Hillicon Valley — Gig workers criticize ‘flexibility’ proposal

·4 min read

Gig economy workers criticized a bill they argue would exclude workers in app-based jobs from labor protections, but supporters say the legislation aims to strike a balance for independent workers.

Meanwhile, Instagram said it would roll back some of the changes to the app that had been criticized by some users – including at least a few prominent celebrities on the platform.

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Gig worker group slams House bill

A group representing gig workers slammed a House bill it said would misclassify workers in a way that would deny them basic labor protections.

The Worker Power Coalition, which represents 24 million workers nationwide, called the Worker Flexibility and Choice Act an “anti-worker proposal intended to further endanger already vulnerable gig economy workers.”

The proposal was introduced last week by Reps. Henry Cueller (D-Texas) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.). It would allow independent workers to “voluntarily” enter into “flexibility agreements,” according to the bill’s text.

Supporters of the proposal, including a group that represents gig companies such as Uber and Lyft, said the bill aims to strike a balance with the flexibility agreements.

Under the agreements, workers would get rights provided to employees under workplace privacy, anti-discrimination, harassment, retaliation and safety laws. But they would not be considered employees for federal tax purposes or entitled to full protections under federal labor laws, including for minimum wage or overtime.

Read more here.

Instagram rolls back controversial changes

Instagram will roll back some of the recent changes to its platform after critics complained it was only trying to be more like TikTok and that they preferred it before.

Adam Mosseri, who serves as the head of Instagram, told Platformer, a publication focused on covering Big Tech and democracy, in an interview on Thursday that a test version of the platform that displayed full-screen photos and videos will be phased out in the next one to two weeks.

He said Instagram will also cut down on the number of recommended posts in the app while it works on its algorithm.

“I’m glad we took a risk — if we’re not failing every once in a while, we’re not thinking big enough or bold enough,” Mosseri said. “But we definitely need to take a big step back and regroup. [When] we’ve learned a lot, then we come back with some sort of new idea or iteration.”

Read more here.

POLL SHOWS SUPPORT FOR ANTITRUST BILLS

A new poll found overwhelming support from voters in both parties for two key antitrust bills that are facing a dwindling deadline to pass this year.

The survey of registered voters was conducted by Edison Research for the Tech Oversight Project, a group pushing for antitrust reform that is primarily funded by the Omidyar Network and the Economic Security Project. The poll asked voters about their support for two proposals that target the market power of dominant tech firms.

Asked about the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, a bipartisan bill that would limit tech giants from preferring their own products and services over rivals’, nearly 73 percent of respondents said they lean toward supporting the bill.

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Microchip subsidy sleight-of-hand

Notable links from around the web:

FTC’s Khan Overruled Staff to Sue Meta Over VR App Deal (Bloomberg / Leah Nylen)

How Streaming Stars Pay the Price of Online Fame (The New York Times / Kellen Browning and Kashmir Hill)

Inside Amazon’s plan to “neutralize” powerful unions by hiring ex-inmates and “vulnerable students” (Vox / Jason Del Rey)

😁 Lighter click: The District’s perks

One more thing: A record high for Twitter

Twitter reported on Thursday that it received record numbers of government legal demands targeting journalists from July to December of last year.

The tech giant reported a 103 percent increase in overall legal demands related to verified journalists and news outlets, such as requests to remove content or court orders.

It received a total of 47,572 demands regarding 198,931 accounts. About a quarter of those demands, 11,460, were made by governments, 20 percent of which were from the U.S. government.

“We continue to see a concerning trend toward attempts to limit global press freedom, with an increase in government legal demands targeting journalists, as well as an overall increasing number of legal demands on accounts – both represent record highs since reporting began,” Twitter wrote in its transparency report.

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 next week.

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