Alphabet CEO Calls for Government Action in Tech Innovation

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent Alphabet, is urging the U.S. government to step up innovation and more actively police cyberthreats. In a year beset with security breaches attributed to Russian and Chinese hackers, Pichai says it’s time to draft a Geneva Convention for technology, outlining international legal standards, safeguards and behavioral norms for the connected age. Pichai also made an appeal for state-sponsored innovation in the face of competition from China, where the Communist Party under President Xi Jinping has outlined plans to advance artificial intelligence and develop a proprietary semiconductor sector. Continue reading Alphabet CEO Calls for Government Action in Tech Innovation

Congress Pushes Bill to Spend Billions on Broadband Access

Congress advanced legislation to spend $65 billion to expand high-speed Internet access across the country. The government estimates 14 million U.S. households don’t have broadband, but other sources believe the figure is 40 million or higher. The measure’s allocation of $65 billion for broadband, which in part would subsidize low-income households, would be the biggest ever spent in the United States. Approved by the Senate as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure measure, the measure now faces a vote in the House. Continue reading Congress Pushes Bill to Spend Billions on Broadband Access

Senate Measure Could Impact Developers, App Store Models

The U.S. Senate introduced the Open App Markets Act to give consumers more control over their devices; stop app stores from ‘disadvantaging’ developers and allow them to inform consumers about lower prices and offer competitive pricing; improve the ability of startup apps, third-party app stores and payment services to compete; require devices to allow ‘sideloading’ of apps; and continue to protect privacy, security and safety of consumers. If voted into law, the Act could end Apple and Google’s monopoly over the app ecosystem. Continue reading Senate Measure Could Impact Developers, App Store Models

Google Chief Warns That Free, Open Internet Is Under Attack

In an in-depth interview with the BBC, Alphabet and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai suggested that an open Internet is under attack in different parts of the world where the free flow of information is often restricted and the Internet model is generally taken for granted. He also expressed concern about key areas that have become increasingly controversial, such as privacy, data and taxes — and defends his company’s record on these fronts. Meanwhile, he also believes that the development of artificial intelligence will change the world and may prove “more profound” than the creation of fire, electricity or even the Internet. Continue reading Google Chief Warns That Free, Open Internet Is Under Attack

Hong Kong Laws Could Drive Out Facebook, Twitter, Google

In Hong Kong, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau is slated to enact data protection laws against doxing — making personal information public to enable harassment — which was used during the 2019 protests. Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Twitter privately warned authorities that the new rules could put their staff at risk of criminal prosecutions, and if enacted, they may shut down their services. Punishment would be a fine of up to 1 million Hong Kong dollars (U.S. $128,800) and up to five years in prison. Continue reading Hong Kong Laws Could Drive Out Facebook, Twitter, Google

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 Passes Two Bills in Effort to Foster Scientific Research

In a bipartisan vote, the House passed two bills this week designed to boost U.S. research and development programs. The bills are the House’s response to the Senate’s passage of the Endless Frontier Act that puts significant federal funds into emerging technologies with the aim of competing with China. Instead, the bills passed by the House double the amount of money over the next five years for research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and provides a 7 percent increase for the Energy Department’s Office of Science. Continue reading House Passes Two Bills in Effort to Foster Scientific Research

EU Legislation to Ban AI for Surveillance and Social Ranking

In upcoming legislation from the European Commission, the European Union plans to ban artificial intelligence used for mass surveillance or ranking social behavior, with the rules applying equally to “companies based in the EU or abroad.” The measure could be unveiled as early as next week. Under the law, EU member states would be required to create “assessment bodies” to test, certify and inspect AI systems. In Germany, Hamburg authorities are seeking to stop Facebook from collecting user data from WhatsApp. Continue reading EU Legislation to Ban AI for Surveillance and Social Ranking

Facebook and News Corp Sign a Multi-Year Deal in Australia

Facebook inked a multi-year agreement with News Corp in Australia, resolving a standoff on paying publishers for content. The News Corp content will include the national newspaper The Australian, The Daily Telegraph in New South Wales, the Herald Sun in Victoria and The Courier-Mail in Queensland. News Corp’s cable channel Sky News Australia reached a separate deal with Facebook. Now, 17 million Facebook users in Australia will be able to access News Corp publications’ breaking news and news articles behind a paywall. Continue reading Facebook and News Corp Sign a Multi-Year Deal in Australia

States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Arizona, Maryland and Virginia are just three states pushing legislation to limit Big Tech companies such as Google and Apple on issues including digital advertisements, app-store fees and online privacy. Their actions appear to highlight a growing trend: that state capitals are emerging at the forefront of potentially regulating Silicon Valley behemoths. While the federal government is holding hearings and suing some Big Tech companies, states may beat them to passing laws that will become de facto national standards. Continue reading States Lead the Way in Proposing Laws to Regulate Big Tech

Arizona Bill Curbing Apple, Google App Stores Passes House

Last week, the Arizona House of Representatives voted 31-29 to pass HB 2005, requiring app stores to allow app developers to use their own payment processing systems. Apple and Google, which have banned developers from doing so, have reaped 15-30 percent from every purchase made from an app in their stores. The bill’s House passage is considered a victory for the non-profit Coalition for App Fairness (CAF). To become law, the Arizona Senate has to approve the proposed legislation. Arizona governor Doug Ducey still has the option to veto it. Continue reading Arizona Bill Curbing Apple, Google App Stores Passes House

Europe Echoes Australia’s Call for Big Tech to Pay Publishers

As the Australian law requiring Google and Facebook to pay publishers for content nears passage, news publishers in the European Union are urging legislators to copy that law. The European Publishers Council supports the Digital Markets Act (DMA) to be included in legislation, forcing binding arbitration if the two parties can’t agree on payments. In the U.S., Congress members intend to introduce legislation to make it easier for smaller news organizations to negotiate with Facebook, Google and other Big Tech platforms. Continue reading Europe Echoes Australia’s Call for Big Tech to Pay Publishers

Facebook and Google Respond Differently to Australian Law

Against strong pushback from Facebook and Google, Australia is on the cusp of passing a law proposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission that would force both companies to pay publishers for the content on their sites. The two companies have taken significantly different paths in response to the looming law. Google debuted a three-year global agreement with News Corp to pay for content, and Facebook stated it would restrict users and publishers from viewing and sharing news links, effective immediately. Continue reading Facebook and Google Respond Differently to Australian Law

Senator Klobuchar Calls for Tough New Antitrust Legislation

As incoming head of the Senate antitrust subcommittee, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) renewed her call to legislate major changes to U.S. trust laws. Specifically, the legislation would prevent companies that dominate in a sector from purchasing other companies unless they can prove the deals don’t “create an appreciable risk of materially lessening competition.” Klobuchar suggested such changes in Congress’ previous session and Republicans largely rebuffed them. Democrat control of the Senate could improve the odds of passage. Continue reading Senator Klobuchar Calls for Tough New Antitrust Legislation

Some States Say Amazon Is Liable for Third-Party Products

When Angela Bolger’s laptop caught fire due to a replacement battery she bought on Amazon, she suffered third-degree burns and filed a lawsuit against the popular e-commerce site. Amazon responded by providing a refund for the battery. Until recently, Amazon has successfully fought off such liability suits. The stakes are high since almost 60 percent of all physical goods on its site now come from third-party sellers. The courts have traditionally sided with Amazon, but recent cases from a few states are changing that trend. Continue reading Some States Say Amazon Is Liable for Third-Party Products