Morning Consult Tech: Sen. Amy Klobuchar Introduces Bill Revoking Section 230 Protections for Health Misinformation


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July 23, 2021
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  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced a bill that would revoke Section 230 protections afforded to internet companies if misinformation on public health emergencies spread on their platforms. If the bill were to become law, the Department of Health and Human Services would be tasked with defining what counts as health misinformation. (Politico)
  • Kaseya Ltd., the Florida-based software company that suffered a crippling ransomware attack over the July 4 weekend, obtained a universal key that will enable the more than 1,000 global businesses and public organizations affected by the hack to unlock their data. A Kaseya spokeswoman said the firm procured the key from a “trusted third party” and wouldn’t say whether a ransom had been paid. (The Associated Press)
  • Intel Corp. Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger said in an interview that the global semiconductor shortage might not be resolved until 2023, warning that while supply shortages could begin to ease later this year, it simply “takes a long time to build” the needed manufacturing capacity. Intel reported second-quarter sales of $19.6 billion and a profit of $5.1 billion, largely flat year over year. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Social media companies posted strong second-quarter earnings, with Twitter Inc. reporting 74 percent growth in revenue year over year to $1.19 billion, and a profit of $65.6 million after recording a $1.38 billion loss in the year-ago period. (CNBC) Snap Inc.’s revenue climbed 116 percent to $982 million, as its user base saw its highest quarterly level of growth (23 percent) since 2017. (Reuters)

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What Else You Need to Know


Amazon Ends Use of Arbitration for Customer Disputes

Michael Corkery, The New York Times

Amazon told customers this week that it would no longer require them to resolve their legal complaints involving the technology giant through arbitration, a significant retreat from a strategy that often helps companies avoid liability.


Major GOP tech critics sought funding from Google

Emily Birnbaum, Politico

“That was back before we knew how bad Google really was,” says Internet Accountability Project leader Mike Davis, who pitched his PR services to lawyers for the Silicon Valley search titan in 2019.


Silicon Valley’s Best Pandemic Ever

David Streitfeld, The New York Times

As the world reeled, tech titans supplied the tools that made life and work possible. Now the companies are awash in money — and questions about what it means to win amid so much loss.


U.S. developing plans to spend $52 billion on chips supply -Commerce Department


The Biden administration is developing plans to quickly spend $52 billion to deal with semiconductor supply issues if Congress passes a bill funding such efforts, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Thursday.


Dems are ‘not particularly pleased’ with the Senate infrastructure deal. They’ll back it anyway.

Marianne Levine et al., Politico

In interviews Thursday, Democratic senators said they expected all 50 members of their caucus to sign on to the final product, with the assurance that their $3.5 trillion social spending proposal will include their top priorities. 


Google will add more context to search results

Sara Fischer, Axios

Google on Thursday said it’s rolling out a new feature called the “About This Result panel,” which will give users more context about their search results, and help them find the most useful information.


A Defunct Video Hosting Site Is Flooding Normal Websites With Hardcore Porn

Matthew Gault and Jason Koebler, Motherboard

Stories on major news sites like ‘The Washington Post,’ and ‘New York Magazine’ currently have porn embedded in them because of an old site called Vidme.


Uber to buy a company that makes software to manage shipping for $2.25 billion

Jessica Bursztynsky, CNBC

Uber Freight, the rideshare company’s trucking division, said Thursday it’s acquiring shipping software company Transplace in a deal that values the transportation logistics company at $2.25 billion.


DeepMind offers AI tool to predict shape of all human proteins

Madhumita Murgia, Financial Times

Google-owned group’s breakthrough will advance drug development and understanding of diseases.


Brussels appeals against €250m Amazon tax defeat

Javier Espinoza, Financial Times

The General Court overturned a European Commission order to the tech giant to pay back taxes in Luxembourg.

Antitrust and Competition

The fight between the FTC and Facebook comes down to who gets to vote

Leah Nylen, Politico

The agency has to make a decision by next Thursday on whether to re-file an antitrust case against the social network that a D.C. federal judge tossed last month. The case — which deals with Facebook’s years-old acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp — will mark the first major vote for the agency since it gained a Democratic majority last month.


Epic files new complaint in its antitrust suit against Google

Adi Robertson, The Verge

Epic has renewed its fight against mobile platforms’ app store restrictions, filing an update to its antitrust case against Google. The filing adds mostly redacted details about Google’s alleged monopolistic behavior on Android, including banning Epic’s game Fortnite from the Google Play Store last year.


India court quashes Amazon, Walmart’s Flipkart bid to stall antitrust probe

Abhirup Roy and Aditya Kalra, Reuters

An Indian court on Friday dismissed appeals by Inc and Walmart’s Flipkart that sought to stall an antitrust investigation into their business practices, dealing a major setback to the U.S. firms in a key market.

Telecom, Wireless and Internet Access

AT&T tops earnings estimate as phone customers rush back


AT&T’s getting its wireless momentum back. The company boasted the strongest second quarter in 10 years in the key growth area of post-paid subscribers — or customers with higher credit scores who pay at the end of the month — and also saw growth in its HBO and HBO Max streaming service. 


