Skip to main content
All Stories Tagged:

Policy

Tech is reshaping the world — and not always for the better. Whether it’s the rules for Apple’s App Store or Facebook’s plan for fighting misinformation, tech platform policies can have enormous ripple effects on the rest of society. They’re so powerful that, increasingly, companies aren’t setting them alone but sharing the fight with government regulators, civil society groups, and internal standards bodies like Meta’s Oversight Board. The result is an ongoing political struggle over harassment, free speech, copyright, and dozens of other issues, all mediated through some of the largest and most chaotic electronic spaces the world has ever seen.

Featured stories

Protesters take over NYC streets to tell Joe Biden to ‘end fossil fuels’

Demonstrators flood city streets ahead of a key United Nations climate summit with a clear message for Joe Biden: ‘end fossil fuels.’

US v. Google: all the news from the search antitrust showdown

One of the biggest tech antitrust trials since the US took on Microsoft is underway.

A
The Verge
The Justice Department has released its answer to Google’s antitrust trial brief.

Filed in conjunction with a coalition of states, it’s making an argument that should be familiar to trial-watchers: Google is paying billions of dollars a year to stifle competition in the search market, and advertisers and consumers are facing the fallout.

Google is not focused on spending its money, attention, and time on improving general search and search advertising because it does not have to. Recognizing how such evidence would land with the public, regulators, and courts, Google attempted to obscure these facts. ... Despite these efforts the record is clear: consumers have little choice, lose out on better products, and sacrifice their privacy — with advertisers paying higher prices — because there are no meaningful alternatives to Google.

Closing arguments are expected in May.


L
External Link
Temu dominates app download charts even as US lawmakers reportedly float import ban.

China hawks in Congress are concerned that shopping giant Temu has not done enough to ensure it’s not working with suppliers using forced labor. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) is among those pushing to list Temu as a violator of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which could effectively ban its imports, The Information reports.

Meanwhile, the Chinese e-commerce app sits among the top free apps on iOS and Android.


M
Youtube
A New Orleans magician says he made the AI Biden robocall telling people not to vote.

Paul Carpenter told NBC News that he was paid $150 to produce a fake AI-generated voice message from Joe Biden — and that the political operative Steve Kramer hired him to do it. Kramer has worked with Democratic presidential candidate Dean Phillips’ campaign to gather signatures to get on the ballot. NBC didn’t find evidence that the Phillips campaign was involved in the robocalls.

The parties reportedly involved apparently were not very discreet. Kramer texted the magician, “Have AI voice project” in September. And then there’s this:

On Jan. 22, when NBC News first broke the news of the fake Biden robocall, Steve Kramer texted Carpenter a link to the story along with the message, “Shhhhhhh,” to which Carpenter replied, “Gtfooh,” an acronym used to express astonishment. 


J
External Link
Apple is going to be stunned when it finds out how the Mac works.

The company put out a new statement today criticizing Spotify’s complaint to the EU about restrictions on its iOS app:

Fundamentally, their complaint is about trying to get limitless access to all of Apple’s tools without paying anything for the value Apple provides.

What kind of computing platform could possibly offer developers that kind of flexibility? Who would make such a thing?


E
External Link
The journalist who leaked Kanye West’s unaired Fox News rant has been arrested.

Tim Burke faces 14 federal charges in connection to an alleged hack on Fox News, which leaked unreleased portions of a Tucker Carlson interview where West went on an antisemitic rant. The indictment claims Burke and a co-conspirator used “compromised credentials” to “access and save protected commercial broadcast video streams,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Following an FBI raid on Burke’s home last year, his lawyers argued he accessed the video feed with no username or password required. “It’s not hacking, it’s just good investigative journalism,” Michael Maddux, Burke’s lawyer, told the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday.


J
External Link
It’s not looking good for the EPA’s ‘Good Neighbor Plan.’

The largely conservative Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday for Ohio v. EPA, and it sounds like SCOTUS is sympathetic to plaintiffs fighting the agency’s Good Neighbor Plan. The plan would force states, including Ohio, to prevent smog-forming pollution from drifting downwind to other states. More than a dozen states are fighting the plan in lower courts, and Ohio wants SCOTUS to force the EPA to pause the plan entirely while those legal battles are ongoing. Whether SCOTUS sides with Ohio now likely points to how it would rule later if any of those cases in lower courts ultimately make their way to SCOTUS.


E
External Link
Do Kwon, the Terra / Luna creator, is coming to a U.S. courtroom to face fraud charges

He might even arrive in time for the SEC’s fraud lawsuit, which is scheduled to begin jury selection in March. He’s also facing eight criminal counts.


E
External Link
Three Arrows Capital cofounder on jail: “I think it’s definitely good for you.”

That’s Su Zhu; Kyle Davies is still on the lam. But their woes may not yet be over:

Among the most incriminating evidence brought forward against Zhu and Davies is a document they sent to at least one creditor as crypto markets were collapsing in May 2022, claiming 3AC had nearly $2.4 billion under management. Both lenders and people close to the liquidators now believe this number was false, grossly overstating the fund’s assets. “We firmly believe they committed fraud.”

👀


L
External Link
A deep dive into the group behind next week’s Supreme Court arguments against Florida and Texas’ social media laws.

Bloomberg examined the unique tactics of industry group NetChoice, which has distinguished itself from other trade associations with its confrontational style.

