Big Tech Compliance: Amazon To Pay Over $61.7 Million To Settle Tipping Claims; Mark Zuckerberg To Become Last Big Tech Founder-CEO

Big Tech Compliance Tracker: French Finance Minister Embraces US Shift On Big Tech Tax; USC, Amazon To Develop Machine Learning Research Facility

Here’s the latest news from the technology industry, which is coming under increasing global scrutiny from governments and individuals.

Amazon To Pay More Than $61.7 Million To Settle Claims Over Tipping

Amazon will pay over $61.7 million to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that it didn’t provide Amazon Flex drivers with all of the tips that they received from the retailer’s clients during a timeframe of two and a half years, according to an announcement. The FTC said the $61.7 million represents the complete amount that the retailer allegedly kept from its drivers and will be harnessed by the agency to pay drivers.

“Rather than passing along 100 percent of customers’ tips to drivers, as it had promised to do, Amazon used the money itself,” Daniel Kaufman, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in the announcement. “Our action today returns to drivers the tens of millions of dollars in tips that Amazon misappropriated and requires Amazon to get drivers’ permission before changing its treatment of tips in the future.”

The FTC claimed that in 2016, Amazon moved from paying drivers the promised rate of between $18 and $25 per hour along with the complete amount of client tips to a lower hourly rate, a change that the FTC said the company did not tell drivers about. The agency claimed in the announcement that Amazon harnessed the client tips to make up the variance between the new hourly rate and “the promised rate.”

“While we disagree that the historical way we reported pay to drivers was unclear, we added additional clarity in 2019 and are pleased to put this matter behind us,” Rena Lunak, an Amazon representative, told CNBC. “Amazon Flex delivery partners play an important role in serving customers every day, which is why they earn among the best in the industry at over $25 per hour on average.”

Facebook CEO To Become The Last Founder-CEO Of Large Tech Firms

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be the only founding chief executive officer left at any of the large technology firms when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos leaves his role in 2021 and Andy Jassy takes the helm, CNBC reported. Zuckerberg has been leading Facebook from the time he helped start the firm in 2004. Jassy, for his part, has worked at Amazon for more than 20 years and built the company’s AWS cloud-computing operation.

Australian Regulator: Google Has To Make Decision On Its Future In The Country

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims told CNBC that Google has to make the decision on its future in Australia.

His comments come as Google threatened in January to remove its search engine from Australia on the heels of the debut of a 2020 media bill that would have made online platforms compensate local media and publishers to link to their news. A group of people appointed by the government would decide the price in the event tech firms and outlets can’t strike a deal.

“It’s not what we want to happen,” Sims said in the CNBC interview. “But obviously, at the end of the day, you’re just not going to be able to have a negotiation, have proper public policy, if you have to do whatever they want. If they then left the country, that would be very unfortunate, but ultimately that’s got to be their call.”

Twitter Explores Subscription Offering To Monetize Some Features

Twitter is reportedly building a subscription offering to lessen its dependence on advertising. Different teams are exploring subscription offerings, like one with the “Rogue One” code name, according to unnamed sources in a published report. One of the notions being considered involves “tipping” — allowing users to pay people they follow for unique content, according to unnamed sources in the report. Further possible avenues to make subscription revenue include charging for features such as “undo send” or for services like TweetDeck.

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