Morning Consult Tech: Intel to Begin Building Chips for Qualcomm and Amazon
 

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Essential tech industry news & intel to start your day.
July 27, 2021
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  • Intel Corp. said its factories will begin building chips for Qualcomm Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. in an effort to overtake rivals Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. by 2025. The semiconductor giant said it is planning to roll out five sets of chipmaking technologies over the next four years. (Reuters)
  • As part of an effort to “clean up” results of last year’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, the Federal Communications Commission sent letters to 197 winning bidders offering them a chance to retract their funding requests from areas where broadband services had already been rendered or questions of waste have arisen. The FCC, which said it would sign off on over $311 million in broadband funding in 36 states as part of the fund, specifically challenged SpaceX over its application for $886 million in subsidies, questioning whether some of the rural broadband subsidies had been ticketed for parking lots and airports that are connected via satellite. (Bloomberg)
  • Amazon founder Jeff Bezos pledged to waive $2 billion in fees over the next two years in an effort to win a joint NASA lunar-lander program contract for Blue Origin LLC. NASA had previously awarded the contract entirely to SpaceX, citing budgetary reasons; Bezos in his letter to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said his offer would take such considerations out of the equation. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Facebook Inc. is launching a product team within its virtual reality group to work on the “metaverse,” a concept involving digital worlds that multiple people can occupy simultaneously. Pouring resources into the development of a metaverse follows Facebook’s substantial investments in augmented and virtual reality, technologies that Amazon, Apple Inc., Google and Microsoft Corp. have also prioritized in product development. (CNBC)
 

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What Else You Need to Know

General
 

High-stakes infrastructure talks stall out as deadline passes

Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, Politico

The bipartisan group of lawmakers hoped to reach a final agreement by early this week after a vote to advance undrafted legislation failed last week. But that appears unlikely, with several issues outstanding. While transit seems to be the biggest sticking point, provisions on both broadband and the bill’s finances are also not resolved.

 

Facebook and tech giants to target attacker manifestos, far-right militias in database

Elizabeth Culliford, Reuters

A counterterrorism organization formed by some of the biggest U.S. tech companies including Facebook and Microsoft is significantly expanding the types of extremist content shared between firms in a key database, aiming to crack down on material from white supremacists and far-right militias, the group told Reuters.

 

The China Model: What the Country’s Tech Crackdown Is Really About

Austin Carr and Coco Liu, Bloomberg Businessweek

After spending years emulating Silicon Valley, the world’s second-biggest economy is now officially charting its own course.

 

A political bogeyman of Silicon Valley

Lachlan Markay, Axios

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel is injecting huge sums into some crucial 2022 midterm contests — and drawing fire from Republicans eager to tie their rivals to the GOP’s Silicon Valley bogeymen.

 

Tech’s massive money shield

Scott Rosenberg, Axios

The tech industry’s leading giants are floating on a cushion of record profits in lakes of reserve cash, and all that money makes them just about unsinkable.

 

The Really Critical Infrastructure Need: American-Made Semiconductors

Gerald F. Seib, The Wall Street Journal

The push for two big infrastructure bills—one bipartisan, the other a much bigger one pushed by Democrats alone—is getting all the attention in Washington right now, and for good reason. Trillions of dollars hang in the balance, as does much of President Biden’s agenda and the question of whether Washington can do anything big in a bipartisan fashion any more.

 

PayPal to research transactions that fund hate groups, extremists

Anna Irrera, Reuters

PayPal Holdings Inc is partnering with non-profit organisation the Anti-Defamation League to investigate how extremist and hate movements in the United States take advantage of financial platforms to fund their criminal activities.

 

Amazon denies report of accepting bitcoin as payment

Reuters

Amazon.com Inc on Monday denied a media report saying the e-commerce giant was looking to accept bitcoin payments by the end of the year.

 

Tesla shrugs off the global chip shortage to post its most profitable quarter yet

Tim Levin, Insider

Tesla on Monday posted its most profitable quarter yet, beating Wall Street’s expectations even as a microchip shortage and other supply-chain troubles complicate car production. 

 
Antitrust and Competition
 

Big fines can change Big Tech, says French competition chief

Javier Espinoza and Leila Abboud, Financial Times

Isabelle De Silva’s comments come as slow pace of antitrust probes frustrates European regulators.

 

EU gives Google 2 months to improve hotel, flight search results

Foo Yun Chee, Reuters

Alphabet unit Google has two months to improve the way it presents internet search results for flights and hotels and explain how it ranks these or face possible sanctions, the European Commission and EU consumer authorities said on Monday.

 

Commission starts legal action against 23 EU countries over copyright rules

Foo Yun Chee, Reuters

France, Spain, Italy and 20 other EU countries may be taken to court for their tardiness in enacting landmark EU copyright rules into national law, the European Commission said on Monday as it asked the group to explain the delays.

 
Telecom, Wireless and Internet Access
 

NCTA to FCC: Stay on Road to Wi-Fi 5.9 GHz Sharing

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

Cable operators are telling the FCC to dismiss or deny auto companies’ challenge to the FCC’s decision to allow the 5.9 GHz band to be divided up between incumbent intelligent auto communications systems and the Wi-Fi that remains cable broadband operators primary mobile broadband play.

