BRAD SMITH’S “TOOLS AND WEAPONS”
Microsoft president Brad Smith thinks it’s time antitrust laws are updated for the digital age. Rather than the traditional method of calculating a company’s market share, Smith said regulators should also consider how much consumer data it possesses when determining whether it is a monopoly. That method could spell trouble for the other tech giants, like Google and Facebook, that are currently facing antitrust investigations in the United States. It would likely have a lesser effect on Microsoft itself.
ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Nearly every 2020 candidate at the fourth Democratic debate took aim at big tech, marking a dramatic escalation against the industry that has now extended well beyond Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s calls to break up the biggest online companies. Google and Reddit executives will be among the witnesses facing a House grilling today on whether Section 230 — the decades-old clause that protects tech platforms from lawsuits over content posted by their users — should be changed or done away with completely.
Last week, Facebook announced that it would allow political candidates to lie in ads posted to its platform, but it’s haphazardly enforcing a number of other advertising policies that have led to the takedowns of paid content from at least five US presidential candidates. According to a BuzzFeed News review, Facebook has removed more than 160 ads posted this month by President Donald Trump and some Democratic candidates, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former vice president Joe Biden, and businessperson Tom Steyer.
Democratic presidential candidates came out swinging on cybersecurity and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election during last night’s debate, dramatically switching course after three previous face-offs where they largely ignored the topics. Candidates savaged President Trump for not punching back after 2016, warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin will try to interfere again in 2020 and even endorsed U.S. intelligence agencies releasing their own hacked information to punish and embarrass the Russian strongman.
The expansion by Amazon Web Services into state and local elections has quietly gathered pace since the 2016 U.S. presidential vote. More than 40 states now use one or more of Amazon’s election offerings, according to a presentation given by an Amazon executive this year and seen by Reuters. So do America’s two main political parties, the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the U.S. federal body charged with administering and enforcing federal campaign finance laws.
THIS WEEK IN WASHINGTON
House lawmakers tasked with investigating the country’s largest tech companies on Tuesday said they have received an initial round of documents from Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google’s parent company Alphabet to aid their probe. The announcement came on Oct. 15, the deadline lawmakers had set to receive the slew of documents they requested from the companies last month.
A group of more than 100 centrist Democratic House lawmakers is throwing its weight behind a privacy bill that has been praised by alliances of software and internet giants. The move is one of the first large-scale endorsements of a privacy bill in Congress. Separate efforts by Democrats in the House and Senate this year to write even stricter data regulations have produced few results.
A 23-year-old law giving technology companies legal protection from lawsuits over user-generated content remains critical to the internet’s future, Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google unit and social media site Reddit Inc said in testimony released on Tuesday. Senior executives from Google, Reddit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and legal experts are due to face questions on Wednesday in Congress about the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which critics say shields tech companies from dealing with threatening, violent, dangerous or bullying content.
Beef Magazine 7 points from rural broadband study
A recent study funded by the United Soybean Board finds 60% of farmers say they don’t have enough connectivity to run their businesses. The study, “Rural Broadband and the American Farmer: Connectivity Challenges Limit Agriculture’s Economic Impact and Sustainability,” was initiated by the United Soybean Board in order to understand rural broadband. “There’s a clear disparity between connectivity in rural versus non-rural areas,” said Tim Venverloh, vice president of sustainability strategy for USB.
Microsoft On the Issues TechSpark El Paso-Juarez: Igniting digital transformation throughout the Borderplex
On the 32nd parallel in a gap within the Franklin Mountain range sits an international intersection where two nations, cultures, languages and people meld together. Every day thousands of people legally cross back and forth between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on their way to jobs, schools, doctor’s appointments, shopping centers and the homes of family and friends. This harmonious exchange has taken place for more than 400 years, uniting neighbors through shared social ties, geography, history and, most importantly, an interlinked economy.
ARK Multicasting, Inc. (ARK) today announced a new agreement with Microsoft. The companies will work together to test both innovative technology approaches to address the broadband gap in rural America and Azure-based media distribution using ARK’s next generation broadcast network. ARK CEO, Vern Fotheringham said, “With Microsoft’s support, ARK believes that this pilot could be the start of standardizing the groundbreaking use of ATSC 3.0 and TV white space technology to bring broadband to rural America. We believe that every community deserves to be connected, whether large or small, and we’re taking the steps to close the connectivity gap through this work.”
Sir Martyn Lewis and I met back in April to discuss the impact of technology on humanity at The Club at The Ivy in London. It was a well-received debate, so we reconvened to tackle a new subject last month. As education is one of the key industries being disrupted by technology, and a subject both Martyn and I feel passionate about, it felt apt to put it on the agenda for the evening’s discussion. The ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ will see an increase in workforce automation.
Artificial intelligence (AI) applications for Healthcare as the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers. Beyond that, it’s a cultural change that requires organizations to continually challenge the status quo, experiment often, and get comfortable with failure. It is no secret that healthcare is expensive. Cost management and savings are a major driver of many healthcare plans, and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) technology is no exception.
In the past few weeks, two important developments in artificial intelligence research have gone largely unheralded. Both hint at just how earth shaking – or at least industry-shattering – A.I.’s potential really is. The findings aren’t about using A.I. for marginal gains, like better ad targeting or for preventative maintenance. We’re talking about upending business models. The first item was news that a Hong Kong-based biotechnology startup, InSilico Medicine, working with researchers from the University of Toronto, had used machine learning to create a potential new drug to prevent tissue scarring.
People around the world marched for climate change on September 20, 2019, with protests taking place across 4,500 locations in 150 countries, all inspired by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. It is obvious the call for a healthier planet is being demanded by more and more people internationally. But what is the answer? One of the questions being posed: Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) and tech companies help address climate change and save the planet? According to several experts the answer is yes.
China has a facial recognition obsession—we all know that. The country can’t seem to get enough of the tech, and what they can’t do in reality, they embellish in the media. Even as the country’s leading facial recognition developers are blacklisted by the U.S. for human rights violations, the country is expanding its use of the technology. But in late September, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced a use for the tech that really does push its scale and invasiveness into areas so feared by privacy advocates around the world.
Facebook Inc.’s remaining partners in its digital currency project signed paperwork Monday to officially join the Libra Association, a new governing body that will oversee the social media giant’s proposed global cryptocurrency, Libra. The association’s 21 founding members — a group that shrank when numerous notable partners bailed on the project late last week — signed a formal charter in Geneva on Monday, outlining their commitment to the effort, though the new charter says that members can leave at any time.
THINK TANK/TECH TRADE ASSOCIATION HIGHLIGHTS
The American Enterprise Institute
- Blog on Antitrust and Privacy
This Friday, the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law will hold its third hearing on online platforms and market power, this one focused on “The Role of Data and Privacy in Competition.” The hearing (where my colleague Roslyn Layton will be testifying) comes amidst a broader national conversation about the conduct of online platforms and the role of antitrust law in policing the behavior of tech giants. But as our friends at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) noted in a blog post yesterday, data and privacy raise few antitrust concerns. Using antitrust law as a vehicle to address these issues is likely to cause more harm than good for consumers and for competition. (AEI Ideas – Modifying antitrust law to protect privacy would do more harm than good, October 16 2019)
Note: Voices for Innovation regularly shares a range of opinion articles and press releases from organizations in and publications covering tech policy. These pieces are meant to educate our audience, not to endorse specific platforms or bills.