Walt Disney to launch streaming service in India on Friday

FILE PHOTO: A man looks at his phone as he passes by a screen advertising Walt Disney’s streaming service Disney+ in New York City, U.S., November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) will launch its Disney+ service in India on April 3, the company said on Tuesday, intensifying rivalry with Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) Prime Video in a country where demand for online streaming is surging.

Disney+ will be launched with local partner Hotstar, one of India’s key streaming players that played host to HBO super hit show ‘Game of Thrones’.

Disney, which acquired Hotstar after its purchase of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, previously delayed the launch of the service due to uncertainty around the timing of India’s Twenty20 cricket league, which has now been postponed until April 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hostar’s parent Star India has the exclusive digital and TV broadcast rights to the cricket league.

The Disney+ Hotstar service will be available in three plans – a basic, ad-supported free plan, a second-rung plan priced at 399 Indian rupees ($5.29) a year and the most expensive at an annual 1,499 rupees ($19.88), which will gives subscribers access to Disney+ original shows as well as American shows from studios such as HBO, Fox and Showtime.

The most expensive plan is a 500-rupee mark-up from Hotstar’s premium plan.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal, editing by Louise Heavens and Susan Fenton

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Exclusive: Elite hackers target WHO as spikes in coronavirus cyber attacks

WASHINGTON / LONDON (Reuters) – Elite hackers attempted to join the World Health Organization earlier this month, according to Reuters sources, part of what a senior agency official said was an increase. more than double the cyber attacks.

Traffic passes through the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Americas during the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19) in Washington, DC, USA, March 22, 2020. REUTERS / Raphael Satter

Flavio Aggio, Chief Information Security Officer, said that the identity of the hackers is unclear and that the effort was unsuccessful. But he warned that hacking attempts against the agency and its partners have skyrocketed as they fight to contain the coronavirus, which has killed over 15,000 worldwide.

The attempt to raid the WHO was first reported to Reuters by Alexander Urbelis, a cybersecurity expert and lawyer from the Blackstone Law Group in New York, who tracks suspicious Internet domain registration activities.

Urbelis said he resumed activity around March 13, when a group of hackers he was following activated a malicious site that mimics the internal email system of the WHO.

“I quickly realized that this was a live attack on the World Health Organization in the midst of a pandemic,” he said.

Urbelis said he did not know who was responsible, but two other informed sources on the matter said they suspected an advanced group of hackers known as DarkHotel, which has been conducting cyber espionage operations since at least 2007.

Messages sent to hacker-managed email addresses have not been returned.

When asked by Reuters about the incident, WHO’s Aggio confirmed that the site Urbelis had identified had been used in an attempt to steal passwords from multiple agency agents.

“There has been a big increase in WHO targeting and other cyber security incidents,” said Aggio in a telephone interview. “There are no concrete numbers, but these compromise attempts against us and the use of WHO imitations to hit others have more than doubled.”

WHO released a notice last month – available here – warning that hackers are acting like an agency to steal money and sensitive information from the public.

And government officials in the United States, Britain and elsewhere have issued cybersecurity warnings about the dangers of a barely remote workforce as people disperse into their homes to work and study because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The reasons for the case identified by Reuters are unclear. United Nations agencies, including WHO, are regularly targeted by digital espionage campaigns and Aggio said he did not know exactly who in the organization the hackers had in sight.

Cyber ​​security companies including Bitdefender in Romania and Moscow-based Kaspersky said they tracked down many of DarkHotel’s operations in East Asia, an area that has been particularly affected by the coronavirus. Specific targets have included government employees and corporate executives in places like China, North Korea, Japan and the United States.

Costin Raiu, head of global research and analysis at Kaspersky, could not confirm that DarkHotel was responsible for the WHO attack, but said that the same harmful Web infrastructure had also been used to target other health and humanitarian organizations in the past weeks.

“At times like this, any information on coronavirus-related treatments or tests or vaccines would be invaluable and the priority of any intelligence organization in an affected country,” he said.

Traffic passes through the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for the Americas during the coronavirus epidemic (COVID-19) in Washington, DC, USA, March 22, 2020. REUTERS / Raphael Satter

Cyber ​​security officials and experts have warned that hackers of all kinds are trying to capitalize on international concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

Urbelis said he tracked down thousands of coronavirus-themed websites that are created daily, many of which are obviously malicious.

“It’s still around 2,000 a day,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Additional reports of Hyonhee Shin in Seoul; Editing by Chris Sanders and Edward Tobin

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Exclusive: Amazon increases overtime pay for warehouse workers

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc said Saturday that it is increasing overtime pay for employees working in its U.S. warehouses, as the world’s largest online retailer tries to meet the rapidly growing demand for online purchases by consumers stuck at home during the coronavirus epidemic.

