Microsoft Closes Activision Blizzard Acquisition

Earlier today, Microsoft completed its acquisition of video game developer and publisher Activision Blizzard, following more than 18 months of global regulatory reviews. The deal closed after receiving clearance from the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the final regulatory hurdle. You can find coverage of this widely reported story in the New York Times, the VergeYahoo Finance, and Axios.

Over the last year and a half, Microsoft has taken steps to address regulatory concerns, including signing deals with other video game console makers and providers of game streaming services to ensure that Activision Blizzard content remains available on a wide array of platforms. Under these deals and the terms of the acquisition, consumers worldwide will be able to play more games on more devices. The completed transaction will also foster innovation and competition by expanding opportunities for creators and developers to access new business models, audiences, and gaming possibilities.

While regulators worldwide approved the deal, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) continues to challenge a recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision that allowed the acquisition to proceed. Microsoft will continue to defend its position in court as the appeals process moves forward.

Thank you for reading. You’ll find additional tech policy news highlights and a featured podcast below.

This Week in Washington 

  • Politico Magazine: A new poll commissioned by the Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator found public support for creating a dedicated team of government technologists to advise agencies and regulators. Two members of the Vanderbilt team share their perspective on the poll and their recommendations for how policymakers can build government capacity around AI, and how they can work to further trust in technology and public services. 
  • Nextgov: According to Chris Inglis, the former National Cyber Director, a more flexible approach to the U.S. government’s emerging technology policy will be key to securing the country’s cyber infrastructure. Inglis believes this flexible approach will help bridge the gap between the private and public sectors, which are fighting for the same cybersecurity goals.
  • Nextgov: The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) urged organizations providing critical internet delivery services to immediately apply patches and other mitigations to prevent future attacks, partially in response to a distributed denial-of-service attack in August, the largest ever recorded.
  • StateScoop and The Hill: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that broadband providers will be required to display easy-to-understand information about the cost and performance of their services beginning in 2024. And, FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel proposed clarification to a rule to state that buses are eligible for E-Rate funding, which gives discounted Wi-Fi access to schools. The decision to add buses into this rule is part of the FCC’s efforts to close the homework gap, but Republican lawmakers are in opposition believing that adding Wi-Fi to buses will increase student’s access to social media apps with limited supervision. 

Article Summary

  • CNBC: Microsoft announced new data and AI products they developed in Fabric, a data and analytics platform they released in May, that will help healthcare professionals easily learn from and access the vast amount of information collected by doctors and hospitals.
  • Semafor: Amateur researchers have deciphered letters on an unopened ancient scroll written on papyrus, which was turned to ash by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE, by utilizing AI to isolate the letters. This discovery was a part of the Vesuvius Challenge, a contest organized by former Github CEO Nat Friedman and fellow entrepreneur Daniel Gross that launched in March.
  • Nieman Reports: In April, NPR decided to step away from Twitter, now known as X, after the platform labeled the network as “U.S. state-affiliated media,” directly contradicting their definition. Since their departure, NPR has experienced minimal effects to traffic, only seeing a drop of a single percentage point. While the importance of Twitter was waning before it was purchased by Elon Musk, the changes that have been made to the platform since have accelerated its decline.
  • CNN and The New York Times: New York Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James announced that they will be introducing two new bills meant to protect children’s mental health online. The “Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act” would limit what New York officials have deemed to be harmful and addictive features of social media for children, while the New York Child Data Protection Act would prohibit all online sites from collecting, using, sharing, or selling the personal data of anyone under 18 for advertising without informed consent. While New York is working to advance these laws, Montana is heading into a hearing with TikTok over their first-of-its-kind law that would ban the app in the state in 2024. This is just one of 38 laws regulating social media that have been passed since 2021.
  • Axios: Utah is the latest state to file a lawsuit against TikTok for allegedly harming the mental health of children and teens in the state. The state claims that the popular app has leveraged a highly powerful algorithm to entice young users to use the app, violating the state’s consumer protection laws. 
  • Los Angeles Times: California Governor Gavin Newson signed a bill into law that would hold social media platforms accountable for failing to address and prevent the spread of child sexual abuse materials. Some industry advocates, including NetChoice and TechNet, opposed the legislation believing it would affect free speech and lead to platforms pulling down more lawful content or disabling certain features.

Featured Podcast

Wall Street Journal

  • Tech News Briefing
    Developments in artificial intelligence have some worried the technology could replace them in their jobs. But AI also offers the prospect of new jobs and even new ways to start businesses. In this all-AI episode focused on work, TNB looks at how generative AI is being used to launch startups, how it’s creating new professions, and why you won’t be able to leave AI at work. (AI and Work: AI for Jobs, Startups and Everywhere Else – October 9, 2023)