Law allowing Uber drivers to unionize is safe, for now

Uber and Lyft drivers will still be allowed to unionize in Seattle.
Image: carl court/Getty Images

Seattle became the first city to allow drivers for ride-hailing companies to unionize when it passed landmark legislation last December. And that right is safe for now, after a judge ruled Tuesday it was too early for any party to challenge it.

A federal judge dismissed a case brought by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that challenged Seattle’s collective bargaining ordinance, the first of its kind in any U.S. city. The judge ruled that because the ordinance had not yet taken effect, it was too early sue. He also said that the Chamber of Commerce didn’t have standing to sue, since it wouldn’t be directly affected.

The law is set to take effect in September.

The decision allows the legislation to move forward as planned, giving drivers for Uber and Lyft the right to collectively negotiate conditions and pay.

Drivers for Uber and Lyft work part-time and are not officially employees. Keeping drivers off the salary payroll means lower operating costs for Uber and Lyft, a model that has helped them grow rapidly into multi-billion-dollar companies.

That leaves the drivers at a disadvantage against their corporate parent. Drivers in other cities in the United States and around the world have tried similar strategies. In New York, Uber agreed to recognize an “association” for drivers that stopped short of a full union.

Uber and Lyft both opposed the Seattle ordinance.

We continue to share concerns raised by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that the ordinance threatens the privacy of drivers, conflicts with longstanding federal labor and antitrust law, and would undermine the flexibility that makes Lyft so attractive both to drivers and passengers,” Lyft spokesman Adrian Durbin said.

Uber referred all request for comment to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But Uber recently released a fact sheet for Seattle drivers where it framed the ordinance as something that could hurt drivers who do not want to unionize.

“The union would have the exclusive right to speak and act for you; you lose your voice and choice in how to run your business,” Uber wrote.

The Seattle ordinance could be challenged in court again once the law takes effect, as Uber and the Chamber want to emphasize.

“While the judge held that it is too early to decide this case, he made clear at oral argument that he stands ready to hear a challenge to Seattles unprecedented ordinance in the future,” Blair Holmes, a U.S. Chamber spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The city has merely delayed coming to grips with the legal flaws at the heart of this ordinance at great cost and uncertainty to the taxpayers of Seattle. We urge the city to reevaluate whether it should defend this law in court.”

Efforts like the one in Seattle are part of a growing effort to push back against what is becoming known as the “gig economy” in which workers in a variety of industries are given short-term jobs through technology platforms.

In addition to Uber and Lyft in ridehailing, there are companies like Handy for home cleaning and Postmates for package delivery, which also use a similar strategy.

One survey by found that almost half of all Americans had either used or supplied labor from the gig economy.

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Apple Pay fight heats up as company slams Australian bank ‘cartel’

Apple is not rolling over for the banks.
Image: Getty Images

Apple is not exactly thrilled by the Australian banking industry’s attempts to undermine its rollout of Apple Pay.

In July, four major financial institutions applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to negotiate collectively with Apple regarding mobile payments.

For the banks Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank, and Westpac the fight centred on the fact that Apple does not allow outside banking apps to use iPhone hardware in favour of its own Apple Pay service.

“Apple’s refusal to provide third-party apps with any access to the [near-field communication] functionality of its devices sets it apart from other hardware manufacturers,” it said in the application. It’s the NFC antenna that allows a smartphone to communicate with a payment terminal.

Now the technology company has hit back at what it calls the banks’ “innuendo” and “misstatements,” arguing their demands would create a security threat. Its submission, signed by the local head of Apple Pay, Marj Demmer, urges the ACCC to reject the banks’ application.

Apple claims opening up its NFC functionality to the banks would be risky.

“Our hardware, software and services are built in a deeply integrated manner so we can provide the highest possible security.”

“Our hardware, software and services are built in a deeply integrated manner so we can provide the highest possible security,” it writes.

Apple Pay keeps payments secure using a system of tokenisation. Instead of sharing your credit card information during a transaction, the app instead creates a unique token as a stand-in, which it shares with the point of sale.

Users also submit a payment using their fingerprint via Apple’s Touch ID system. The fingerprint and the device’s unique account number are stored on the iPhone separate from Apple’s operating system, Apple Pay servers and iCloud.

Apple has been approached by Mashable for further details about the nature of the security threat.

Calling the banks a “cartel,” the company also suggests granting the banks’ application would produce anticompetitive results for the Australian consumer.

