Regulators target Facebook acquisitions

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– Under pressure: European regulators are stepping up the pressure on Facebook, after the social media giant acquired startups Giphy and Kustomer.

– Search for answers: Lawmakers want Amazon to clarify how it plans to protect consumers’ biometric data, as the company rolls out new fingerprint recognition technology.

– Policy change: Airbnb announced this morning its intention to update its terms of service to exclude complaints of sexual assault or sexual harassment against guests or hosts from its arbitration clause.

IT’S FRIDAY AUGUST. 13. WELCOME TO MORNING TECH. I am your host, Benjamin Din. Let’s settle this debate once and for all: How do you pronounce Giphy? Is it with a hard “j” or “g” sound? I am the “JIFFY” team, until the end.

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WHO SAID THE CONGRESS CANNOT MOVE QUICKLY? – Rep. Ken buck (R-Colo.) And Hank johnson (D-Ga.) Are today introducing the House version of the Open App Markets Act, which would reduce the near absolute power that tech giants wield over their app stores. “For too long, companies like Google and Apple have had a stranglehold on app developers who are forced to accept the terms set by these monopolies in order to reach their customers,” said Buck, the main Republican sponsor of the antitrust package. House Judiciary. The bill is a companion to that presented Wednesday by Sens. Richard blumenthal (D-Conn.), Marsha blackburn (R-Tenn.) And Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

FACEBOOK FACES REGULATORY HEAT – Over the past two weeks, European competition authorities have stepped up pressure on Facebook’s acquisitions of GIF aggregator Giphy and customer support platform Kustomer in stocks that U.S. officials are likely to be watching closely.

popcorn.gif: The UK Competition and Markets Authority on Thursday provisional conclusions that, if confirmed, could force the company to sell its $ 400 million purchase of Giphy. And he’s not the only one to notice: “In addition to being investigated by the CMA, the merger is also being reviewed by other competition authorities. The CMA has engaged with these agencies – and continues to do so – to advance its investigation ”, the British regulator said. The CMA’s final report is due on October 6.

Although Europe has been a strong voice on competition issues, the CMA has been particularly aggressive since Brexit as it seeks to establish itself as a major player in the global competition arena. A Facebook spokesperson said the company would “work with AMC to dispel the misconception that the [Giphy] agreement hurts competition.

– Everything about the Kustomer: The European Commission launched an in-depth investigation last week in Facebook announced a billion dollar offer on Kustomer. This week, EU regulators extended the tentative deadline for this investigation until December 15.

Back on this side of the pond: The FTC is also investigating the Kustomer acquisition, with a full investigation launched in February, The information reported. This acquisition could fall under the category of a vertical merger, in which the companies involved are not direct competitors (which have therefore generally been subject to less regulatory scrutiny, although the antitrust hawk and new president of FTC Lina Khan may well change that). Facebook has defended both this and the Giphy acquisition as being pro-competitive.

LEGISLATIVES ASK AMAZON: WHAT IS ALL ABOUT BIOMETRICS? – A trio of senators want Amazon to clarify what the company plans to do with the biometrics it collects from Amazon One, the palm-recognition technology it uses in its retail stores for payment without contact.

“Amazon’s expansion of biometric data collection through Amazon One raises serious questions about Amazon’s plans for such data and its respect for user privacy, including how Amazon may use the data. for advertising and tracking purposes “, Sens. Klobuchar, Bill Cassidy (R-La.) And Jon osoff (D-Ga.) written in a letter sent Thursday to Amazon CEO Andy Jassy and posted today.

– What’s the big deal? Amazon is currently using palmprint scanners at its retail stores, such as Amazon Go and Whole Foods, and in April the company said it was “in active discussions with several potential customers” who are seeking a license. technology for use by others. Lawmakers have expressed concern that Amazon could use the data “to further strengthen its competitive power and remove competition in various markets.”

They also said they were concerned about data security, given Amazon One’s reported practice of uploading biometric data to the cloud, which they said presented “unique security risks.” Other biometric systems, including Apple’s Face ID and Touch ID, store this information only on individual devices. In an April blog post, Amazon said its biometric data was only stored in “a highly secure area” in the cloud, touting it as an example of how the company protects consumer data.

