Why Google and Netflix Want a Better Internet

(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

Morning Money Memo…

Google is boosting security for Gmail. The company announced that it will use an always-on encryption service and will no longer allow Gmail to be accessed through vulnerable HTTP connections. Google says the change will make it harder for the National Security Agency to intercept messages moving along between its worldwide data centers.

Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden appeared to show the government spy agency secretly tapped into the main communication links that connect Yahoo and Google data.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wants consumers and government regulators to stand up for stronger net neutrality rules. In a new blog post, Hastings blasts the largest Internet service providers for poor service.

"The essence of net neutrality is that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast don't restrict, influence or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make," Hastings said.

According to the Netflix chief, providers such as Comcast practice strong net neutrality, but at "other big ISPs, due to a lack of sufficient interconnectivity, Netflix performance has been constrained, subjecting consumers who pay a lot of money for high-speed Internet to high buffering rates, long wait times and poor video quality."

Net neutrality is supposed to mean that online content is equally accessible. Many Netflix customers have complained about connectivity problems, especially during primetime.

New General Motors CEO Mary Barra is set to testify next month at a congressional hearing. It's part of the delayed investigation into the recall of more than a million and a half cars. The Justice Department is also investigating whether laws were broken in the way GM handled a defect involving ignition switches.

The consequences of Russia's Crimea policy may be extending beyond the condemnations and individual sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union. Fitch is the second credit rating agency in as many days to put Russia on warning that it may be downgraded. Russia's stocks took a pounding today.

The Federal Reserve announced results of its annual stress tests for banks. The results appear to be re-assuring. According to the findings, 29 of the 30 largest banks would survive a severe recession in the U.S. and overseas. The only bank to fail the tests was Zion's Bancorp. The results built on last year's positive findings. The tests were ordered after the 2008 bank bailout during the financial crisis. The Fed will announce next week whether it will approve plans by some of the banks to increase dividends or buy their own stock.

Beer and wine at Starbucks? The coffee chain is announcing plans to extend evening alcohol sales to more of its restaurants. Thousands of stores are expected to adopt alcohol sales over the next several years, the company said. Starbucks first offered alcohol at one of its Seattle cafes in 2010. It's now in 26 locations with plans for more later this year. The change is part of Starbucks' push to boost sales after the morning rush hour. To attract more afternoon customers, for instance, the company recently introduced new sandwiches and salads.

Richard Davies is the business correspondent for ABC News Radio.

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