Arizona’s Largest Newspaper Hires Reporters Through Big Tech, Liberal-Funded Group

Arizona’s Largest Newspaper Hires Reporters Through Big Tech, Liberal-Funded Group

By Corinne Murdock |

The largest newspaper in Arizona hired two new reporters with the help of a group funded by some of the country’s most powerful Big Tech corporations and liberal companies. 

The new Arizona Republic reporters came from Report for America, a program launched by the Big Tech and liberal-funded GroundTruth Project to place their hand-selected journalists in newsrooms across the world. The not-for-profit receives millions from the likes of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and the Ford Foundation for its mission to “restore journalism.”

The program offers a major financial incentive for news outlets to take on its reporters. Report for America pays 50 percent of their reporter’s salary the first year with a cap of $25,000 for reporters with less than eight years experience or $30,000 for reporters with eight or more years of experience, then 33 percent of the salary the second year and 20 percent the third year with no cap. 

Outlets don’t even have to worry about paying for the entire remainder of those reporters’ salaries. The program pledged to help fundraise half or more of the remainder of each salary. High turnover wouldn’t be an issue, either — the program requires reporters to commit to working at least two years in the newsroom to which they are assigned. 

News outlets must relinquish some of their freedom when it comes to hiring the program’s reporters, however. Outlets don’t get to choose from all of the program’s reporters. Report for America hand-selects three to five candidates from which the outlets may choose. 

The owner of the Arizona Republic, the mass media holding company Gannett, has given thousands to the program: an undisclosed sum ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. 

In addition to the Arizona Republic, Report for America journalists are working for Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting and Tucson Sentinel

Report for America claimed that its reporters are committed to non-partisan, non-ideological local reporting. Over 200 news outlets across each of the 50 states house at least one of the over 300 Report for America journalists. Two-thirds of those reporters are women, and nearly half are “journalists of color” according to the program. 

GroundTruth’s editorial partners include The Washington Post, Time, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Guardian, USA Today, PBS, NPR, NewsWeek, TeenVogue, CNN, Cosmopolitan, ABC News, and USA Today. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

Arizona Joins Lawsuit Against Google For Alleged Antitrust Violations In App Store

Arizona Joins Lawsuit Against Google For Alleged Antitrust Violations In App Store

By B. Hamilton |

Arizona, as part of a coalition of states is suing Google in an antitrust case challenging the company’s control over its Android app store.

Google is facing a series of major antitrust cases, including a suit that the Justice Department and 14 states filed in October, focused on Google’s efforts to dominate the mobile search market; one from 38 states and territories filed in December, also focused on search; and a third suit by 15 states and territories related to Google’s power over the advertising technology.

As Big Tech continues to flex its monopolistic powers regulators have attempted to rein in the search giant in Arizona. State Rep. Regina Cobb had hoped to help consumers save money and innovators compete in the tech market this past legislative session. Rep. Biasiucci had thrown his support behind Cobb’s bill, which would have allowed app developers to avoid what the two lawmakers call “devastating” fees imposed by big tech monopolies.

That bill died an untimely death.

The heart of the lawsuit centers on Google’s exclusionary conduct which substantially shuts out competing app distribution channels. Google requires that app developers, that offer their apps through the Google Play Store, use Google Billing as a middleman. This arrangement forces app consumers to pay Google’s commission— up to 30 percent— on in-app purchases of digital content. This commission is much higher than what consumers would pay if they could choose from one of Google‘s competitors instead. The lawsuit alleges that Google works to discourage or prevent competition, violating federal and state antitrust laws.

When Google launched its Android OS, it originally promised to keep it an “open source” platform. The lawsuit alleges Google did not keep that promise. By promising to keep Android open, Google successfully enticed manufacturers (such as Samsung) and operators (such as Verizon) to adopt Android, and more importantly, to forgo competing with Google’s Play Store at that time. Google then shut down the Android ecosystem and relevant Android App Distribution Market as soon as it was feasible to do so, effectively trapping consumers and app developers in that ecosystem and removing any effective competition by (among other things) requiring manufacturers and operators to enter into various contractual and other restraints.

