Bobby Allyn

Bobby Allyn is a business reporter at NPR based in San Francisco. He covers technology and how Silicon Valley's largest companies are transforming how we live and reshaping society.

He came to San Francisco from Washington, where he focused on national breaking news and politics. Before that, he covered criminal justice at member station WHYY.

In that role, he focused on major corruption trials, law enforcement, and local criminal justice policy. He helped lead NPR's reporting of Bill Cosby's two criminal trials. He was a guest on Fresh Air after breaking a major story about the nation's first supervised injection site plan in Philadelphia. In between daily stories, he has worked on several investigative projects, including a story that exposed how the federal government was quietly hiring debt collection law firms to target the homes of student borrowers who had defaulted on their loans. Allyn also strayed from his beat to cover Philly parking disputes that divided in the city, the last meal at one of the city's last all-night diners, and a remembrance of the man who wrote the Mister Softee jingle on a xylophone in the basement of his Northeast Philly home.

At other points in life, Allyn has been a staff reporter at Nashville Public Radio and daily newspapers including The Oregonian in Portland and The Tennessean in Nashville. His work has also appeared in BuzzFeed News, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

A native of Wilkes-Barre, a former mining town in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Allyn is the son of a machinist and a church organist. He's a dedicated bike commuter and long-distance runner. He is a graduate of American University in Washington.

A former Uber driver in San Diego sued the ride-hailing company on Monday for racial discrimination in how it uses passengers' reviews to evaluate drivers.

The company relies on a star rating system, which the lawsuit says disproportionately leads to the firing of people who are not white or who speak with accents.

Buried on Page 36 of the Justice Department lawsuit accusing Google of abusing its monopoly power is this remarkable figure: $8 billion to $12 billion.

That's the hefty sum Google allegedly paid Apple for one of the most prized pieces of real estate in the world of online search: default status on iPhones and all other Apple devices.

Updated at 3:24 p.m. ET

The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday against Google alleging the company of abusing its dominance over smaller rivals by operating like an illegal monopoly. The action represents the federal government's most significant legal action in more than two decades to confront a technology giant's power.

Updated 10:14 p.m. Monday ET

TikTok is toughening its stance against the QAnon conspiracy theory, expanding its ban to all content or accounts that promote videos advancing baseless ideas from the far-right online movement.

Apple on Tuesday announced the iPhone 12, the first Apple smartphone with 5G-enabled technology that eventually will let data flow at much faster speeds.

"Today is the beginning of a new era for iPhone," Apple CEO Tim Cook said. "This is a huge moment for all of us."

But not exactly a huge moment for most consumers, at least not yet.

Nathan Apodaca's truck had already logged some 320,000 miles. One morning last month, it couldn't go a mile more. The truck broke down on a highway in Idaho Falls, Idaho, about 2 miles from the potato warehouse where Apodaca has worked for nearly two decades.

Luckily, he had a skateboard in his truck, along with a bottle of Ocean Spray's Cran-Raspberry juice.

Updated 8:50 p.m. ET Wednesday

A federal judge in California has ordered that Twitter reveal the identity of an anonymous user who allegedly fabricated an FBI document to spread a conspiracy theory about the killing of Seth Rich, the Democratic National Committee staffer who died in 2016.

Updated at 8:23 p.m. ET

In a sweeping report spanning 449 pages, House Democrats lay out a detailed case for stripping Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google of the power than has made each of them dominant in their fields.

The four companies began as "scrappy underdog startups" but are now monopolies that must be restricted and regulated, the report from Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel says.

Sen. Roger Wicker hit a familiar note when he announced on Thursday that the Commerce Committee was issuing subpoenas to force the testimony of Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and other tech leaders.

Tech platforms like Facebook, the Mississippi Republican said, "disproportionately suppress and censor conservative views online."

When top tech bosses were summoned to Capitol Hill in July for a hearing on the industry's immense power, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan made an even blunter accusation.

Updated 5:50 p.m. ET Monday

As reaction to President Trump's positive coronavirus test floods social media, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok have a message to users: Wishing for the president to die is not allowed.

All three tech companies confirmed that such posts will be removed for violating each platform's content policies.

Updated 2:56 p.m. ET Saturday

The Trump administration is accusing the chief executive of ByteDance, the owner of video-sharing app TikTok, of being "a mouthpiece" for the Chinese Communist Party and alleging that the tech company has a close relationship with Beijing authorities that endangers the security of Americans.

In a new court filing, TikTok leaders make clear just how much is at stake in a prolonged battle with the Trump administration: If TikTok were banned for two months, up to half of its users in America would never come back. If the ban persisted for six months, 90% of TikTok users would be gone forever, according to a top TikTok executive.

Since July, President Trump has turned a wildly successful viral video app TikTok into his favorite punching bag.

Trump's logic went something like this: Since TikTok's corporate parent company ByteDance is headquartered in Beijing, TikTok could be used as an arm of the Chinese Communist Party to spy on American citizens or cause other mischief.

