Hillicon Valley — Amazon steps up health care push

·7 min read

Amazon is expanding further into the health care industry by buying primary health care provider One Medical for nearly $4 billion.

Meanwhile, the inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security asked the Secret Service to stop its “erased” text messages investigation, and YouTube said it will remove abortion misinformation.

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Amazon to buy One Medical for $4 billion

Amazon is buying the primary health care provider One Medical for roughly $3.9 billion, the companies announced Thursday.

  • The deal expands the e-commerce giant’s footprint in the health care space, an area that Amazon said is ripe for “reinvention.”

  • The purchase, an all-cash transaction at $18 a share, is subject to approval by regulators and One Medical’s shareholders.

“Booking an appointment, waiting weeks or even months to be seen, taking time off work, driving to a clinic, finding a parking spot, waiting in the waiting room then the exam room for what is too often a rushed few minutes with a doctor, then making another trip to a pharmacy — we see lots of opportunity to both improve the quality of the experience and give people back valuable time in their days,” Neil Lindsay, the senior vice president of Amazon Health Services, said in a statement.

Read more here.

YOUTUBE TO REMOVE ABORTION MISINFORMATION

YouTube on Thursday said it will begin removing content that spreads misinformation about abortion safety or gives instructions for unsafe abortion procedures.

The social media and video sharing platform will also launch an information panel it will attach to videos to provide context about abortions from local and global health authorities on videos discussing abortion.

In a Twitter thread, Youtube’s press account said the company relies “on published guidance from health authorities” as users upload videos and discuss abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that overturned the nearly 50-year constitutional right to abortion.

Read more here.

Facebook’s home page revamp

Facebook is rolling out a redesign to split the home screen into two sections: one with posts from accounts users follow and another with content recommended by the platform.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Thursday that the app will open to a screen where Facebook’s “discovery engine” will recommend content “we think you’ll care most about.”

  • The new Home tab will be driven by Facebook’s machine learning ranking system, designing an experience “uniquely personalized’ to each user, according to a company announcement.

  • The separate “Feeds tab” will allow users to customize and control their experience and see posts in a chronological order from friends, groups and pages users follow. The tab won’t include any suggested posts.

Read more here.

TIKTOK OWNER BYTEDANCE BOOSTS LOBBYING 

Chinese-based company ByteDance, the owner of popular social media platform TikTok, spent $2.1 million on lobbying in the second quarter of 2022, boosted its lobbying spending by 130 percent, according to CNBC.

  • The company made the lobbying spending public in a disclosure the company filed on Wednesday. 

  • The form lists the issues on which its representatives lobbied government officials.

Read more here.

DEMS PRESS STUDENT SURVEILLANCE PLATFORMS 

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sent letters to four student surveillance programs Thursday asking if they flag search terms related to reproductive health.

  • The inquiry comes amid concerns that such data could be used to punish the students for seeking information about abortion access.

  • The senators asked the companies if their software flags content related to phrases such as “pregnant,” “abortion” and “birth control,” and how they are ensuring that their software is not used to criminalize or punish students.

“It would be deeply disturbing if your software flags words or activity that suggest students are searching for contraception, abortion, or other related services, and if school administrators, parents, and even law enforcement were potentially informed of this activity,” they wrote.

Read more here.

Watchdog asks for stop to ‘erased’ texts probe

A government watchdog has asked the Secret Service to stop its internal investigation into what it deemed were “erased” text messages.

  • The inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Secret Service, made the demand in a letter late Wednesday.

  • The watchdog notified lawmakers earlier this month that the agency appeared to have erased text messages as part of a device replacement program.

It’s a confusing position for the Secret Service, which was directed by the National Archives earlier this week to conduct an internal review of whether any texts went missing and whether they could be reconstructed.

“The Secret Service is in receipt of the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s letter. We have informed the January 6th Select Committee of the Inspector General’s request and will conduct a thorough legal review to ensure we are fully cooperative with all oversight efforts and that they do not conflict with each other,” agency spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement.

Read more here.

SENATE INTRODUCES QUANTUM COMPUTING BILL 

Senators on Thursday introduced a cybersecurity bill aimed at improving the federal government’s defenses against data breaches enabled by quantum computing.

  • The Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), would require federal agencies to have the most up-to-date cybersecurity protections as quantum computers become highly advanced and widely available. 

  • The bipartisan bill would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to create guidance for federal agencies to assess critical systems a year after the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issues its planned post-quantum cryptography standards.

“The development of quantum computers is one of the next frontiers in technology, and with this emerging technology comes new risks as well,” Hassan said in a statement.

Read more here.

Ford to cut 8,000 jobs amid EV push

Ford Motor Co. is planning to cut up to 8,000 jobs in the coming weeks amid a company shift to producing more electric vehicles.

  • Bloomberg News reported on Thursday that the job cuts will affect the company’s Ford Blue unit, which is responsible for producing combustion engine vehicles, and other salaried positions.   

  • A source told the news outlet that a bulk of the job cuts are likely to affect the company’s U.S. workforce, which employs up to 31,000 salaried workers.

In a statement to The Hill, a spokesperson said that the company isn’t “commenting on speculation by others about our business.”

“We’ve said lots of times that, in order to deliver on the Ford+ transformation and lead an exciting and disruptive new era of electric and connected vehicles, we’re reshaping our work and modernizing our organization,” the spokesperson said.

“That’s happening across all of our automotive businesses and the entire company. We’ve laid out clear targets for our cost structure, so that we’re lean and fully competitive with the best in the industry.”

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Netflix is struggling, and that may be good for America

Notable links from around the web:

  • Big Tech builds AI with bad data. So scientists sought better data. (The Washington Post / Nitasha Tiku)

  • Far-Right Channel One America News Officially Dropped by Last Major TV Carrier (The Daily Beast / Justin Baragona)

  • Quantum Scientists Create New Phase of Matter With Two Time Dimensions (Vice /Sarah Wells)

👃🏼 Lighter click: Look at that nose!

One more thing: Tesla sells Bitcoin holdings

Tesla has sold off 75 percent of its holdings in Bitcoin, which was worth about $2 billion at the end of 2021, after making a huge investment in the cryptocurrency in 2021.

The value of Bitcoin has since crashed, and during an investor call, Tesla CEO Elon Musk emphasized that the sale was about “overall liquidity” and did not reflect a “verdict” on Bitcoin itself.

“We are certainly open to increasing our Bitcoin holdings in future,” Musk said on the call, according to a report by Yahoo, “so this should not be taken as some verdict on Bitcoin. It’s just that we were concerned about overall liquidity for the company, given COVID shutdowns in China. And we have not sold any of our Dogecoin.”

When Musk and Tesla made their play in Bitcoin, it helped stoke excitement about the cyber currency, which surged in value. It has since come well back to earth.

Read more here.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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