Big tech companies tend to make a lot of enemies — but there are none more powerful than the US government. Apple, Google, Amazon, and Meta are regularly called in front of Congress to fend off monopoly accusations — and lawmakers bring up bills to rein in the companies just as often. The Federal Trade Commission has taken a particularly central role, leading a lawsuit to sever Facebook and Instagram while blocking new acquisitions for Oculus and the company’s virtual reality wing. Like it or not, these regulatory fights will play a huge role in deciding the future of tech — and neither side is playing nice.
Bloomberg reported yesterday that the “embarrassing” document that Judge Amit Mehta referenced when allowing the DOJ to post documents from the Google Antitrust trial was from a “mock” training session.
In it, Michael Roszak, Google’s VP of finance, reportedly called search ads one of the “greatest business models ever created” and likened it to “illicit businesses (cigarettes or drugs).”
The Microsoft CEO’s testimony will follow extensive questions this week about the company’s dealings with Apple and its struggle to get Bing on the iPhone, apparently including floating a sale of the search engine to Apple. And after a week of locked-down testimony, Judge Amit Mehta has directed as much of it as possible to take place in public session.
Now, on Thursday, Apple submitted its own request, linked below, seeking a review to throw out the judge’s requirement that it change App Store rules barring developers from telling users about other payment options.
In July, a federal judge decided Biden administration officials violated the First Amendment while contacting social media companies about removing posts with covid misinformation.
His injunction barring them from making contact in many cases was narrowed by appeals court judges but now the Biden Administration has asked the Supreme Court (PDF) to put a hold on it (Washington Post, New York Times). Now there is a temporary hold until September 22nd (PDF).
The Texas Attorney General was impeached by the Texas House of Representatives in a historic vote back in May, and now he’s on trial before the Texas State Senate. Part of the trial involves his close relationship with real estate investor Nate Paul who accused the United States of illegally altering search warrants.
He was formerly interviewed by Mark Penley, a former deputy Attorney General Paxton fired after Penley reported him to the FBI. Penley’s recently released conversation with Paul gets truly nerdy around page 166 when Paul becomes an expert on making PDFs.
The embattled Trump-backed social network got an additional twelve months to complete its SPAC merger, extending a deadline that was originally set for Friday. That means the SPAC can hang onto $300 million in investor funds... although with Trump himself back on the platform formerly known as Twitter, its future still seems uncertain.
[The New York Times]
I’ll be watching tonight’s events to see what any of these candidates have to say about tech issues like data privacy or child safety.
If you’re looking to follow along, I’ve got your back. Unfortunately, your best bet is probably this Rumble stream.
The New York Times reports that the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, FBI, and Air Force have issued a “broad warning” to firms like SpaceX and Blue Origin saying to look out for foreign actors, like Chinese and Russian intelligence agencies, who they believe are trying to infiltrate their networks and steal data.
The report notes that in 2020, the United Launch Alliance said a Chinese firm attempted to infiltrate its supply chain, and last year the Russian military reportedly hacked into Viasat satellites.
[The New York Times]
Those are words a US District Court Judge said to Twitter’s attorney, Ari Holtzblatt, during a February hearing about Donald Trump’s Twitter data. Holtzblatt had no idea:
MR. HOLTZBLATT: It is similar to tweets, and I don’t know more than that, Your Honor.
THE COURT: You don’t use “fleets.”
MR. HOLTZBLATT: I had not heard of fleets until this morning.
THE COURT: And was fleet used on this account?
MR. HOLTZBLATT: It is a vanishing tweet.
THE COURT: A vanishing tweet.
MR. HOLTZBLATT: I guess fleet — that makes sense, fleeting.
Yes, Mr. Holtzblatt. It sure does.
Details are in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (PDF) here. FCC commissioners are taking input on questions like who will run the program, what kinds of devices it applies to, and what security standards should be involved.
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee keep saying they’re investigating “collusion” between the Biden administration and Big Tech to “censor” conservatives, but they’re starting to act more like an Elon Musk fan club than anything else.
On top of investigating the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into Musk’s Twitter takeover, they’re now going after the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) for its role in this “censorship regime.”
Musk, of course, sued CCDH just two days ago, accusing the non-profit of unlawfully accessing Twitter data and cherry-picking posts to make the platform look more hateful than it is.
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