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Trump Delays 10 Percent Tariff on Chinese Tech Goods, Buttigieg on Broadband, Facebook Eavesdropping

Masha Abarinova

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Image by Mohamed Hassan used with permission

The Trump Administration on Tuesday decided to delay a new 10 percent tariff for Chinese goods such as laptops and other electronics, Law360 reported. Any other products will have a tariff imposed beginning in September.

The decision to delay tariffs stems from importers who warned that expanding the tariffs to cover expensive consumer items would lead to increased prices and potential lost sales, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a brief statement.

The agency also said it would soon set up a so-called exclusion process for importers to earn case-by-case exemptions on certain imports that do not threaten domestic producers.

Approximately 25 items from the proposed list first circulated in May will be permanently spared from tariffs “based on health, safety, national security and other factors.” Among those earning permanent exemptions are car seats, shipping containers, cranes, certain fish and Bibles and other religious literature.

With this strategic delay, the White House will look to cushion the blow somewhat as Trump plots the next move in his escalating standoff with Beijing.

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has an $80 billion plan for broadband

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg unveiled plans this week to uplift rural America with an Internet for All Initiative. The $80 billion plan would expand access to all currently unserved and underserved communities, to ensure all communities have affordable access to this necessary technology.

Buttigieg also aims to expand the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge Initiative to rural areas and double the National Science Foundation’s Smart and Connected Communities Initiative. The goal is to increase federal grant money in private investments to dramatically upgrade and modernize critical infrastructure and services.

Other plans include a C-Band auction to raise money in rural broadband investment, working with the Federal Communications Commission to streamline approval processes for the federal E-rate program, expanding broadband connectivity for 911 call centers and first responders, and to expand commercial satellite networks.

Facebook caught in a privacy violation over transcribing audio recordings

Facebook has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users of its services, Bloomberg reports. According to company whistleblowers, they are not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained -- only to transcribe it.

Facebook confirmed that it had been transcribing users’ audio and said it will no longer do so, following scrutiny into other companies.

“Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the company said Tuesday. The company said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook’s Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed.

“You’re talking about this conspiracy theory that gets passed around that we listen to what’s going on in your microphone and use that for ads,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Congressional testimony last April. “We don’t do that.”

The social networking giant, which just completed a $5 billion settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after a probe of its privacy practices, has long denied that it collects audio from users to inform ads or help determine what people see in their news feeds.

Facebook is not the only one under fire for collecting audio snippets. Bloomberg first reported in April that Amazon had a team of thousands of workers around the world listening to Alexa audio requests with the goal of improving the software, and that similar human review was used for Apple’s Siri and Alphabet Inc.’s Google Assistant.

Apple and Google have since said they no longer engage in the practice and Amazon said it will let users opt out of human review. However, Facebook hasn’t disclosed to users that third parties may review their audio.

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