FCC’s Carr Renews Call for a National Security Ban on TikTok

Brendan Carr, a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, is continuing his efforts to have TikTok banned, telling the Council on Foreign Investment in the U.S. in his strongest language to date that the viral short-form video app is, as a result of consumer adoption, becoming a part of the nation’s critical information infrastructure, and thus presents a national security risk due to Chinese ownership. TikTok is reportedly back in negotiations with the CFIUS, an interagency committee that reviews foreign investment, about a change of ownership that would smooth the path to ongoing U.S. operations. Continue reading FCC’s Carr Renews Call for a National Security Ban on TikTok

Senate Group Wants CISA to Protect Open-Source Software

Senate Homeland Security Committee leaders Gary Peters (D-Michigan) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have introduced a bill requiring a risk framework for open-source code. The proposed legislation would require the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to develop the risk evaluation process for open-source software being used by federal agencies and critical infrastructure. The move follows the discovery in December of a vulnerability in the Apache Software Foundation’s popular Log4j Java logging utility. Peters said the Log4j incident presented a serious threat to banks, hospitals, and utility companies, among other national security operations. Continue reading Senate Group Wants CISA to Protect Open-Source Software

California Governor Signs Online Child Protection Bill into Law

Governor Gavin Newsom signed the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act into law last week, making his state the first in the nation to adopt online child safety measures. The bipartisan legislation requires online platforms to default to privacy and safety settings that protect children’s mental and physical health. The new law, cosponsored by Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks (D-15th District) and Jordan Cunningham (R-35th District), prohibits companies that provide online services and products in California from using a child’s personal information and forbids collecting, selling, or retaining a child’s geolocation, among other things. Continue reading California Governor Signs Online Child Protection Bill into Law

TikTok on the Hot Seat at Senate Homeland Security Hearing

Executives from four social media giants defended the privacy, security and content moderation protocols of their platforms to the Senate Homeland Security Committee Wednesday. In her first appearance before Congress, TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas was grilled on whether the short-form video app shares data about American citizens with the Chinese government. ByteDance, which owns TikTok, is based in Beijing, and its potential censorship of user content was another area of concern. Questions for the group — which included representatives from Meta Platforms, YouTube and Twitter — ranged from extremists to biometrics. Continue reading TikTok on the Hot Seat at Senate Homeland Security Hearing

Twitter Investors Back Musk Offer as Whistleblower Testifies

Twitter shareholders this week approved the $44 billion takeover bid by Elon Musk, voting the same day as whistleblower Peiter Zatko testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, telling lawmakers that the social media company’s leadership misled regulators about security failures. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was skeptical as to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal keeping his job if Zatko’s allegations prove to be true, saying the executive “rejected this committee’s invitation by claiming that it would jeopardize Twitter’s ongoing litigation” with Musk. Twitter has categorically denied Zatko’s claims, which include foreign agents infiltrating Twitter’s workforce. Continue reading Twitter Investors Back Musk Offer as Whistleblower Testifies

Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

This past year, Big Tech has invested more than $95 million in lobbying initiatives designed to kill the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which seeks to rebalance the power between consumers and major technology companies such as Amazon, Alphabet, Apple and Meta Platforms. In two years, the bill has advanced further than any similar U.S. legislative effort, but time is running out before midterm elections and the unknown of a potential shift in control of the House and/or Senate. Supporters of the measure say they currently have the votes needed for passage. Continue reading Big Tech Lobbying and Midterms Could Impact Antitrust Bill

Congress Passes CHIPS Act to Boost Production, Research

After more than a year of wrangling, the Senate on Wednesday passed a bipartisan tech and science funding bill in a 64-33 vote. The CHIPS and Science Act commits $280 billion to be spent over five years in what is being called the largest manufacturing, research and development initiative of its kind. The largest single area of investment is $76 billion to fund domestic semiconductor production, which includes $24 billion in new tax incentives. Yesterday, the bill passed in a 243-187 House vote and now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law. The legislation aims to bolster national security by making the U.S. chip independent and boosting competition against China. Continue reading Congress Passes CHIPS Act to Boost Production, Research