As Apple notes, the banks in the application together account for 66 percent of Australian credit card balances and 70 percent of household deposits.

“The request by the application banks would slow innovation and reduce choices by protecting members of the cartel from competition with each other,” it says.

“Allowing the banks to form a cartel to collectively dictate terms to new business models and services would set a troubling precedent and delay the introduction of new, potentially disruptive technologies.”

In the submission, Apple shares that negotiations began with Australian banks in late 2014. The contactless payments service launched in November with only American Express on board, followed by its only major banking partner, ANZ, in April.

Although the banks are not attempting to negotiate collectively over banking fees, it’s been reported the banks also clashed with Apple regarding how banking fees would be shared.

(H/T Australian Financial Review)

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Californian churros shop’s ‘Pikachurro’ needs to become a reality

Mmmm, Pikachu.
Image: @DailyFoodFeed/instagram

With Pokmon Go mania still at an all time high, businesses are cashing in and coming up with crafty new ways to lure trainers in.

One that caught our eye (and stomachs) is The Loop, a specialty churros shop in Westminster, California.

The shop which opened in May is most known for its hand-crafted churros shaped into mouse ears. In late July, the shop teased pictures of a Pikachu-shaped churro which it dubbed the “Pikachurro.”

The sweet treat was customised by food blogger, Daily Food Feed, during a visit to The Loop and features Pikachu’s signature blushing cheeks and pointy ears.

Although the “Pikachurro” is not yet on the menu, The Loop has been advertising its shop as a PokStop.

Is it the Pokmon or is it the churros? Only one way to find out #theloopchurros #stayintheloop

A photo posted by THE LOOP: Handcrafted Churros (@theloopchurros) on

We can’t think of a better way to refuel ourselves while stocking up on Pok Balls.

[H/T: Rocketnews24]

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Activity for corporate VC firms falls to a 9-quarter low


Corporate venture capital firms have closed fewer deals and raised less money over the last few months, with activity level at a 9-quarter low, according to a new report from research firm CB Insights.

The overall deal flow for corporate VC firms (i.e. divisions like Google Ventures, Intel Capital and Qualcomm Ventures) is down 11 percent from the first to the second quarter this year.

Venture capital funding from those deals fell to $4.7 billion, down from $8 billion over the quarter, a 41 percent decrease, and $7.4 billion over the year.


Google Ventures has emerged as the most active player of corporate venture capital firms over the last six months, surpassing Intel Capital. The venture capital arm of Alphabet has invested in more than 30 companies, including ARMO BioSciences, Managed by Q and Ionic Security, in 2016.

Corporate investing has been scrutinized by independent venture capitalists like Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson, who once referred to them as “the devil.” Wilson suggested that these corporations should be focused on acquisitions, not early-stage investing.

There are cases of these investment arms ending up making an acquisition. For example, Salesforce Ventures was an investor in word processing app Quip prior to its acquisition by Salesforce earlier this month.

Several other recent high-profile deals have taken place. For instance, Magic Leap, a Florida-based augmented reality startup, raised $793.5 million in a Series C round in February with support from Qualcomm Ventures. The popular chat app Slack closed a $200 million Series F in April, with participation from Comcast Ventures.


However, deals for internet-based companies like Slack have also reached a new low over the last five quarters. Corporate venture capital firms financed $1.8 billion in the internet sector, down from about $3.9 billion both last quarter and in the second quarter of 2015, according to CB Insights.

While the number of deals with corporate venture capital firms has declined, more investment firms are cropping up to support early-stage companies. So far in 2016, 53 new firms made their investments, and that put its on track to surpass the 85 firms started last year.

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John Oliver misses a big part of the problem: Corporate greed of newspaper owners

Image: hbo/last week tonight

Let me say this upfront: I loved John Oliver’s take down of America’s (dying) newspaper industry that aired Sunday night on HBO.

In an epic 20-minute rant that only he could deliver, Oliver took aim at the industry-wide struggle that has defined my professional life.

“The newspaper industry today is in big trouble,” Oliver said. “Papers have been closing and downsizing for years and that affects all of us.”

He’s right that newspapers are in big trouble. But what he gets wrong is the root cause of that trouble; he blames the consumer who won’t pay for news.

“We’ve just grown accustomed to getting our news for free, and the longer we get something for free, the less willing we are to pay for it,” Oliver said.

