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July 26, 2021
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  • Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Chairman Mark Liu said the company is mulling a plan to build a new chipmaking facility in Germany in addition to a potential semiconductor plant in Japan. TSMC’s plans for U.S. expansion, which include plans to build a plant in Arizona, will be focused mostly on infrastructure and national security applications. (Bloomberg)
  • The Federal Trade Commission was granted a three-week extension to file an amended complaint in its antitrust lawsuit against Facebook Inc., with U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg of the D.C. Circuit setting an Aug. 19 deadline for the agency and giving Facebook until Oct. 4 to respond. (Reuters)
  • Details on broadband funding in the Senate’s infrastructure package are still unresolved, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the negotiations, as lawmakers worked over the weekend to finalize an agreement. Talks regarding the roughly $65 billion funding proposal have centered on the distribution of funds to states and increasing the affordability of broadband to low-income Americans, with lawmakers aiming to mirror the policy in the December COVID-19 relief bill that provides $50 per month to qualifying households to pay their broadband bills. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • The Biden administration has no imminent plans to hit China with economic sanctions for the Microsoft Exchange hack that U.S. officials have attributed to Beijing, according to people familiar with the matter, with two sources saying some members of the administration believe economic sanctions would not be an ineffective deterrent for future cyberattacks. (Bloomberg)
 

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What Else You Need to Know

General
 

Disinformation for Hire, a Shadow Industry, Is Quietly Booming

Max Fisher, The New York Times

Back-alley firms meddle in elections and promote falsehoods on behalf of clients who can claim deniability, escalating our era of unreality.

 

If you had trouble getting products fixed under warranty, the FTC wants to hear your horror story

Chris Velazco, The Washington Post

The Commission is ramping up efforts to curtail “unlawful” repair restrictions.

 

Battle for the Cloud, Once Amazon vs. Microsoft, Now Has Many Fronts

Aaron Tilley, The Wall Street Journal

Many businesses have treated Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. as the only options as they look to embrace cloud-computing. But IT managers now are realizing they have leverage in an increasingly competitive industry.

 

Pentagon says report that U.S. approved Chinese drone for purchase ‘inaccurate’

Reuters

The Pentagon said on Friday that drones produced by Chinese manufacturer Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) pose a potential threat to national security and that a media report that they were approved for purchase by the U.S. government was inaccurate.

 

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies surge on Amazon payments rumours

Oscar Williams-Grut, Yahoo Finance

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies surged higher on Monday morning, amid speculation that e-commerce giant Amazon could soon accept tokens as payment.

 

Alphabet’s Intrinsic aims to make industrial robots more capable

Brian Heater, TechCrunch

Alphabet’s public-facing history with robotics has, thus far, been a spotty one. Most notably, Google X’s big acquisition push culminated in its selling Boston Dynamics to SoftBank (who eventually flipped it to Hyundai). Alphabet/Google’s subsequent approach has been less flashy and focused on more immediate robotic tasks.

 

QR Codes Are Here to Stay. So Is the Tracking They Allow.

Erin Woo, The New York Times

Fueled by a desire for touchless transactions, QR codes popped up everywhere in the pandemic. Businesses don’t want to give them up.

 

How bad is space tourism for the environment? And other space travel questions, answered.

Rebecca Heilweil, Recode

For many, the rise of commercial space tourism is a vulgar display of wealth and power. Amid several global crises, including climate change and a pandemic, billionaires are spending their cash on launching themselves into space for fun. 

 

GM Sues Ford in Fight Over Branding of Self-Driving Cars

Gabrielle Coppola, Bloomberg

General Motors Co. is suing its competitor Ford Motor Co. for violating a trademarked driver-assist technology that’s used for hands-free features, according to a lawsuit.

 
Antitrust and Competition
 

Biden’s Antitrust Team Signals a Big Swing at Corporate Titans

Jim Tankersley and Cecilia Kang, The New York Times

The president has stacked his administration with crusaders who have spent their careers challenging corporate consolidation.

 

EXCLUSIVE Facebook’s Kustomer deal set to face EU antitrust investigation

Foo Yun Chee, Reuters

Facebook’s acquisition of U.S. customer service startup Kustomer is set to trigger a full-scale EU antitrust investigation next month, three people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

 

Start-ups will suffer from antitrust bills meant to target Big Tech, VCs charge

Lauren Feiner, CNBC

VCs are particularly concerned about efforts in Congress to restrict mergers and acquisitions by dominant platforms. Some of those proposals would work by shifting the burden of proof onto those firms in merger cases to show their deals would not harm competition.

 
Telecom, Wireless and Internet Access
 

Huawei hiring former Democratic super lobbyist Tony Podesta

Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman, Politico

Huawei is hiring Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta as a consultant, according to two people familiar with the matter. Podesta will aim to help the controversial Chinese telecom giant warm relations with the Biden administration.

 

AWS Accused of Gouging Customers for Networking Bandwidth

Kevin McLaughlin, The Information

Amazon Web Services is dramatically marking up the price of networking bandwidth for moving data out of its cloud, with customers in the U.S., Canada and Europe paying 80 times more than what AWS pays, according to a blog post by Matthew Prince, CEO and co-founder of Cloudflare, which sells content delivery and cybersecurity services.

