Linking to news doesn’t make Google liable for defamation, Australia court rules

At Google headquarters, the company's logo is seen on the glass exterior of a building.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Justin Sullivan )

Google cannot be held liable for defamation simply for providing hyperlinks to other webpages, Australia’s highest court ruled today. By itself, providing a URL is not “participation in the communication of defamatory matter which happens to be at that address… In reality, a hyperlink is merely a tool which enables a person to navigate to another webpage,” the High Court of Australia ruling said.

The case relates to a Google search result that linked to a 2004 article published by The Age with the title, “Underworld loses valued friend at court.” The article described Melbourne-based lawyer George Defteros, who was charged with conspiracy to murder and incitement to murder the day before it was published. The charge was withdrawn in 2005.

Defteros sued Google after becoming aware that a Google search of his name produced a link to the article and a snippet. Google refused to remove the article from search results despite a request from Defteros in 2016.

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#google, #policy

No more deadly ragers at Airbnb rentals—or so the company hopes

No more deadly ragers at Airbnb rentals—or so the company hopes

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Airbnb really wants to shut down parties in its rentals. On Tuesday, the company announced the deployment of “anti-party tools” that it claims will help identify users who are likely to throw a party and prevent them from renting a property.

Airbnb is launching the tools in the US and Canada, it said. The tools use an algorithm that flags “potentially high-risk reservations” by looking at user characteristics like “history of positive reviews (or lack of positive reviews), length of time the guest has been on Airbnb, length of the trip, distance to the listing, weekend vs. weekday, among many others.”

“This anti-party technology is designed to prevent a reservation attempt from going through,” Airbnb said. “Guests who are unable to make entire home bookings due to this system will still be able to book a private room (where the Host is more likely to be physically on site) or a hotel room through Airbnb.”

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#airbnb, #policy, #tech

US chipmakers hit by sudden downturn after pandemic boom

US chipmakers hit by sudden downturn after pandemic boom

Enlarge (credit: Financial Times)

After dealing with booming demand and global shortages since the start of the pandemic, the semiconductor industry is facing a sudden downturn.

But even for an industry accustomed to frequent cyclical slumps, this one has defied easy analysis and left researchers struggling to predict how the setback will play out.

The sudden glut in memory chips, PC processors, and some other semiconductors has come at a time when manufacturers in many automotive and industrial markets still lack a reliable supply of chips.

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#chips, #intel, #micron, #policy, #supply-chain, #tech

Deadly swatting increasing on Twitch; alarmed streamers press for change

Deadly swatting increasing on Twitch; alarmed streamers press for change

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A lot of scrutiny has been placed on how Twitch handles users’ reports after being targeted by extreme hate campaigns. Last year, the livestreaming service started suing users conducting “hate raids” that rely on bots to spew a continual barrage of hate speech, “targeting black and LGBTQIA+ streamers with racist, homophobic, sexist, and other harassing content.” Now, vulnerable users are hoping that Twitch will use its industry heft to help effect more change and stop some of the deadliest attacks affecting marginalized users on the platform: swatting that has reportedly been increasing since 2015 and now happens multiple times a week.

These swatting attacks are conducted by anonymous persons making prank calls to police, falsely reporting emergency circumstances (like an armed potential mass shooter or hostage situation that doesn’t exist) in order to get SWAT teams to descend, with guns out, on a Twitch streamer’s location. The Washington Post reported this week that these swattings are seemingly intensifying and traumatizing for any Twitch streamers targeted, who are aware that swattings can be deadly. One trans Twitch streamer told the Post that police in London aimed an assault rifle at her face.

Official attempts to prevent swatting

Back in 2017, a Twitch user died after a swatting. The Twitch user who set up the swatting, Casey Viner, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, while the man whom Viner hired to place the prank call, Tyler Barriss, was sentenced to 20 years.

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#policy, #swatting, #twitch

Musk wins one, loses 21 others as judge denies access to many Twitter records

Elon Musk on stage at a conference.

Enlarge / Elon Musk speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition, March 9, 2020, in Washington, DC.

