Hillicon Valley — Musk’s Twitter deal faces new wrinkle

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Amid a steady decline in the market value of both Tesla and Twitter, Elon Musk accused the social media giant of violating his agreement to acquire it by not answering questions about spam bots.

In other tech news, Apple’s developer conference kicked off Monday with some highly anticipated new iMessage features.

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar, Chris Mills Rodrigo and Ines Kagubare. Subscribe here.

Musk says Twitter ‘thwarting’ his rights

Elon Musk on Monday accused Twitter of refusing to provide him information on bots and fake accounts on the platform, arguing the company is breaching its merger agreement.

In a Securities and Exchange filing, Musk said the company is “actively resisting and thwarting his information rights” under the merger agreement by not providing him with the information.

  • Last month, Musk said he would put his deal to buy Twitter for $44 billion “on hold” unless the company could provide information to prove claims that bots make up fewer than 5 percent of Twitter users.  

  • Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal published a Twitter thread last month, after Musk raised the issue, sharing information about spam on the platform and how Twitter aims to weed it out.

Twitter’s response: A Twitter spokesperson pushed back on the claims, saying the company “has and will continue to cooperatively share information with Mr. Musk to consummate the transaction in accordance with the terms of the merger agreement.”

“We believe this agreement is in the best interest of all shareholders. We intend to close the transaction and enforce the merger agreement at the agreed price and terms,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Read more here.

iMessage updates

Apple is updating privacy features and parental controls and adding edit functions for iMessage as part of its iOS16 launch, the company announced Monday at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, said the updates to iMessage were “three of the most highly requested features.” With the update users will also be able to recover recently deleted messages.

The company will also be launching a “safety check” feature that will allow users to turn off access to location and data that they’ve chosen to share with others, for example to help people in abusive relationships seek help safely.

Read more here.


DRONE CREATOR DROPS TASER

Taser manufacturer Axon on Sunday dropped recently announced plans to develop drones equipped with stun guns aimed at addressing school shootings, a project that prompted the resignations of most of the company’s AI ethics board.

  • Nine of the 12 policing ethics experts who sit on the board said in a statement on Monday that they were caught off-guard by the decision.

  • Those experts said they had weeks earlier recommended against a pilot study to explore the concept, arguing that the surveillance would “undoubtedly” harm communities of color and “others who are overpoliced.”

Axon had announced the remote-controlled Taser drone concept on Thursday in the wake of a string of mass shootings, comparing the technology’s potential to mitigate school shootings to sprinklers suppressing a fire.

“Rushing ahead to embrace use of surveillance-enabled, Taser-equipped drones, especially when its Board was urging against unnecessarily precipitate action, is more than any of us can abide,” the board members said. “We have lost faith in Axon’s ability to be a responsible partner.”

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Will SpaceX and NASA make 2022 the year of the heavy-lift rocket?

Lighter click: Nature rules!

Notable links from around the web:

Meet the Vigilantes Who Hack Millions in Crypto to Save It From Thieves (Motherboard / Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai)

Thefts, Fraud and Lawsuits at the World’s Biggest NFT Marketplace (The New York Times / David Yaffe-Bellany)

Amazon sellers reject efforts by an executive to rally their opposition to Big Tech antitrust bill (CNBC / Annie Palmer)

One more thing: Karp in Ukraine

Alex Karp, the CEO of American software company Palantir Technologies, traveled to Ukraine to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials as Russia’s invasion of the country continues.

Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov shared the news of Karp’s visit with Zelensky, saying that both sides agreed on principles such as a Palantir office opening in Ukraine and digital support of the army.

“Today me and President @ZelenskyyUa hosted Alex Karp CEO @PalantirTech. Alex is the first CEO, who came to Kyiv after the start of the full-scale war,” Fedorov wrote in a tweet on June 2. “Impressive support and faith in credibility of investments: agreed on office opening and digital support of Army.”

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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