GAO Reports Spur Bipartisan Support for Laws Regulating AI

Legislators on both sides of the aisle agree that the United States should support development of artificial intelligence, even as they — along with the White House, the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) — work on bills to regulate it. President Biden’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is focused on limiting discrimination caused by algorithms, and the National Defense Authorization Act mandates that the Pentagon focus on ethics and NIST develop standards. Continue reading GAO Reports Spur Bipartisan Support for Laws Regulating AI

Senate Judiciary Committee Pursues New Antitrust Legislation

Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working together on antitrust legislation similar to some of the measures the House Judiciary Committee approved last month. Grassley has yet to offer specific details of proposed legislation but Klobuchar, who is chair of the judiciary panel’s antitrust subcommittee, said a focus on tech companies that offer their own version of products sold by rivals dependent on their platforms is “at the heart of two of the House proposals.” Continue reading Senate Judiciary Committee Pursues New Antitrust Legislation

Government Accountability Office Calls for Faster Broadband

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report stating that the FCC’s current broadband minimum benchmark speeds — 25Mbps for downloading and 3Mbps for uploading — are too slow for many small business needs today. This benchmark was implemented in 2015 under FCC chair Tom Wheeler and was not updated by the next chair, Ajit Pai. Wheeler updated it from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream during his four-year term, an increase opposed by Republicans and the broadband industry. Continue reading Government Accountability Office Calls for Faster Broadband

EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, is calling for greater global alignment on tech regulation, noting “we do not have a global competition enforcer, but we have global companies.” Vestager added she was “really encouraged” by the Biden administration’s efforts to take similar actions in the U.S. with the 72 actions listed in his recent executive order that focused on Big Tech’s collection of data, surveillance practices and acquisitions of startups. Continue reading EU’s Vestager Calls for Aligned Global Regulation of Big Tech

Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

President Joe Biden signed an executive order with 72 proposals and actions for a “whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy.” Among them, President Biden encourages the FCC to restore net neutrality rules undone by former President Donald Trump, to “consider limiting early termination fees and prevent Internet service providers from making deals with landlords that limit tenant choices,” and to revive the President Barack Obama era Broadband Nutrition Label and its better price transparency. Continue reading Biden Executive Order Promotes Net Neutrality, Competition

Pentagon Cancels JEDI Contract, Reveals New Cloud Initiative

The Defense Department stated that the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project “no longer meets its needs,” canceling a highly contentious $10 billion cloud computing contract awarded to Microsoft. In January, the department warned Congress that it would do so if a federal court agreed to hear whether former President Trump used his influence to award the contract to Microsoft over its rival Amazon. Such a suit, it pointed out, would result in a lengthy court cost and unacceptable delays. Instead, the Pentagon announced a new cloud program. Continue reading Pentagon Cancels JEDI Contract, Reveals New Cloud Initiative

Massive Ransomware Attack Affects Hundreds of Businesses

Software company Kaseya was targeted by a cyberattack starting Friday that has since spread to hundreds of mainly small and medium-size businesses. On Monday, Kaseya chief executive Fred Voccola reported to Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology, that the attackers demanded a $70 million ransomware payment and that his company wasn’t aware of any breach of critical infrastructure impacting national security. According to experts, the attackers may be members of REvil, a Russian cybercriminal group. Continue reading Massive Ransomware Attack Affects Hundreds of Businesses

U.S. Brokers Global Minimum Tax with Support of 130 Nations

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen revealed that 130 nations have agreed to a global minimum tax (GMT) on corporations as part of a larger agreement to update international tax rules. The Biden administration has urged that the rate be at least 15 percent, but Yellen has yet to announce an agreed-upon rate. The agreement — intended to end the practice of global corporations moving their headquarters to low-tax international jurisdictions — is a “key element” of Biden’s domestic plans for revenue and spending. Continue reading U.S. Brokers Global Minimum Tax with Support of 130 Nations

