Hillicon Valley — Tech giants rally to stifle competition bills 

Tech

Hillicon Valley — Tech giants rally to stifle competition bills 

Congress closed out the session Friday passing a $1.7 trillion government spending package, leaving two key antitrust bills unpassed despite bipartisan support.

We’ll break down how the tech industry rallied together to stifle the legislation, as well as how antitrust advocates are planning to bring the heat again next year. 

In other news, Facebook parent company Meta agreed to pay $725 million to settle a privacy class action case.  

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare. Someone forward you this newsletter? Sign up here or in the box below.

Programming note: We’ll be on hiatus until Tuesday, Jan. 3. Happy holidays!

How Big Tech fought the antitrust battle

Tech giants and their army of industry groups rallied together to stifle a multiyear congressional effort to overhaul antitrust laws, pouring millions into campaigns to block key bipartisan bills targeting the nation’s four largest tech firms.  

They appear to have prevailed over would-be reformers. Antitrust supporters pushed hard for major legislation to rein in the power of tech behemoths before the close of this year.

But while a couple of antitrust reform proposals to give federal and state enforcers more resources and power were added to the $1.7 trillion government funding bill, two key bipartisan measures targeting internet giants failed to make it into end-of-the-year must pass bills, effectively killing their chances of passing this year.  

And with the GOP set to take control of the House in January, the best opportunity to push them through may now be in the rearview mirror. 

  • “When we began this work, we knew we were taking on the largest economic powers in this country. These are gigantic monopolies. And one of the great challenges with monopolies is with tremendous concentrated economic power comes political power,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee. 
  • “We knew this was gonna be a tough haul, but it’s not going away. We’re gonna come right back at it,” he added. 

Read more here.  

Meta agrees to $725M settlement 

Facebook parent company Meta agreed to pay $725 million to settle a privacy class-action case accusing the social media giant of allowing consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, and other third parties, access to user’s information. 

Attorneys representing Facebook users said in an announcement Friday the proposed settlement marks the largest sum ever of a privacy class-action case in the U.S. 

“This historic settlement will provide meaningful relief to the class in this complex and novel privacy case. We have reached this point only because our teams of lawyers and professionals have dedicated years of hard work to this case. We are also immensely thankful to the Court and the mediators,” Derek Loeser and Lesley Weaver, lead lawyers for the plaintiffs, said in a statement.  

The settlement is subject to approval by a judge. 

As part of the settlement, Meta did not admit to wrongdoing.  

  • Meta spokesperson Dina Luce said the company pursued a settlement “as it’s in the best interest of our community and shareholders.” 
  • “Over the last three years we revamped our approach to privacy and implemented a comprehensive privacy program. We look forward to continuing to build services people love and trust with privacy at the forefront,” Luce added. 

Read more here.

JOURNALISTS LOCKED OUT OF TWITTER ACCOUNTS 

Several journalists remain locked out of their Twitter accounts after refusing to delete tweets about an account that tracked CEO Elon Musk’s private jet, according to The Washington Post

The journalists — including Voice of America’s Steve Herman, the Post’s Drew Harwell, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, Fox Business’ Susan Li and The Intercept’s Micah Lee — were suspended for reporting on Musk’s dispute with the creator of the @ElonJet account. 

Musk claimed that the journalists violated the social media platform’s policies on “doxing” by linking back to the account, which used publicly available data to track the movements of Musk’s private jet. 

The billionaire ultimately said he would reinstate the accounts after Twitter users voted in favor of restoring them in a poll. The journalists’ accounts reappeared on the social media platform, suggesting that they were no longer suspended. 

Read more here.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: The US can shape the future of semiconductors if Congress thinks ahead  

Notable links from around the web: 

Those government TikTok ‘bans’ hardly ban anything (The Washington Post / Shira Ovide) 

Silicon Valley is coming for your gut biome (NBC News / David Ingram) 

The tech we couldn’t live without in 2022 (CNN) 

One more thing: Jan. 6 committee recs

The House committee examining last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol issued its long-awaited final report on Thursday night, marking the culmination of a historic investigation that’s captivated Congress and the country for the last 18 months. 

  • The 845-page report aims to fill out the underlying details of investigative findings that were aired publicly over the course of 10 televised hearings that spanned seven months of this year. 
  • The thrust of the committee’s argument has centered on the accusation that former President Trump, while still in the White House, sought to use his executive authority in an illegal effort to cling to power despite his 2020 election defeat.  

Largely excluded from those public forums, however, were any specific proposals to prevent another rampage like the Jan. 6, 2021, attack — recommendations that were an explicit responsibility of the Jan. 6 committee. 

Read more here.  

More from The Hill

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you next year.

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