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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.

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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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For many years, cellphone operators around the world have complained about Facebook and Google: The American tech giants use the operators' cables and towers to hand out free phone calls and messaging services to people in their countries, eating into profits and grabbing customers' data.

Recently, one operator, Telenor, decided: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And in the process, it hunted down the kind of link between people's digital and physical personas that not even Google has.

After A Terrorist Attack, A Fingerprint Drive

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The software equivalent of cancer - that is how Apple CEO Tim Cook is describing code the government wants Apple to write so the FBI can unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists.

You might think of Barcelona as an enchanted, historic European city. This week, it's home to a massive tech gathering: the Mobile World Congress. Tens of thousands of people from every corner of the earth are there — many showcasing the novel ways they're connecting citizen-consumers to the Internet. I took a tour of Innovation City and here are a few of my most memorable stops.

A Well-Connected Bike

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DAVID GREENE, BYLINE: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned up this week in Barcelona. He was attending the World Mobile Congress - the annual meeting of phone and Internet companies. And NPR's Aarti Shahani reports on what he's been up to.

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.

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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.

Uber has grown into a global phenomenon with a flexible labor system in which drivers are treated as independent contractors. Increasingly, that system is under attack.

Just this week Seattle passed a historic law to allow Uber drivers, and other drivers on contract, to unionize. And it turns out, according to legal experts, the local law has teeth.

The camera on your smartphone is powerful. You use it to record your baby's first steps. Take a panorama shot or selfies at the Taj Mahal. Every day, we're finding new uses.

And recently, a startup in Silicon Valley realized: That camera on the phone could be used by people who are blind, to get help seeing remotely. The company Be My Eyes has created a novel kind of volunteer opportunity on the Internet.

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The tech giant Yahoo is forming a new company, a company made up of Yahoo. The move, announced this morning, is mainly meant to help Yahoo avoid paying taxes, but the company says it will also spruce up Yahoo's image. NPR's Aarti Shahani explains.

Yahoo is changing course in its efforts to sell shares in another company. The tech giant's goal is to avoid a big tax bill.

Yahoo has a 15 percent stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Yahoo wants to sell that stake, which is worth about $32 billion, for two reasons: one, to get a bunch of cash, which it can give to investors who are hungry for a return; and two, because those shares arguably overshadow the rest of the business, making investors undervalue what Yahoo itself brings to the table.

Mark Zuckerberg is a dad! And he's marking the birth of his first child (and #GivingTuesday) with a promise to give away 99 percent of his shares in Facebook to make a brighter future.

In an open letter to Max, their newborn daughter, Zuckerberg, 31, and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan, 30, pledged to give 99 percent of their shares in Facebook — worth about $45 billion today — over the course of their lifetime.

Two tech startups you know have now gone public: Square (which makes the little white square to swipe credit cards) and Match, the online dating giant. Both companies got nice, first-day pops to their share prices as they started selling for well above the initial price. But interestingly, those initial prices were set low.

Really low.

Square was planning to price somewhere between $11 and $13 a share, which, analysts say, is already pretty cheap. But then, the company went even lower, settling for just $9. That's really, really cheap.

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