Only, that analysis is skin-deep.

One news industry veteran, who has long since ditched newspapers for radio, once summed up the situation perfectly for me. “It’s not that newspapers don’t make money. They just don’t make enough money for their greedy owners.”

Historically, newspapers have had sky-high profit margins. At their peak in the late 90’s, seven publicly traded media companies saw profit margins at nearly 30%. The now-defunct American Journalism Review even reported in October 1994 that the Warren Buffett-owned Buffalo News had a 34.6% profit margin.

That’s luxury goods-level margins. Louis Vuitton, ranked at #19 on Forbes’ most valuable brands list, has “profit margins north of 30%.” For comparison, both Exxon Mobil and Walmart had profit margins last quarter below 3%.

Newspapers were printing presses of gold, in no small part because most operated as near monopolies in most cities and towns. Until, that is, the internet changed everything.

As newspaper ads dried up and the classified section imploded, digital pennies replaced print dollars (to steal Jeff Zucker’s phrase). And then newspaper company executives made a bad situation worse.

Nationwide, newspapers started cutting costs to preserve no-longer-sustainable profit margins. And so began the local news death spiral.

With revenue declining but a greedy desire to keep margins high, companies laid off workers. That, coupled with the need to produce more digital and social content, meant less real reporting. Everybody had to do more with less.

There’s no good quantitative analysis of this decline, but if you come from a small town like I do, ask anybody if they still read the newspaper. Then ask why not.

A Facebook group I’m in is devoted to “compliments and complaints” in my West Virginia hometown. One day, a neighbor said this:

“We are long-time subscribers to our local newspaper. This is more of a concern than a complaint, but here goes… Why are so many actual ‘news’ stories missing from the same paper? Neighborhood thefts, vandalism, accidents, fires… this is all news worthy and should be published for the public. There may be a story here and there, but for the most part they are non-existent.”

That unleashed a slew of complaints about the only news source in this little town.

The most important complaint was this: “My subscription is over soon, and I won’t resubscribe. Our local paper is terrible and it doesn’t have to be.”

Circulation to America’s newspapers has plummeted, in no small part I believe because of the decreasing relevancy of their content.

It’s not because people won’t pay for local news, as John Oliver claimed. It’s because regional and local newspapers have declined in quality as a result of the greed of our owners.

And so the cycle continued. People unsubscribe. Revenues fall again. More cuts. Rinse and repeat.

I know this decline first hand. This industry-wide struggle has also defined my personal life.

My mother is a long-time reporter in West Virginia. When she worked at that above-mentioned newspaper in the 90’s, she actually produced a 50-article investigative series about acid drainage from abandoned coal mines.

When she left a different paper, the Martinsburg, W.Va., Journal, earlier this year to work on a project with me, she was making just over $12 an hour.

Keep in mind she has spent the last several years bringing light to West Virginias heroin epidemic, well before anybody else did so. Coverage, by the way, that just won several awards from the state press association. But her hard work was never financially rewarded.

But, in our corporate overlords’ defense, it really is hard to give up a high profit margin business for a low margin one.

Ogden Newspapers owns the Martinsburg Journal. Ogden’s CEO Robert Nutting was worth over a billion dollars in 2012, according to CNBC. Pittsburghers will know Nutting as the principal owner of the Pirates, but a majority of his wealth still came from the papers.

Who wants to drive a Honda when you used to drive a Mercedes? I get it.

Despite the embrace of this preserve-the-margin-at-any-cost strategy, margins have steadily declined. By 2012, the large chains like Gannett and McClatchy had dropped to 9.9% and 15% respectively.

Today the largest publicly traded newspaper chains have settled down to about 5-10% margins. One longtime newspaper turned digital exec told me he thinks they will stay put there.

But what would have happened if during those days of feast, newspaper companies invested in digital and talent, thus reducing the short term profit margins for long term stability? How then might we be doing in these days of famine? Would circulation at medium and small newspapers have fallen off the same cliff?

We probably will never know. I just hope it’s not too late for our cities and towns, because their greed has indeed affected all of us.

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Square Capital partners with Upserve to offer loans to more small businesses

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Square and Twitter, stops for a coffee at Black Velvet Espresso on April 11, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.
Image: paul jeffers/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

You don’t have to be a Square business to get a Square loan.

The company will start offering lending for the first time to businesses that don’t use its payment processing system, it announced Wednesday.

