Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike

Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike
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APPLE'S CORONAVIRUS WEBSITE: Apple on Friday launched a website and app designed to screen for COVID-19 and provide information on the coronavirus from vetted sources.

The screening tool and informational resources were developed in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the White House-led coronavirus task force and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The app and website let users answer a series of questions, including about risk factors and symptoms, and receive CDC guidance on what steps to follow next.

Apple said in a press release that the users will not be required to sign in to access the coronavirus software and that individual responses will not be sent to Apple or government agencies.

Read more here.

 

CHINESE MISINFORMATION: Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaul The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Association of American Railroads Ian Jefferies says no place for hate, racism or bigotry in rail industry or society; Trump declares victory in response to promising jobs report Ousted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe US to slap restrictions on more Chinese media outlets: report MORE (R-Texas) is urging Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoMurkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump Pepper spray fired during Tiananmen Square memorial in Hong Kong The Hill's 12:30 Report: NYT publishes controversial Tom Cotton op-ed MORE to take steps to limit the spread of online Chinese misinformation around the coronavirus pandemic.

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McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Pompeo on Thursday requesting that Pompeo intensify efforts to counter disinformation around the coronavirus spread by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

"The CCP is carrying out a disinformation campaign in an attempt to transfer blame to the United States that is exacerbating this dire situation," McCaul wrote. "The State Department has demonstrated considerable flexibility and ingenuity in responding to the CCP's information warfare, and I urge you and your team to continue these efforts and to coordinate with willing allies."

The congressman asked that the State Department pursue an investigation into the "CCP's coronavirus coverup," including disinformation spread about where the virus originated, and that Pompeo brief Congress about the CCP's disinformation efforts. 

"The CCP's information warfare against the United States on coronavirus and other matters underscores the Department's counter disinformation and public diplomacy efforts are more important than ever," McCaul wrote. 

The letter to Pompeo was sent on the heels of a separate one McCaul sent to the CEOs of Google, Amazon, Twitter and Facebook earlier this week, in which he called on the social media platforms to ban all CCP media outlets and their officials from posting due to the disinformation they spread, as well as Beijing recently expelling American journalists in China.

Read more here.

 

PRICE GOUGING: A group of 17 Democratic Senators sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Friday urging it to do more to combat price gouging amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter calls on the agency to use its authority to prevent "unfair or deceptive acts or practices," the lawmakers say should include inflating prices when consumers desperately need health products.

"[W]e have been seeing in numerous reports of unscrupulous vendors taking advantage of this national emergency by charging wildly inflated prices for once-affordable consumer products," the lawmakers, led by Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Hillicon Valley: Conspiracy theories run rampant online amid Floyd protests | First lawsuit filed against Trump social media order | Snapchat to no longer promote Trump's account MORE (D-Minn.), wrote to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons. "Such price gouging does not just enrich sellers at the expense of desperate consumers, it may prevent low income consumers from obtaining these products altogether."

The letter, which was also signed by Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump signs order removing environmental reviews for major projects | New Trump air rule will limit future pollution regulations, critics say | DNC climate group calls for larger federal investment on climate than Biden plan Google: Chinese and Iranian hackers targeting Biden, Trump campaigns MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Warren, Pressley introduce bill to make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care to people in custody MORE (D-Mass.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Kamala Harris to Trump: 'Keep George Floyd's name out of your mouth' New England Patriots owner pledges M to social justice causes MORE (D-Calif.), follows multiple reports of essential products like hand sanitizer and face masks selling at substantially increased prices on online retail sites.

Several retailers have taken steps to address the issue, as have government entities.

Simons issued a statement Thursday detailing how the FTC is working to protect consumers during the pandemic.

"We will not tolerate businesses seeking to take advantage of consumers' concerns and fears regarding coronavirus disease, exigent circumstances, or financial distress," the chairman said, underscoring that his agency is working with enforcement authorities and stakeholders to stop deceptive business practices.

Read more here.

 

ON STRIKE: Instacart shoppers are set to have a nationwide walk off Monday over the grocery delivery service's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The shoppers will stop accepting deliveries until Instacart provides cleanliness products at no cost to workers, hazard pay of $5 per order and an extension and expansion of pay for workers affected by the coronavirus.