 
Mobile Technology
 

Chipmaker TSMC says too early to say on Germany expansion

Reuters

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd said on Monday that it was too early to say whether it will build factories in Germany and that talks were in early stages, as the EU seeks to reduce chip imports amid a supply shortage.

 

New Nokia smartphone is a ‘military grade’ model with 5G that can take a beating

Ryan Browne, CNBC

The maker of Nokia-branded phones debuted a slew of new devices Tuesday, including a “military grade” smartphone designed to withstand intense environmental conditions.

 

Apple could signal new coronavirus and chip shortage troubles ahead of iPhone 13

Ian Sherr, CNET

The tech giant has been uncharacteristically public about its pandemic concerns, raising alarms before most anyone else.

 

BE Semiconductor beats Q2 revenue forecasts on higher shipments

Reuters

Chipmaking equipment supplier BE Semiconductor beat its second-quarter revenue targets on Tuesday, driven by higher-than-anticipated shipments from its order backlog.

 

Facebook Explores Integrating Oculus Workouts With Apple Health

Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

Facebook Inc. is exploring the idea of letting users synchronize workout data from Oculus virtual-reality headsets with Apple Inc.’s Health app on iPhones, according to code discovered in the Oculus iPhone app.

 

China launches 6-month campaign to clean up apps

The Associated Press

China’s industry ministry has announced a 6-month campaign to clean up what it says are serious problems with internet apps violating consumer rights, cyber security and “disturbing market order.”

 

Inside Google’s Quest to Become a Cloud-Computing Giant

Nico Grant, Bloomberg

How Thomas Kurian brought old-school Oracle tactics to the search company—and steadily gained cloud market share.

 
Cybersecurity and Privacy
 

As Cyberattacks Surge, Security Start-Ups Reap the Rewards

Erin Woo, The New York Times

Investors have poured $12.2 billion into cybersecurity companies so far this year, nearly $2 billion more than the total for all of 2020.

 

4 Democrats suggest blacklisting Israeli spyware firm over hacks of journalists, activists

Cristiano Lima, The Washington Post

Four House Democrats on Monday suggested blacklisting or imposing sanctions against the Israeli firm that licensed spyware used by governments to hack the smartphones of journalists, human rights activists and business executives.

 

Scammers are using fake Microsoft 11 installers to spread malware

Tim Starks, CyberScoop

Windows 11 won’t hit the street until later this year, but that hasn’t stopped hackers from trying to use it to infect victims with malware.

 

Kaseya denies paying hackers for decryption key after ransomware attack

Maggie Miller, The Hill

Software company Kaseya on Monday strongly denied paying to get access to a key to decrypt its systems following a massive ransomware attack on the company that impacted up to 1,500 organizations earlier this month.

 

WhatsApp chief weighs in on Pegasus spyware investigation

Scott Rosenberg, Axios

In the latest bit of fallout from investigations into the impact of Israeli company NSO’s Pegasus spyware published last week, the leader of Facebook’s WhatsApp stepped forward to support some aspects of the investigation’s findings.

 
Social Media and Content Moderation
 

Tech groups urge Congress to ‘dig deeper’ on Facebook role in Capitol riot

Rebecca Klar, The Hill

Tech accountability groups are urging members of Congress to “dig deeper” into the role Facebook played in leading up to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol ahead of Tuesday’s House hearing about the attack, according to a report shared with The Hill on Monday. 

 

Trump Accused of Using PAC To Evade Facebook Ban

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

Common Cause, joined by almost two dozen more groups, have called on Facebook to prevent political action committees (PACS) affiliated with suspended accounts–the target is former President Trump–to violate the site’s community standards.

 

Tencent Temporarily Suspends New User Registration for WeChat

Wayne Ma, The Information

Tencent has temporarily suspended new registrations of WeChat, the ubiquitous Chinese social messaging app that counts more than 1.2 billion users.

 
Tech Workforce
 

‘A gag order for life’ — How tech giants use secretive legal contracts for their employees to create a culture of silence in Silicon Valley

Matt Drange, Insider

Insider reviewed 36 tech workers’ nondisclosure agreements, providing one of the most comprehensive looks to date into the widely used contracts. The NDAs often contained overly broad language and many are likely unenforceable, employment lawyers said.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

America Shouldn’t Compete Against China With One Arm Tied Behind Its Back

Robert E. Lighthizer, The New York Times

The Senate recently passed a bill intended to bolster America’s technological and industrial capacity as we compete against China. The bill, called the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, began as a serious, bipartisan effort to meet one of our country’s greatest challenges. But in one of those “only in Washington” moments, a bill written to make our country more competitive with China now includes an amendment that will do exactly the opposite.

 

Big Tech calls for ‘regulation’ but is fuzzy on the details

Marietje Schaake, Financial Times

Silicon Valley says it wants more oversight yet does little to promote it in practice.

 
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