FILE PHOTO: the Amazon logo is seen in front of the diplayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in this illustration taken on March 19, 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / Photo file

Hourly workers in warehouses will receive double pay after 40 overtime hours, up from the 1.5-fold rate from March 15 to May 9, the announcement said.

“We understand that the past few weeks have been a busy time,” Amazon told employees in an internal announcement on Saturday seen by Reuters. “We want to continue supporting you during this time when many services you may be dependent on are no longer available due to closures.”

This is the second time that the e-commerce giant has announced an improvement in wages for its workers in a week. On Monday, Amazon raised the hourly membership fee to $ 17 from $ 15 an hour and announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse workers and delivery workers in the United States as the virus outbreak increases online orders.

In addition, all part-time and full-time team members in Whole Foods Market stores and facilities will receive double their regular hourly earnings per hour of overtime worked in a working week from March 16 to May 3, 2020, on Domestic food retailer said in a statement sent on Saturday.

Lawmakers urged companies to do a better job by protecting workers, especially those in warehouses and grocery stores who don’t have the luxury of working from home and who are now at the forefront of the fight against further spread of the virus . They carry a greater risk to their health, while continuing to meet the supplies that Americans need to survive by staying indoors.

“We continue to see an increase in customer demand for products delivered to support social distancing in their communities,” Amazon wrote to employees. “Making this possible means that some of us have to work to maintain a good flow.”

A few hours before Amazon’s Saturday announcement, four US Democratic senators, including Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders, expressed concern in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday that the world’s largest online retailer has not taken sufficient measures. to protect warehouse staff. They asked in particular whether the company would provide “time and a half” compensation for its employees.

Other companies have also acted. HEB, a Texas-based chain of stores with 140,000 employees in Texas and New Mexico, said on Friday it had increased worker wages by $ 2 an hour until April 12, which came into effect on Monday.

Amazon has offered unpaid unlimited free time to encourage employees to stay at home if they are not feeling well, which could contribute to a higher than usual absence rate in warehouses. He also staggered work shifts and forbidden them to sit next to each other in the dining room to limit contact.

Amazon reported on Thursday that its first warehouse employee in the United States tested positive for the virus, forcing the company to temporarily close a warehouse in New York.

As the virus spreads to the United States, numerous clothing retailers and department store chains have closed stores and bar and restaurant operators have closed or limited delivery and takeaway services.

Online retailers and grocery stores are trying to capture the growing demand as more Americans are forced to stay home to reduce the spread of the epidemic.

The rival retailer Walmart Inc said Thursday that it plans to hire 150,000 coworkers every hour in the United States and has announced $ 550 million in cash bonuses to reward workers.

The highly contagious coronavirus has infected over 274,800 people worldwide and has caused over 11,300 deaths worldwide forcing governments around the world to issue mass blockades of people in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

Reporting from Krystal Hu in New York and Rebekah Mathew in Bangalore; Editing by Kenneth Li and Diane Craft

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Exclusive: Amazon increases the overtime pay for warehouse workers

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc said Saturday that it is increasing overtime pay for employees working in its U.S. warehouses, as the world’s largest online retailer tries to meet the rapidly growing demand for online purchases by consumers stuck at home during the coronavirus epidemic.

FILE PHOTO: the Amazon logo is seen in front of the diplayed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in this illustration taken on March 19, 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / Photo file

Hourly workers in warehouses will receive double pay after 40 overtime hours, up from the 1.5-fold rate from March 15 to May 9, the announcement said.

“All hourly workers working in the US Ops network will receive twice their regular hourly rate for each hour of overtime worked in a week of work,” the company said in a statement. “This temporary increase in extraordinary wages is effective from March 15, 2020 and will continue until May 9, 2020.”

This is the second time that the e-commerce giant has announced an improvement in wages for its workers in a week. On Monday, Amazon raised the hourly membership fee to $ 17 from $ 15 an hour and announced plans to hire 100,000 warehouse workers and delivery workers in the United States as the virus outbreak increases online orders.

As the virus spreads to the United States, Amazon has offered unpaid unlimited free time to encourage employees to stay home if they are not feeling well. He also staggered work shifts and banned employees from sitting next to each other in the dining room to limit contacts.

But four U.S. Democratic senators, including Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders, expressed concern in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Friday that the world’s largest online retailer has not taken sufficient measures to protect its warehouse staff. They asked in particular if the company would provide “time and a half” compensation for its employees. {NL1N2BE02N]

Amazon reported on Thursday that its first employee in the United States tested positive for the virus, forcing the company to temporarily close a warehouse in New York.

As the virus spreads to the United States, numerous clothing retailers and department store chains have closed stores and bar and restaurant operators have closed or limited delivery and takeaway services.

Online retailers and grocery stores are trying to capture the growing demand as more Americans are forced to stay home to reduce the spread of the epidemic.

