Welcome back! I'm flying to Las Vegas for CES this morning. Read on The Technology 202 for the latest technological developments at the fair. Follow along with my colleagues Heather Kelly and Geoffrey Fowlerwho are already discovering new things innovations and Get (temporary) tattoos of the publisher of the post office, Marty Baron.
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In the past decade, lawmakers and regulators have been slowly facing the consequences of the uncontrolled rise in power in the technology industry. In the 2020s, they will try to regain control.
The decade starts with a bang: tech companies will feel the heat of a presidential election, tightened anti-trust controls in Washington and a new data protection law that is coming into force in California this year. Expect Congress to focus on the role of technology in campaigns and combating disinformation, while states are also investing heavily in regulating the industry.
Here are (some) of the key issues we will be pursuing at The Technology 202 in 2020:
1. Tech companies will face up to their responsibility to separate fact and fiction online – especially during a closely watched presidential election cycle.
Her first exam took place in 2020 before many had recovered from their New Year celebrations. A deceptively edited video by former Vice President Joe Biden that was posted on Twitter last week could be a harbinger of disinformation in the elections.
Twitter confirmed on Friday that the 19-second clip edited to make the Democratic presidential candidate appear racist would not be removed. The distribution of the video was supported by several reporters and people with big Twitter followers who shared it with little context.
As my colleague Greg Sargent wrote: "If you thought the 2016 elections were full of disinformation and lies, get ready: the 2020 elections will make this look like a knitting."
Biden warns that a Democratic candidate may be susceptible to disinformation after the video has been distributed, the New York Times said. This could put even more pressure on Silicon Valley companies to invest in eliminating lies on their platform and to set the stage for struggles between candidates and companies in the coming years.
2. The disinformation tactic will evolve as Silicon Valley makes massive investments to avoid repeating the 2016 election.
The line-up of actors who could potentially target the races up to 2020 is much broader – and their arsenal is constantly evolving.
Russia is no longer the only threat. Iran and China have shown that they also invest in influencing social media. Domestic actors also played an important role in spreading disinformation in 2018.
The edited Biden video and a doctoral video of the spokeswoman for the house, Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Which went viral last year, show how effective video editing can be in creating a false political narrative. And researchers warn that deepfakes – which allow people to use artificial intelligence to reveal someone who says or does something that has never happened before – are rapidly developing and creating new concerns.
Expect these developments to be central to Washington lawmakers in the coming weeks. The House Energy and Commerce Committee will begin a hearing on Wednesday on "Manipulation and Deception in the Digital Age".
3. The new California Data Protection Act came into force on January 1, and other states will consider enacting their own restrictions on data collection unless federal action is taken.
It is official. Californians have new privacy controls. However, tech companies have some time to go before law enforcement begins in six months. So you can expect to spend the first half of the year adjusting to the new regulation.
In the absence of federal measures in Washington last year, other states are considering their own data protection laws. The tech industry is closely monitoring states like New York and Washington, which could adopt their own data protection laws in the coming months.
This multitude of state-level activities is causing industry lobbying groups to invest more in states, writes Kim Hart and Margaret Harding McGill of Axios. States are also expected to play a greater role on issues such as autonomous vehicles and facial recognition.
4. The power and size of the technology giants are scrutinized when the antitrust investigations at the federal and state levels intensify.
Antitrust law will continue to dominate the technology policy debate, particularly as Parliament's subcommittee, which is leading an antitrust investigation into big tech, plans to publish a report on its results in the first half of 2020.
The action on the hill comes because the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have their own ongoing investigations into the technology giants and the attorneys general are also launching investigations into companies like Facebook and Google.
Any developments in these investigations could become a key issue in the election campaign. Many democratic candidates have weighed up their positions on the dissolution of big tech as they try to differentiate their economic platforms.
5. The treatment of agency workers by industry is questioned – Starting with a law targeting gig economy workers known in California as AB5.
Companies like Uber, Lyft and Postmates built entirely new business models by relying heavily on agency workers to drive their drivers and deliverers. A new law in California aimed at classifying these gig employees as full-time employees could pose an existential threat to this type of business.
AB5 entered into force last week and companies are stepping up efforts to ensure that they do not have to reclassify their drivers. My colleague Faiz Siddiqui reports this morning that Uber has launched an internal initiative called "Project Luigi" to fight the law. The initiative aimed to revise aspects of the app to make it more user-friendly for California drivers, including the ability to preview estimated fares and refuse a ride without penalty.
