Hillicon Valley — Labor union backs Microsoft-Activision merger

·4 min read

The Communications Workers of America sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission offering support for Microsoft’s bid to buy gaming company Activision Blizzard.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Human Services released guidance on patient privacy amid concerns about how data may be used to target people seeking abortions in states with bans or severe restrictions.

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Union tells FTC it supports Microsoft deal

The labor union helping to organize video game workers told the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) it supports Microsoft’s bid to buy Activision Blizzard in a letter Thursday.

  • The Communications Workers of America (CWA) said it supports Microsoft’s roughly $70 billion offer to buy the game developer.

  • The union backed the offer based on an agreement reached in which the tech giant will not interfere with Activision Blizzard employees’ efforts to form unions.

“Microsoft’s binding commitments will give employees a seat at the table and ensure that the acquisition of Activision Blizzard benefits the company’s workers and the broader video game labor market,” CWA President Christopher Shelton said in the letter to the FTC.

The union, along with more than a dozen advocacy groups, raised concerns about the deal in a letter to the FTC in March.

Read more here.

HHS gives post-Roe privacy guidance

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released guidance about what information is protected for patients seeking reproductive health care following the Supreme Court’s decision last week to strike down Roe v. Wade.

The HHS guidance addresses the circumstance under which HIPAA privacy rules allow the disclosure of a person’s information without their authorization. The court’s decision triggered concerns from abortion rights advocates about how personal data may be used to target people seeking abortions in states with bans or severe restrictions.

  • “How you access health care should not make you a target for discrimination. HHS stands with patients and providers in protecting HIPAA privacy rights and reproductive health care information,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in the announcement.

  • “Anyone who believes their privacy rights have been violated can file a complaint with OCR as we are making this an enforcement priority. Today’s action is part of my commitment to President Biden to protect access to health care, including abortion care and other forms of sexual and reproductive health care.”

Democrats have pushed for greater data privacy regulation aimed at protecting people seeking abortions after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade.

MORE LAYOFFS AT TESLA

Tesla, business mogul Elon Musk’s electric car company, laid off almost 200 employees from its Autopilot team and closed its San Mateo, Calif., office.

  • The layoffs, which were first reported by Bloomberg, are the latest in a string of job cuts taking place in the company after Musk told Tesla executives the company needed to stop hiring and reduce headcount by 10 percent.

  • At the end of last year, Tesla had almost 100,000 employees, according to Reuters, but it is unclear how many of those employees are salaried and how many are hourly workers.

  • Most of the Autopilot employees laid off Wednesday were hourly workers, which came as a surprise to many since last week Musk had outlined a plan to boost hourly jobs, Bloomberg reported.

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Are we ready for the Mother of All Disasters — a collision-course asteroid?

Notable links from around the web:

Congress is trying to rein in Big Tech. This lawmaker could stand in their way. (Politico / Emily Birnbaum)

School Surveillance Will Never Protect Kids From Shootings (Wired / Chris Gilliard)

How mercenary hackers sway litigation battles (Reuters / Raphael Satter and Christopher Bing)

Amazon Restricts L.G.B.T.Q. Products in United Arab Emirates (The New York Times / Karen Weise)

🍔 Lighter click: History is amazing

One more thing: FBI eyes ‘CryptoQueen’

The FBI has added Ruja Ignatova, known as “CryptoQueen,” to its list of Ten Most Wanted fugitives, offering up to $100,000 for information that leads to her arrest.

Ignatova has been facing five charges including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and securities fraud since 2018 after she allegedly defrauded investors who invested in her fake cryptocurrency OneCoin out of billions of dollars.

She launched the Bulgaria-based company OneCoin in 2014 and is believed to have defrauded investors out of more than $4 billion while she served as the company’s leader through 2017, according to an FBI release.

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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