CES: Panelists Discuss Competitive Merits of Anti-Regulation

Consumer Technology Association Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Michael Petricone moderated a lively CES panel on the importance of fostering a dynamic and competitive marketplace, which, he says, has “profound implications for technology and how we live.” “CES is the most appropriate place to have this conversation,” he noted. Those in support of antitrust regulation didn’t have much of a chance to make its case, as the panel was composed of four ardent anti-regulation advocates, with a single panelist who stood up for the ongoing need for antitrust regulation in today’s market. Continue reading CES: Panelists Discuss Competitive Merits of Anti-Regulation

FTC Seeks to Bolster COPPA So Firms Can’t Surveil Children

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed new rules to strengthen the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), further limiting the collection of children’s data, particularly those who seek to monetize the information through targeted advertising. FTC Chair Lina Khan says the proposed changes aim to prevent tech firms “from outsourcing their responsibilities to parents” when it comes to ensuring privacy for children’s data. The FTC says it has issued fines totaling hundreds of millions of dollars to Google’s YouTube, and to a lesser extent, ByteDance’s TikTok, for mishandling the data of children 13-years-old and younger. Continue reading FTC Seeks to Bolster COPPA So Firms Can’t Surveil Children

Plans for TikTok Containment Would Give Feds Broad Power

A draft agreement said to have been presented by the U.S. government to ByteDance that would let TikTok avoid a federal ban seeks “near unfettered access” to company data and “unprecedented control” over platform functions. The nearly 100-page document, reported on this week, seeks control federal officials don’t have over other media outlets — social or otherwise — raising domestic concerns about government overreach. The draft dates to summer 2022. It is not known whether it has been updated or if the secretive negotiations between ByteDance and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) have since continued. Continue reading Plans for TikTok Containment Would Give Feds Broad Power

KKR Will Pay $1.62 Billion for Paramount’s Simon & Schuster

Paramount Global has agreed to sell publishing giant Simon & Schuster to private equity firm KKR for $1.62 billion in an all-cash transaction. Paramount Global President and CEO Bob Bakish said the transaction “delivers excellent value to Paramount shareholders while also positioning Simon & Schuster for its next phase of growth with KKR.” On closing, expected in the first half of 2024, Simon & Schuster will become a standalone private company under the continued leadership of President and CEO Jonathan Karp and COO and CFO Dennis Eulau. Continue reading KKR Will Pay $1.62 Billion for Paramount’s Simon & Schuster

White House Releases Plan for Cybersecurity Implementation

The Biden administration has issued an implementation framework for its National Cybersecurity Strategy, detailing how the federal government plans to regulate digital security issues. The highly anticipated document lists more than 65 initiatives for executing the “five pillars” of the March 2023 U.S. National Cybersecurity Strategy, described as a “bold, affirmative vision for cyberspace.” The implementation takes a two-pronged approach: empowering capable actors who can bear more of the security responsibility, and the need for incentives that facilitate investment in long-term resilience. Continue reading White House Releases Plan for Cybersecurity Implementation

Biden Administration Hosts Tech Elite at White House AI Meet

The Biden administration has committed $140 million to create seven new artificial intelligence research hubs, bringing the national total to 25. The announcement coincided with Vice President Kamala Harris’ Thursday meeting with representatives from Alphabet, Anthropic, Microsoft, and OpenAI and new White House guidance on AI development. The developments are part of an effort to curtain security risks associated with AI and ensure that it is implemented responsibly. “The private sector has an ethical, moral and legal responsibility to ensure the safety and security of their products,” Harris said following the meeting, which included a drop-in by President Biden. Continue reading Biden Administration Hosts Tech Elite at White House AI Meet

AMERICA Act Proposes to Curtail Big Tech’s Ad Dominance

A bipartisan Senate group is supporting a bill aimed at reducing the online advertising dominance of Big Tech platforms like Google, Meta and others. Introduced last week by Mike Lee (R-Utah) and championed by Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), the AMERICA Act — short for Advertising Middlemen Endangering Rigorous Internet Competition Accountability Act — the bill prohibits companies that “process more than $20 billion in digital ad transactions” from owning multiple parts of the digital ecosystem presenting the advertisements. Proponents say the AMERICA Act could radically reshape the advertising framework that underpins the Internet economy. Continue reading AMERICA Act Proposes to Curtail Big Tech’s Ad Dominance