The expansion in lending services comes through a partnership with Upserve, the restaurant management system.

We are proud to partner with Upserve and offer loans through Square Capital to even more small businesses who traditionally face barriers when seeking access to funds, Jacqueline Reses, head of Square Capital, said in a statement. Square and Upserve share a passion for empowering businesses to grow and achieve their goals, and a crucial component to success is access to capital.

Square Capital began as a way to provide loans to small businesses that use Square to manage its customer payments. The loans were personalized based on the activity Square sees the businesses doing through its payment processing system. A fixed percentage of future daily card sales through Square then go toward paying off the loan.

The loans require very little in the way of an application, since Square already has access to its businesses’ financial information.

Upserve clients will similarly receive loans directly through that service. They will also repay their loans through a fixed percentage of daily sales.

The partnership represents an opportunity for Square to reach more clients without extensive advertising on its part. The partnership could be the first of many as Square looks to extend the reach of Square Capital.

The business loan market could become a major source of revenue for Square, which began as a way for small businesses to take non-cash payments from customers. Its most recent earnings pleased investors after the company endured a rocket start to 2016.

While payments are still its core business, Square’s loan operations is seen by analysts as important to the company’s growth. One analyst recently called Square Capital a “shining example” of the company’s ability to make money from business services that aren’t payments.

Square’s CEO Jack Dorsey also serves as CEO of Twitter.

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Survivor of Dubai airline crash-landing wins $1M in lottery | Fox News

Aug. 10, 2016: Mohamed Basheer, center, a fleet sales coordinator at Al Tayer Motors, takes a selfie with bankers eager for his business in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Basheer survived the Aug. 3 crash-landing of an Emirates airliner in Dubai and won $1 million in a sweepstakes drawing by Dubai Duty Free the following Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

After he escaped unharmed from the burning wreckage of an Emirates airplane that had crash-landed in Dubai, Mohamed Basheer already considered himself lucky.

Then came the call telling him he had won $1 million.

“I said, ‘Don’t joke!'” the 62-year-old Indian recounted, laughing inside the auto-body repair shop where he works in Dubai. “They said, ‘Yes, you are the winner!’ I said, ‘No!'”

Basheer won Dubai Duty Free’s Millennium Millionaire sweepstakes Tuesday with a ticket he purchased July 6, just before he boarded an Emirates flight to head to India’s Kerala state and his hometown of Pallickal.

He believes the 1,000-dirham ($270) ticket, No. 845 in Series M222, was his 17th attempt to win the sweepstake.

Yet perhaps his luckiest numbers were yet to come as he boarded Emirates flight EK521 on Aug. 3 to return to Dubai. Sitting in seat 26G, Basheer said the flight passed normally for the 300 onboard until the Boeing 777-300 attempted to land at Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest international airfield.

The plane hit the runway, bounced and slammed into the ground again. For Basheer, who works at Al Tayer Motors auto body shop as a fleet operations coordinator, it felt like the shuddering stop of a speeding car with anti-lock brakes.

The cabin quickly filled with smoke when the plane came to a halt.

“Nobody knows what’s happening,” Basheer told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday. “But I’m not scared. … I was supporting the people and also I saved my life.”

He jumped out of the airplane’s emergency exit and down the slide, before turning back to see the fire spreading as others fled. He said he saw the explosion that caused the crash’s only fatality, an Emirati firefighter responding to the blaze.

But he said he remained in awe that the passengers all escaped.

“That really is a miracle,” Basheer said. “Thanks for God and thanks for the pilot.”

An investigation into the crash is ongoing, though radio traffic and transponder data suggest the aircraft tried to regain altitude in the last moments before it hit the ground. That could indicate the pilots were trying to go around for a second landing attempt when something went wrong.

For Basheer, a no-nonsense employee like many of the laborers, taxi drivers and others from Kerala who take jobs in the United Arab Emirates, he immediately went back to work at the auto shop.

And then, at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, he received the phone call telling him he’d won.

“We were all excited, but he was the same calm,” said Ambujam Satheesh, his manager at the body shop. “He was taking calls from the customers.”

That calm has carried Basheer through an intense 24 hours of non-stop calls to his mobile phone. Two bankers even came to visit him at the workshop, ending their pitch for his cash with a request for a selfie that he obliged.

