Aarti Shahani | KCUR

Aarti Shahani

Aarti Shahani is an NPR correspondent. She is currently on leave, writing her first book. It's the story of her immigrant family—shopkeepers who got a taste of the American Dream and the American Nightmare (Celadon Books, Fall 2019).

Based in Silicon Valley, Shahani covers the biggest companies on earth for NPR's Business Desk. Her reporting pinpoints how economies and human relationships are being radically redefined by the tech sector.

Shahani has an unconventional path. Journalism is her second career. Before it, she was a community organizer in her native New York City, helping prisoners and families being deported from the U.S. She loves learning from brilliant, intense people—be they the engineers who are building self-driving cars, or the jailhouse lawyers filing laser-sharp habeas petitions.

Shahani received a Master in Public Policy degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, with generous support from the University and the Paul & Daisy Soros fellowship. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago. Her reporting has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, a regional Edward R. Murrow Award, and an Investigative Reporters & Editors Award.

Facebook says that by next year people on apps like Whatsapp and Messenger will be able to basically text payments. This news comes as regulators are asking if the tech giant is already too powerful.

Updated at 11:29 a.m. ET

Google is quietly assuming the role of Huawei emissary, according to a senior Huawei official, in effect negotiating with the Commerce Department on behalf of the Chinese telecom giant that has been blacklisted in the U.S.

Facebook expects to pay a fine of up to $5 billion in a settlement with federal regulators. The tech giant disclosed that figure in its first-quarter 2019 financial results.

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The U.S. has long exported its culture abroad — think Coca-Cola, Hollywood and hip-hop. Facebook was once praised for spreading free-speech values. But the world is pushing back with different values, which Facebook is importing to the U.S. with the company's ban on white extremist content.

Two words for you: flying taxis. That's right. In the not-so-distant future, you'll open your ride-hailing app and, in addition to ground options like car, SUV, scooter or bicycle, you'll see on-demand air flight.

At least that's according to the optimists at South by Southwest, the annual tech-music-film convention in Austin, Texas.

Over the weekend in Austin, Texas, South by Southwest became a major presidential forum. More than half a dozen candidates showed up to the annual music, arts and technology convention. Democrats competed with each other to be the tough-on-tech candidate, a development in line with the party's move to the left but at odds with its reliance on tech donors.

Updated at 6:35 p.m. ET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promises to bring end-to-end encryption and self-destruct features to Messenger and other Facebook apps, in a move meant to signal the tech behemoth's commitment to privacy. He announced the proposed changes in a a blog post Wednesday.

As Facebook struggles to repair its image after a global privacy scandal, the social media giant is trying to make the platform a place that Mark Zuckerberg says encourages "meaningful interactions between people."

One person who embodies Zuckerberg's message is Lola Omolola, an ebullient 41-year-old Nigerian-American woman who was highlighted at Facebook's annual conference in May.

The U.S. takes credit for creating the Internet, and the European Union seems determined to govern it. On Friday, a sweeping new directive goes into effect called the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. Taken together, its 99 articles represent the biggest ever change to data privacy laws. The new rules have implications for U.S. Internet users too.

Here are answers to three questions you might have about the new law and its potential impacts.

What is GDPR?

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Despite criticism for sharing disinformation and sharing people's data, Facebook reported another quarter of record earnings. NPR's Aarti Shahani reports.

Editor's note on April 11, 2018: NPR has retracted the story that was previously on this page because it did not meet our standards. "Fairness" is one of our guiding principles, and to that end we have pledged to "make every effort to gather responses from those who are the subjects of criticism." In this instance, that did not happen. The story referred to one individual as the "author" of a website that another person said had posted defamatory information about him.

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Dan Shefet is an unlikely tech revolutionary. He's not a young math geek who builds driverless cars, nor does he promise to make a tech product for the masses. His crusade is different. The 63-year-old year old Shefet has staged an astonishingly effective campaign in Europe to thwart the torrent of fake news and damaging personal attacks that course through the Internet by taking on the tech giants.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally broken his silence. He issued a statement which he posted to his own Facebook page addressing the controversy over how an outside firm harvested the profiles of 50 million Facebook users.

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Now it's time for All Tech Considered.

(SOUNDBITE OF ULRICH SCHNAUSS' "NOTHING HAPPENS IN JUNE")

It was the summer of 2016, and M was worried her ex-husband was stalking her. She would get out of town and stay with friends. But, as she noted in court documents, her ex seemed to know exactly where she was and whom she visited — down to the time of day and street.

M started to change the way she drove — slowing down, driving in circles — in case a private investigator was following her. She didn't see one. Then she went online and learned about GPS trackers — small devices you can slip into a car to monitor where it goes 24/7. She looked for one and couldn't find any.

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Lyft is unveiling a new education program for drivers, offering access to discounted GED and college courses online. The move is an interesting experiment in the gig economy, where a growing class of workers receive zero benefits from a boss and yet competition for their time is fierce.

Many Lyft drivers see their work for the company as a stopgap measure, a flexible way to make money while they try to build a career.

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Tucked away in the House and Senate tax bills is a big break for companies that have stockpiled money overseas. The hope is that bringing that cash back to the U.S. will lead to more jobs here. NPR's Aarti Shahani reports.

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Tonight at the Latin Grammys, the hit song "Despacito" is up for four awards, including record of the year. Clearly a lot of people know this song. But it turns out the Google Home personal assistant does not. NPR's Aarti Shahani explains.

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In July 2016, the aftermath of a police shooting of an African-American man was broadcast live on Facebook. Instantly, Americans of all stripes used the platform to step up the race wars and attack each other.

A massive shift happened, quietly, during the Obama years: Democrats got comfortable and gave up their lead in digital campaigning, Democratic and Republican political operatives say.

Republicans, meanwhile, itched to regain power and invested heavily in using the Internet to build political support.

Now, liberals in Silicon Valley want to shift the balance of power.

America's business leaders are speaking out against President Trump's move to end DACA.

The president of Microsoft, Brad Smith, took a notable stand. He said not only will his company lobby for a legislative solution but also that Microsoft is calling on Congress to make immigration the top priority, before tax reform. And he is calling on other business leaders to follow suit.

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I want to go very quickly now to Aarti Shahani, NPR's tech reporter. Aarti, why is this story involving Barry Lynn hitting such a nerve?

Regina Bateson doesn't look like a gambler, but that's what she's become — in the world of politics.

She just left her tenure-track job at MIT to run for Congress back home, in Northern California. She's a Democrat with zero campaign experience. And she needs to unseat the Republican incumbent in her solidly Republican district.

She's fighting this unlikely fight because technology — in the form of an online platform called Crowdpac.com — made her believe it's possible.

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