Google Ads Transparency Center Offers Searchable Ad Data

Google is launching an Ads Transparency Center. The “searchable hub” rolls out to global users in the coming weeks and lets anyone look up who’s behind an ad, which ads an advertiser ran and where across Google Search, YouTube and the Google Display Network. Additional details are provided for political ads, including the amount spent, number of impressions and any location targeting criteria. In 2020 Google began requiring that advertisers verify their identities, and a year later began letting users access some ad info, but its transparency move follows Facebook’s similar offering, which launched in 2019. Continue reading Google Ads Transparency Center Offers Searchable Ad Data

Federal Government Creates Strike Force to Fight Tech Theft

The U.S. is increasing efforts to thwart technology theft, launching what some are calling a “hack back” attack against adversaries who use illegal means in attempts to steal developmental secrets or strike at supply chains. Operating from 12 metropolitan regions, the new Disruptive Technology Strike Force (DTSF) will enforce laws protecting U.S. advanced technologies from illegal acquisition and use by nation-states. The goal of the DTSF — a joint venture of the Department of Justice and the Commerce Department — is “to strike back against adversaries trying to siphon off our best technology,” deputy attorney general Lisa Monaco said. Continue reading Federal Government Creates Strike Force to Fight Tech Theft

National Security Pressure Continues to Build Against TikTok

Regulatory pressure continues to build against TikTok and the company’s Beijing-based owner. Another state has joined the federal fight to ban the short-form video app, with Virginia this month passing legislation prohibiting TikTok and WeChat from use on state government devices. Meanwhile, on Thursday Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) wrote Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen — who also chairs the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. — advising CFIUS  to “impose strict structural restrictions between TikTok’s American operations and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, including potentially separating the companies.” Continue reading National Security Pressure Continues to Build Against TikTok

Biden Challenges Big Tech, Calls for Children’s Online Safety

President Biden’s second State of the Union speech Tuesday night included calls for stronger consumer privacy protections and tougher antitrust laws in direct challenge to what many perceive as the unchecked power of Big Tech. “Pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen antitrust enforcement and prevent big online platforms from giving their own products an unfair advantage,” Biden stated, urging Congress to “stop Big Tech from collecting personal data on kids and teenagers online, ban targeted advertising to children, and impose stricter limits on the personal data these companies collect on all of us.” Continue reading Biden Challenges Big Tech, Calls for Children’s Online Safety

Taylor Swift Fans File Class Action Suit Against Ticketmaster

A group of 26 Taylor Swift fans have filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster, alleging anticompetitive conduct and fraud after a glitch resulted in the ticketing service canceling sales to Swift’s “Eras” tour, leaving thousands of fans — some of whom waited four to eight hours in ticket queues last month — “empty-handed and unhappy,” according to The New York Times. Their outcry resulted in not only a 33-page complaint filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, but also Congressional demands to unwind the 2010 merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation. Swift’s 52-show Eras tour is scheduled to begin in March. Continue reading Taylor Swift Fans File Class Action Suit Against Ticketmaster

Execs Who Ran MoviePass Charged in Alleged Fraud Scheme

The two individuals who once ran MoviePass have been charged with engaging in a criminal scheme to defraud investors of Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), a publicly traded company based in Florida and New York that invested and then took over the subscription-based movie ticketing service. Ted Farnsworth, former chairman and CEO of MoviePass parent HMNY, and Mitch Lowe, former MoviePass CEO, are each charged with one count of securities fraud and three counts of wire fraud. If convicted, the Florida men face possible prison time of 20 years per count. Continue reading Execs Who Ran MoviePass Charged in Alleged Fraud Scheme

Charges Made by Twitter Whistleblower Could Benefit Musk

A former Twitter security chief may be Elon Musk’s white knight in the billionaire’s effort to get out of his contract to purchase Twitter for $54.20 per share ($44 billion). Peiter Zatko filed a whistleblower disclosure to Congress and federal agencies claiming Twitter not only deceived shareholders and the public by misrepresenting its bot count and security measures, but also alleging “that one or more current employees may be working for a foreign intelligence service,” according to CNN. If true, the allegations would violate a 2011 agreement between Twitter and the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Charges Made by Twitter Whistleblower Could Benefit Musk

Under Antitrust Scrutiny, Google Could Spinoff Its Adtech Biz

Battling new antitrust action by the U.S. Department of Justice, Google is offering to separate part of its adtech business into a discrete unit. The new Alphabet company would focus on app dissemination and programmatic auctions for advertising space and could potentially be worth billions of dollars. It is not known whether the move would satisfy the DOJ, which is reportedly prepping a fresh antitrust suit in the wake of a 2020 action. Google is also the target of antitrust investigations by state attorneys general and under EU and UK inquiries for anticompetitive measures. Continue reading Under Antitrust Scrutiny, Google Could Spinoff Its Adtech Biz