So the president repeatedly declared that TikTok needs to free itself from ByteDance's control, or be shut down in the U.S. for good.

A federal judge has blocked President Trump's executive order that would have effectively shut down popular Chinese app WeChat, ruling that the action represents a free speech violation.

WeChat, used by 1.2 billion users worldwide and 19 million people in the U.S., was set to stop operating in the U.S. on midnight Sunday following Trump's order invoking a national emergency and targeting the app on national security grounds.

Updated 12:55 a.m. ET

President Trump has given tentative approval to a deal that will keep TikTok alive in the U.S., resolving a months-long confrontation between a hit app popularized by lip-syncing teens and White House officials who viewed the service as a national security risk.

TikTok downloads were set to be banned in the U.S. starting at midnight Sunday, but that has now been averted.

Updated at 2:41 p.m. ET

The Trump administration is banning Americans from downloading popular video-sharing app TikTok and limiting the use of WeChat because of national security concerns, the Commerce Department announced on Friday.

As of midnight on Sunday, TikTok will also not be able to receive system updates, which could affect its functionality, including slowing down the app, but the app's current version will still work for American users. Over time, however, TikTok may stop working altogether.

A plan to save popular video-sharing app TikTok in the U.S. is taking shape behind closed doors in Washington, though President Trump cast fresh doubt Wednesday that the deal as it stands would satisfy the White House.

The urgent talks are happening with only days to go before Trump's executive order to shut down TikTok's business in the U.S. will take effect.

Unlimited vacation. No dress code (just don't show up naked). No approval needed for expenses. And if you criticize the company, you might get rewarded with a promotion.

"It's risky trusting employees as much as we do. Giving them as much freedom as we do," Netflix CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings said in an interview with NPR. "But it's essential in creative companies where you have much greater risk from lack of innovation."

More than smart strategy, or good timing or simply luck, Hastings credits the company's unorthodox workplace culture for its meteoric rise.

Unlimited vacation. Submitting expenses without approval. Being promoted for criticizing your company.
These are the perks of working for Netflix, says CEO Reed Hastings.
HASTINGS: It's risky trusting employees as much as we do. Giving them as much freedom as we do. But it's essential in creative companies where you have much greater risk from lack of innovation.
In his new book, "No Rules Rules," Hastings discusses his guiding principle: The Keeper Test.

Updated at 1:04 p.m. ET

A deal with Oracle for TikTok's U.S. operations may end up including a partnership instead of an outright purchase.

With its deadline to sell or be banned in the U.S. fast approaching, Chinese tech giant ByteDance said it will not be selling its video-sharing app TikTok to either Microsoft or Oracle, according to China state TV.

Facebook and Twitter said Tuesday that they had removed accounts linked to Russian state actors who tried to spread false stories about racial justice, the Democratic presidential campaign of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and President Trump's policies.

Patrick Ryan is sitting on a couch in the garage of his house in California's San Mateo County. Dressed in aviator-style glasses and cowboy boots, he talks intensely about his job as a technical manager at TikTok —a job that politicians in Washington have put at risk.

The hugely popular fantasy battle game Fortnite is releasing its latest version on Thursday, but gamers hoping to play the new season on iPhones, iPads or Mac computers will be locked out.

Because of a high-stakes legal dispute between Fortnite maker Epic Games and Apple over the tech giant's 30% commission on app purchases, Fortnite's 350 million registered players will not be able to access new versions of the game on any Apple product.

Gamers can play the new version on consoles like Xbox, Nintendo, PlayStation and PC computers.

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer is stepping down three months after taking the job at the hugely popular short-form video app.

Mayer's surprise resignation comes as the Trump administration escalates its campaign to force TikTok to cut ties with its Chinese ownership.

In a message sent on Wednesday to staff at TikTok, Mayer said as the political environment has "sharply changed," he has reflected on what kind of corporate restructuring may be coming for the company, concluding that it was best for him to depart.

Updated at 6:28 p.m. ET

TikTok has filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration arguing that the president's executive order taking aim at the Chinese-owned app is unconstitutional and should be blocked from taking effect.

Updated at 6:48 p.m. ET

A California judge has ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify their workers from independent contractors to employees with benefits, a ruling that could be consequential for gig economy workers if it survives the appeals process.

TikTok is planning to sue the Trump administration, challenging the president's executive order banning the service from the United States.

Families are suing TikTok in what has turned into a major legal action in federal court.

Dozens of minors, through their parents, are alleging that the video-sharing app collects information about their facial characteristics, locations and close contacts, and quietly sends that data to servers in China.

Updated at 11:51 a.m. ET Saturday

President Trump has announced he plans to ban TikTok, the hugely popular video-sharing app, from operating in the U.S. as early as Saturday.

Trump's announcement comes after reports Friday that software giant Microsoft was in talks to acquire the app's U.S. operations. The president made it clear that he does not approve of the proposed acquisition.

Four Big Tech CEOs spent Wednesday being grilled — virtually — by House lawmakers, creating a first-ever spectacle that was by turns revealing and, inevitably, awkward.

Pages