The rival retailer Walmart Inc said Thursday that it plans to hire 150,000 coworkers per hour in the United States and has announced $ 550 million in cash bonuses to reward workers.

The highly contagious coronavirus has infected over 274,800 people worldwide and has caused over 11,300 deaths worldwide forcing governments around the world to issue mass blockades of people in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

Reporting from Krystal Hu in New York and Rebekah Mathew in Bangalore; Editing by Kenneth Li and Diane Craft

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Apple will close retail stores worldwide, except for Greater China, until March 27

(Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) said closing Friday that it will close all its retail stores, except those in Greater China, for the next two weeks to minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission.

The smart phone maker’s announcement intensifies the global response to the outbreak, as most major retailers have kept stores open.

“We will close all our stores outside of Greater China until March 27,” wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook in an apple.co/2w768jZ letter posted on the company’s website.

Apple reopened all 42 of its branded stores in China on Friday, when the number of new cases dropped in the country where the coronavirus epidemic originated.

More than 138,000 people have been infected worldwide and over 5,000 have died, according to a Reuters count of government announcements.

Retailers are gearing up for a severe sales blow while consumers of wary viruses in Europe and the United States remain at home. U.S. retailers including Macy’s Inc (M.n), Saks Fifth Avenue and Gap Inc. (GPS.N) Banana Republic sent out notices to buyers on Thursday stating that they were open to business in an attempt to curb losses from a sharp drop in traffic.

Apple’s hourly workers will continue to receive wages in line with normal business, Cook said, and online sales will continue as usual.

“In all our offices, we are moving towards flexible work arrangements around the world outside of Greater China,” he added. “This means that team members should work remotely if their job allows it.”

The company’s donations to the global coronavirus response, to help treat those who are sick and to help reduce economic and community impacts, reached $ 15 million on Friday, Cook wrote in the letter.

Reporting from Rama Venkat in Bangalore; Written by Rama Venkat and Caroline Stauffer; Curated by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Chizu Nomiyama

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The U.S. judge says Amazon will likely succeed in the challenge of the Defense cloud contract

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. judge has declared Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) will likely challenge the U.S. Department of Defense decision to award a cloud computing deal of up to $ 10 billion to Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O)

The Amazon logo is visible at the corporate logistics center in Boves, France, November 5, 2019. REUTERS / Pascal Rossignol / Files

US Federal Court Judge Patricia Campbell-Smith’s opinion was overturned on Friday. On February 13, he issued an order to freeze work on the contract pending resolution of Amazon’s court case.

Amazon claims that the contract was awarded to its rival due to the undue influence of President Donald Trump.

The opinion did not mention Trump or address Amazon’s claims of improper influence, but instead focused on how the Pentagon assessed Microsoft’s data storage in a pricing scenario.

Campbell-Smith wrote that Amazon “is likely to succeed based on its argument that the DOD incorrectly assessed” a Microsoft pricing scenario. He added that Amazon will likely show that Microsoft’s scenario was not “technically feasible”, as assessed by the Pentagon.

Microsoft did not immediately comment on Saturday, but told the Washington Post that the opinion cited a “solitary technical discovery” and noted that it found no other government error in the “complex and complete process that led to the award of the contract with Microsoft. ”

Amazon did not immediately comment on Saturday.

Campbell-Smith said that “in the context of a contract for cloud computing services, the court finds it quite probable that this failure will be substantial.”

Amazon, who had been seen as a front-runner to win the contract, filed a lawsuit in November, a few weeks after the contract was awarded to Microsoft. Trump publicly mocked Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and repeatedly criticized the company.

The Amazon lawsuit claimed that the Department of Defense decision was full of “glaring errors”, which were the result of “improper pressure from President Donald Trump”.

Bezos also owns the Washington Post, whose coverage has been critical of Trump and which has often been the target of trumpeting by the media.

The Pentagon, which had planned to begin work on the contract on February 13, said it was disappointed with the ruling.

As part of the case, Amazon asked the court to stop the execution of the contract, popularly known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud or JEDI. The contract aims to offer the military better access to data and technology from remote locations.

Last month, Amazon’s cloud computing unit, Amazon Web Services, said it was trying to sue Trump in its lawsuit and suggested that the president was trying to “ruin Amazon” on the contract.

Reporting by David Shepardson to Washington; Editing by Ben Klayman and Matthew Lewis

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Nokia receives a 500 million euro R&D loan from the EIB

PHOTO FILE: The Nokia logo is displayed before the company’s press conference in Espoo, Finland on March 2, 2020. Lehtikuva / Markku Ulander via REUTERS

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Nokia disbursed a € 500 million ($ 561 million) loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) on February 24, according to its annual report released last Thursday to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. .

The Finnish telecommunication equipment manufacturer said the R&D loan facility agreement with the EIB, which has an average term of approximately five years after disbursement, was signed in August 2018 and was available until the month. last.