"This is an extraordinary time in history, and as Shoppers, those of us who are able -- and have the means to protect ourselves -- do want to help those in our community by delivering groceries and supplies," Instacart shoppers wrote in a Medium post issued with labor activism group Gig Workers Collective. 

"But with Instacart neglecting the basic wellbeing of its 150,000+ drivers, we believe there is no choice but to not only walk off, but to raise awareness to the company's practices," the post reads.

Demand for grocery delivery has exploded as more states and cities recommend individuals stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus. Instacart last week announced it would hire 300,000 new gig workers over the next three months to match that demand.

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Up until now the company has offered 14 days of paid leave for those diagnosed with COVID-19 or mandated to quarantine.

Read more here.

 

AIRBNB LENDS A HAND: Airbnb announced on Thursday that it is offering free housing worldwide to medical professional, first responders and relief workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Medical workers and first responders are providing lifesaving support during the coronavirus outbreak and we want to help," Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said in a statement.

"We've heard from countless hosts around the world who want to provide a comforting home to heroic first responders. We are connecting our nonprofit partners, government agencies and others with our incredible host community to work together in these extraordinary times," he added.

The announcement comes after pilot programs in Italy and France, in which almost 6,000 hosts offered their homes for free to those responding to the outbreak.

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Now, hosts anywhere can opt into making their homes free by using the company's Open Homes platform, which was created in 2012 to help people who need emergency housing. If hosts can't host for free, then Airbnb will waive the fees of the stay.

Read more here.

 

ICYMI: SENATORS PUSH FOR MORE ELECTION FUNDS: Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenCBO releases analysis on extending increased unemployment benefits Overnight Health Care: Hydroxychloroquine ineffective in preventing COVID-19, study finds | WHO to resume hydroxychloroquine clinical research | WHO says no evidence coronavirus is mutating Bipartisan lawmakers press Trump administration to get COVID-19 aid to Medicaid providers MORE (D-Ore.) vowed on Thursday to keep pushing for additional funding for states to boost their mail-in voting efforts in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. 

The pledge by Klobuchar and Wyden comes a day after the Senate unanimously approved a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that included $400 million for states to enhance mail-in voting and other efforts to keep elections stable despite the ongoing pandemic. 

For the two senators, and for other election advocates, the funding level fell woefully short of the $2 billion they had pressed the Senate to include for elections earlier this week. 

"Clearly when you get $400 million in a bill, it is a priority, but we need to get the secretaries of State what they are looking for," Klobuchar told reporters during a press call on Thursday, stressing that "we are in the middle of a crisis."

The amount was far less than the $4 billion proposed in the stimulus bill rolled out by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNRCC turns up heat on vulnerable Democrats over Omar's call to abolish police Shocking job numbers raise hopes for quicker recovery Engel primary challenger hits million in donations MORE (D-Calif.) for elections earlier this week.

Klobuchar and Wyden stressed that obtaining more funding for states to allow primary and general elections to move forward this year amid the coronavirus was also a "top priority" for Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSheldon Whitehouse leads Democrats into battle against Trump judiciary GOP lawmaker calls on Senate to confirm Michael Pack as head of US media agency McConnell blocks resolution condemning Trump over treatment of protesters MORE (D-N.Y.).

While they praised Senate Republicans for supporting the inclusion of the $400 million in the bill, they criticized them for not supporting language on requirements for how states can use the funds. 

Klobuchar told reporters that in order to get the funds into the spending bill, she and Wyden worked with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Energy: US Park Police say 'tear gas' statements were 'mistake' | Trump to reopen area off New England coast for fishing | Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump juggles three crises ahead of November election Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues in battle to save seats MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntCalls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress Washington prepares for a summer without interns GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill MORE (R-Mo.), holding a call with secretaries of State to urge for including the funding.

Read more here.

 

A lighter click: There is still so much good in the world

 

An op-ed to chew on: Ignore bad information from Russia and China on the coronavirus crisis

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

WeWork under pressure as members contract coronavirus (The Washington Post / Tonya Riley)  

As life moves online, older generation confronts the digital divide (The New York Times / Kate Conger and Erin Griffith) 

People are contributing unprecedented computing power to fight coronavirus (Motherboard / Mitch Bowman) 

Hong Kong targeted in new sweeping malware campaign (CyberScoop / Shannon Vavra)