We have breaking news in Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard transaction: Earlier today, in a preliminary statement, U.K. regulators at the Competition and Markets Authority said that Microsoft’s revised plan to purchase video game company Activision Blizzard largely satisfies earlier objections to the transaction. A final decision from the CMA is expected within weeks. Microsoft says it will continue to work toward winning regulatory approval in advance of an October 18 deadline. Coverage of this development can be found in Axios, Ars Technica, and the New York Times.
We also want to highlight this week’s 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, which includes heads of state, NGO leaders, and private sector organizations. This wide-ranging event featured breakout sessions on many topics—and discussions included the potential for AI to help address many challenges. Microsoft speakers highlighted the use of AI in improving global health, protecting civilians in conflict zones, and improving infrastructure operations. In addition, Microsoft provided visualizations on environmental progress in regions across the world.
You can read daily updates about #UNGA78 in this LinkedIn post from Microsoft on the Issues. And while you’re visiting LinkedIn, be sure to follow Voices for Innovation as well. Thank you! Now here’s our roundup of this week’s tech policy news and a featured podcast…
This Week in Washington
- The Hill: President Biden’s reelection campaign is creating a team dedicated to combating misinformation on social media platforms, focusing on issues such as the president’s record, the COVID-19 vaccine push, and allegations of voter suppression. This announcement comes as the Biden administration is entangled in a legal battle over federal agencies’ ability to communicate with social media sites.
- Politico: Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) are teaming up to develop “light-touch” AI legislation. Thune’s proposed legislation would require companies to assess the impact of AI systems and self-certify the safety of those deemed risky.
- CyberScoop: A trio of nominees to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) called on Congress to pass a federal privacy bill during their confirmation hearing with the Senate Commerce Committee. The nominees stated that it is up to Congress to pass new regulations to address growing concerns on privacy, data brokers, and AI.
- CyberScoop: The White House is embarking on a journey to harmonize the broad number of cybersecurity-related regulations and standards, which is priority number one of the National Cybersecurity Strategy Implementation Plan. Harmonizing multifarious regulations could help deliver significant security dividends as cyberattacks against critical structures continue to increase.
- Nextgov: The looming government shutdown could cause major disruptions to federal cyber operations, during which agencies could retain less than half of their employees. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which does critical work to maintain the federal cyber posture, may not be able to operate in these conditions, which could leave federal networks vulnerable to digital intrusion from foreign adversaries.
- Nextgov: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo updated Congress on the progress made under the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act and highlighted the importance of innovation in semiconductor production. Secretary Raimondo noted that turning to AI could help reduce the cost of semiconductor manufacturing and keep it in the U.S.
- Reuters: The largest US cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, is launching a DC-focused grassroots advocacy effort, and a paid media campaign. Calls-to-action on Coinbase’s platform will urge users to contact their members of Congress in support of pending legislation, and executives from the industry will be in Washington next week for meetings with lawmakers.
- Telecompetitor: Georgia’s efforts to meet the broadband needs of underserved areas have been successful due to its Capital Project Fund program, which broke the allocation of funds into two rounds, according to Jessica Simmons, Georgia’s Deputy State Chief Information Officer and Executive Director of the Georgia Broadband Program. Now, the state will receive $1.3 billion in BEAD rural broadband deployment funding that will help further serve their communities.
- Axios: TikTok, which has faced scrutiny from policymakers worldwide, was fined over $368 million for its lack of protection of children’s personal information following an investigation by the Ireland-based Data Protection Commission (DPC).
- Reuters: A group of 18 state attorneys general led by Virginia, including Georgia, Alaska, Utah, Indiana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kentucky, and South Dakota, backed Montana’s efforts to ban TikTok and urged a federal judge to reject the legal challenges it is facing from users. The states claim that the platform intentionally engages in deceptive practices that prompt users to share their personal information.
- Marketplace Tech
We are a little more than a year away from Election Day, and voters have probably heard something about candidates’ views on the economy, foreign policy, and other issues in the media daily. But today, “Marketplace Tech” is looking at what candidates are telling voters about their plans for the future of technology in the United States. How are they framing issues related to artificial intelligence, social media, and the power of Big Tech? If you scroll through the websites of the leading candidates, tech might not seem very high on their priority list so far. But tech is definitely on the agenda — you just have to know where to look and what to listen for. Marketplace’s Lily Jamali spoke with Dave Weigel, politics reporter for the news website Semafor, about how the contenders are defining and spinning tech to influence voters. (How presidential candidates are talking about tech on the campaign trail – September 19, 2023)