Nokia’s finances have been in focus since late 2019 when the company stopped dividend payments and said it would have to invest more than it expected in developing its 5G equipment.

Tarmo Virki’s report; Editing by Tom Brown

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The United States Senator denounces the TikTok ban on federal workers, citing ties to the Chinese government

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Senator Josh Hawley said Wednesday that it will introduce legislation prohibiting federal employees from using the TikTok social media app on their devices and accusing the company of sharing data with the Chinese government.

FILE PHOTO: a printed three-dimensional figure is displayed in front of the Tik Tok logo displayed in this image taken on November 7, 2019. Image taken on November 7, 2019. REUTER / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / Photo file

Hawley said the proposed ban would apply to government-issued devices and his comments added to the growing tensions between Washington and Beijing on commercial and technology transfers.

“TikTok is collecting huge amounts of data and is sharing it with Beijing; they are required to do so, “Hawley told reporters after a Senate judicial subcommittee on big technology hearings with China.

“It’s really child’s play for federal employees. It is a serious security risk … do we really want Beijing to have the geolocation data of all federal employees? We really want them to have the keys pressed, “he told reporters.

Already several U.S. agencies dealing with national security and intelligence issues have banned employees from using the app, which is rapidly growing in popularity among U.S. teenagers and allows users to create short videos.

About 60% of TikTok’s 26.5 million monthly active users in the United States are between 16 and 24 years old, the company said last year.

In November, the United States government launched a national security review of the owner of TikTok Beijing ByteDance Technology Co, the $ 1 billion acquisition of the U.S. social media app Musical.ly. reut.rs/32Rva2H

Hawley did not provide details on any of the co-sponsors of the legislation and on any bipartisan support. It was not immediately clear how soon the legislation would be introduced.

His plan demonstrates broader concerns among lawmakers regarding the collection and sharing of US user data with the Chinese government. Many lawmakers are generally skeptical of China and view it as a threat to free speech, privacy and online security.

TikTok previously said that U.S. user data is stored in the United States and that China has no jurisdiction over content not found in China.

The senator, however, noted that ByteDance is governed by Chinese laws.

A TikTok spokesman said Wednesday that the company recently contacted several lawmakers to express interest in meeting them in the near future.

“Although we believe that the concerns are unfounded, we understand them and are continuing to further strengthen our guarantees, while increasing dialogue with lawmakers to help explain our policies,” added the spokesman.

Reporting of Nandita Bose in Washington; Curated by Lisa Shumaker and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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Amazon adds a network of warehouses closer to cities to expedite same-day delivery

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) has quietly opened a number of small warehouses closer to major US cities in an attempt to shave hours from delivery times, the company told Reuters.

An overview of the product preparation area of ​​the Amazon logistics center is available in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, April 30, 2019. REUTERS / Clodagh Kilcoyne

The world’s largest online retailer is updating its same-day delivery schedule for buyers in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Dallas and Orlando on Tuesday. Amazon will ensure that the packages arrive every day multiple times.

The initiative underlines the company’s goal of staying fast in online retailing, outperforming the free two-day delivery offers of the competition, so that shoppers remain loyal to the Amazon Prime shipping and streaming media club, which costs $ 119 per year in the United States.

Amazon has long offered an hour or two of delivery through Prime Now, a service that includes fresh groceries and over 20,000 items.

The offer on the same day will ensure the delivery of over 100,000 products, from phone chargers to dog food, in just five hours, from a new warehouse near each launch city, said Jon Alexander, director of the delivery experience of Amazon. For comparison, Amazon offers over 100 million items for delivery to the U.S. in two days or faster through Prime.

“The smaller selection allows us to bring these types of structures closer to customers,” he said. Other items – up to 3 million – will go through facilities on the street for customers on the same day.

The new format combines the storage, collection and packaging functions of Amazon’s logistics centers with the sorting and delivery functions of other facilities in a single building.

Compared to the fulfillment centers, which are further away from urban centers and house far more inventory, the new warehouse is roughly one tenth the size, at 100,000 square feet. Amazon says shorter driving times will help it meet its carbon footprint.

The company declined to comment on the cost of the facilities. Amazon, once famous for spending profit, often cites warehouse deposits as one of its major areas of investment.

According to Alexander, Amazon generally rented the existing spaces and modified them to adapt to the operation.

The new structures are automated with the same “drive units” used in Amazon logistics centers. These are squat robots that run on the floor that raise mobile inventory shelves and bring them to the associates who choose customer orders. Amazon has said that each building will create hundreds of full-time and part-time jobs.

While the same day option is covered for Prime members who spend at least $ 35, those without Prime members pay $ 12.98 per order, a tactic that could cause people to sign up.

Amazon will announce more cities for the program later this year, Alexander said.

Reporting Jeffrey Dastin to San Francisco; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Kenneth Maxwell

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