Morning Consult Tech: Senate Judiciary Committee to Vote on Whether to Subpoena Zuckerberg and Dorsey Over Platforms’ Response to New York Post Story



Top Stories

  • Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said his committee would vote on whether to subpoena both Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey this week to testify about the platforms’ content moderation policies following their handling of the New York Post’s controversial Hunter Biden story. The two CEOs are also officially scheduled to appear before the Senate Commerce Committee on Oct. 28, alongside Google’s Sundar Pichai, about Section 230. (Politico)
  • Zuckerberg has been taking a more active role in Washington politics in recent years after initially saying he’d leave politics to others, people familiar with the matter said, and now maintains open lines of communication with White House adviser Jared Kushner, including on WhatsApp. The people said he has had conversations with both Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about TikTok’s U.S. presence and told government officials that Facebook receives disproportionate scrutiny compared to Apple. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Larry Ellison donated $250,000 to a super PAC that has exclusively supported Sen. Graham’s re-election bid, according to Federal Election Commission filings, hours after the tech company announced its partnership with TikTok and amid reports that Graham was instrumental in persuading President Donald Trump to explore a U.S. purchase of the Chinese social media app. (The Verge)
  • Twitter removed a tweet by Dr. Scott Atlas, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, for violating its rules against sharing misleading COVID-19 information. The tweet, which falsely claimed masks don’t work to slow the spread of the coronavirus, directly contradicted guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about wearing a mask in public. (CNN)

Chart Review

Events Calendar (All Times Local)

10/19/2020
WSJ Tech Live – virtual
EmTech 2020 – virtual
Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival
Tech Policy Institute’s annual conference – virtual
CyberScoop’s CyberTalks 2020 – virtual
Filecoin Liftoff Week – virtual
Cato Institute’s virtual event on information technology and military power 1:00 pm
NATOA webinar on digital inclusion and reaching the “unserved” and “underserved” 2:00 pm
CSIS Online Event: International Security in Cyberspace – New Models for Reducing Risk 3:30 pm
10/20/2020
WSJ Tech Live – virtual
Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival
EmTech 2020 – virtual
Tech Policy Institute’s annual conference – virtual
CyberScoop’s CyberTalks 2020 – virtual
Filecoin Liftoff Week – virtual
6G Symposium – virtual
Extra Crunch Live with Unusual Ventures’ Sarah Leary and John Vrionis – virtual 11:00 am
CNAS’s virtual fireside chat with Director of the Defense Digital Service Brett Goldstein 1:00 pm
CDT’s virtual report release event for “Challenging the Use of AI in Public Benefits Determinations” 1:00 pm
Forbes’ 2020 MORE EQUITY Pitch Competition – virtual 1:00 pm
10/21/2020
WSJ Tech Live – virtual
Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival
EmTech 2020 – virtual
Tech Policy Institute’s annual conference – virtual
CyberScoop’s CyberTalks 2020 – virtual
6G Symposium – virtual
Filecoin Liftoff Week – virtual
Aspen Tech Policy Hub COVID Challenge Grant Demo Day: Informing COVID Response & Communication through Tech 9:00 am
Cyberspace Solarium Commission Digital Event #11: Securing the U.S. High-Tech Supply Chain 12:00 pm
The Information’s live virtual conversation about SPACs and IPOs 12:00 pm
NTIA’s monthly BroadbandUSA webinar 2:00 pm
10/22/2020
CyberScoop’s CyberTalks 2020 – virtual
Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival
EmTech 2020 – virtual
Tech Policy Institute’s annual conference – virtual
6G Symposium – virtual
Filecoin Liftoff Week – virtual
FedScoop’s Trusted Internet Connections virtual program 9:00 am
FP Virtual Dialogue: Bridging the Digital Divide 11:00 am
The Information’s virtual event on the future of audio in social media 11:00 am
NTIA virtual meeting for the multistakeholder process on promoting software component transparency 12:00 pm
2020 Forbes CMO Summit Virtual Series – Episode 2 1:00 pm
The Information’s virtual roundtable discussion on scaling engineering teams 1:00 pm
10/23/2020
CyberScoop’s CyberTalks 2020 – virtual
Business Insider’s Global Trends Festival
Tech Policy Institute’s annual conference – virtual
Filecoin Liftoff Week – virtual
View full calendar


New Report: What Consumers Want Companies to Say and Do in a Year Like No Other

Driven by a dwindling economy, an unfolding pandemic, significant social unrest around racial injustice and an imminent election, 2020 has been defined by a quickly changing consumer environment.

Our new report, What Consumers Want Companies to Say and Do in a Year Like No Other, brings together our latest insights to help brands strike the right tone in messages and communications. Download the report.

