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EU Commission lawyers initially opposed warning Amazon on iRobot deal – sources

EU Commission lawyers initially opposed warning Amazon on iRobot deal – sources

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EU Commission lawyers initially opposed warning Amazon on iRobot deal - sources

European Commission lawyers initially opposed sending a warning to Amazon over its $1.4 billion acquisition of robot vacuum maker iRobot (IRBT.O), three people with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

The Commission’s legal service did not think a statement of objections regarding the deal was warranted, in contrast with antitrust officials handling the case, the people said. Without such a charge sheet, the deal would have been cleared unconditionally.

The lawyers subsequently changed their mind and backed antitrust officials’ decision to send the charge sheet setting out their concerns, the sources said on condition of anonymity, declining to provide confidential details.

The Commission declined to comment.

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Antitrust officials can override objections from the legal service by either tweaking or narrowing their concerns to get their backing or by appealing to the top officials.

Sources had previously told Reuters the deal would be cleared unconditionally.

The EU competition enforcer sent a statement of objections to Amazon on Monday, narrowing the case to concerns about the deal restricting competition in the market for robot vacuum cleaners and dropping initial worries that the deal would strengthen the company’s position as an online marketplace provider.

While Amazon might still gain unconditional approval to buy iRobot, the charge sheet indicates that officials are looking to remedies from the company to address their concerns.

The case echoes that of Google which only won the EU green light to buy Fitbit in 2020 after agreeing to restrictions on how it will use customers’ health-related data, in effect creating a data silo.

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Some of the issues in the Amazon deal are covered in new tech rules known as the Digital Markets Act which sets out a list of dos and don’ts for Big Tech, but antitrust officials do not want those obligations as an excuse to take a more lenient line on the deal, one of the people said.

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WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

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WhatsApp unveils new text formatting feature for enhanced communication

WhatsApp has unveiled a groundbreaking feature that revolutionizes text messaging by allowing users to customize their messages like never before.

Prior to this update, users were limited to basic text modifications such as bold and italic; however, the new feature introduces a plethora of formatting options, including numbers, bullets, block quotes, and text highlighting.

The process is simple and intuitive, requiring users to incorporate specific symbols to achieve their desired text format. For monospacing text, users can enclose their message with three backticks on both sides. Adding a quote is as easy as placing an angle bracket and a space before the text.

To strike through a message, users need to flank their text with tilde symbols, while bolding requires asterisks on both sides. One of the standout additions is the ability to create bulleted lists effortlessly. Users can precede each word or sentence with an asterisk or hyphen and a space to generate a neatly organized list.

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Moreover, numbering and spacing at the beginning of text with “1.” facilitates the creation of itemized lists, enhancing the overall clarity and structure of messages.

Inline code can now be seamlessly integrated into messages by enclosing the text with backtick symbols at the start and end. This provides users with a practical way to share code snippets or emphasize specific phrases within their conversations.

The accompanying image showcases the versatility of this new feature, illustrating the various formatting options available to users. WhatsApp users across iOS, Android, and web devices can now leverage this advanced text formatting feature to elevate their communication experience.

The update reflects WhatsApp’s commitment to continually enhance user experience and foster more expressive and organized conversations. Whether you’re conveying information, emphasizing key points, or sharing code snippets, the new formatting options provide a dynamic and engaging communication platform for users worldwide. 

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Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

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Meta to set up team to counter disinformation, AI abuse in EU elections

 Facebook owner Meta will set up a team to tackle disinformation and the abuse of generative artificial intelligence in the run-up to European Parliament elections in June amid concerns about election interference and misleading AI-generated content.

The rapid growth of generative AI, which can create text, images and video in seconds in response to prompts, has triggered fears that the new technology could be used to disrupt major elections, across the world this year. 

European Parliament elections will take place June 6-9. Its 720 lawmakers, together with EU governments, pass new EU policies and laws.

“As the election approaches, we’ll activate an Elections Operations Center to identify potential threats and put mitigations in place in real time,” Marco Pancini, Meta’s head of EU affairs, said in a blogpost.

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He said experts from the company’s intelligence, data science, engineering, research, operations, content policy and legal teams will focus on combating misinformation, tackling influence operations and counter the risks related to the abuse of generative AI.

Meta, which currently works with 26 independent fact-checking organisations across the European Union covering 22 languages, will add three new partners in Bulgaria, France, and Slovakia, Pancini said.

Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI and 17 other tech companies earlier this month agreed to work together to prevent deceptive artificial-intelligence content from interfering with elections across the globe this year.

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‘X’ faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

‘X’ faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

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'X' faces prolonged suspension across Pakistan

The popular microblogging site ‘X,’ formerly known as Twitter, has been inaccessible across Pakistan for over a week. 

Despite a brief interval when the site was accessible, users are now reporting a persistent outage, even when using Virtual Private Network (VPN) services.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), the government agency responsible for overseeing telecommunications, hasn’t released any official statement regarding the suspension of the service.

This lack of transparency has only intensified the frustration among users who heavily rely on ‘X’ for information and news updates. Users who initially turned to VPNs as a workaround have also hit a roadblock, as the microblogging site remains inaccessible. 

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The situation has raised concerns about the government’s stance on digital freedom and freedom of speech. The outage has not gone unnoticed by the public, with many expressing their discontent on various platforms. 

Criticism has been directed towards the government and the IT minister for what is perceived as an attack on freedom of speech and a hindrance to the revenue generated by the country’s thriving IT professionals.

Earlier, the Sindh High Court issued a directive to restore access to ‘X’ across Pakistan, recognising the site’s significance for information dissemination. However, despite court’s order, there has been no implementation, leaving users and advocates of digital freedom in a state of dismay.

The suspension of ‘X’ has broader implications, impacting not only the general public but also businesses and professionals who rely on the platform for communication, networking, and staying informed about the latest developments. The longer the outage persists, the more severe the consequences may be for the nation’s digital landscape.

As the public awaits an official statement from the PTA and the government, concerns about the potential ramifications of such a prolonged suspension continue to grow.

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