Morning Consult Tech: FTC Votes to Investigate Concerns Regarding Repair Restrictions
 

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July 22, 2021
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  • The Federal Trade Commission voted unanimously in favor of a policy spotlighting concerns over restrictions on repairing devices and vowed to probe the legality of those manufacturer-mandated constraints, following an executive order President Joe Biden signed earlier this month calling on the agency to consider writing “Right to Repair” rules on the “unfair anticompetitive restrictions on third-party repair or self-repair of items.” (The Wall Street Journal) In a party-line vote, the FTC also revoked its 1995 “prior approval” policy statement, resurrecting merger reporting requirements for startup acquisitions. (Bloomberg Law)
  • Joseph O’Connor, a 22-year-old U.K. man, was arrested in Spain and charged by U.S. authorities for hacking more than 130 Twitter accounts in July 2020, including those belonging to Biden, former President Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and others. O’Connor also faces charges of cyberstalking a juvenile and hacking into TikTok and Snapchat accounts. (NBC News)
  • A letter organized by the Semiconductor Industry Association and sent to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called on Congress to quickly boost U.S. semiconductor production by financing the Chips Act, which provides incentives to manufacturers to build fabrication facilities but was never funded despite becoming law in this year’s defense bill. (Bloomberg)
  • Ford Motor Co. and a self-driving system from Argo AI will join the Lyft Inc. network to offer autonomous rides in Miami later this year and in Austin, Texas, in 2022, the first step in the ride-hailing service’s plan to launch 1,000 robotaxis in several markets over the next five years. The Miami and Austin launches will begin with human backup drivers before transitioning to the completely driverless system at an undetermined time. (The Associated Press)
 

Chart Review

Protocol Workplace: Tech Employee Survey 2021

Protocol and Morning Consult

 
 

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

 

What Else You Need to Know

General
 

Biden’s vaccine misinformation road not taken

Alexandra S. Levine, Politico

Democrats urged the incoming president last year to name a point person to take on false claims about the pandemic. Now “the misinformation question” is an even huger problem.

 

Warning From Major Chipmaker Adds to Worries Industry Will Produce More Than Demand

Ian King and Debby Wu, Bloomberg

Chipmakers from Taiwan to the U.S. are cranking up production to address shortages that have hammered automakers and other customers as they try to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The Amazonification of Space Begins in Earnest

David Streitfeld and Erin Woo, The New York Times

With the suborbital flights made by Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson this month, the privatization of the space industry has crossed the point of no return.

 

Infrastructure vote fails as senators try to salvage bipartisan deal

Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, Politico

Senate Republicans blocked moving forward on a bipartisan infrastructure bill that’s still being negotiated on Wednesday. Surprisingly, members of the group insist they’re unbothered.

 

Salesforce Closes $27.7 Billion Acquisition of Slack

Kevin McLaughlin, The Information

Salesforce announced it has completed its $27.7 billion acquisition of Slack, the largest transaction in its 22-year history and one that puts it on a collision course with Microsoft in the workplace collaboration software market.

 

Microsoft acquires security start-up CloudKnox

Jordan Novet, CNBC

Microsoft said Wednesday it’s acquiring CloudKnox, a start-up whose software helps companies reduce the amount of access they provide to their cloud resources. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

 

NASA won’t rush Mars mission over U.S. ‘space race’ with China

Dave Nyczepir, FedScoop

NASA won’t rush its planned mission to Mars in the late 2030s and risk human life, despite being in a “space race” with China, said Administrator Bill Nelson on Wednesday.

 
Antitrust and Competition
 

Exclusive: Swiss privacy app wades into U.S. antitrust war

Margaret Harding McGill, Axios

Privacy-focused email app ProtonMail is stepping into the U.S. antitrust debate as it and other smaller players take on Apple and Google in a fight over app store fees and practices.

 

EXCLUSIVE India watchdog accuses Amazon of concealing facts in deal for Future Group unit

Aditya Kalra, Reuters

India’s antitrust regulator has accused Amazon.com Inc of concealing facts and making false submissions when it sought approval for a 2019 investment in a Future Group unit, a letter to the U.S. e-commerce giant seen by Reuters showed.

 

Australian regulator to probe Amazon, eBay among online markets

Byron Kaye, Reuters

The Australian antitrust regulator on Thursday began an inquiry into the local units of Amazon.com Inc, eBay Inc and other online markets to ensure fairness in a sector where sales have soared through the coronavirus pandemic.

 
Telecom, Wireless and Internet Access
 

Verizon sees boost in 5G adoption as it touts a ‘record’ second quarter

Eli Blumenthal, CNET

Verizon has been pushing 5G phone upgrades and it looks like people are taking advantage. In its second-quarter earnings on Wednesday the company announced an adjusted earnings-per-share of $1.37 on $33.8 billion in revenue, beating Wall Street expectations. 

 
Mobile Technology
 

Clubhouse opens membership to all users

Chris Mills Rodrigo, The Hill

Users on both iOS and Android will now be able to make accounts and join the app, which exploded in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, without needing the referral of an existing member.

 

Apple’s Biggest iPhone Production Site Hit by Flooding in Central China

Stephanie Yang, The Wall Street Journal

The severe flooding in central China cut power temporarily at Apple Inc.’s biggest iPhone manufacturing site as water seeped into some areas and the site’s operator gave many workers time off, said factory employees there.