Senate Advances $52B Bill to Combat Global Chip Shortage

The Senate moved to advance legislation that supports U.S. semiconductor manufacturing by stripping other aspects from a larger China competitiveness bill. Dubbed “CHIPS-plus,” the narrowed proposal still allocates $52 billion in subsidies for chipmakers but had a “hold-this-space” marker for the remainder of the language. The procedural motion required 51 votes to determine if this stripped-down version of the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) could proceed to a final vote even though adjustments would continue to be made before the Senate votes on the finished result. It cleared that hurdle, 64-34. Continue reading Senate Advances $52B Bill to Combat Global Chip Shortage

Proposed Legislation Drafted to Restore Net Neutrality Rules

With efforts to fill the vacant FCC seat and tilt the commission back to a Democratic majority, the Senate is poised to try an alternate path to realizing the party’s longtime goal of restoring net neutrality rules. Championed by Senators Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act proposes to reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, which would open up companies including AT&T and Verizon to stricter FCC oversight. Internet service providers would be prevented from blocking or throttling content, while pricing and privacy would also receive scrutiny. Continue reading Proposed Legislation Drafted to Restore Net Neutrality Rules

TikTok Promises Government That User Data Will Remain Safe

In the wake of an FCC commissioner’s call to have TikTok banned from the Apple and Android stores, company CEO Shou Zi Chew issued a letter assuring senators that the China-based company is doing all it can to “remove any doubt about the security of U.S. user data.” Responding to questions from nine Republicans — including ranking Senate Commerce Committee member Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) — Chew reiterated the claim that TikTok maintains American user data on servers controlled by the U.S. company Oracle, with plans for third-party audits. The dust-up follows an incendiary report by BuzzFeed News. Continue reading TikTok Promises Government That User Data Will Remain Safe

GlobalWafers Ties Proposal for Texas Foundry to CHIPS Act

Taiwanese semiconductor giant GlobalWafers wants to invest $5 billion to construct a state-of-the-art 300-millimeter silicon wafer factory in Sherman, Texas, but only if Congress can fund the CHIPS for America Act, which passed in January 2021 and has been promised $52 billion but sits with an empty purse. The new GlobalWafers factory would be the first of its kind in the U.S. in 20 years and is expected to create 1,500 jobs. GlobalWafers president Mark England says if government incentives are not unleashed soon the company will “pivot to South Korea.” Continue reading GlobalWafers Ties Proposal for Texas Foundry to CHIPS Act

Senate Cryptocurrency Bill Could Be a Victory for Blockchain

A debate as to whether cryptocurrencies are more like commodities than securities is playing out in Washington, with Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) introducing legislation to regulate them like commodities. If passed, the bill would put digital currency under the regulatory purview of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) rather than the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a win for the crypto sector, which prefers the smaller agency. SEC chair Gary Gensler takes the position that digital assets are akin to publicly traded stock and should be regulated by the SEC.
Continue reading Senate Cryptocurrency Bill Could Be a Victory for Blockchain

Big Tech Fights Antitrust Bill as Congress Moves Toward Vote

Big Tech is pulling out all the stops to prevent Congress from signing the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICO) into law before the midterm elections. Amazon and Alphabet have rallied forces in opposition to the antitrust measure whose principal goal is to halt “self-preferencing,” or the ability of online giants to use their market strength in one area to help boost sideline subsidiaries through preferential treatment. For instance, Alphabet using its wholly-owned search engine Google to promote its own shopping or travel products. Continue reading Big Tech Fights Antitrust Bill as Congress Moves Toward Vote

Judge Rules That FTC Can Proceed with Meta Antitrust Case

A federal judge has allowed a Federal Trade Commission antitrust lawsuit against Facebook to proceed, denying dismissal, a major victory for the agency as it gears up to take on Big Tech. The FTC claims the company, which since renamed itself Meta Platforms, accrued monopoly power and abused it by harming competition through an acquisitions strategy described as “buy or bury.” The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruling is seen as a warning to tech behemoths like Amazon, Apple and Google and the armies of lobbyists and lawyers employed to protect their interests. Continue reading Judge Rules That FTC Can Proceed with Meta Antitrust Case

CES: Bipartisan Panel of Women Senators Weigh Tech Issues

CTA senior vice president of political and industry affairs Continue reading CES: Bipartisan Panel of Women Senators Weigh Tech Issues