Morning Consult Tech: Infrastructure Package Advances in Senate, Includes $65 Billion for Broadband
 

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July 29, 2021
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Majority of the Public Thinks Social Media Companies Should Be Liable for Spread of Anti-Vaccine and Health Misinformation

Social media companies are continuing to take heat from lawmakers for the dissemination of COVID-19 and anti-vaccine misinformation on their platforms. A new Morning Consult poll indicates that the public thinks that heat is warranted. Some key takeaways:

 

  • 63% of U.S adults said they’d support a federal bill holding platforms responsible for misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and other public health crises. 
  • Support for such legislation — similar to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) proposal to strip Section 230 protections from platforms that allow misinformation to spread during health emergencies — is backed by 78% of Democrats and 52% of Republicans.
  • Social media platforms are doing a “poor” job combating anti-vaccine misinformation, 35% of Americans say.
  • And another 27% say the performance of platforms on that front is just “fair.”

 

Check out the full story here: Social Media Companies Keep Taking Hits Over COVID-19 Misinformation. The Public Thinks There Should Be Consequences

 

Top Stories

  • The bipartisan infrastructure package, which advanced in the Senate yesterday by a 67-32 vote, includes $65 billion for broadband and would create a “permanent program to help more low-income households access the internet,” according to a statement from the White House. According to a draft copy of the broadband section of the bill obtained by NBC News, the package would standardize a minimum speed of 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up, prod internet service providers to aim for higher speeds and require the federal government to create a website that enables consumers to determine their eligibility for low-cost broadband service. (NBC News)
  • Facebook Inc. doubled its year-over-year profit to $10.39 billion and saw its revenue climb 56 percent to $29.08 billion, attributing its strong second-quarter earnings to big spending in the digital ad space. Facebook cautioned investors that privacy changes to Apple Inc.’s iOS system could have a more substantial impact on the social media company’s ad-targeting proficiency in the current quarter than it did in the previous one. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in an interview that President Joe Biden will make the determination on whether overseas chipmakers will receive any of the $52 billion set aside by the administration for semiconductor research and manufacturing, even though Congress has yet to approve those funds. Raimondo said internal policy discussions on the matter are pending and that officials will “go through a big process” before delivering a recommendation to Biden. (Bloomberg)
  • Biden signed a memorandum ordering the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish cybersecurity performance goals. A senior administration official told reporters earlier this week that the country had “really kicked the can down the road” but is now “committed to leveraging every authority we have” in protecting critical infrastructure. (CyberScoop)
 

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Events Calendar (All Times Local)

 

What Else You Need to Know

General
 

FTC Chair Claims Big Tech Promote Fraud

Martin Peers, The Information

Lina Khan appears to be throwing in her lot with those politicians who want to erode tech companies’ section 230 immunity from liability over what appears on their sites. That’s one takeaway from the FTC Chair’s congressional testimony today, where she blamed a  “massive increase in fraud” on “digital platforms where this conduct is tolerated and even promoted by some of the world’s largest companies.”

 

FCC to look at restarting data collection on broadcaster diversity

John Hendel, Politico

FCC commissioners have unanimously voted to collect input about restarting the collection of equal employment opportunity data belonging to broadcasters after a two-decade stall in doing so, according to an agency proposal unveiled Monday.

 

Cook, Pichai Join CEOs Urging Congress Pass Path to Citizenship

Jordan Fabian, Bloomberg

More than 90 chief executive officers, including those at Apple Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook Inc., on Thursday urged Congress to pass a law offering a citizenship path to young immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. as children.

 

Didi Global Considers Going Private to Placate China and Compensate Investors

Jing Yang, The Wall Street Journal

Ride-hailing giant Didi Global Inc. is considering going private in order to placate authorities in China and compensate investors for losses incurred since the company listed in the U.S. in late June, according to people familiar with the matter.

 

Most Apple Stores to Require Masks Again for Shoppers, Staff

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Apple Inc. plans to restore a mask requirement at most of its U.S. retail stores on Thursday for both customers and staff, even those who are vaccinated, in response to a resurgence in Covid cases.

 

PayPal comes in light on revenue, profit drops from last year

MacKenzie Sigalos, CNBC

Second quarter net profit dropped 23% from a year earlier to $1.18 billion, and the company added 11.4 million net new active accounts, for a total of 403 million active accounts.

 

Apple Tells Leaker to Snitch on Sources or It Will Report Them to the Police

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

In a sign of escalation in its war against leakers, Apple sent a cease and desist letter to a Chinese citizen who advertised stolen iPhone prototypes on social media, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Motherboard. 

 

Walmart to sell its e-commerce technologies to other retailers

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Walmart’s investments in software and retail technologies it used to transform its business from a brick-and-mortar to one that combines both in-person and online shopping will now be made available to other retailers for the first time, the company announced today.

 

‘A Tesla for every referral’ as start-ups buy Amazon’s top sellers

Dave Lee, Financial Times

Almost 70 aggregators have raised $7bn to acquire successful marketplace merchants.

 
Antitrust and Competition
 

State AGs will appeal loss in Facebook case

Leah Nylen, Politico

In a court filing Wednesday, attorneys general from 45 states, D.C. and Guam said they would appeal a June decision by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg that threw out their suit. Boasberg ruled that the states had waited too long to challenge Facebook’s 2012 Instagram and 2014 WhatsApp purchases.

 

Why Turkey’s Regulators Became Such a Problem for Google

Adam Satariano and Daisuke Wakabayashi, The New York Times

The antitrust backlash against Big Tech is playing out in places not known as regulatory hotbeds.

