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Essential tech industry news & intel to start your day.
September 22, 2022
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Today’s Top News

  • Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody asked the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on whether the First Amendment prevents states from forcing social media platforms to host certain types of content. She cited the “irreconcilable divide” caused when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decided last week to uphold a Texas law preventing platforms from removing posts based on political ideology after the 11th Circuit Court struck down most of a similar Florida law earlier this year. (The Washington Post)
  • The National Labor Relations Board’s Brooklyn office issued a complaint Tuesday alleging that Amazon.com Inc. “selectively and disparately enforced” a rule governing employees’ use of nonwork areas to single out union supporters. The complaint said the company unlawfully applied its policy against solicitation by preventing employees from posting a pro-union sign in a nonwork area at a Staten Island warehouse; Amazon spokesman Paul Flaningan called the case “completely without merit.” (The New York Times)
  • A group of senators — including Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) and committee member John Cornyn (R-Texas) — signed on to a letter asking Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines to review the potential economic and national security threat risks posed by Apple Inc.’s reported plan to use memory chips from Chinese state-owned Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. in its new iPhone 14. Apple said it has no plans to use the chips outside of China, but a Senate aide said the lawmakers are concerned that the phones will infiltrate the global market. (The Washington Post)
  • Meta Platforms Inc. is looking to cut its expenses by at least 10% in the next few months and has already started reducing its staff by reorganizing departments and telling employees they have a limited period to apply for other internal jobs, according to people familiar with the matter. People informed of the company’s plans that the bulk of cost savings are expected to come from job cuts. (The Wall Street Journal)
 

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What Else You Need to Know

General
 

UK Watchdog to Probe Amazon, Google, Microsoft Cloud Business

Thomas Seal, Bloomberg

UK digital regulator Ofcom said it will launch a range of investigations into digital markets including cloud computing, internet messaging, and smart devices, marking another step up in the scrutiny of the world’s largest tech firms. 

 

The West is testing out a lot of shiny new military tech in Ukraine

Jonathan Guyer, Vox

As Ukraine turned a corner 10 days ago with a military offensive that retook territory from Russia, former Google CEO billionaire Eric Schmidt was meeting with senior Ukrainian officials. He was on a 36-hour visit to the country exploring technology’s role in the war.

 

McKinsey Hires Microsoft Executive as Its First Chief Technology Officer

Matthew Boyle, Bloomberg

McKinsey & Co. has hired a senior Microsoft Corp. executive to be its first-ever chief technology and platform officer, a role that underscores the management consultant’s increased focus on digital initiatives.

 
Antitrust and Competition
 

Meta ordered to pay Voxer $175 million for violating live-streaming patents

Jess Weatherbed, The Verge

Meta has been ordered to pay Voxer — creator of the Walkie Talkie messaging app — over $174 million in damages after a jury in Texas federal court found the social media giant guilty of violating two live-streaming patents with Facebook Live and Instagram Live. 

 

Amazon’s Bezos, Jassy Can be Forced to Testify in FTC’s Probe

Leah Nylen, Bloomberg

Amazon.com Inc. lost a bid to exclude top executives including billionaire founder Jeff Bezos and Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy from having to testify in a Federal Trade Commission probe. 

 

Automakers tackle patent hurdle in quest for in-car tech

Victoria Waldersee and Supantha Mukherjee, Reuters

Over a dozen automakers including Toyota and Nissan, have signed up with a platform for patent licences from 51 tech companies, aiming to simplify access to wireless technology and avoid costly legal battles.

 
Artificial Intelligence/Automation
 

Getty Images bans AI-generated content over fears of legal challenges

James Vincent, The Verge

Getty Images has banned the upload and sale of illustrations generated using AI art tools like DALL-E, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion. It’s the latest and largest user-generated content platform to introduce such a ban, following similar decisions by sites including Newgrounds, PurplePort, and FurAffinity.

 
Telecom, Wireless and Internet Access
 

Charter CEO Tom Rutledge to Retire After Leading Cable Company for Decade

Patience Haggin, The Wall Street Journal

Charter Communications Inc. Chief Executive Tom Rutledge is retiring from the company he has led for the past decade, a time of acquisitions that transformed the cable operator into the industry’s second-largest company.

