Hillicon Valley: T-Mobile, Sprint complete merger | Warren pushes food delivery apps to classify workers as full employees | Lawsuit accuses Zoom of improperly sharing user data

Hillicon Valley: T-Mobile, Sprint complete merger | Warren pushes food delivery apps to classify workers as full employees | Lawsuit accuses Zoom of improperly sharing user data
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Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech reporter, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills), for more coverage.

 

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MERGER COMPLETE: T-Mobile announced Wednesday that its merger with Sprint has been completed, wrapping up a multiyear process rife with legal challenges.

As part of the $26 billion merger, longtime T-Mobile CEO John Legere will step down and be replaced by Mike Sievert, T-Mobile's president.

"During this extraordinary time, it has become abundantly clear how vital a strong and reliable network is to the world we live in," Sievert said in a statement.

"The New T-Mobile's commitment to delivering a transformative broad and deep nationwide 5G network is more important and more needed than ever and what we are building is mission-critical for consumers," he continued.

The new company will retain the name T-Mobile, and Legere will continue to serve on the board.

The final hurdle to merge the country's third- and fourth-largest wireless providers was cleared in February when a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit from 15 state attorneys general (AGs) seeking to block the merger.

Read more here.

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SHUT IT DOWN: Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates called for a nationwide shutdown on Tuesday, arguing it would be the most effective way to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Gates wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that he has spoken with experts through his work with his charity who said a national policy would be more effective over having a hodgepodge of states issue stay-at-home orders while others remain more open. He argued that the country needs a "consistent nationwide approach to shutting down."

"Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven't shut down completely. In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals," Gates wrote.

"This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country's leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere," he added. "Until the case numbers start to go down across America -- which could take 10 weeks or more -- no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown." 

Gates also noted that while a potential vaccine for the coronavirus could come within 18 months, "creating a vaccine is only half the battle" and production of the vaccine would need to be ramped up dramatically to meet demand for those impacted around the world.

"We can start now by building the facilities where these vaccines will be made," Gates wrote. "Because many of the top candidates are made using unique equipment, we'll have to build facilities for each of them, knowing that some won't get used."

Read more here.

 

WARREN PUSHES BACK: Sen. 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.) sent letters to the CEOs of four major food delivery apps Wednesday calling on them to reclassify their workers as full employees and provide them with increased labor protections amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Delivery workers are experiencing serious health and economic vulnerabilities as a result of their jobs, and your company is failing to provide appropriate and necessary protections," the former 2020 presidential candidate wrote to DoorDash, Grubhub, Uber Eats and Instacart.

"I urge you to reclassify your delivery workers as employees, rather than independent contractors, and ensure they are provided a full suite of employee protections and benefits," she said.

Warren called on the four companies to provide 14 days of paid leave to those with COVID-19 -- the disease caused by the novel coronavirus -- symptoms or who need to care for family members, protective equipment and a guaranteed minimum wage with added hazard pay.

"In this public health emergency, it is more important than ever to fairly compensate these workers and provide the health and safety protections they deserve," Warren wrote. "I urge you to rise to the imperative of this public health crisis by providing paid leave, fair compensation, and adequate health and safety protections for all your workers."

Read more here.

 

ZOOM LAWSUIT: Zoom Video Communications, the popular online video conferencing platform, is facing a class-action lawsuit for allegedly sharing users' data with companies like Facebook without those individuals' consent.

The suit, filed in federal court in California by a Zoom user, accuses the company of failing to "properly safeguard the personal information of the increasing millions of users" of its platform and disclosing that information without adequate notice or authorization to Facebook and possibly other third parties. It alleges that the behavior invades the privacy of users and violates California's Unfair Competition Law, Consumers Legal Remedies Act and the Consumer Privacy Act. 

The lawsuit cites a Vice report from last week that detailed how the iOS version of the Zoom app sent some user data to Facebook, even if a particular user did not have a Facebook account. According to an analysis conducted by the news outlet, Zoom notified Facebook when a user opened the app and provided details on the user's device, such as the model and the time zone the person is in. 

The data reportedly included which phone carrier an individual is using and a unique advertiser identifier. 

"The unique advertising identifier allows companies to target the user with advertisements," the lawsuit alleges. "This information is sent to Facebook by Zoom regardless of whether the user has an account with Facebook."

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The plaintiff alleges that users would not have been willing to use Zoom's app if the company had disclosed it would "permit unauthorized third-party tracking of their personal information." The individual seeking injunctive relief and damages pursuant to federal and California law. 

Read more here.

 

COMCAST PITCHES IN: Senior Comcast officials announced Wednesday that they planned to donate their salaries to coronavirus-related relief efforts.

Comcast chief Brian Roberts said in a memo obtained by The Hill that he, NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, senior executive vice president and CFO Mike Cavanagh, Comcast Cable CEO David Watson and Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch would donate 100 percent of their salaries to charities backing coronavirus relief. 

"We hope in some small way we can make this time easier on our employees, our local communities and our customers," Roberts said in the memo to employees.

Roberts also committed $500 million go toward supporting employees "where operations have been paused or impacted."

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Comcast's broadband usage has increased as more Americans are being instructed to stay at home through executive orders by governors, CNBC reported.

The company is expected to experience a downturn overall because of decreased global advertising spending and temporarily shutting down Universal theme parks. The 2020 Olympics delay postpones revenue expected for NBCUniversal, the only provider with broadcast rights during the Olympics.

Read more here.

 

A lighter click: All the milk  

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Democrats say Google's COVID-19 ad ban is a gift to Donald Trump (Protocol / Emily Birnbaum) 

The results of a November cyber doomsday scenario for electric grids are here (CyberScoop / Sean Lyngaas) 

Start-Ups Are Pummeled in the 'Great Unwinding' (New York Times / Erin Griffith)

Mass school closures in the wake of the coronavirus are driving a new wave of student surveillance (Washington Post / Drew Harwell)