 
Telecom, Wireless and Internet Access
 

Comcast beats earnings expectations, gains record internet customers for quarter

Jessica Bursztynsky, CNBC

Comcast reported second-quarter earnings Thursday morning that beat analyst expectations on the top and bottom lines. The company also reported a record of new broadband subscribers for the quarter.

 

FCC’s Rosenworcel: More Than 4 Million Tap Into Broadband Benefit

John Eggerton, Broadcasting & Cable

The EBB, which launched May 12, is a $3.2 billion program established by Congress as part of a December COVID-19 aid package. In addition to helping low income residents get and stay connected during the pandemic the EBB includes a one-time $100 toward a computer or tablet.

 

U.S. senators urge barring Huawei, ZTE from $1.9 trillion gov’t funding measure

David Shepardson, Reuters

Two U.S. senators on Wednesday said they are introducing a measure to prohibit funds in a $1.9 trillion government funding measure from being used to purchase Chinese telecommunications equipment from Huawei, ZTE and other companies deemed U.S. security threats.

 

Inmarsat Challenges Musk and OneWeb With New Satellite Network

Thomas Seal, Bloomberg

Inmarsat Group Holdings Ltd., the U.K.’s biggest satellite company, plans to launch a constellation of low-earth orbit spacecraft and set up 5G wireless networks, joining a new space race against the likes of Elon Musk.

 
Mobile Technology
 

Samsung’s quarterly profit surges on chips, consumer electronics

Steven Musil, CNET

Samsung’s operating profit showed strong growth in the second quarter, thanks to higher-than-expected chip prices and continued consumer demand for electronics during the pandemic.

 

Qualcomm shares rise as revenue pops 63% driven by chip sales

Kif Leswing, CNBC

Qualcomm revenue was up 63% from the same period last year, and earnings per share more than doubled annually in the quarter that ended on June 27. However, that’s a comparison to a quarter where Qualcomm saw less demand for its chips and technology amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Nokia profit substantially up on new operating model, 5G

The Associated Press

Wireless network maker and 5G technology provider Nokia reported substantially improved second-quarter profit Thursday, citing the help of its new operating model and booming sales of 5G equipment.

 

Apple and Tesla Are the Chip Shortage’s Latest Victims

Tim Higgins et al., The Wall Street Journal

Apple Inc. and Tesla Inc. are set to begin feeling the impact of a significant disruption to the global supply of microprocessors, a sign that even some of the largest, best-supplied companies can no longer sidestep the semiconductor crisis.

 

Google Sued in U.K. for Overcharging Millions of Users

Ellen Milligan and Katharine Gemmell, Bloomberg

Alphabet Inc.’s Google faces a London suit over claims it overcharged nearly 20 million U.K. customers for app store purchases, just a month after it was sued in a similar U.S. case.

 
Cybersecurity and Privacy
 

New bill would update decades-old law governing children’s privacy online, add protection for teens

Rachel Lerman, The Washington Post

Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) plans to introduce a bill Thursday morning that would update the decades-old law governing children’s privacy online, an effort bolstered by increased attention on the issue from lawmakers, regulators and kids’ advocates.

 

WhatsApp privacy case must be decided in a month, EU watchdog says

Foo Yun Chee, Reuters

EU privacy watchdog EDPB on Wednesday gave the Irish data protection agency a month to issue a long-delayed decision on compliance by Facebook’s WhatsApp after its peers objected to its draft finding.

 

Israeli Authorities Inspect NSO Offices After Damning Investigation

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Emanuel Maiberg, Motherboard

On Wednesday, Israeli government authorities inspected the office of spyware vendor NSO Group after a group of media outlets and NGOs worldwide published a series of articles alleging several abuses from NSO customers. 

 
Social Media and Content Moderation
 

GOP Bills Carve Up Section 230

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

A new package of House Republican-backed Big Tech-targeted reform bills would carve up Section 230 by carving out a bunch of actors and actions from the section’s protection of social media sites from civil liability for the content they host.

 

Activists protest Facebook’s ‘failure’ on disinformation with body bags outside DC office

Rebecca Klar, The Hill

Activists staged a protest with body bags labeled “disinfo kills” outside of Facebook’s Washington, D.C., office on Wednesday as part of a push to hold the social media giant accountable for amplifying false information about COVID-19.

 
Tech Workforce
 

Google, Facebook to Require Vaccinations for On-Campus Workers

Tripp Mickle and Chip Cutter, The Wall Street Journal

Google and Facebook Inc. will require all employees at their U.S. campuses to be vaccinated, joining a number of public and private enterprises taking new precautions as the highly infectious Delta variant of Covid-19 sweeps across the U.S.

 

Lyft pushes office return date to February as Twitter closes offices it had reopened.

Erin Woo and Kate Conger, The New York Times

In the latest corporate reactions to the highly infectious Delta variant, Lyft said on Wednesday that it would not require employees to return to the office until February, while Twitter said it would close its newly reopened offices in San Francisco and New York and indefinitely postpone other reopening plans.

 

Here’s how Cisco decided that none of its 75,000 employees ever have to return to the office

Aaron Holmes, Insider

Under the “no return to office” policy, Cisco will not set any top-down mandate for the number of days per week its more than 75,000 employees spend in physical offices. Instead, every employee will be considered a hybrid worker and the company’s leadership is encouraging managers to grant workers flexibility in whether they work remotely or in the office.

 

‘You’re the Problem’: When They Spoke Up About Misconduct, They Were Offered Mental Health Services

Alisha Haridasani Gupta and Ruchika Tulshyan, The New York Times

Former and current Google employees said that H.R. would respond to their workplace complaints by referring them to counseling programs instead of addressing the broader issues.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

How Instagram can take its child safety work even further

Casey Newton, The Verge

And why other platforms should copy it.

 
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