Klobuchar, Cassidy, and Ossoff also asked if the company would use data from Amazon One to deliver personalized ads and product recommendations. Amazon has not commented on the letter; senators have given the company until Aug. 26 to respond.

AIRBNB WILL EXEMPT SURVIVORS FROM ARBITRATION CLAUSE – In an update to Airbnb’s terms of service expected in the fall, the arbitration provisions “will no longer apply to complaints of sexual assault or sexual harassment” made by hosts or guests of the platform, a said Airbnb this morning.

“We believe survivors should be able to file claims in whatever forum is most convenient for them. We encourage our industry peers within the travel and hospitality space to consider taking similar action for their respective communities, ”the company said in a blog post. The announcement codifies a practice that Airbnb says has been in place since January 2019.

– Response to critics: Airbnb has drawn attention in recent months to its policies related to sexual harassment and assault, after a Bloomberg report in June explained how the company had spent millions to keep survivors silent. The short-term rental platform required nondisclosure clauses in payment agreements until 2017. Users who register on the site are required to agree to terms that require them to request confidential arbitration in case of dispute. Only one lawsuit in the United States has been filed against Airbnb over sexual assault – which lawyers attributed to the arbitration clause.

MEET ME AT THE WHITE HOUSE – Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday met with executives from seven companies, including senior officials from Airbnb, Microsoft and Etsy, to discuss the importance of investing in affordable child care. “Each company represented supports childcare and / or paid vacation policies and recognizes[s] these policies matter to workers, businesses and the economy, ”according to the Harris press team.

– Technical names to note: Nathan Blecharczyk, Chief Strategy Officer of Airbnb, President of Microsoft Brad Smith and CEO of Etsy Josh Silverman.

TEENS SPEAK LARGE – Seventy-four percent of teens think government should play a key role in ensuring all Americans have access to broadband, according to a survey conducted by the Harris Poll for the National 4-H Council and the 4-H Tech Changemakers Coalition, which includes Microsoft and Verizon.

The survey, which interviewed 1,600 adolescents in suburban, urban and rural communities, also found that access to reliable high-speed internet has increased from 77% to 69% since 2019, when the last survey was carried out. Black youth, in particular, said they had difficulty with broadband access, with only 59% of them reporting reliable access.

Clarisse Girot will be the director of the new Asia-Pacific office of the Future of Privacy Forum based in Singapore. Girot is an expert on Asian and European privacy legislation and has been an advisor to the President of the French Data Protection Authority. … Long-time Apple executive Foucault tail has a new title, 9to5Mac reports. The former SVP of Internet software and services is now the SVP of services.

Jensen Huang, Founder and CEO of Nvidia, will receive the Robert N. Noyce Award from the Semiconductor Industry Association.

This is one way to proceed: “YouTube wannabe Rumble will pay Tulsi Gabbard and Glenn Greenwald in an effort to attract audiences”, WaPo Reports.

With the old one: Amazon is removing a “draconian” policy that allowed it to claim ownership of video games created by its employees when they were not busy. More from Bloomberg.

Eyeballs looking at emoji: Amazon plans to monitor keystrokes and mouse movements of its customer service employees, which it says is aimed at preventing imposters from gaining access to customer data. Vice motherboard reports.

A doozy of a title: “Elon Musk says Jeff Bezos would be on Pluto now” if the lobbying and lawyers could put you in orbit “as the war of words escalates between the billionaire enemies of the space race.” via daily mail.

Pause typing: With the upsurge in Covid cases, Facebook has postponed its plans to return to the office for U.S. employees until 2022, Bloomberg Reports.

A request please: After a failed last-ditch effort to include a cryptocurrency brokerage amendment in the Senate infrastructure bill, Rep. Anna eshoo (D-Calif.) Called the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to ensure these changes are implemented in the House before Bill makes its way to Biden’s office.

RTX enabled: “Nvidia simulated part of a press conference with a CGI CEO,” CNET reports.

Advice, comments, suggestions? Email them to our team: Bob King ([email protected]), Heidi Vogt ([email protected]), John Hendel ([email protected]), Alexandra S. Levine ([email protected]), Léa Nylen ([email protected]), Emily Birnbaum ([email protected]) and Benjamin Din ([email protected]). Do you have an event for our calendar? Send details to [email protected]. And don’t forget: add @MatinTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.


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