Hillicon Valley — Bill targeting Google, Meta inches ahead

·7 min read

A journalism antitrust bill targeting Google and Meta advanced out of a Senate committee Thursday after Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) struck a deal.

Meanwhile, the National Security Agency (NSA) allegedly gained access to China’s telecommunications network when it hacked the email systems of a prominent public research university there, Chinese state media reported.

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Klobuchar, Cruz deal leads to bill movement

A bill that would let most news outlets collectively negotiate with dominant tech platforms for compensation to distribute their content advanced out of a Senate committee Thursday after Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) struck a deal.

The Journalism Competition and Protection Act aims to help local and smaller news outlets negotiate by leveling the playing field with tech giants like Google and Facebook.

Thursday’s vote to advance the bill followed two weeks of negotiations between Klobuchar and Cruz after the Democrat pulled a vote on her bill at a markup earlier this month.

The bill was pulled after an amendment from Cruz about content moderation was adopted when Democrats were down a member with Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) isolating in India with COVID-19.

“Platforms like Facebook and Google are counting on Republicans and Democrats being unable to put aside their differences to agree on meaningful legislation in the tech sector. This is our moment to prove them wrong,” Klobuchar said at Thursday’s vote.

  • The bill advanced in a 15-7 vote, with seven Republicans voting against the bipartisan amendment.  

  • It provides a limited safe harbor from federal and state antitrust laws for eligible digital journalism providers, including most newsrooms that employ fewer than 1,500 full-time employees, that would allow them to participate in joint negotiations. The employee cap is largely aimed at excluding the country’s three largest newspapers and national broadcasters.

Read more here.

Chinese media ties NSA to network hack

The National Security Agency (NSA) allegedly gained access to China’s telecommunications network when it hacked the email systems of a prominent public research university there, Chinese state media reported.

According to a source the Global Times cited, the U.S. agency infiltrated the network to “control the country’s infrastructure.”

In June, China’s Northwestern Polytechnical University, known for its aviation, aerospace and navigation programs, announced that foreign hackers sent phishing emails to teachers and students in an attempt to steal personal information.

The phishing emails had subject lines related to scientific evaluation, thesis defense and information on foreign travel.

An investigation conducted by a Chinese technical team found that the cyberattack on the university was conducted by Tailored Access Operations (TAO), a hacking unit of the NSA.

Read more here.

Amazon’s ‘Thursday Night Football’ draws 13M

Amazon’s first exclusive “Thursday Night Football” game drew in an average of
13 million viewers, according to data from Nielsen.

The retail giant’s football streaming debut last week, which featured the Kansas City Chiefs against the Los Angeles Chargers, peaked at 14.6 million viewers on Prime Video, Nielsen said in a release.

The 13 million average is 47 percent higher than last year’s second week of “Thursday Night Football,” which was shown on NFL Network, according to Nielsen.

Amazon said last week’s game averaged 15.3 million viewers when including “all available data on every platform from Amazon’s first party measurement metrics” and Nielsen Media research.

The Chiefs defeated the Chargers in the game, 27-24. The next “Thursday Night Football” game will feature the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns.

Amazon aggregates direct viewing data from millions of devices and accounts watching to establish a “comprehensive” picture of the viewership across its channels, the release states.

Nielsen found that the average age of the audience for the game, 46 years old, was on average seven years younger than the traditional television audience through Week 2 of the season. The audience was also eight years younger than last year’s average “Thursday Night Football” audience.

Read more here.

FTC ORDERS AMAZON EXECS TESTIFY

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday ordered Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and CEO Andy Jassy to testify in an investigation of the company’s Prime membership program.

Amazon had requested that the FTC cancel its subpoenas of Bezos and Jassy, arguing that the two executives would not have unique knowledge about Prime enrollment and cancellation, which are the focus of the FTC’s investigation.

The commissioners rejected Amazon’s request, along with several others that sought to limit or quash the FTC’s demands as part of the investigation.

“Amazon provides no reason why the Commission must accept anything less than all the relevant testimony it can obtain from these two witnesses,” the commissioners said in Wednesday’s order.

Read more here.

META PROCEEDING WITH ‘GREAT CAUTION’ ON TRUMP

Meta is considering its decision whether or not to reinstate former President Trump’s Facebook account with “great caution,” top executive Nick Clegg said Thursday.

Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs, did not indicate which way the company is leaning on the decision but offered some insight into how Meta is weighing the decision in an interview with Semafor editor at large Steve Clemons.

“If you have this significant ability to take decisions which affect the public realm, as a public sector company you need to act with great caution, and resistance. You shouldn’t throw your weight about,” Clegg said.

Facebook could reinstate Trump as early as January, marking two years after his initial ban over posts made about the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. The company first outlined that timeline last June, when Clegg said the company would evaluate whether the “risk to public safety” of restoring Trump’s account had been abated.

Read more about Clegg’s interview.

TESLA RECALLS 1.1M VEHICLES

Tesla is recalling more than 1 million vehicles over concerns with automatic systems for car windows that can pinch a driver or passenger and cause injury when closing.

In a letter to Tesla, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirmed the company’s notice that it is recalling the Tesla Model 3 for the years 2017 to 2022, the Tesla Model Y for 2020-2021 and the 2021-2022 Model S and Model X vehicles.

In those models, the automatic reversal system for windows does not adequately detect an obstruction, such as a person’s arm or hand, and can continue to roll up and injure a driver or passenger.

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: The competition issue Congress isn’t talking about: Patent abuse and ITC reform

Notable links from around the web:

Chronic Illness Influencers on TikTok Are Showing the Reality of Being Sick (Teen Vogue / Fortesa Latifi)

‘They Are Watching’: Inside Russia’s Vast Surveillance State (The New York Times/ Paul Mozur, Adam Satariano, Aaron Krolik and Aliza Aufrichtig)

Inside crypto’s house of cards (The Washington Post / Steven Zeitchik, Tucker Harris and Jeremy B. Merrill)

👀 Lighter click: The eyes are telling

One more thing: Pushing for a ‘healthier’ internet

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen is launching a nonprofit that aims to improve social media and make a healthier online environment, the new group announced Thursday.

Haugen said her Beyond the Screen organization will focus on “tangible solutions to help users gain control” of their experience on social media.

“We can have social media that brings out the best in us, and that’s what Beyond the Screen is working toward. We’re excited to collaborate with like-minded partners and organizations, like Project Liberty and Common Sense Media, that share our commitment to supporting healthier social media,” Haugen said in the announcement.

Read more about the launch.

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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