The judge overseeing the Twitter/Elon Musk case is giving Musk access to evidence from one former Twitter executive but rejected his request for documents from 21 other potential witnesses. As previously reported, Musk was seeking evidence from employees responsible for calculating spam-account estimates and reportedly claimed Twitter was hiding key witnesses.

In response, Delaware Court of Chancery Judge Kathaleen McCormick ruled yesterday that Twitter “is required to collect, review, and produce documents from Kayvon Beykpour,” the recently fired head of Twitter’s consumer product group. But Twitter “is not required to collect, review, or produce documents from any other of the defendants’ proposed 22 additional custodians. The plaintiff need only collect, review, and produce documents from the 41 custodians to which plaintiff has agreed to date and Mr. Beykpour.”

Musk’s request was part of his effort to disprove Twitter’s estimate that fewer than 5 percent of its monetizable daily active users (mDAU) are spam or fake.

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#elon-musk, #policy, #twitter

Amazon accuses FTC of harassing executives including Jeff Bezos and Andy Jassy

Former Amazon CEO and current Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos.

Former Amazon CEO and current Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos. (credit: Dan Farber)

Amazon has accused the US Federal Trade Commission of harassing its top executives, including founder Jeff Bezos and chief executive Andy Jassy, as part of a probe into the ecommerce group’s Prime membership scheme.

Since March 2021, the regulator has been investigating whether Amazon uses deceptive techniques to lure customers into signing up for Prime, the subscription service that offers free delivery and other benefits at a cost of $139 a year.

The FTC is also examining whether Amazon unfairly complicates the process for customers who want to cancel their membership.

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As Big Tech grapples with caste-based discrimination, Apple explicitly bans it

As Big Tech grapples with caste-based discrimination, Apple explicitly bans it

Enlarge (credit: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE / Contributor | AFP via Getty Images)

To help combat caste-based discrimination, the Indian government saves spots at the best Indian universities for lower-caste students, who often take that opportunity and turn it into a tech job in Silicon Valley. In the US, discrimination laws don’t specifically protect citizens based on caste, though that is changing. Reuters reports that, out of all the Big Tech companies relying on India’s skilled workers, Apple has been most explicit about preventing discrimination by caste among its US employees.

Reported this week for the first time publicly, Apple updated its employee conduct policy in 2020 to “explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of caste,” the same way it prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, and ancestry.

The decision came after “the first US employment lawsuit about alleged casteism” was filed in June 2020 by a California employment regulator defending a low-caste engineer working at Cisco Systems. The engineer alleged that two of his Cisco bosses were higher-caste and impeded his advancement opportunities at the tech company.

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#amazon, #apple, #cisco-systems, #discrimination, #google, #meta, #microsoft, #policy

Google Maps accused of leading users to fake abortion clinics

Google Maps accused of leading users to fake abortion clinics

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In 2018, Google was first confronted by media reports investigating why crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs)—often religious, non-medical organizations that do not provide abortion services or referrals for abortion services—frequently dominate Google Maps search results for “abortion clinics.” Now, four years later, the tech company seems to be making some moves to potentially change the quality of these sorts of search results.

In response to a Bloomberg report that “Google Maps routinely misleads people looking for abortion providers,” Google says it is “actively” seeking to improve the relevancy of search results of categories of businesses like “abortion clinics.” It seems that currently, search results based on business categories aren’t as relevant as the similar business results displayed following searches for specific business names.

The question being aimed at Google is whether its ongoing practice of displaying CPCs in results for abortion clinics qualifies as spreading health misinformation. Women claiming they were misled by Google Maps say the CPCs they visited went to extremes to dissuade them from seeking an abortion. That included relaying “misinformation about the abortion procedure, including risk to life, risk of breast cancer, risk to mental health, risk to future fertility, and fetal pain.”

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#abortion, #google, #google-maps, #policy

US approves Google plan to let political emails bypass Gmail spam filter

A woman sits at a desk in front of a computer but her head is hidden because she is covered by a massive pile of envelopes labeled


The US Federal Election Commission approved a Google plan on Thursday to let campaign emails bypass Gmail spam filters. The FEC’s advisory opinion adopted in a 4-1 vote said Gmail’s pilot program is permissible under the Federal Election Campaign Act and FEC regulations “and would not result in the making of a prohibited in-kind contribution.”

