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Amazon Buys Healthcare Start-Up Health Navigator

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Amazon.com said on Wednesday it bought healthcare start-up Health Navigator, its second purchase in the healthcare services industry.

The deal comes after the company acquired online pharmacy PillPack last year, pitting itself against drugstore chains, drug distributors and pharmacy benefit managers.

The company said the acquisition is a part of its new employee offering, Amazon Care, where employees of the e-commerce giant will be able to receive fast-paced access to healthcare facilities without having to make appointments.

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Health Navigator was founded in 2014 by David Thompson, who is also its chief executive officer, and provides preliminary and final diagnosis and treatments on its digital platform.

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

Last week, Britain’s competition regulator said it had launched a formal investigation into Amazon.com’s investment in food delivery company Deliveroo, setting a December 11 deadline for a decision on the first phase of its probe.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was looking into whether Amazon’s investment in May, when it led a $575 million (roughly Rs. 4,000 crores) fundraising, could result in a “substantial lessening of competition” within the United Kingdom.

Deliveroo, a British online food delivery company, was Amazon’s inroad to pit itself against Uber Eats in the race to dominate the market for takeaway meals, worth around $100 billion globally.

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© Thomson Reuters 2019

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Google to Allow Tinder Owner Match to Offer Alternate Payment Systems to Users on Play Store

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Match Group said on Friday that Alphabet’s Google will allow the dating apps maker to offer users a choice in payment systems, eliminating Google’s control over user data.

Match sued Google in May, calling the action a “last resort” to prevent Tinder and its other apps from being booted off the Google Play store for refusing to share up to 30 percent of sales.

The company said it has withdrawn its request for a temporary restraining order against Google after some concessions, including eliminating its complete control over user data.

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Match’s lawsuit came against the backdrop of ongoing cases brought by Fortnite maker Epic Games, dozens of US state attorneys general and others in targeting Google’s allegedly anticompetitive conduct related to the Play store.

The development comes almost 10 days after Google rejected an app store monopoly suit filed by Tinder parent Match Group, saying it is a “self-interested” campaign putting money ahead of user safety.

Google’s response came a day after Match filed a lawsuit in federal court in San Francisco accusing the tech titan of abusing control of the Play Store that sells digital content for Android-powered phones.

“This is just a continuation of Match Group’s self-interested campaign to avoid paying for the significant value they receive from the mobile platforms they’ve built their business on,” a Google spokesperson told AFP.

The litigation comes as part of an ongoing battle by Match, Epic Games and others to force Google parent Alphabet and iPhone maker Apple to loosen their grips on their respective app stores.

Match’s filing came after Google modified Play Store rules to require its family of apps to use the Internet giant’s payment system, which collects fees of up to 30 percent on transactions, court paperwork said.

Google has made it clear that it will remove Match apps from the Play Store if they do not comply with the rule, Match said in the filing, which described such punishment as a “death knell.”

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“This is a case about the strategic manipulation of markets, broken promises, and abuse of power,” Match said in the suit.

Google countered that Match is free to make its apps available elsewhere online, including on its own website.

While the App Store is the only gateway for content to get onto Apple mobile devices, users of Android-powered smartphones or tablets can download apps at their own risk from online venues other than Google’s Play Store.

Match’s lawsuit contends that despite having options, users get content for Android devices from the Play Store more than 90 percent of the time.

Match apps offered in the Play Store qualify to pay fees of just 15 percent on subscriptions, according to the Google spokesperson.

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© Thomson Reuters 2022


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Google Incognito Mode Not Really Private, Collects User Data, Says Texas Lawsuit

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The Google search engine collects data on users who think they can be anonymous if they use a “private browsing” mode, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed on Thursday, filing an amended privacy lawsuit against the Alphabet unit.

Texas, Indiana, Washington State, and the District of Columbia filed separate suits against Google in January in state courts over what they called deceptive location-tracking practices that invade users’ privacy.

Paxton’s filing adds Google’s Incognito mode to the lawsuit filed in January. Incognito mode or “private browsing” is a Web browser function that Paxton said implies Google will not track search history or location activity.

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The lawsuit said Google offers the option of “private browsing” that could include “viewing highly personal websites that might indicate, for example, their medical history, political persuasion, or sexual orientation. Or maybe they simply want to buy a surprise gift without the gift recipient being tipped off by a barrage of targeted ads.”

The suit said “in reality, Google deceptively collects an array of personal data even when a user has engaged Incognito mode.”

Google said on Thursday that Paxton’s filing is again “based on inaccurate claims and outdated assertions about our settings. We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data.”

“We strongly dispute these claims and will vigorously defend ourselves to set the record straight,” it added.

Paxton previously alleged Google misled consumers by continuing to track their location even when users sought to prevent it.  

Google has a “Location History” setting and informs users if they turn it off “the places you go are no longer stored,” Texas said.

In January, an Arizona judge ruled allegations Google deceived users with unclear smartphone location tracking settings should be weighed by a jury, refusing to toss out a lawsuit brought by the state’s attorney general.

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Amazon, Meta, Google owner Alphabet to Face Strong Opposition From Schroders Over Workers, Digital Rights

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Schroders, Britain’s biggest listed asset manager, said on Wednesday it would back a swathe of shareholder resolutions at Amazon, Meta and Google-owner Alphabet concerning workers’ and digital rights.

Schroders, which manages around GBP 730 billion (roughly Rs. 70,65,210 crore), said it was declaring its intention to vote against management on the issues as an escalation measure following talks with the companies.

While any move to declare voting plans is still relatively rare among asset managers, more are starting to do so as part of efforts to accelerate change on environmental, social, and governance-related issues such as climate change.

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In total, Schroders said it would vote against 11 resolutions across the three companies at their annual general meetings.

The money manager said its engagement with Amazon had centred on supporting workers’ rights, specifically improving staff pay and benefits, the health, and wellbeing of workers and worker representation within the company.

At Meta and Alphabet, Schorders said it would vote in favour of improving their approach to digital rights, including the management of exploitative content, misinformation and privacy.

“These issues are growing in importance for our clients who are pressing us to do more to ensure the companies that we invest in are acting responsibly,” said Kate Rogers, Head of Sustainability, Schroders Wealth Management.

“By voting against the management at Alphabet and Meta we are signalling the importance of big technology companies acting to avoid harm and tackling misinformation on their platforms. At Amazon, we stand with the workers, seeking more disclosure on working conditions and their treatment.”

Schroders added that it was still considering and would likely vote against other agenda items at the companies’ AGMs.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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