To Basheer, the money isn’t life-changing, though it can help his partially paralyzed son, grown daughter, grandchildren and wife. He’ll keep working until mandatory retirement and will try to create a program to help the poor by teaching them useful work skills.

“Don’t rubbish that money by giving something to someone for free,” the 37-year Dubai resident said. “If you’re hard-working, you make the money valuable.”

The interview over, Basheer walked past the gleaming Ford Mustangs in the body shop and returned to his desk. A moment later, the phone rang with a worried customer and he got back to work.

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‘No prosecutions’ for paying for sex in NI despite new law – BBC News

Image caption The PSNI said about 800 men a day pay for sex in Northern Ireland, but no-one has been prosecuted since it became illegal last June

No-one has been prosecuted for paying for sex in Northern Ireland despite the fact it has been illegal for more than a year, it has emerged.

The law – the first of its kind in the UK – was introduced last June after a majority of MLAs at Stormont backed it.

It was feared the law would push the sex trade further underground and expose sex workers to greater risk.

But figures from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) have shown no-one has ended up in court for paying for sex.

According to the PSNI, more than 800 men are paying for sex in Northern Ireland every day, but over the past year, only 10 men have been investigated by police.

Out of the seven of those cases referred to the PPS, three were thrown out, two men received cautions while the remaining two cases are still being considered by a senior prosecutor.

‘Significant impact’

Defending the PSNI’s record, Det Supt John McVea said there had been some successful outcomes.

“There are a number of people who have received cautions at the direction of the PPS. Our priority is to protect the vulnerable and to target human trafficking and sexual exploitation,” he said.

Making it illegal to pay for sex has acted as a deterrent and that has been welcomed, he added.

Image caption Det Supt John McVea said the PSNI’s priority was to target human trafficking and sexual exploitation rather than prosecute those men paying for sex

“We have identified 60 people in the past year who have been the victims of human trafficking,” said Det Supt McVea.

“That is a considerable number and we feel we have made a significant impact on human trafficking throughout Northern Ireland. Paying for sex within this act is a not a priority, our priority is to target the human trafficking element and sexual exploitation.”

Det Supt McVea said the PSNI’s aim was “not about targeting an individual sex worker”, but to ensure that sex workers are not vulnerable and do not fall victim to a crime.

He added, however, that: “If we come across criminality we will address it, and that’s where the ten cases have been referred to the PPS in the past year.”

‘Detailed look’

The lack of prosecutions has come as no surprise to David Ford, who was the Justice Minister when the law was introduced.

“The challenge for police is how they actually produce evidence from what is, in effect, a consensual business relationship between two adults. There clearly is a lot of work that needs to be done to fight trafficking, but that is not the same thing,” said Mr Ford.

Image caption The former Justice Minister David Ford had opposed the bill, saying he believed it would be difficult to enforce

“We need a more detailed look at the issues around prostitution rather than tacking on this one clause to a bill dealing with the more important issue of human trafficking.”

The DUP’s Lord Morrow, who pushed for the new law, said it is too early to judge how effective the law will be.

“Those of us who are legislators don’t have any control over the PPS, however, we are expecting that there will be a change coming in the next 12 months,” said Lord Morrow.

‘Precious legislation’

“I believe, as the police have already assured me, that this is a precious piece of legislation in the tool box which they will be using.”

Lord Morrow said he has warned the PPS that questions will be raised if there are no prosecutions in the next 12 months.

Media captionLord Morrow ‘disappointed’ by lack of prosecutions for paying for sex

“I can’t tell the police what their priorities should be, but I believe they value the new law and they are keen to see the implementation and enforcement.

“I look to the PPS to do what they are supposed to be doing, and if over the next 12 months there is no change we will be talking to the PPS to ask them to explain the reason why,” he added.

One sex worker in Belfast – Catriona – told the BBC that the new law has put her at greater risk.

“I’m not surprised there have been no prosecutions as it was always going to be difficult to get the evidence.


“My clients are aware of the law and if anything it has left sex workers at greater risk, as it is harder to scan our clients,” she said.

Image caption Sex worker Catriona, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the BBC that the new law has put her and other workers at greater risk

“They are reluctant to be upfront about who they are and that means we aren’t sure who we are seeing or if they are genuine. Clients are more fearful they will be found out and will end up in court and have their names in the newspaper.”

She added: “I think the police have better things to be doing than going after people who are having consenting sex.”

Under the legislation, those who are convicted of paying for sex will face a fine of 1,000 and up to a year in prison.