The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Uber and Postmates sued California to challenge the law on the grounds that it "violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process because it targets certain workers and companies." They are also promoting an election initiative to crack the law in California in 2020.
BITS, NIBBLES AND BYTES
BITS: Analysts and former U.S. officials warn that Iran could take revenge on a U.S. airstrike that killed one of its top generals in a variety of cyber attacks. my colleagues Tony Romm, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Craig Timberg report. The potential attacks could hit a number of critical sectors, including the energy industry and American banking systems, experts warn.
"Wherever they have serious, almost psychological effects and can cause noticeable disturbances," John Hultquist, Director of Intelligence Analysis at FireEye, a cyber security company, told my colleagues. "The purpose is to show the public that they can reach and touch Americans."
Since the U.S.’s assassination of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, experts who track disinformation efforts have identified suspicious activity from accounts that distribute pro-Iranian news on social media and news apps, and another potential proxy for cyberwar. The researchers found that social media accounts that used to be used for commercial reasons, for example, were quickly used for coordinated news for Iran. The researchers saw a similarly coordinated messaging in the messenger app Telegram.
Legislators are also concerned. "We know that Iranian cyber operations are currently trying to attack our networks – in all areas of society – to find out where they can meet us," said Senator Mark R. Warner (Va.), The Senate Committee's leading Democrat on Intelligence , The Department of Homeland Security and the White House did not respond to requests for comments.
NIBBLES: Users have flooded TikTok with political content in recent weeks, despite the Chinese app trying to bypass the spotlight of the 2020 social media race. Georgia Wells and Emily Glazer report in the Wall Street Journal. Videos tagged # Trump2020 have been viewed more than 200 million times in the last three weeks of 2019.
TikTok banned political ads last year, but advisors from both parties have expressed interest in partnering with influencers through the app to reach young voters. The Trump campaign has no official website. But it looked after influential customers on the platform, a person familiar with the matter told the journal.
The U.S. authorities warn that the Chinese-owned app could pose a national security threat. The Democratic National Committee issued a warning last month that the app may send data back to the Chinese government and direct campaigns not to use it. The Republican National Committee did not respond to a request for comment from the journal.
The Trump administration is introducing stricter restrictions today for U.S. companies that want to export some tracking technologies for drones, sensors, and satellites. Alexandra Alper reports at Reuters. The rule aims to keep sensitive developments in artificial intelligence in the United States away from rival countries like China.
"They want to prevent American companies from helping the Chinese make better AI products that can help their military," James Lewis, a technology expert at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Reuters. The rule is likely to be welcomed by industry leaders who feared a much larger deal against artificial intelligence products, Lewis noted.
The rule, which stems from an order from 2018 that mandates the Department of Commerce to regulate the export of sensitive technologies, follows the growing frustration of the two parties over the slow introduction of export controls by the government. The commercial department has introduced similar controls for modern telecommunications equipment.
– CES starts on Tuesday, and attendees can expect a keynote speech from Ivanka Trump and try to rename facial recognition technology as consumer-friendly, my colleague Heather reports. This is also the first year in which the 50-year event brings sex toys to the provider's show floor. The previous CES winners Ezviz and iFlytek will not be present this year. Ezviz's parent company, Hikvision, and iFlytek are being blacklisted by the U.S. Department of Commerce for allegedly engaging in human rights violations by the Chinese government. which has been blacklisted by the U.S. Department of Commerce for allegedly being used by the Chinese government to deal with human rights violations.
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Ezviz's parent company, Hikvision, and not Ezviz, has been blacklisted by the commercial department.
– More news from the private sector:
– Public sector news:
The U.S. military has banned its members from using TikTok, indicating increasing concern about possible security risks associated with Chinese ownership of the popular video app.
Wall Street Journal
State officials offered Amazon.com $ 800 million more incentives than previously known to win the competition for its second headquarters, and were even willing to pay part of the salaries of some employees when the technology company built a campus in New York.
The Wall Street Journal
– Technical news that is causing a stir on the web:
- The CES takes place from Tuesday to Friday in Las Vegas.
- The House Energy Committee's Consumer Protection and Trade Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday at 10:30 am on “Americans at Risk: Manipulation and Deception in the Digital Age”.
- The Mobile World Congress takes place in Barcelona from February 24th to 27th.