California’s next senator could get tougher on Silicon Valley giants
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Below: Google warns of a Supreme Court case and House Republicans unveil a new tech bill. First:
California’s incoming senator may be getting tougher on Silicon Valley giants
California Democrats are lining up to replace Dianne Feinstein in a potential 2024 Senate primary race that could have major ramifications for Silicon Valley.
Some progressives highly critical of the tech giants this week have signaled interest in the seat held by Feinstein, whose term ends after next year but has yet to announce her plans.
If one of them is elected, it could mark a game changer for California’s delegation in Washington, whose members have sometimes resisted sweeping proposals aimed at local companies.
When the Senate Judiciary Committee considered legislation last year targeting alleged anti-competitive behavior by giants like Facebook, Apple and Google, Feinstein pushed back, arguing that the proposals should not target just a few firms in her state.
“If the conduct that this bill seeks to prevent is unfair and improper, I believe that conduct should be prevented by anyone who engages in it, not just a small handful of companies,” she said during an assessment, echoing concerns from his California Democratic Senator. Alex Padilla.
This approach may change depending on the outcome in 2024.
Here’s our very early look at who’s ready to run and where they stand on the key tech fronts:
Porter, who publicly announced her 2024 Senate bid on Tuesday, has been an outspoken critic of the tech giants’ practices around competition, labor and privacy, and she has supported aggressive proposals seeking to curb their alleged abuses.
Porter, the vice chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, co-sponsored one of the bills that Feinstein criticized for focusing too narrowly on industry giants, the American Innovation and Online Choice Act (AICOA), which would have banned large companies from technology by prioritizing their products over competitors’ services.
It was approved by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), an outspoken critic of technology, has joined Warren in calling for federal antitrust enforcers to take a tougher line against mergers and acquisitions by industry giants.
Porter has also lobbied tech companies to protect the jobs and wages of content moderators, and she co-sponsored legislation to open up digital platforms to accountability for gun sales on their sites, a bill she also supported. by Feinstein.
Lee, who reportedly informed colleagues of her plans to run for Feinstein’s seat on Wednesday, has been less vocal than Porter on issues like technology antitrust and data privacy. But she has also supported legislation to curb so-called self-preference tactics by tech giants, widely seen as a litmus test by antitrust lawyers.
A longtime member of the Congressional Black Congressional Diversity Task Force, Lee has been more outspoken in calling out racial disparities and inequities in Silicon Valley. She has urged tech companies to diversify their workforces and disclose more demographic data. Lee has also spearheaded legislation to promote inclusion programs in STEM education.
In one of her most notable tech votes to date, Lee was one of only a few dozen lawmakers to oppose a law opening up digital services to liability for knowingly facilitating sex trafficking by carving out Section 230. Lee, a former chairman of the progressive congressional caucus, said the move “made it more difficult for sex workers to access critical health and safety resources.”
Schiff, who has expressed interest in the seat but has yet to announce a run, has examined social networks’ efforts to combat disinformation and come up with weakening their liability protections under Section 230, but he has largely taken an approach more moderate towards technology legislation.
The former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has repeatedly pressed tech companies to step up their efforts to crack down on fraudulent content and foreign disinformation, and he has supported legislation to require digital platforms to be more transparent. about their practices.
Some critics of Big Tech have argued that measures to increase transparency and reduce the industry’s liability shield do not go far enough and may even be beneficial to the giant companies, some of which have rallied behind these efforts.
Schiff declined to say whether he supported including technology antitrust legislation in a year-end spending bill during an interview with CNN in December, but said he was concerned about the tech giants’ practice of scooping up rivals “on the rise.” “.
Khanna, who represents part of Silicon Valley and has previously expressed interest in running for Senate, has floated a series of proposals around privacy, antitrust and online torts. But he has sharply criticized lawmakers’ antitrust technology proposals and warned US policymakers not to follow in the footsteps of Europe, which is rolling out sweeping new digital rules.
In his latest book, Khanna urged Congress to promote online competition “without passing legislation that is overbroad or destroys services that consumers want.” He also expressed concern that proposals aimed at regulating social media could run afoul of the First Amendment. Like Lee, Khanna voted against the 2018 sex-trafficking law and has since called for its repeal.
Google warns Supreme Court ruling could ‘change the internet’
The company argued that a case the court is considering could end up increasing censorship and the amount of offensive content online, reports John D. McKinnon of the Wall Street Journal. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case, Gonzalez v. Google, next month.
The Supreme Court agreed last year to hear the lawsuit, in which the plaintiffs argued that Section 230 should not protect platforms when they recommend harmful content, such as terrorist videos, even though the shield law protects platforms in publishing the content. harmful. “, McKinnon writes.
House Republicans propose bill that limits feds from pressuring social media companies to remove legal posts
Legislation introduced by the top three House Republicans would limit federal employees from pushing for the “removal or suppression of lawful speech” online, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Ryan Tracy. The bill is sponsored by House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. , Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).
“The Republican bill would not apply to technology platforms’ independent content moderation decisions,” Tracy wrote, citing a House Oversight Committee aide. “In addition to prohibiting federal employees from pressuring Internet platforms to remove legal content, the bill would prohibit federal employees from advocating for the removal or restriction of social media accounts, or for posts to be tagged with a disclaimer.
Google and Nvidia raised concerns about Microsoft’s acquisition of Activizon
Google and Nvidia provided information to the Federal Trade Commission, which has been trying to block Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion deal to buy the video game company, Bloomberg News’ Leah Nylen, Dina Bass and Ian King report.
“Google and Nvidia provided information that supports a key claim of the FTC — that Microsoft may gain an unfair advantage in the market for cloud, subscription and mobile gaming,” they wrote. “In its remarks to the FTC, Nvidia emphasized the need for equal and open access to game titles, but did not directly oppose the acquisition.”
Microsoft has also asked a federal judge to block a lawsuit from gamers who argued the deal would reduce competition, Reuters’ Mike Scarcella reports. The attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, Joseph Saveri, told Reuters that “Microsoft has not provided any sound basis for stopping our case” and that stopping the lawsuit would be contrary to what he called an agreed-upon plan. for the lawsuit.
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France fines TikTok $5.4 million for online tracking flaws (Reuters)
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