The FEC said Google’s approved plan is for “a pilot program to test new Gmail design features at no cost on a nonpartisan basis to authorized candidate committees, political party committees, and leadership PACs.” On July 1, Google asked the FEC for the green light to implement the pilot after Republicans accused the company of giving Democrats an advantage in its algorithms.

Republicans reportedly could have avoided some of their Gmail spam problems by using the proper email configuration. At a May 2022 meeting between Senate Republicans and Google’s chief legal officer, “the most forceful rebuke” was said to come “from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who claimed that not a single email from one of his addresses was reaching inboxes,” The Washington Post reported in late July. “The reason, it was later determined, was that a vendor had not enabled an authentication tool that keeps messages from being marked as spam, according to people briefed on the discussions.”

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#federal-election-commission, #gmail, #policy, #spam-filter

What Scientists Say about the Historic Climate Bill

Climate experts praise the Inflation Reduction Act for focusing on emissions, clean energy and environmental justice but caution that much work remains

#climate-change, #environment, #policy

Musk wants Twitter to identify employees who calculate spam percentage

Illustration of a chat bot on a computer screen.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Carol Yepes)

Elon Musk’s lawyers want to question the Twitter employees responsible for calculating spam-account estimates, and they claim that Twitter is hiding these potential witnesses, Bloomberg reported yesterday.

Musk on Wednesday filed a proposed order requesting that Delaware Court of Chancery Judge Kathaleen McCormick compel Twitter “to produce discovery from specific custodians.” Musk provided further details on the request in a letter to McCormick that was filed under seal as part of the case in which Twitter seeks to enforce the $44 billion merger contract that Musk is trying to exit.

While the letter isn’t public yet, Bloomberg cited “people familiar with the allegations” to describe the letter’s contents. “Musk contends the social media company isn’t producing the names of employees specifically responsible for evaluating how much of Twitter’s customer base is made up of spam and robot accounts… Musk’s lawyers have asked the judge in the case to force Twitter to identify the workers so the defense can get their records and question them,” Bloomberg wrote.

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#elon-musk, #policy, #twitter

Lawsuits: OnlyFans bribed Instagram to put creators on “terrorist blacklist”

Lawsuits: OnlyFans bribed Instagram to put creators on “terrorist blacklist”

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Through the pandemic, OnlyFans took over the online adult entertainment world to become a billion-dollar top dog, projected to earn five times more net revenue in 2022 than in 2020. As OnlyFans’ business grew, content creators on rival platforms complained that social media sites like Facebook and Instagram were blocking their content but seemingly didn’t block OnlyFans with the same fervor, creating an unfair advantage. OnlyFans’ mounting success amid every other platform’s demise seemed to underscore its mysterious edge.

As adult entertainers outside of OnlyFans’ content stream looked for answers to their declining revenue, they realized that Meta had not only allegedly targeted their accounts to be banned for posting supposedly inappropriate content but seemingly also for suspected terrorist activity. The more they dug into why they had been branded as terrorists, the more they suspected that OnlyFans paid Meta to put the mark on their heads—resulting in account bans that went past Facebook and Instagram and spanned popular social media apps across the Internet.

Now, Meta has been hit with multiple class action lawsuits alleging that senior executives at Meta accepted bribes from OnlyFans to shadow-ban competing adult entertainers by placing them on a “terrorist blacklist.” Meta claims the suspected scheme is “highly implausible,” and that it’s more likely that OnlyFans beat its rivals in the market through successful strategic moves, like partnering with celebrities. However, lawyers representing three adult entertainers suing Meta say the owner of Facebook and Instagram will likely have to hand over documents to prove it.

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#facebook, #first-amendment, #instagram, #meta, #onlyfans, #policy

FTC aims to counter the “massive scale” of online data collection

FTC Chair Lina Khan said the commission intends to act on commercial data collection, which happens at "a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts."

