Today: President BidenJoe BidenAstraZeneca says COVID-19 vaccine found 79 percent effective in US trial with no safety concerns The Hill’s Morning Report – Biden: Back to the future on immigration, Afghanistan, Iran This week: Senate works to confirm Biden picks ahead of break MORE announced his intention to fill one of the two open roles on the Federal Trade Commission with prominent antitrust scholar, Lina Khan. And a broad coalition of groups in the technology came together to launch a coalition with its sights set on ending “surveillance advertising.”
BIG TECH CRITICS GET THEIR PICK: President Biden on Monday announced his intention to nominate influential antitrust scholar Lina Khan to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Khan, a 32-year-old associate professor at Columbia Law School, would be the youngest FTC commissioner if confirmed by the Senate.
She is best known for a paper written while a law student at Yale titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” which laid out how the e-commerce giant could be violating antitrust law.
More recently, Khan served as an aide to the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee during its investigation into the monopoly power of major digital platforms.
Who’s happy about this: Progressive critics of big tech have been pushing for Khan’s nomination.
“A champion of small businesses, entrepreneurs, and working people, Professor Lina Khan is an extraordinary choice for the Federal Trade Commission,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project.
NEW COALITION: Thirty-plus privacy, consumer and anti-monopoly groups are coming together to stop big tech platforms from tracking and categorizing individuals for the purpose of narrowly targeting advertising.
What is “surveillance advertising”? “Behavioral advertising, targeted advertising, what Facebook has tried to describe as personalized advertising, really feels like they’re trying to describe it as if they’re doing us a favor, when in reality they are extracting our data, they’re exploiting us and they’re selling us to advertisers,” said Rishi Bharwani, director of partnerships and policy at Accountable Tech, one of the member groups.
“So we just thought it was a more appropriate term,” he explained to The Hill.
The coalition argues that the data collection and advertising practices of the biggest platforms — specifically Facebook and Google, which are the two dominant players in the digital advertising space — increase the spread of misinformation, hate speech and extremism by incentivizing the companies to try to keep users engaged and online as much as possible.
MICROSOFT REOPENING: Microsoft will begin allowing more workers back into its headquarters in Redmond, Wash., the company announced Monday.
Nonessential on-site workers will be given the option to work from the office, from home or a hybrid of both.
Any worker who does choose to go to the office will continue to have to wear a mask and practice social distancing.
The company’s reasoning: “Our goal is to give employees further flexibility, allowing people to work where they feel most productive and comfortable, while also encouraging employees to work from home as the virus and related variants remain concerning,” Microsoft executive vice president Kurt DelBene said in a blog post Monday.
The company is describing the latest update in its recommendations as step four on a six-step dial.
UNFORTUNATELY, NFT NEWS: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first post on the social media platform was sold as a non-fungible token for $ 2,915,835.47 on Monday after a two-week open bid.
Dorsey said he would convert the winning bid into bitcoin and donate it to the charity GiveDirectly’s Africa Response.
What’s in the tweet: The tweet, “just setting up my twttr,” was sent March 21, 2006.
The winning bidder is Sina Estavi who, according to his Twitter, is the CEO of a blockchain company called Bridge Oracle.
A non-fungible token, more commonly known as an NFT, is a unique kind of digital asset that has skyrocketed in popularity this year.
CASE DISMISSED: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Facebook’s appeal to scale back a $ 15 billion lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of illegally tracking its users’ internet activities.
The lawsuit alleges Facebook violated the Wiretap Act by tracking users’ online activities that utilize features such as the platform’s “like” button without their consent between April 2010 and September 2011.
A blow to Facebook: The justices declined to take up Facebook’s appeal of a lower court ruling allowing the class-action lawsuit against the company to move forward.
SURPRISE! TIKTOK OK: The source code for Tik Tok and its Chinese counterpart Douyin is no more intrusive than that of other social media apps, a report from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab found.
The popular video-sharing app came under legal jeopardy during the Trump administration after the White House moved to ban it, citing national security reasons. However, that ban never went into effect while the company vowed to fight it in court.
ICYMI – CYBER CZAR PRESSURE: President Biden is coming under increasing pressure from lawmakers and other officials to nominate a White House cyber czar as the government starts formulating its response to two major foreign cyberattacks.
More than halfway through his first 100 days in office, Biden has yet to name his pick for national cyber director, a Senate-confirmed position that comes with a 75-member staff.
The absence of a leader to coordinate federal policy on cybersecurity is becoming glaring as the administration works to quickly respond to both the Russian SolarWinds hack and the Microsoft Exchange Server vulnerabilities exploited by Chinese hackers.