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Microsoft Pays $25 Million To End US Probe Into Bribery Overseas

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Microsoft Corp. agreed to pay $25 million to settle U.S. government investigations into alleged bribery by former employees in Hungary. The software maker’s Hungarian subsidiary entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and a cease-and-desist order with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Microsoft said in an email to employees from Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith that was posted Monday on the company’s web site. The case concerned violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, according to an SEC filing.

The Justice Department concluded that between 2013 and June 2015 “a senior executive and some other employees at Microsoft Hungary participated in a scheme to inflate margins in the Microsoft sales channel, which were used to fund improper payments under the FCPA,” Smith wrote in the email. Microsoft sold software to partners at a discount and the partners then resold the products to the Hungarian government at a higher price. The difference went to fund kickbacks to government officials, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2018. The company fired the employees involved, Smith noted. The company says it “now requires discounts it provides to sales partners to be passed directly to government customers,” and “the company makes customers aware of any discounts to ensure they are receiving them and that funds are not diverted for other purposes like bribes,” the report adds. “The company also is using machine-learning software to track contracts and flag discounts or other practices that appear unusual.”

In semi-related news, Microsoft today announced that it would invest $1 billion in OpenAI to develop AI technologies on Azure.

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Forget FaceApp — now you can turn your selfie into a classical painting – CNET

The website promises it handles your privacy chivalrously. …read more

Source:: CNet

Apple files for patent for mixed-reality headset – CNET

The AR/VR headset would come with multiple sensors. …read more

Source:: CNet

‘Avengers’ Surpasses ‘Avatar’ as Highest-Grossing Film of All Time

Disney’s presentation of Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” has officially surpassed “Avatar” to become the world’s highest-grossing film of all time, several months after the film obliterated opening weekend records. From a report: The feat underscores Disney’s position as the king of the box office. Disney has had the top grossing movie every year since 2012 and been the top grossing studio since 2016. Disney has reported an estimated $2,790.2 million in revenue through Sunday for “Avengers: Endgame,” per Comscore. James Cameron’s 2009 science fiction film “Avatar” had previously held the top spot of the highest grossing global release of all time with $2,789.7 million. Disney’s success can largely be attributed to the three franchises that it has cultivated or acquired over the past few years: Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars.

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Google settles a four-year age-discrimination battle with 227 engineers by dishing out… $11m

Is that ‘Googley’ enough for you?

Google has settled out of court with 227 people, who had accused the web giant of age discrimination, for $11m. After all the legal fees are deducted, each person will, on average, get a payout of a little over $35,000.…

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Source:: TheRegister

Critical RCE Flaw in Palo Alto Gateways Hits Uber

The bug is previously unknown but yet still fixed in later releases. However, many organizations are likely still vulnerable. …read more

Source:: Threatpost

Tinder Bypasses Google Play Joining Revolt Against App Store Fee

Tinder has joined a growing backlash against app store taxes by bypassing Google Play in a move that could shake up the billion-dollar industry dominated by Google and Apple. From a report: The online dating site launched a new default payment process that skips Google Play and forces users to enter their credit card details straight into Tinder’s app, according to new research by Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter. Once a user has entered their payment information, the app not only remembers it, but also removes the choice to swap back to Google Play for future purchases, he wrote. “This is a huge difference,” Schachter said in an interview. “It’s an incredibly high-margin business for Google bringing in billions of dollars,” he said.

Apple and Google launched their app stores in 2008, and they soon grew into powerful marketplaces that matched the creations of millions of independent developers with billions of smartphone users. In exchange, the companies take as much as 30% of revenue. The app economy is expected to grow to $157 billion in 2022, according to App Annie projections. As the market expands, a growing revolt has been gaining steam over the past year. Spotify Technology filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission earlier this year, claiming the cut Apple takes amounts to a tax on competitors. Netflix has recently stopped letting Apple users subscribe via the App Store and Epic Games said last year it wouldn’t distribute Fortnite, one of the world’s most popular video games, through Google Play.

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Square launches robotic Photo Studio service for online sellers

For $9.95, any online merchant — not just those that use Square’s suite of products — can send in a product and have it robotically photographed. …read more

Source:: ZDNet

Uber said to be testing subscription plan that combines Eats with other ride services – CNET

It’s reportedly piloting a monthly pass that combines food delivery with car, bike and scooter rides in San Francisco and Chicago. …read more

Source:: CNet

Apple Watch could get MicroLED display next year, report says – CNET

The Apple Watch’s screen could be in for a big update next year. …read more

Source:: CNet

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