Enlarge / FTC Chair Lina Khan said the commission intends to act on commercial data collection, which happens at “a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts.” (credit: Getty Images)

The Federal Trade Commission has kicked off the rulemaking process for privacy regulations that could restrict online surveillance and punish bad data-security practices. It’s a move that some privacy advocates say is long overdue, as similar Congressional efforts face endless uncertainty.

The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, approved on a 3-2 vote along partisan lines, was spurred by commercial data collection, which occurs at “a massive scale and in a stunning array of contexts,” FTC Chair Lina M. Khan said in a press release. Companies surveil online activity, friend networks, browsing and purchase history, location data, and other details; analyze it with opaque algorithms; and sell it through “the massive, opaque market for consumer data,” Khan said.

Companies can also fail to secure that data or use it to make services addictive to children. They can also potentially discriminate against customers based on legally protected statuses like race, gender, religion, and age, the FTC said. What’s more, the release said, some companies make taking part in their “commercial surveillance” required for service or charge a premium to avoid it, employing dark patterns to keep the systems in place.

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#alvaro-bedoya, #american-data-privacy-and-protection-act, #ftc, #lina-khan, #online-privacy, #policy, #privacy, #privacy-protection, #surveillance

One of 5G’s biggest features is a security minefield

One of 5G’s biggest features is a security minefield

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True 5G wireless data, with its ultrafast speeds and enhanced security protections, has been slow to roll out around the world. As the mobile technology proliferates—combining expanded speed and bandwidth with low-latency connections—one of its most touted features is starting to come in to focus. But the upgrade comes with its own raft of potential security exposures.

A massive new population of 5G-capable devices, from smart-city sensors to agriculture robots and beyond, are gaining the ability to connect to the Internet in places where Wi-Fi isn’t practical or available. Individuals may even elect to trade their fiber-optic Internet connection for a home 5G receiver. But the interfaces that carriers have set up to manage Internet-of-things data are riddled with security vulnerabilities, according to research presented this week at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. And those vulnerabilities could dog the industry long-term.

After years of examining potential security and privacy issues in mobile-data radio frequency standards, Technical University of Berlin researcher Altaf Shaik says he was curious to investigate the application programming interfaces (APIs) that carriers are offering to make IoT data accessible to developers. These are the conduits that applications can use to pull, say, real-time bus-tracking data or information about stock in a warehouse. Such APIs are ubiquitous in web services, but Shaik points out that they haven’t been widely used in core telecommunications offerings. Looking at the 5G IoT APIs of 10 mobile carriers around the world, Shaik and his colleague Shinjo Park found common but serious API vulnerabilities in all of them, and some could be exploited to gain authorized access to data or even direct access to IoT devices on the network.

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#5g, #apis, #biz-it, #policy, #wireless

FCC cancels Starlink’s $886 million grant from Ajit Pai’s mismanaged auction

Man's hand holding stack of US currency with some bills flying away.

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rejected Starlink’s application to receive $885.51 million in broadband funding, essentially canceling a grant awarded by the FCC during then-Chairman Ajit Pai’s tenure.

Starlink was tentatively awarded the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) grant in December 2020. But the satellite provider still needed FCC approval of a long-form application to receive the money, which is intended for areas with little or no high-speed broadband access.

We wrote about potential problems with the SpaceX grant a week after the FCC’s reverse auction, in which ISPs bid on grants organized by census blocks. Consumer advocacy group Free Press accused Pai of “subsidiz[ing] broadband for the rich,” pointing out that Starlink was awarded money in urban areas including locations at or adjacent to major airports.

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#policy, #spacex, #starlink

It’s not just social media: Cable news has bigger effect on polarization

It’s not just social media: Cable news has bigger effect on polarization

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The past two election cycles have seen an explosion of attention given to “echo chambers,” or communities where a narrow set of views makes people less likely to challenge their own opinions. Much of this concern has focused on the rise of social media, which has radically transformed the information ecosystem.