General

China Lawmakers Pass Export Control Law Protecting Tech
Bloomberg

China passed a new law to restrict sensitive exports to protect national security, helping Beijing gain reciprocity against U.S. as tech tensions mount. The country’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, adopted the measure on Saturday that applies to all companies in China, including foreign-invested ones. The law will be effective Dec. 1.

Amazon Fake Reviews Reach Holiday Season Levels During Pandemic
Isabelle Lee, Bloomberg

Fake reviews on Amazon.com Inc. during the pandemic have reached levels typically seen during the holiday shopping season. About 42% of 720 million Amazon reviews assessed by the monitoring service Fakespot Inc. from March through September were unreliable, up from about 36% for the same period last year.

Tech’s Influence Over Markets Eclipses Dot-Com Bubble Peak
Amrith Ramkumar, The Wall Street Journal

Technology companies are set to end the year with their greatest share of the stock market ever, topping a dot-com era peak in the latest illustration of their growing influence on global consumers. Companies that do everything from manufacturing phones to operating social-media platforms now account for nearly 40% of the S&P 500, on pace to eclipse a record of 37% from 1999, according to a Dow Jones Market Data analysis of annual market-value data going back 30 years.

How the secretive CFIUS became a powerful weapon in the trade wars
Jeff John Roberts, Fortune

This summer, when the Trump administration ordered the popular social media app TikTok to sell its U.S. operations, it marked a new escalation in the U.S.-China trade war. The clash also introduced much of the general public, including lip-synching teens and their parents, to a secretive body called CFIUS—the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States—which can block or unwind foreign acquisitions of U.S. assets in the name of national security.

He went down the QAnon rabbit hole for almost two years. Here’s how he got out
Bronte Lord and Richa Naik, CNN

One day in June 2019, Jitarth Jadeja went outside to smoke a cigarette. For two years he’d been in the virtual cult of QAnon. But now he’d watched a YouTube video that picked apart the last element of the theory he believed in.

Intellectual Property and Antitrust

No Democrats expected to join Trump’s DOJ in suing Google
Leah Nylen, Politico

The Justice Department is likely to file its long-awaited antitrust suit against Google early next week, but without the sign-on of any Democratic attorneys general, four people familiar with the case said Friday — upending the Trump administration’s hopes to enlist bipartisan support for its fight against the internet giant.

Google’s Fitbit Deal Headed for EU Approval Despite Protests
Aoife White, Bloomberg

Google’s $2.1 billion takeover of fitness-monitor maker Fitbit Inc. looks on track for European Union approval despite protests from consumer groups and rivals about the search giant’s move into health data and devices. The EU hasn’t sent Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, a so-called statement of objections listing potential reasons to block the deal, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the review is confidential.

Japan to join forces with U.S., Europe in regulating Big Tech firms: antitrust watchdog head
Leika Kihara and Takahiko Wada, Reuters

Japan will join forces with the United States and Europe to take on any market abuses by the four Big Tech companies, the new head of its antitrust watchdog said on Monday, a sign Tokyo will join global efforts to regulate digital platform operators.

Microsoft Says Long-Time Deals Executive Brown Leaving Company
Dina Bass, Bloomberg

Microsoft Corp. said mergers and acquisitions chief Marc Brown is leaving the company after a more than two-decade stint working on deals ranging from LinkedIn to Nokia Oyj’s handset unit. Brown, vice president of corporate development, reported to Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood.

Telecom, Wireless and TV

FCC asks Justice Department to weigh in on China Unicom U.S. operations
David Shepardson, Reuters

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked the Justice Department and other U.S. agencies to detail if China Unicom’s continued U.S operations pose national security risks, according to a letter released Friday. In April, the FCC issued show-cause orders warning it might shut down the U.S. operations of three state-controlled Chinese telecommunications companies: China Telecom, China Unicom and Pacific Networks Corp and its subsidiary ComNet (USA).

U.S. to Offer Loans to Lure Developing Countries Away From Chinese Telecom Gear
Stu Woo, The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. government is embarking on a push to persuade developing countries to shun Chinese telecommunications equipment, offering financial assistance to use alternatives that Washington says are safer and have fewer strings attached. The U.S. is ready to offer loans and other financing, potentially worth billions of dollars in total, to countries to buy hardware from suppliers in democratic countries rather than from China, said Bonnie Glick, the deputy administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is spearheading the effort.

EU needs long-term plan to tackle 5G fake news, 15 EU countries say in joint call
Foo Yun Chee, Reuters

The European Union needs to come up with a strategy to counter disinformation about 5G technology or risk false claims derailing its economic recovery and digital goals, a group of 15 countries including Poland and Sweden said. Conspiracy theories that the novel coronavirus may be linked to the wireless technology have led to the torching of mobile phone masts in 10 European countries and assaults on maintenance workers in recent months.