NetChoice has seen revenue skyrocket as it’s brought key challenges. It brought in $34 million in 2022, after making just $3 million in 2020, per Bloomberg.


A
External Link
Problems that impact people: too much of a bummer for Threads and Instagram.

The Washington Post has been pushing Meta on what its recent decision to stop recommending “political” content and “social topics” on Threads and Instagram means, and it’s culminated in this illuminating quote from Meta spokeswoman Claire Lerner:

“Social topics can include content that identifies a problem that impacts people and is caused by the action or inaction of others, which can include issues like international relations or crime.”

So there you have it! It’s yet another indication that Meta is trying to avoid anything getting too contentious on its platforms — but a definition that might not sit well with anyone who’s interested in even the mildest forms of activism online.


L
Twitter
The US isn’t done cracking down on the LockBit ransomware group.

The Department of State is offering up to $15 million in rewards for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of anyone who’s been involved in the ransomeware attacks with LockBit.

The announcement comes one day after law enforcement agencies said they’d disrupted the group and gotten the keys to decrypt hacked data.


E
External Link
Calls for regulating AI deepfakes are growing.

An open letter signed by AI researchers, including Algorithmic Justice League founder Joy Boulamwini and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, said governments should look to fully criminalize deepfake child pornography even with fictional children, create criminal penalities for people who make and share “harmful” deepfakes, and require developers to be held liable if their safety measures are easily bypassed.

US policymakers have discussed regulating deepfakes, though mostly in the context of the upcoming elections. It’s rare for open letters to influence regulation, but AI is a fraught issue that some lawmakers might take these suggestions into account.


J
External Link
Do states need to be better neighbors to each other? SCOTUS will decide.

The Supreme Court of the US will hear arguments today over an Environmental Protection Agency plan that would force states to curb smog-forming pollution before it can drift over to their neighbors. Ohio and other plaintiffs want SCOTUS to stay the EPA’s ‘Good Neighbor Plan’ while their case challenging the agency’s legal authority to impose the plan works through lower courts. You can listen in on oral arguments in Ohio v. EPA at 10 AM EST.


E
Twitter
Taylor Swift’s flight tracker has responded to the singer’s legal threats.

Jack Sweeney, a college student who uses public flight data to track jets belonging to celebrities like Swift and Elon Musk, has refuted the singer’s claims that his flight tracking accounts on social media cause her “direct and irreparable harm.”

In a letter to Swift’s legal team, Sweeney’s lawyer says “there is nothing unlawful” about the “use of publicly accessible information to track private jets,” adding that the threats “suggest a groundless effort to intimidate and censor” Sweeney.


J
External Link
US grants $1.5 billion to help make advanced chips in New York.

The Biden administration announced that GlobalFoundries — the only US-based company out of the five largest global chipmakers — has been awarded funding via the $52 billion CHIPS and Science Act.

GlobalFoundries will use the grant to upgrade its current facilities and help build a new fabrication plant at its headquarters in Malta, New York that will produce advanced chips that are typically made overseas.


J
External Link
First X, now the EU is opening formal proceedings against TikTok.

In what Reuters says is the second formal proceedings under the Digital Services Act, EU regulators are looking into whether TikTok has broken rules about safeguarding children and advertising transparency. If found guilty, TikTok could be fined up to 6 percent of its global turnover.

It comes after the EU opened formal proceedings against X over its handling of illegal content surrounding the Israel-Hamas war.


“Machines don’t get tired.”

So said TSA executive director of checkpoint tech Melissa Conley of airports’ use of facial recognition, in a New York Times story today.

70 percent of worldwide airlines may use biometric security by 2026 according to a report cited in the article. Yet the ACLU told the Times the tech still presents surveillance and discrimination concerns. That’s not to mention it could fail to work for tens of thousands of travelers every day.


E
External Link
Microsoft, Meta, Google, and OpenAI agree to develop technology against election deepfakes.

As well as Amazon, Adobe, IBM, Arm, Stability AI, TikTok, X, Snap, LinkedIn, and seven other AI and tech companies in the AI Elections Accord.

By signing the accord, the companies promise to develop ways to catch deepfakes, asses models that could lead to deepfakes, catch and stop election deepfakes from spreading on social platforms, and be transparent with the public about false election information.


E
External Link
A California bill proposes creating a statewide AI oversight office.

State senator Scott Weiner proposes a Frontier Model Division in California’s Department of Technology that will oversee mandatory testing and review safety compliance of AI models. Weiner previously filed an “intent” bill, which was intended to kickstart discussions on regulating AI models in the state.

State Scoop reports that the bill does not clarify how it and the Frontier Model Division fit into California’s ongoing policy discussions on AI.


E
Twitter
The FCC is cracking down on robocallers and robotexters who don’t let you opt out.

The new rules require robocallers and robotexters to stop calling or sending you messages within 10 business days of receiving your request to opt out. Earlier this month, the FCC also banned robocalls that use AI-generated voices.


A
External Link
The missing black cat with a $15 million award.

Or, the ALPHV / Blackcat ransomware gang that’s accused of extorting millions from hospitals, schools, and even Reddit.

The State Department is offering a $10 million reward to anyone with information on the key leaders of the multinational group that would lead to their location or arrest. The agency is offering another $5 million for intel on “any individual conspiring to participate in or attempting to participate” in the notorious ransomware gang’s activities.