Aarti Shahani

Aarti Shahani is a Tech Reporter on NPR's Business Desk. Based in Silicon Valley, it's her job to cover the biggest companies on earth. In her reporting, she works to pinpoint 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.

She finds Northern California to be a beautiful and jarring place — and she hopes one day to understand its many contradictions.

The lawyer representing Uber drivers in the historic settlement — which could total as much as $100 million — is under attack. Critics and even the judge in the case say attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan may not be fighting hard enough, and that she may be accepting too little for the drivers. Liss-Riordan disagrees, and to prove her pure intentions, she is reducing her fees.

A Weak Settlement?

The last couple of weeks have not been pretty.

There is a scandal rocking the financial industry — or we should say, a small but important part of that industry: online lending.

The message from Google's developers' conference is clear: The company is prepared to take on competitors as well as regulators.

CEO Sundar Pichai and his team were flexing. Big time.

Through a litany of product announcements at the so-called I/O annual conference in Mountain View, Calif. — messaging apps, a personal virtual assistant and a voice-controlled speaker that connects you with it -- the company basically said:

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Updated at 2:36 p.m. ET with an editor's note at the end of the story.

Sometimes you call an Uber, and what you thought would be an $8 ride is going to be two, three, even four times more — the result of greater demand brought on by a blizzard, or a baseball game. Whatever the reason, surge pricing is not fun.

It turns out Uber is working to fix it — or, should we say, end it. The move likely will be great for riders, but not for drivers.

Hunting For Surge

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LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

A 13-year winning streak ended yesterday. Apple reported a big drop in revenue compared to the same quarter last year. That hasn't happened since 2003. And the reason is iPhones just aren't selling like they used to. NPR's Aarti Shahani reports.

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Updated at 12:24 p.m. ET, with Facebook statement

An 18-year-old woman in Ohio is being charged with kidnapping, rape, sexual battery and a variant of distributing child pornography.

What led to this extraordinary list of alleged crimes? Live-streaming the alleged rape of her 17-year-old friend.

Prosecutors say Marina Lonina broadcast the incident on the Twitter-owned app Periscope. Lonina claims through her lawyer that she live-streamed the alleged rape because she was trying to get the man to stop.

Mark Zuckerberg has laid out a 10-year master plan for Facebook. It's bold. It's savvy. And it glosses over a key detail: the dark side of making the world more connected.

The Internal Revenue Service says it's seeing a surge in phone scams. More than 5,000 victims have been duped out of $26.5 million since late 2013. It's hard to know what exactly con artists are thinking when they target their victims. But now, we know what they are saying.

Before we get started, keep this in mind: The IRS says it doesn't call about outstanding taxes without first mailing you a bill.

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The FBI says it has gotten into the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters in California, so prosecutors have dropped their case trying to compel Apple to do it. But the controversy is far from over. Local prosecutors across the country have iPhones that they would like to unlock, and they want to know if the FBI will use its master key to help.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect the news that the federal judge has granted the government's request for a delay in the case, giving the FBI time to test a new method of cracking the iPhone without Apple's help.

In the standoff between Apple and the FBI, each side is recruiting powerful allies and waging a war of words. As the story unfolds, we'll fact-check the boldest claims, starting with this one by FBI Director James Comey.

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Transcript

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Here's a little secret: It's possible to go online and buy a knockoff — a generic version of the drug Adderall, a fake "North Face" jacket or "Gucci" handbag. Now, we're not telling you to do it. But a big reason you can, it turns out, is that major banks in China are willing to handle the money.

Guerilla Marketing

Say you want Beats by Dre headphones. You don't want to pay Beats by Dre prices. Type in the brand name in a search engine and add words like "cheap," "super-sale."

In India, Facebook has a program to give people free Internet access — just to use Facebook and a handful of other services. Earlier this week, regulators in that country ruled that the program is discriminatory to other websites and is illegal. A Facebook board member took to Twitter to criticize the ruling. And in so doing, he sparked a global controversy.

It got ugly.

You've heard it before. Change your password. Change. Your. Password. But now, Americans are getting that message from the top. Password security is in such a sorry state, our commander in chief is weighing in with a call to action.

Intel has a new report out today. It's not about semiconductors. It's about diversity: how Intel is doing when it comes to women and underrepresented minorities on its staff. The results are mixed — some strong and some, frankly, failures. Still the sheer amount of information is exceptional, and a direct challenge to other Silicon Valley giants who've chosen to hide their data.

Be Engineers About Diversity

Let's start with some numbers.

Business travelers increasingly are relying on Uber and other ride-hailing services, often more than car rentals or taxis, according to new data.

Say you land at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. You've got a work meeting 20 minutes away. You might head to the rental desk to pick up a car. Or, you might call an Uber instead.

"More transactions coming through our system are in Uber than there were in all the rental car transactions," says Bob Neveu, CEO of Certify, a company that businesses use to book travel and track receipts.

Hundreds of thousands of people drive for Uber in the U.S. The ride-hailing company has had high-profile fights in courts and city halls over the status of these drivers: Are they employees or contractors? Can they unionize?

A fight that's gotten far less attention — one that may affect drivers far more — is the competition between Uber and its main rival, Lyft.

Competition for drivers is so great that, about a year ago, Uber sent covert operatives into Lyft cars — to recruit.

Isabella Dure-Biondi was one of these covert operatives.

Top law enforcement and intelligence officials were in Silicon Valley on Friday to meet top brass at tech companies. The topic: counterterrorism. The government wants the biggest Internet brands to weed out ISIS recruitment online, and even help run advertising campaigns against ISIS.

The meeting came as the Obama administration announced the creation of a task force of federal agencies to counter violent extremism.

If you hail a ride using the on-demand app Lyft, that car could one day be self-driving.

On Monday, Lyft announced a new partnership with General Motors, which is pumping half a billion dollars into the software startup and joining the board. One of the things they're doing is planning to build an autonomous fleet.

They haven't released a specific timeline on when, though in the future, when you call the on-demand car service, the vehicle likely won't have a human driver.

Editor's Note: This post accompanies a story that you can hear on the NPR One app by following this link.

The words you use betray who you are.

Linguists and psychologists have long been studying this phenomenon. A few decades ago they had a hunch that the number of active verbs in your sentences or which adjectives you use (lovely, sweet, angry) reflect personality traits.

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