New Bill Would Explore Making Netflix, Other Edge Providers, Pay Into Universal Service Fund

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

A trio of Republicans has introduced a bill that would require the FCC to consider levying Universal Service Fund broadband subsidy fees on Big Tech edge providers including video streaming giants Netflix and YouTube.


Major Internet outage along East Coast causes large parts of the Web to crash — again

Timothy Bella, The Washington Post

Another massive Internet outage along the East Coast struck significant online platforms Thursday, causing the high-traffic websites of companies such as Amazon, Airbnb, FedEx and Delta Air Lines to go dark.

Mobile Technology

TikTok, Biden administration agree to drop litigation over Trump-era app store ban

Brian Fung, CNN Business

TikTok and the US government agreed on Wednesday to drop a lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s attempt to ban the short-form video app from US app stores.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

China Weighs Unprecedented Penalty for Didi After U.S. IPO


Regulators see the ride-hailing giant’s decision to go public despite pushback from the Cyberspace Administration of China as a challenge to Beijing’s authority, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is private.


The FBI Is Locating Cars By Spying On Their WiFi

Thomas Brewster, Forbes

The FBI is using a controversial technology traditionally used to locate smartphones as a car tracking surveillance tool that spies on vehicles’ on-board WiFi.


House E&C Extends Suspect Tech Ban to Non-Subsidized Nets

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

The House Energy & Commerce Committee Wednesday (July 21) approved a bunch of bills meant to promote cybersecurity and network supply chains, including one–the Secure Equipment Act of 2021–extending the FCC’s ban on using tech from suspect Chinese suppliers.

Social Media and Content Moderation

Mark in the Metaverse: Facebook’s CEO on why the social network is becoming ‘a metaverse company’

Casey Newton, The Verge

After I watched his speech, Zuckerberg and I had a conversation. (The metaverse being unavailable to us at press time, we used Zoom.) We discussed his vision for an embodied internet, the challenges of governing it, and gender imbalance in virtual reality today. And with President Biden’s fierce criticism of Facebook’s failures in removing anti-vaccine content in the headlines, I asked him about that, too.


White House sees YouTube, Facebook as ‘Judge, Jury & Executioner’ on vaccine misinformation

Nandita Bose, Reuters

The White House has YouTube, not just Facebook, on its list of social media platforms officials say are responsible for an alarming spread of misinformation about COVID vaccines and are not doing enough to stop it, sources familiar with the administration’s thinking said.


Facebook and YouTube spent a year fighting covid misinformation. It’s still spreading.

Gerrit De Vynck and Rachel Lerman, The Washington Post

The social media giants have struggled to find and take down anti-vaccine propaganda. But medical misinformation has thrived on their platforms for years.


Facebook content moderators call for company to put an end to overly restrictive NDAs

Zoe Schiffer, The Verge

In a letter addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and the CEOs of Covalen and Accenture, moderators say these NDAs aren’t limited to user data and help perpetuate a culture of “excessive secrecy.”


Russia fines Facebook and Twitter for failing to delete content

Maria Vasilyeva and Alexander Marrow, Reuters

A Russian court fined U.S. social media firms Facebook and Twitter on Thursday for failing to delete illegal content, the latest salvo in a standoff between Russia and Big Tech.


Jack Dorsey says bitcoin will be a big part of Twitter’s future

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey confirmed to investors that bitcoin will be a “big part” of the company’s future, as he sees opportunities to integrate the cryptocurrency into existing Twitter products and services, including commerce, subscriptions and other new additions like the Twitter Tip Jar and Super Follows.


Instagram confirms test of new anti-harassment tool, Limits, designed for moments of crisis

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Instagram head Adam Mosseri confirmed the company is testing a new feature called “Limits,” which would give users the ability to temporary lock down their accounts when they’re being targeted by a flood of harassment.


YouTube pulls videos by Bolsonaro for spreading misinformation on the virus.

Adam Satariano, The New York Times

YouTube removed videos from President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil on Wednesday for spreading misinformation about Covid-19, becoming the latest internet platform to act against a leader whose country has one of the world’s highest death counts, but who has disparaged vaccines and the use of masks and called governors “tyrants” for ordering lockdowns.

Tech Workforce

Uber has more Black employees, but still only 3.8% in leadership roles

Megan Rose Dickey, Protocol

Last year, after committing to being an anti-racist company, Uber reported that its Black employee base decreased from 9.3% in 2019 to 7.5%. Uber attributed the loss in Black representation to pandemic-related layoffs. This year, as of March 2021, Uber is 10.3% Black.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

Biden’s Antitrust Conflicts

The Editorial Board, The Wall Street Journal

Mark another one up for Elizabeth Warren. The Massachusetts Senator continues to fill out the Biden Administration with her allies, and the latest is Jonathan Kanter to run the Justice Department’s antitrust division. Apparently the conflict-of-interest standards she demanded of Trump appointees no longer apply.


Biden is wrong about Facebook. So is Facebook.

Editorial Board, The Washington Post

“They’re killing people,” President Biden said last week of technology companies that allow the spread of misinformation about the coronavirus vaccines. This week, he walked the comment back: “Facebook isn’t killing people.” The initial charge, some might argue, was nothing less than misinformation itself.

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