However, when scientists investigated social media echo chambers, they found surprisingly little evidence of them on a large scale—or at least none on a scale large enough to warrant the growing concerns. And yet, selective exposure to news does increase polarization. This suggested that these studies missed part of the picture of Americans’ news consumption patterns. Crucially, they did not factor in a major component of the average American’s experience of news: television.

To fill in this gap, I and a group of researchers from Stanford University, the University of Pennsylvania and Microsoft Research tracked the TV news consumption habits of tens of thousands of American adults each month from 2016 through 2019. We discovered four aspects of news consumption that, when taken together, paint an unsettling picture of the TV news ecosystem.

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#cable-news, #polarization, #policy, #science, #social-media

Elon Musk cashes in $6.9 billion of Tesla stock, just in case

Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images

Enlarge / Photo illustration by Chesnot/Getty Images

Within weeks of the Twitter board’s approval of Elon Musk’s unsolicited bid to take the company private, the South African-born billionaire came down with a severe case of buyer’s remorse. Twitter was not happy, and after Musk decided not to go through with the purchase, the social media company quickly sued him. In advance of the trial, set for October despite Musk’s attempts to push it back to 2023, Elon Musk is apparently preparing for the worst-case scenario of being forced to consummate the deal.

With Tesla stock on a rebound, Musk has just sold $6.9 billion worth of shares in his electric car company, a move disclosed in regulatory filings on Tuesday. Musk got an average of $869 for the shares, which is significantly more than the $628 that TSLA shares were trading at in late May. TSLA had hit its 2022 peak of $1,145 on April 4, the day after Musk revealed his purchase of 9.2 percent of Twitter’s outstanding shares.

In late April, after announcing his plans to buy Twitter, Musk unloaded $8.5 billion in Tesla stock, saying at the time that there were “no further TSLA sales planned after today.”

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#elon-musk, #policy, #tesla, #twitter

Man who built ISP instead of paying Comcast $50K expands to hundreds of homes

Giant rolls of fiber conduit and other equipment on a truck.

Enlarge / A truck delivery of fiber conduit and other materials for Jared Mauch’s broadband network. (credit: Jared Mauch)

Jared Mauch, the Michigan man who built a fiber-to-the-home Internet provider because he couldn’t get good broadband service from AT&T or Comcast, is expanding with the help of $2.6 million in government money.

When we wrote about Mauch in January 2021, he was providing service to about 30 rural homes including his own with his ISP, Washtenaw Fiber Properties LLC. Mauch now has about 70 customers and will extend his network to nearly 600 more properties with money from the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, he told Ars in a phone interview in mid-July.

The US government allocated Washtenaw County $71 million for a variety of infrastructure projects, and the county devoted a portion to broadband. The county conducted a broadband study before the pandemic to identify unserved locations, Mauch said. When the federal government money became available, the county issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking contractors to wire up addresses “that were known to be unserved or underserved based on the existing survey,” he said.

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#jared-mauch, #policy

Teen’s jailing shows exactly how Facebook will help anti-abortion states

Teen’s jailing shows exactly how Facebook will help anti-abortion states

Enlarge (credit: Charles McQuillan / Stringer | Getty Images News)

For the first time since Roe v. Wade was overturned, there’s a clear example showing exactly how Facebook will react to law enforcement requests for abortion data without user consent.

Forbes reports that a 17-year-old named Celeste Burgess in Nebraska had her Facebook messages subpoenaed by detective Ben McBride, who suspected that Burgess’ reported stillborn birth was a medication abortion. In the officer’s affidavit, he explains that he asked that Meta not notify the teen of the request for her Facebook data because she might tamper with or destroy evidence. Court records show that Meta complied with the logic.

Meta did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment on this case, but previously, Meta has said that “we notify users (including advertisers) about requests for their information before disclosing it unless we are prohibited by law from doing so or in exceptional circumstances, such as where a child is at risk of harm, emergencies, or when notice would be counterproductive.”

