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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Hillicon Valley: Supreme Court rules Facebook text alerts not akin to robocalls | Republicans press Google, Apple, Amazon on Parler removals | Texas Senate blocks social media platforms from banning users based on politics

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Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by clicking HERE. [1]

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.[2][3][4]

The Supreme Court issued an unanimous ruling Thursday siding with Facebook over the platform’s notification system to alert users of suspicious logins. Meanwhile, Google, Apple and Amazon received letters from two Republicans questioning the companies’ actions taken against the social media platform Parler. Top tech platforms were also the target of a Texas Senate bill that passed Thursday that aims to block social media platforms from banning residents based on political views.

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SIDING WITH FACEBOOK: The Supreme Court on Thursday sided unanimously with Facebook, ruling that a notification system the social media giant employs to alert users to suspicious logins does not run afoul of a federal law aimed at curbing robocalls and automated text messages.

The decision derailed a proposed class-action lawsuit that sought to hold Facebook liable under a 1991 law that imposed a general ban on automated calls.

The justices found that Facebook’s opt-in security notification feature fell outside the law, even though the program was found to have transmitted unwanted text messages.

The court rejected an argument from a recipient of unwanted Facebook texts, who claimed that the company’s messaging program amounted to an “autodialer,” which generally involves the use of a random or sequential number generator. 

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Read more about the ruling.[5]

PRESSED ON PARLER: Rep. Ken BuckHillicon Valley: Supreme Court rules Facebook text alerts not akin to robocalls | Republicans press Google, Apple, Amazon on Parler removals | Texas Senate blocks social media platforms from banning users based on politicsKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckHouse panel advances bill to repeal 2002 war authorization 14 Republicans vote against resolution condemning Myanmar military coup Bipartisan group of lawmakers backs bill ‘to save local news’ MORE[7][8][9][10][11][6] (R-Colo.) and Sen. Mike LeeHillicon Valley: Supreme Court rules Facebook text alerts not akin to robocalls | Republicans press Google, Apple, Amazon on Parler removals | Texas Senate blocks social media platforms from banning users based on politicsMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden shifts on filibuster GOP looks to squeeze Biden, Democrats on border Senate passes extension of popular small-business loan program MORE[13][14][15][16][17][12] (R-Utah), the top Republicans on the House and Senate antitrust subcommittees sent letters to Google, Apple and Amazon pressing the tech giants over their actions to remove from their platforms the fringe social media site Parler after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. 

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The Republicans questioned whether the companies followed “procedural fairness” in pulling Parler, and framed the actions as “three of the largest technology companies in the world” targeting “one small business.” 

Google and Apple removed Parler from their app stores just days after the deadly riot at the Capitol, after the platform was found to be rife with posts about storming the building. The companies cited Parler’s lack of content moderation policies and public safety concerns in making the decision. 

Shortly afterward, Amazon Web Services suspended Parler’s platform, citing concerns the platform could not adequately screen out potential incendiary content, including material that incites violence. 

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Read more about the letter[18]

TEXAS TARGETS TECH: The Texas Senate on Thursday passed a bill blocking social media platforms from banning residents based on their political views.

The Texas Tribune reported that Senate Bill 12 passed shortly after 2 a.m. on Thursday. The measure now heads to the state House, where there are two identical bills that have not moved out of their committee, according to the Tribune.[19]

The bill bans platforms from censoring a “user, a user’s expression, or a user’s ability to receive the expression of another person” based on their viewpoints or geographical location, according to its text. The measure also requires social media companies to publicly disclose information regarding their practices around how they target content for users, promote content and services and moderate content.[20]

Read more about the bill[21]

GOOGLE’S LATEST EFFORT TO FIGHT MISINFO: Google on Wednesday announced that it will be spending nearly $ 30 million in Europe to combat misinformation and fake news.

“Google is contributing €25 million to help launch the European Media and Information Fund to strengthen media literacy skills, fight misinformation and support fact checking,” Matt Brittin, the president of Google in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said in a blog post.[22]

The money is coupled with a commitment over the next five years to work with the European University Institute, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the European Digital Media Observatory.

Read more here[23]

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Lighter click: Ooh yuh get it I guess[24]

An op-ed to chew on: Flying blind: Data infrastructure needed to fight the next pandemic[25]

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

Facebook Built the Perfect Platform for Covid Vaccine Conspiracies (Bloomberg / Sarah Frier and Sarah Kopit)[26]

Asian Americans in tech say they face ‘a unique flavor of oppression’ (Protocol / Megan Rose Dickey)[27]

The Right Curriculum? How PragerU Infiltrates Schools. (The American Prospect / Amelia Pollard)[28]

[email protected] (Rebecca Klar,Maggie Miller and Chris Mills Rodrigo)

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Hillicon Valley: Supreme Court rules Facebook text alerts not akin to robocalls | Republicans press Google, Apple, Amazon on Parler removals | Texas Senate blocks social media platforms from banning users based on politics
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