Politicians at Stormont are due to review the law in two years’ time.

You can watch the full report on BBC Newsline at 18:30 BST.

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Facebook will now block your ad blocker

Image: Sipa via AP Images

Facebook is putting its foot down on ad blockers.

The social network announced in a blog post on Tuesday that it is now circumventing ad blockers so that desktop users will see ads regardless of whether they have the software installed.

In return, the company is giving users more control over what types of ads they are subjected to.

Facebook’s updated “Ad Preferences” panel lets you opt out of ads related to a particular interest, like “travel” or “cats,” or those from a specific company or organization. It also shows you a run-down of businesses that have added you to a customer list for whatever reason.

Facebook’s updated ‘ad preference’s page.

Image: facebook

Facebook said it arrived at these new features after enlisting research firm Ipsos Connect to survey 2,000 people across six countries about ad blocking. The study unsurprisingly found that the majority of people who use ad blockers do so because they are tired of disruptive or intrusive ads and are worried about possible security risks.

The use of ad blockers has soared in popularity worldwide over the past few years as the software becomes easier to use and consumers more aware of the extensive tracking capabilities of online advertisers.

That trend is worrying for online publishers, who see the spread of such tools as an existential threat.

But Facebook has remained mostly insulated from any serious harm because the vast majority of its ad revenue now comes from mobile. There, ad blocking has yet to really catch on, and Facebook’s app is immune to all but the hardiest ad blockers.

Still, the company acknowledged in a financial filing in January that desktop ad blocking has impacted its revenue “from time to time.”

Facebook isn’t the only company fighting back against the ad blockers. Their rise set the stage for a cottage industry of startups that help publishers bar users until they agree to agree to turn off ad blockers, target pleading messages at them or bypass the software altogether.

Most ad blocking companies also accept money in one form or another in return for whitelisting ads on a particular site, a practice the industry trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has equated to an “old-fashioned extortion racket.”

Major companies like Microsoft, Google and content farm Taboola have reportedly paid such fees to German software developer Eyeo, which runs the hugely popular service AdBlock Plus and operates a master whitelist contracted out to at least a handful of other ad blocking apps.

Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s vice president of ads and business platform, slammed that business model in Tuesday’s blog post, calling it “at best confusing to people” and detrimental to “the funding needed to support the journalism and other free services that we enjoy on the web.”

The IAB, which has been vocal about its distaste for ad blockers, greeted Facebook’s announcement with sweeping praise in a statement provided by the company.

“Facebook should be applauded for its leadership on preserving a vibrant value exchange with its users,” IAB president and CEO Randall Rothenberg said. “For hundreds of years, advertising and marketing have been central to the delivery of entertainment and services that are otherwise free to consumers. In addition, advertising is essential to the functioning of democratic capitalism.”

Update, Tuesday 10:30 a.m. PST:

AdBlock Plus spokesman Ben Williams responded to the news in a statement titled, “Oh well, looks like Facebook just got all anti-user.”

“This is an unfortunate move, because it takes a dark path against user choice,” he said.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

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Google partners with Zomato, Swiggy and more to expand food delivery in India

GURGAON, INDIA – JUNE 30: Deepinder Goyal, CEO, Zomato, during an interview on June 30, 2015 in Gurgaon, India.
Image: Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

Food tech just got supremely more interesting in India.

Just when the sector was taking baby steps toward stability after battling rounds of misfortune, Google has jumped the gun and entered the fray.

From today, when people search for a nearby restaurant on their phone, theyll see an option to place an order in the search results. Just tap that and choose your favorite delivery service like Zomato or Swiggy, and youll be taken to their website to complete the order, the search giant said in a blog post.

These features are just rolling out and well be adding more partners and evolving the look and feel over time

Google is also going to allow users to make table reservations right on the search page by clicking on a partners link which will redirect to the restaurant site.

Google has partnered with startups Zomato and Swiggy for food delivery, and Dineout and Bytplus for table reservations. The services can be used on Google Search and the Google app for both Android or iOS devices.

These features are just rolling out and well be adding more partners and evolving the look and feel over time, the company said in its blog.

This is Googles latest attempt to integrate various offerings in the country as the search giant goes on wooing its next billion users. Earlier, Google Maps stitched in Uber and Ola services on its platform, showing fares and riding options from the app-based taxi aggregators.

This article originally published at Tech in Asia here

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