 

Elon Musk’s Starlink is planning to install its satellite internet service on some US school buses as part of a pilot program

Grace Kay, Insider

SpaceX is piloting a program to expand its satellite internet service to some school buses in the US, according to a Tuesday filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

 
Mobile Technology
 

Nvidia CEO sees ‘large space’ for China sales despite U.S. restrictions

Stephen Nellis, Reuters

Nvidia Corp Chief Executive Jensen Huang said Wednesday that he continues to see a large market for Nvidia’s data center chips in China despite U.S. restrictions on exports of two of its top chips to the country.

 

Intel Executive With Industry’s Toughest Job Plots Comeback

Ian King, Bloomberg

Intel Corp. executive Sandra Rivera has what once would have been the most coveted job in the semiconductor industry: head of the company’s hugely lucrative data center division. Nowadays, it’s the toughest.

 
Cybersecurity and Privacy
 

Health apps share your concerns with advertisers. HIPAA can’t stop it.

Tatum Hunter and Jeremy B. Merrill, The Washington Post

Digital health care has its advantages. Privacy isn’t one of them.

 

Meta Sued for Skirting Apple Privacy Rules to Snoop on Users

Robert Burnson, Bloomberg

Meta Platforms Inc. was sued for allegedly building a secret work-around to safeguards that Apple Inc. launched last year to protect iPhone users from having their internet activity tracked.

 

Revealed: US Military Bought Mass Monitoring Tool That Includes Internet Browsing, Email Data

Joseph Cox, Motherboard

Multiple branches of the U.S. military have bought access to a powerful internet monitoring tool that claims to cover over 90 percent of the world’s internet traffic, and which in some cases provides access to people’s email data, browsing history, and other information such as their sensitive internet cookies, according to contracting data and other documents reviewed by Motherboard. 

 
Social Media and Content Moderation
 

TikTok to verify political accounts in U.S., ban campaign fundraising

Sheila Dang, Reuters

TikTok will begin requiring accounts belonging to U.S. government departments, politicians and political parties to be verified and will ban videos aimed at campaign fundraising, the short-form video app said on Wednesday.

 

As unrest grows, Iran restricts access to Instagram, WhatsApp

Reuters

Iran curbed access on Wednesday to Meta Platforms’ Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the last remaining social networks in the country, amid protests over the death of a woman in police custody, residents and internet watchdog NetBlocks said.

 

Twitch plans to cut subscription revenue for some top streamers in push toward ads

Taylor Hatmaker, TechCrunch

Twitch plans to standardize its revenue sharing agreement with streamers, reshaping the earnings landscape for top creators who have historically been able to pocket a bigger portion of the money they generate through paid subscriptions on the platform.

 

Microsoft Won’t Label Fake News as False in an Attempt to Avoid ‘Censorship’ Cries

Margi Murphy, Bloomberg

Microsoft Corp. won’t label social media posts that appear to be false in order to avoid the appearance that the company is trying to censor speech online, President Brad Smith said in an interview with Bloomberg News, hinting that the company is taking a different approach than other technology firms in dealing with disinformation. 

 
Tech Workforce
 

IT services group Wipro fires 300 employees moonlighting for competitors

Manish Singh, TechCrunch

IT services giant Wipro has fired 300 employees in recent months who were found to be moonlighting for competitors, a top executive said Wednesday, weighing in on a practice that has gained momentum across the globe as firms incorporate work-from-home norms.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

Facebook is experimenting with letting users help write speech rules

Casey Newton, The Verge

In June, I wrote that to build trust, platforms should try a little more democracy. Instead of relying solely on their own employees, advisory councils, and oversight boards, I wrote, tech companies should involve actual users in the process.

 

Inside the civil rights campaign to get Big Tech to fight the ‘big lie’

Naomi Nix, The Washington Post

A coalition of five dozen civil rights organizations is blasting Silicon Valley’s biggest social media companies for not taking more aggressive measures to counter election misinformation on their platforms in the months leading up to November’s midterm elections.

 

I tried replacing Google with TikTok, and it worked better than I thought

David Pierce, The Verge

TikTok is the new Google. Or so some people say. 

 
Morning Consult