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Recode Daily: The Supreme Court opens up Apple to antitrust cases

Plus: Facebook raises pay for its contract workers, attackers hack cellphones with spyware via WhatsApp, and Amazon replaces box packers with machines.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Supreme Court ruled to allow iPhone users to sue Apple in an antitrust case involving the App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court that Apple App Store customers can try to sue the company for allegedly driving up prices. The court rejected Apple’s argument that there’s no standing for such cases because third-party developers — not Apple — set app prices. As The Verge writes, the ruling “could have larger ramifications for customers who want to sue any app seller for antitrust violations, and it sets the stage for a major battle between Apple and some angry customers.” While the ruling opens up Apple to antitrust cases, the court didn’t make a ruling on the merits of those claims. A spokeswoman for Apple told the Wall Street Journal that the company is confident it will prevail in court and that “[t]he App Store is not a monopoly by any metric.”
[Adi Robertson / The Verge]

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Facebook is giving a pay raise to most of its contract workers well above the current $15 company-wide minimum wage. The social media giant says it’s giving raises to workers to keep up with the rapidly rising cost of living in major metro areas. In San Francisco and New York, for example, contract workers will get a minimum of $20 an hour. Content moderation workers in particular will get $22 an hour. Reporting from The Verge earlier this year revealed that many content moderators — who are responsible for viewing and flagging some of the most disturbing content on the platform — suffer from depression and PTSD. Facebook has said that it is going to be providing more services for these employees to help them cope, including additional counseling resources and allowing these workers to look at images in black and white rather than color.
[Kurt Wagner / Bloomberg]

Attackers have allegedly been injecting Israeli spyware onto phones via popular messaging service WhatsApp. The surveillance software in question, called Pegasus, can “penetrate any iPhone via one simple missed call on WhatsApp,” as the Financial Times describes it. Pegasus was developed by Israeli firm NSO and has been used as recently as Sunday to target a UK-based human rights lawyer’s phone. NSO has said that its software is made for governments to fight terrorism and crime and that it carefully vets its customers. In the meantime, WhatsApp said it is working to patch the software vulnerability. The Financial Times reported that the company does not know at this time how many users have been affected.
[Mehul Srivastava / Financial Times]

Amazon is replacing box packers with machines. As Reuters’ Jeffrey Dastin reports, the company has been adding a million dollar machine to its warehouses that can reportedly scan and pack goods at four to five times the rate of a human being — about 600 to 700 boxes per hour. The company is considering installing machines at 55 warehouses — which would result in the elimination of around 1,300 jobs, according to sources cited. As Dastin writes, “The plan, previously unreported, shows how Amazon is pushing to reduce labor and boost profits as automation of the most common warehouse task — picking up an item — is still beyond its reach.” The changes aren’t final yet, since “vetting technology before a major deployment can take a long time.”
[Jeffrey Dastin / Reuters]

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