 

Five U.S. senators want to ensure Verizon TracFone deal does not raise prices

Reuters

Five Democratic U.S. senators on Wednesday urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ensure Verizon’s proposed $6.9 billion acquisition of pre-paid mobile phones provider TracFone does not raise prices or impact government programs to provide access to mobile phones for low-income Americans.

 

Intel’s foundry ambitions could be slowed by lack of deal targets

Stephen Nellis, Reuters

For Intel Corp Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger, an obvious strategy in his high-stakes bid to make the company a player in producing chips for others would be a transformational acquisition, analysts say. But there is just one problem – a dearth of acquisition targets for Intel to buy.

 
Cybersecurity and Privacy
 

Biden to convene private sector leaders for cybersecurity talks in August

Reuters

President Joe Biden and senior U.S. officials will meet private sector leaders on Aug. 25 to discuss ways to beef up cybersecurity, a White House spokesperson said on Wednesday, underscoring the need for collective action.

 

Saudi Aramco facing $50M cyber extortion over leaked data

Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press

Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant acknowledged Wednesday that leaked data from the company — files now apparently being used in a cyber-extortion attempt involving a $50 million ransom demand — likely came from one of its contractors.

 

Senators Promote Cybersecurity Measures in Core Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework

Mariam Baksh, Nextgov

Congressional leaders of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission stressed a need to focus specifically on water treatment systems.

 

New legislation would boost the FTC’s role in fighting ransomware

Tonya Riley, CyberScoop

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce consumer protection subcommittee, filed legislation Tuesday that would require the agency to report the number of ransomware and cyberattack-related complaints it receives, and how it cooperated with international law enforcement to respond to those issues.

 

CBP Cybersecurity Failures Left Travelers’ Personal Info at Risk, IG Says

Mila Jasper, Nextgov

A new internal watchdog report finds Customs and Border Protection failed to conduct required cybersecurity activities for its Mobile Passport Control applications.

 
Social Media and Content Moderation
 

Anti-vaccine groups changing into ‘dance parties’ on Facebook to avoid detection

Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny, NBC News

The ban-evasion efforts on Facebook and Instagram are ratcheting up as the White House has increased pressure on the social media platforms to do more to contain vaccine misinformation.

 

Investigation: How TikTok’s Algorithm Figures Out Your Deepest Desires

The Wall Street Journal

A Wall Street Journal investigation found that TikTok only needs one important piece of information to figure out what you want: the amount of time you linger over a piece of content. Every second you hesitate or rewatch, the app is tracking you.

 

Twitter tests Reddit-style upvote and downvote buttons

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Twitter will test the use of Reddit-like upvote and downvote buttons as a way to better highlight the more interesting and relevant replies in a longer conversation thread. The company announced this afternoon it would begin what it’s calling a “small research experiment” that will add upvote and downvote buttons to replies, or even replace the “Like” button entirely.

 

Tumblr debuts Post+, a subscription service for Gen Z creators

Amanda Silberling, TechCrunch

Now, Tumblr is joining the fray with Post+, the platform’s first attempt at allowing users to monetize their content. Post+ is debuting today in limited beta for an exclusive selection of creators in the U.S., who were hand-picked by Tumblr.

 
Tech Workforce
 

‘Poverty is not flexibility’: Gig workers strike over labor practices

Megan Rose Dickey, Protocol

Gig workers across the country staged a protest and strike today in response to Uber, Lyft and other companies’ labor practices. At the rally in San Francisco, drivers spoke about the issues with California’s Proposition 22 and urged the passage of the PRO Act.

 

Half of the tech workforce wants to join a union

Anna Kramer, Protocol

A decade ago, many tech workers seemed more concerned with their stock options than forming a union. But in the last two years, a growing list of tech workers have formed unions or tried to, including a very powerful and rapidly-expanding one at Google — and about half of all tech workers are now interested in joining a union, according to a survey conducted by Protocol in partnership with Morning Consult.

 

Hundreds of Google employees call on company to change sexual-misconduct policies that they say put the burden on survivors

Rosalie Chan and Hugh Langley, Insider

Hundreds of Google employees have signed a petition calling on the company to improve the way it handles cases of sexual harassment and accusing it of “pushing” employees to seek mental-health support when they allege instances of harassment.

 

Uber is losing so many employees that executives had to address questions about the problem at recent all-hands meetings

Tom Dotan and Mark Matousek, Insider

In June, Uber’s overall attrition rate was about 20%, according to figures shared with Insider. Within Eats specifically, the figure was slightly higher. Those rates are well above the usual level in the teens, people familiar with the figures say. They asked not to be identified as they were discussing sensitive internal data. 

 

Couple in eBay harassment case sues company, ex-officials

The Associated Press

A Massachusetts couple subjected to threats and other bizarre harassment from former eBay Inc. employees filed a civil lawsuit against the Silicon Valley giant on Wednesday.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

The Biden administration should take the First Amendment as seriously as Facebook misinformation

Adi Robertson, The Verge

‘Reviewing’ Section 230 isn’t the answer to anti-vax posts.

 

Facebook and YouTube’s vaccine misinformation problem is simpler than it seems

Will Oremus, The Washington Post

As the Biden administration struggles to find the words to confront social platforms, a better understanding of their algorithms could help.

 
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