 

Leaked memo shows Oracle’s flagship cloud unit told employees to ramp up for ’24×7′ work on projects that insiders say have fallen behind schedule

Ashley Stewart, Insider

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, the database giant’s flagship cloud unit and its answer to the dominant Amazon Web Services, has instructed its employees to focus on an updated set of priorities for the next several quarters, according to a memo viewed by Insider.

 

NAB to FCC: Don’t Charge Us For Broadband Mapping Effort

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

Broadcasters this month pressed the FCC to change course and not force TV and radio stations to pay for a portion of the FCC broadband data collection, from which they said they derive no benefit.

 

House Version of Ligado Interference Compensation Bill Introduced

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

A House version of a bill has been introduced that would mandate that Ligado pay for correcting any interference to GPS equipment that their use of satellite spectrum for a 5G terrestrial network may cause. The lead co-sponsors of the bipartisan bill are Rep. Jim Turner (D-Tenn.) and Mike Turner (R-Ohio).

 
Mobile Technology
 

Intel, TI split leaves chip outlook in doubt

Stephen Nellis and Chavi Mehta, Reuters

Two major chipmakers this week gave very different views of whether soaring demand for semiconductors will start to ease in the second half of the year, and it may take another round of earnings next week to settle the question.

 
Cybersecurity and Privacy
 

First came the ransomware attacks, now come the lawsuits

Gerrit De Vynck, The Washington Post

Companies that have been locked out of their computer networks by hackers are now getting sued by consumers and workers claiming they were hurt by lax cybersecurity.

 

Officials who are US allies among targets of NSO malware, says WhatsApp chief

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian

Senior government officials around the world – including individuals in high national security positions who are “allies of the US” – were targeted by governments with NSO Group spyware in a 2019 attack against 1,400 WhatsApp users, according to the messaging app’s chief executive.

 

‘Holy moly!’: Inside Texas’ fight against a ransomware hack

Jake Bleiberg and Eric Tucker, The Associated Press

It was the start of a steamy Friday two Augusts ago when Jason Whisler settled in for a working breakfast at the Coffee Ranch restaurant in the Texas Panhandle city of Borger. The most pressing agenda item for city officials that morning: planning for a country music concert and anniversary event.

 

NSO Group CEO Claims BDS Is Probably Behind Damning Investigation

Emanuel Maiberg and Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard

Shalev Hulio, the CEO and cofounder of NSO, the Israeli surveillance company at the center of a bombshell investigation this week that found its tools have been used to spy on journalists, politicians, and human rights activists around the world, is now suggesting that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement that’s trying to pressure Israel to end its occupation of Palestine is somehow behind the story.

 
Social Media and Content Moderation
 

The Most Influential Spreader of Coronavirus Misinformation Online

Sheera Frenkel, The New York Times

Researchers and regulators say Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician, creates and profits from misleading claims about Covid-19 vaccines.

 

Facebook’s Next Target: The Religious Experience

Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times

The company is intensifying formal partnerships with faith groups across the United States and shaping the future of religious experience.

 
Tech Workforce
 

Amazon opens discrimination investigation after internal petition wins backing of hundreds of employees

Jay Greene, The Washington Post

The probe comes as more than 550 workers in a cloud-computing unit supported a petition, citing ‘an underlying culture of systemic discrimination, harassment, bullying and bias’

 

Some Amazon warehouse workers see spike in Covid cases

Cyrus Farivar and April Glaser, NBC News

As the nation faces a fourth wave of Covid-19, Amazon warehouse workers say the company is notifying them of a rising number of cases among employees. At the same time, the company is relaxing its mask policies and shutting down on-site free testing at the end of the month.

 

Workers for Google Pittsburgh contractor HCL reach tentative union contract

Kim Lyons, The Verge

The United Steelworkers Union (USW) said Friday it has reached a tentative contract deal with a sub-contractor for Google Pittsburgh. The announcement comes almost two years after employees of engineering and IT contractor HCL Technologies voted to unionize, saying that even though they worked alongside Google employees, they didn’t receive the same benefits.

 

Apple isn’t the only tech company spooked by the delta variant

Allison Levitsky, Protocol

Apple grabbed headlines this week when it told employees it would delay its office reopening until October or later. But the iPhone maker wasn’t alone: At least two other Silicon Valley companies decided to delay their reopenings last week in response to rising COVID-19 case counts.

 
Opinions, Editorials and Perspectives
 

Urgency to Close Broadband Gap Crosses Rural, Urban Divide

Richard T. Cullen (Executive Director, Connect Americans Now), Tom Ferree (Chairman and CEO, Connected Nation) and Betsy Huber (President, National Grange), Morning Consult

Alaska currently sits in last place when American states are ranked on access to broadband. In New York City, where broadband infrastructure is widely present, 45 percent of adults still don’t use the internet at broadband speeds. This national problem requires comprehensive and permanent solutions and resources from Washington.

 

Conservative courts could rescue tech

Kim Hart, Axios

The Biden administration’s push to increase competition in the technology industry could be on a collision course with a formidable obstacle: the courts.

 
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