Senate committee about their moderation practices.The hearing, held by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, will be a repeat performance before Congress for Sundar Pichai of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter. But with the Nov. 3 election less than a week away, the executives face additional pressure to manage mis...

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Business

It’s a Ballot Fight for Survival for Gig Companies Like Uber

OAKLAND, Calif. — By late August, the urgency was becoming clear. Top executives of Uber, Lyft and the delivery service DoorDash met to discuss a California ballot measure that would exempt them from a new state labor law and save their companies hundreds of millions of dollars.The survival of their businesses was on the ballot.Days later, political strategists responded to the executives’ concerns by telling the companies, which had already pledged $90 million to back the measure, that they needed to spend a lot more if they wanted to win, said three people familiar with the discussions, who were not allowed to talk about them publicly.The fight over the ballot measure, Proposition 22, has become the most expensive in the state’s history since then, with its backers contributing nearly...

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Sports

Appeals Court Says Uber and Lyft Must Treat California Drivers as Employees

OAKLAND, Calif. — Uber and Lyft must treat their California drivers as employees, providing them with the benefits and wages they are entitled to under state labor law, a California appeals court ruled Thursday.The decision points to growing agreement between the state courts and lawmakers that gig workers do not have the independence necessary for them to be considered contractors.The ruling by the California First District Court of Appeal is the result of a lawsuit brought by California’s attorney general and the city attorneys of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The state and city agencies sued the ride-hailing companies in May to enforce a new state labor law that aimed to make gig workers into employees.After a lower court ruled that Uber and Lyft must immediately comply a...

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Sports

Pentagon Sticks With Microsoft for Cloud Computing Contract

The Defense Department on Friday reaffirmed its decision to award a massive cloud computing contract to Microsoft, despite protests from Amazon, which had argued that President Trump interfered to prevent it from winning the $10 billion contract.The decision, which comes more than six months after a federal judge halted work on the contract in response to a legal challenge from Amazon, is not likely to put an end to the acrimonious battle. But it does indicate the Defense Department is confident in its decision to give Microsoft the contract, known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, or JEDI.Amazon had been seen as a front-runner to win the contract. But the Defense Department chose Microsoft in October to lead a modernization of the military’s cloud computing system...

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Sports

Twitter Flags Trump Tweet for Dissuading Voting

OAKLAND, Calif. — Twitter hid one of President Trump’s tweets behind a notice warning users that the message violated company rules against dissuading people from voting. Mr. Trump posted the tweet, which said that ballot drop boxes were not being sanitized to prevent the coronavirus and could be used for fraud, about five hours before Twitter took action on Sunday.Twitter has begun enforcing its rules more strictly against Mr. Trump as the presidential election approaches. In May, Twitter added fact-check labels to two of Mr. Trump’s tweets that contained misinformation about mail-in voting.Twitter escalated its efforts on Sunday, hiding Mr. Trump’s message behind a warning that said it “violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity.” Twitter also restricted other users...

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Sports

Former Uber Security Chief Charged With Concealing Hack

Mr. Sullivan was “visibly shaken” when he learned of the hack and told others that he “could not believe they had let another breach happen and that the team had to make sure word of the breach did not get out,” according to court documents.At the time, the Federal Trade Commission was investigating Uber in connection with a similar data breach that had occurred two years earlier. But even though he was aware of the F.T.C. inquiry and spoke under oath with investigators, Mr. Sullivan did not inform F.T.C. officials about the 2016 hack, prosecutors said. He also kept information about the incident from Uber employees who were responsible for communicating with the F.T.C. about the earlier incident, according to court documents.Uber attempted to handle the incident quietly through its so-...

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Sports

Uber and Lyft Threaten to Shut Down in California

OAKLAND, Calif. — Uber and Lyft threatened to suspend ride-hailing services throughout California on Thursday night, a defiant reaction to a judge who ordered the companies to reclassify their drivers as employees.The ride-hailing blackout, which might begin at midnight Pacific Standard Time, could drag on for weeks, as Uber and Lyft battle a state labor law intended to give employment benefits to gig workers. An appeals court is weighing the companies’ requests to overturn the judge’s decision, but it is not clear when the court will issue a ruling.State officials said the companies must comply with the law, known as Assembly Bill 5, so that workers have access to sick leave, overtime and other benefits — a need that has become more dire during the coronavirus pandemic.But Uber and Lyf...

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Business

Uber and Lyft Consider Franchise-Like Model in California

OAKLAND, Calif. — Uber and Lyft, which are facing mounting pressure to classify their freelance drivers as full-time employees in California, are looking for another way.One option that both companies are seriously discussing is licensing their brands to operators of vehicle fleets in California, according to three people with knowledge of the plans. The change would resemble an independently operated franchise, allowing Uber and Lyft to keep an arms-length association with drivers so that the companies would not need to employ them and pay their benefits.The idea would effectively be a return to the days of how groups of black cars were run. Lyft has presented the plan to its board of directors, one person said. Uber, which already works with fleet operators in Germany and Spain, is al...

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Technology

Uber’s Ride-Hailing Business Craters, but Deliveries Surge in Pandemic

OAKLAND, Calif. — Uber is synonymous around the world with ride hailing. But as the coronavirus pandemic shows few signs of loosening its grip, the company may become more closely associated with another business: delivery.Uber said on Thursday that its ride-hailing business had cratered in the second quarter as people traveled less in the pandemic. The company’s revenue fell 29 percent to $2.2 billion from a year ago — the steepest decline since its initial public offering last May — as its net loss totaled $1.8 billion.But its Uber Eats food delivery service surged, with revenue more than doubling from a year ago to exceed that of ride hailing for the first time. Revenue for Uber Eats soared to $1.2 billion, while rides came in at $790 million.Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive...

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Sports

Star Technologist Who Crossed Google Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

OAKLAND, Calif. — Anthony Levandowski, a pioneer of self-driving car technology in Silicon Valley, had once been feted by companies such as Google and Uber for his engineering expertise.But on Tuesday, Mr. Levandowski’s fall from grace was capped when he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing self-driving car trade secrets from Google. He will not be required to serve his sentence until the coronavirus pandemic subsides, a federal judge ordered.Mr. Levandowski, 40, also agreed to pay $756,499 to Waymo, a self-driving business spun out of Google, as restitution. He had filed for bankruptcy in March, saying he had $50 million to $100 million in personal assets. He will also be required to pay a fine of $95,000.“Today marks the end of three and a half long years and the beginnin...

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