Arizona also alleges that Google engaged in conduct in violation of consumer protection laws by falsely representing that it would keep Android “open” and by issuing misleading warnings to consumers– that directly downloading an app would lead to disastrous consequences for the user and their device which also enhanced and protected Google’s monopoly position.

The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Arizona Joins Lawsuit Against Google For Alleged Antitrust Violations In App Store

Judge Advises Some Google Documents Should Be Sealed In AG’s Consumer Fraud Lawsuit

By Terri Jo Neff |

A consumer fraud lawsuit filed last year by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) against Google was the subject of an important court ruling last week, when a Maricopa County judge appointed to review some of the global tech giant’s internal documents issued an advisory ruling in support of sealing some records.

The June 7 advisory ruling was made by Judge Sally Schneider, who was appointed to serve as a Special Master to review various documents which Google wants sealed or redacted. This keeps Judge Timothy Thomason, who will preside over the jury trial on the AGO’s complaint, from coming into contact with documents which may not be admissible in the case.

Attorneys for the parties will be back in Maricopa County Superior Court on June 22 for a status conference with Thomason at which time he is expected to accept Schneider’s advisory ruling. No trial date has been set yet in the case, but Thomason has already scheduled two pretrial conferences for later this year.

The lawsuit authorized by Attorney General Mark Brnovich in May 2020 alleges Google violated Arizona’s Consumer Fraud Act by misleading users of its apps about the company’s data collection and location tracking policies.

National attention -and that of Brnovich- was first drawn to the company’s tracking policies after the Associated Press published an article about the issue in 2018. Public records show more than 250 exhibits were shared between Google and the AGO within six months of the lawsuit being filed.

Since then, several of the documents have been released to the public, providing a better understanding of the steps Google took to ensure it could readily track its customers, even though some employees pointed out concerns with such policies.  Other documents have been redacted or sealed based on Schneider’s recommendation.

It is unclear what records or topics were involved in Google’s most recent motion to seal -listed as number 4- but Schneider is advising Thomason to keep something under seal. A redacted version of whatever Schneider believes should not be sealed will not be available until Thomason makes a formal ruling.

Brnovich alleges Google has violated the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act by leading users to believe they can opt-out of location tracking. He contends the company “exploits other avenues to invade personal privacy…It’s nearly impossible to stop Google from tracking your movements without your knowledge or consent,” he said.

The AGO also contends Google is continuing to track and collect location information via a user’s WiFi connectivity.

“Google makes it so a user cannot opt out of this form of location tracking unless the user actually completely disables the WiFi functionality on his or her device…meaning the device cannot connect to the internet through WiFi,” the lawsuit now states. It also alleges location data can be obtained by Google even if a user’s Android phone is shut off.

According to court records, over 80% of Google’s 2019 revenues—$135 billion out of $161 billion total—came from advertising enabled by the company’s collection of detailed information about its users, including their physical locations. Thomason ordered Google last month to continue its “reasonable, good faith investigation into what documents or materials it has with respect to profits from the Arizona user location data.”

Google has issued few public statements in response to the lawsuit. The most recent noted the company is looking forward to setting the record straight about its activities.

“The Attorney General has gone out of his way to mischaracterize our services,” according to the statement. “We have always built privacy features into our products and provided robust controls for location data.”

Some of the Google documents obtained by the AGO played a big role in legal action taken against the company in Australia.

Officials with the Australia Competition and Consumer Commission are seeking an unspecified amount of civil penalties against Google after a judge ruled earlier this year that the company led users who were setting up new Android devices to believe only the “location history” setting allowed location information to be tracked.

The Australian judge determined Google knew it could still collect a user’s location data without their knowledge via a default setting under “web & app activity,” even if the location history setting was turned off.