Tech Nation: Israeli Bill on Tap Declaring Google, Facebook Monopolies

Corephotonics suing Apple in patent case ■ Optibus raises funds for transit-scheduling software

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People pass by the Google logo at the Web Summit in Lisbon, November 8, 2017.
People pass by the Google logo at the Web Summit in Lisbon, November 8, 2017. Credit: Patricia de Melo Moreira

Google and Facebook would be declared monopolies and face restrictions on the use of the personal data they collect under legislation that Miki Rosenthal, a Zionist Union lawmaker and opposition leader on the Knesset Finance Committee, says he’ll soon submit. The legislation, which would eventually be divided into multiple bills, would also subject foreign digital companies to Israeli corporate tax, Rosenthal said, adding that Communications Minister Ayoub Kara backed the legislation in principle. The bill would restrict companies’ ability to collect personal information on users, force them to be more transparent about how they use it, require them to correct faulty information, and let users demand that information be taken offline. Declaring the two U.S. companies monopolies would subject them to Israeli antitrust regulations. “Google and Faceback have crossed a line,” Rosenthal said. “The new tycoons gather information of people’s medical, financial and family situations for use by interest groups. (Zvi Zrahiya)

Israeli startup Corephotonics suing Apple for patent infringement
Israel’s for copying its patented smartphone camera technology. In a suit filed in federal court in San Jose, California, on Monday, the company said its patented dual camera technology for mobile devices was incorporated by Apple in the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus without its authorization. The suit says Apple praised the startup’s technology when Corephotonics CEO David Mendlovic approached the U.S. company about a partnership but refused a licensing deal, Corephotonics said in the suit. “Apple’s lead negotiator expressed contempt for Corephotonics’ patents, telling Dr. Mendlovic and others that even if Apple infringed, it would take years and millions of dollars in litigation before Apple might have to pay something,” the suit alleges. Corephotonics has raised $50 million from several high-profile venture capital firms and other investors, including Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn. An Apple spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment. (Reuters)

Optibus raises $11.7 million for transit-scheduling software
Optibus, an Israeli startup whose software lets mass-transit operators schedule more efficiently, said Monday it had raised $11.7 million. The round was led by Israel-based venture capital firm Pitango, and includes the investment arm of the U.S. telecom company Verizon and British investor Sir Ronald Cohen. Optibus uses machine learning to simplify the complex planning and control processes in scheduling, enabling real-time schedules instead of static ones. The system is used in more than 200 cities including Los Angeles and Washington, as well as by Israeli bus operators Egged and Dan. Optibus is also developing software to provide an integrated city-wide operating system for all modes of transport that would identify and predict passenger demand and upcoming operational changes such as road construction and traffic accidents. Optibus was formed in 2014 by CEO Amos Haggiag and Chief Technology Officer Eitan Yanovsky. (Eliran Rubin)