What the FCC can and can’t do to Section 230
Sara Morrison, Recode

The Trump administration is once again trying to force social media platforms to do its bidding. This time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been tapped to use a law called Section 230 to prevent websites from moderating content in a way that many conservatives believe is biased against them. Despite the law being designed to prevent FCC intervention — and the FCC itself using that as justification not to regulate the internet just a few years ago — it appears the agency is going to try.

Mobile Technology and Social Media

Facebook says it rejected 2.2m ads seeking to obstruct voting in US election
Agence France-Presse

A total of 2.2m ads on Facebook and Instagram have been rejected and 120,000 posts withdrawn for attempting to “obstruct voting” in the upcoming US presidential election, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg has said. In addition, warnings were posted on 150m examples of false information posted online, the former British deputy prime minister told French weekly Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.

In reversal, Twitter lets users link to unverified New York Post report
Cristiano Lima, Politico

Twitter reversed course Friday on blocking users from posting an unverified New York Post report alleging ties between Joe Biden and his son’s business interests, hours after reaffirming a ban that drew a firestorm of criticism from President Donald Trump and his Republican allies.

Trump and Biden are using campaign apps to gather mounds of voter data
Katie Brigham, CNBC

Millions of citizens involved in the 2020 presidential campaign, including organizers, volunteers and fervent supporters, have downloaded a campaign app like Vote Joe or Trump 2020. When they download it, users give the app their phone number, thereby subscribing them to a stream of texts encouraging them to get more involved.

Pakistan to lift ban on social media app TikTok after it vows to moderate content
Asif Shahzad, Reuters

Pakistan has decided to lift a ban on popular social media app TikTok after the company vowed to block all accounts involved in spreading “obscenity and immorality”, the country’s telecom authority said in a tweet on Monday.

Cybersecurity and Privacy

Irish regulator investigates Instagram over children’s data
The Associated Press

Irish privacy regulators have opened two investigations into Instagram over the social media site’s handling of young people’s personal data. Ireland’s Data Protection Commission said it launched the investigations in September after receiving complaints about the company.

Democrats introduce bill providing $400 million to protect schools from cyberattacks
Maggie Miller, The Hill

Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) on Friday introduced legislation designed to funnel federal dollars and other resources to K-12 schools to defend against cyberattacks. The Enhancing K-12 Cybersecurity Act would establish a $400 million “K-12 Cybersecurity Human Capacity” grant program at the National Science Foundation to help expand the cyber workforce and improve infrastructure in order to better protect educational institutions against attacks.

Google offers details on Chinese hacking group that targeted Biden campaign
Sean Lyngaas, CyberScoop

Google on Friday offered new details on tactics used by alleged Chinese government-linked hackers who previously targeted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign, while warning that multiple state-linked hacking groups continue to show an interest in the U.S. election.

Security firms call Microsoft’s effort to disrupt botnet to protect against election interference ineffective
Jay Greene, The Washington Post

Cyber security researchers questioned the effectiveness of Microsoft’s effort this week to disrupt a botnet it feared could snarl state and local computer systems to sow distrust of the upcoming presidential election. The software giant said Monday that a court order it won from a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia to seize control of U.S.-based servers controlling the Trickbot botnet, a network of computers secretly infected by malware that can be controlled remotely.

Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives

The Future of the Internet Will Be Decided by Tech Innovators
Marvin Ammori, Morning Consult

Five tech companies, Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Facebook, represent about one-fifth of the U.S. stock market’s total value. And against the backdrop of the global pandemic, these companies have more than held steady – they’ve soared. Year to date, their stocks have collectively averaged a 40 percent growth in value, even as the remaining stocks in the S&P 500 have faltered.

How does Google’s monopoly hurt you? Try these searches.
Geoffrey A. Fowler, The Washington Post

Let’s Google together. Open a Web browser and search for T-shirts. I’ll wait. Is the first thing you see a search result? I’m not talking about the stuff labeled Ads or Maps.

The Facebook-Twitter-Trump Wars Are Actually About Something Else
Charlie Warzel, The New York Times

Much of the outrage around the Trump era and social media platforms — like, most recently, the decision by Facebook and Twitter to reduce the reach of a highly questionable New York Post story about Hunter Biden — is actually about government power and accountability. More specifically, people are angry about the absence of those things.

Taking Back Our Privacy
Anna Wiener, The New Yorker

Walking down Abbot Kinney Boulevard, the retail strip in Venice, California, can feel like scrolling through Instagram. One afternoon this July, people sat at outdoor tables beneath drooping strings of fairy lights, sipping cocktails and spearing colorful, modestly dressed salads.

Research Reports

Decadal Plan for Semiconductors – Interim Report
Semiconductor Industry Association 

The U.S. semiconductor industry leads the world in innovation, based in large part on aggressive research and development (R&D) spending. The industry invests nearly one fifth of its annual revenue in R&D each year, second only to the pharmaceuticals sector.

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