Content and competition issues have returned to trouble big tech as it is targeted by the trump administration and smaller rivals.
On wednesday, the department of justice sent draft legislation to congress that would weaken parts of section 230 of the 1996 communications decency act, the landmark law that has underpinned the growth of the internet.
Kadhim shubber in washington reports the legislation is unlikely to be taken up by a divided congress just weeks before the presidential election in november, but the legislative package reflects how companies like facebook and google face bipartisan suspicion of their power and influence.
The dojs proposal builds on the plan first announced in june to reform the rules around social media and hold companies more accountable. section 230 provides protections to operators of websites from liability for content posted by their users, but the proposal would strip immunity for truly bad actors, such as platforms that host content that violates the law. it also takes aim at websites that censor legal but offensive content if they do not act in good faith.
Also on wednesday, the doj briefed state attorneys-general on a case against google for monopolistic behaviour, which could be filed by the end of the month.in the uk, the financial conduct authority today accused google of not doing enough to stop fraudsters using its internet search pages to target victims.
Meanwhile, hannah murphy in san francisco reports facebook will launch its supreme court-style oversight body ahead of the us election. the appointment of an independent body offloads decisions on the most contentious content on the platform to a third party at a time when facebook has faced accusations including from president trump that it demonstrates an anticonservative bias on its platform and censors rightwing voices.
Elsewhere, a group of news, gaming and music app developers has banded together to form the coalition for app fairness in protest at apples allegedly anti-competitive behaviour, as tensions between the tech giant and app makers over the terms of its app store continue to escalate.
1. cambridge analyticas nix nixed for seven yearsalexander nix, the former chief executive of cambridge analytica, has been banned from running limited companies for seven years. his data analytics company gained notoriety after the 2016 us presidential election, where it had harvested the facebook data of 87m voters without their knowledge or permission for use by the trump campaign.
2. spotify chief hopes to grow european super-companiesspotifys billionaire chief executive daniel ek has pledged to invest 1bn into european tech start-ups in a bid to challenge the dominance of silicon valley. the 37-year-old swede told the slush tech conference he would invest over the next decade in early stage moonshots that may be too early for most venture capital firms. he cited machine learning, biotechnology and materials science as interesting sectors.
3. bytedance and tiktok race to meet deadlinesbytedance has applied to the chinese government for permission to export its technology as the company races to finalise a deal and prevent its viral video app tiktok from being blocked in the us. tiktok has asked a federal judge to grant an injunction stopping the trump administration from banning downloads of its app from sunday.
4. us falling behind china on electric carsthe us must urgently build up an electric vehicles industry or risk becoming dependent on china for its automotive future, a group of senior military and business leaders has warned. failure to act within the next five years risks the withering of the us automobile industry and the loss of millions of jobs, said securing americas future energy.
5. microsoft to sell new office without subscriptionif, like me, youve been holding on to your old disc-based version of microsoft office because you dont like the idea of paying for the subscription version that succeeded it, a significant update awaits. the companys exchange team says a new perpetual release for both windows and mac will be available in the second half of 2021.
We have no way back any more, said jaroslav likhachevskiy, chief executive and co-founder of belarusian eye-diagnosis start-up deepdee, speaking at a recent tech event about the troubled sector. we cannot return to the belarus we had before august 9th. his comments reflect the growing depth of feeling in much of thebelarusian tech communityabout the need for meaningful political change in the country, which has seen weeks of protests against president alexander lukashenko after a disputed election in early august. this follows a hardening of attitudes to the regime earlier this month after authorities raided the minsk office of software company pandadoc, whose founder had given interviews on the political situation in the country. four of the companys employees remain in detention.what is next for belarusian tech?
Meanwhile, new data show thatventure capital investment in climate techover the past seven years has grown three times faster than investment in the buzzy area of artificial intelligence, and grown five times faster than the average across all industries. what does this mean?sifted this week also looked at the eighttop european accelerators for female founders, new money going into thefrench vc fund daphniand howswedens heart aerospaceis going against the hydrogen aircraft trend unveiling its electric turboprop jet engine for commercial flights in 2026.
The uk government appears to have finally got its act together on contact-tracing apps, with the release of the nhs covid-19 app on thursday for england and wales. its features include check-ins at venues using qr codes, telling you the current risk level in your postcode, checking symptoms, entering test results and giving you a countdown for isolation periods. and of course, there is the bluetooth-based contact-tracing feature, which now complies with google and apples standards and alerts if youve been near someone who later tested positive for the virus. all the government needs now is for everyone with compatible smartphones to download it, and encouragingly the app was top of the apple charts on thursday.