Legislators Planning to Revamp Antitrust Laws for Digital Era

U.S. antitrust laws date back to the days of Big Oil. When a federal judge this week dismissed antitrust lawsuits brought against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and 48 states, experts called for a modernization of the laws themselves. The judge who dismissed the lawsuits said that the FTC didn’t prove its claim that Facebook was a monopoly and the states brought their case too long after Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) said the U.S. needs a “massive overhaul of our antitrust laws.” Continue reading Legislators Planning to Revamp Antitrust Laws for Digital Era

House Judiciary Committee Approves Plans to Rein in Big Tech

Despite significant lobbying efforts by technology companies, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Ending Platform Monopolies Act, the final of six bills proposed to restrict Big Tech’s dominance. The Committee also approved the American Choice and Innovation Online Act, which would ban Big Tech from advantaging their own products, disadvantaging rivals or discriminating between “similarly situated” business users and another bill that would require them to make it easier for users to transport their data to other platforms. The bills still must be approved by the House and Senate to become law. Continue reading House Judiciary Committee Approves Plans to Rein in Big Tech

TSMC Semiconductor Dominance Imperils Global Electronics

With its chips in billions of products, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the world’s most dominant chipmaker and, with a market cap of about $550 billion, is also the world’s 11th most valuable company. According to research firm TrendForce, Taiwan generated about 65 percent of global revenues for outsourced chipmaking, with TSMC accounting for 56 percent of that figure. Capital Economics — and other analysts — opined that the world’s dependence on Taiwanese chips is “a threat to the global economy.” Continue reading TSMC Semiconductor Dominance Imperils Global Electronics

ByteDance Revenue, Profit Leap in 2020 But No IPO in Sight

Privately-held startup ByteDance, owner of TikTok, reported that its revenue more than doubled to $34.3 billion last year, rising 111 percent from a year ago while gross profit rose 93 percent to $19 billion. As of December 2020, ByteDance — which also runs Douyin, the domestic Chinese version of TikTok, and Jinri Toutiao, a news aggregation app — had about 1.9 billion monthly active users on all its platforms. Due to share-based compensation to workers, the company had a $2.1 billion operating loss last year. Continue reading ByteDance Revenue, Profit Leap in 2020 But No IPO in Sight

Another Call for the Creation of a Privacy Enforcement Agency

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) has revisited her Data Protection Act of 2020 to add the creation of a government agency that would regulate and enforce federal privacy laws. She noted that, “Big Tech companies are free to sell individuals’ data to the highest bidder without fear of real consequences … a data privacy crisis is looming over the everyday lives of Americans.” The revamped version, more likely to be passed during the Biden administration, also includes sections on antitrust and civil rights. Continue reading Another Call for the Creation of a Privacy Enforcement Agency

Antitrust Law Authority Lina Khan Appointed Chair of the FTC

In a largely bipartisan vote, the Senate appointed antitrust law expert and Columbia Law School associate professor Lina Khan as chair of the Federal Trade Commission after earlier adding her to the agency. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced Khan’s appointment as FTC chair. At 32 years of age, Khan is the youngest person to ever join and lead the FTC. The legal scholar has also been a consistent critic of Big Tech, so her confirmation is evidence that lawmakers from both political parties agree that it is time to further evaluate the growing dominance of those companies. Continue reading Antitrust Law Authority Lina Khan Appointed Chair of the FTC

U.S. Offers Incentives for Countries to Avoid China’s 5G Gear

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Commercial Law Development Program (CLDP) is leading a program to encourage nations to avoid gear from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE in building their own 5G networks. The workshops on how to do so, combined with a handbook and some financial incentives, are aimed at legislators in Central and Eastern Europe as well as developing countries around the world. The handbook will include case studies of how the United Kingdom, for example, deployed 5G without Chinese equipment. Continue reading U.S. Offers Incentives for Countries to Avoid China’s 5G Gear

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