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#abortion, #facebook, #meta, #nebraska, #policy

Biden signs bill injecting billions into US chipmaking to combat shortage

Biden signs bill injecting billions into US chipmaking to combat shortage

Enlarge (credit: Chip Somodevilla / Staff | Getty Images News)

Chipmakers eager to receive huge subsidies stood with President Joe Biden as he signed a bill injecting $52.7 billion into their industry today. Executives from companies like Micron, Intel, HP, and Lockheed Martin witnessed the flick of Biden’s pen, alongside auto industry leaders and other stakeholders. They are hopeful that these new subsidies will end “a persistent shortage” in memory chips that Reuters reports has affected “everything from cars, weapons, washing machines, and video games.”

In total, the CHIPS and Science Act—also known as the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act—authorizes up to $200 billion in subsidies over 10 years, should the US decide to continue investing. The long-term vision is to shove the US ahead of China and other invested countries in a global race to become a chip industry leader.

Once the law is enacted, the Department of Commerce will decide on rules for how grants will be disbursed, dictating who gets how much money and for how long. Because advanced semiconductor production that’s necessary for chipmaking requires a significant investment of time and money, venture capitalists have been less likely to fund long-term projects. This law positions the federal government to fill that funding gap while advancing highly coveted technology domestically.

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#chips-for-america-act, #joe-biden, #policy

US blacklisting of Tornado Cash sparks outcry from cryptocurrency industry

Abstract image of a blockchain displays ones and zeroes imposed on interconnected chain links.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Yuichiro Chino)

The US Treasury Department blacklisted the virtual currency mixer Tornado Cash on Monday, saying the system “has been used to launder more than $7 billion worth of virtual currency since its creation in 2019.” The platform was added to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN), prohibiting all transactions on Tornado Cash by people in the US “unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control]”, the Treasury Department announcement said.

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the entity above, Tornado Cash, that is in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons is blocked and must be reported to OFAC,” the announcement said. There is reportedly over $412 million of assets on Tornado Cash. Prices of Tornado’s crypto token TORN plummeted after the blacklisting announcement.

The Treasury action was criticized within the crypto industry because it affects any US person using Tornado Cash, not just those involved in money laundering or other crimes. The SDN list is generally used to “identify persons involved in terrorism, enemy states, or other state-sanctioned activities and ensure that these individuals cannot get the benefit of the US financial system,” Coin Center Executive Director Jerry Brito and Research Director Peter Van Valkenburgh wrote yesterday. Coin Center is a cryptocurrency research and advocacy group.

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#cryptocurrency, #policy, #tornado-cash

Crypto and the US government are headed for a decisive showdown

Crypto and the US government are headed for a decisive showdown

Enlarge (credit: Elena Lacey | Getty Images)

If you have paid casual attention to crypto news over the past few years, you probably have a sense that the crypto market is unregulated—a tech-driven Wild West in which the rules of traditional finance do not apply.

If you were Ishan Wahi, however, you would probably not have that sense.

Wahi worked at Coinbase, a leading crypto exchange, where he had a view into which tokens the platform planned to list for trading—an event that causes those assets to spike in value. According to the US Department of Justice, Wahi used that knowledge to buy those assets before the listings, then sell them for big profits. In July, the DOJ announced that it had indicted Wahi, along with two associates, in what it billed as the “first ever cryptocurrency insider trading tipping scheme.” If convicted, the defendants could face decades in federal prison.

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#bitcoin, #biz-it, #cryptocurrencies, #ethereum, #federal-goverment, #policy, #regulation, #sec

Small businesses count cost of Apple’s privacy changes

Small businesses count cost of Apple’s privacy changes

Enlarge (credit: Kentaroo Tryman | Getty Images)

Small businesses are cutting back marketing spending due to Apple’s sweeping privacy changes that have made it harder to target new customers online, in a growing trend that has led to billions of dollars in lost revenues for platforms like Facebook.

Apple last year began forcing app developers to get permission to track users and serve them personalized adverts on iPhones and iPads in changes that have transformed the online advertising sector.

Many small companies which are reliant on online ads to attract new customers told the Financial Times they did not initially notice the full impact of Apple’s restrictions until recent months, when price inflation squeezed consumer demand in major markets worldwide.

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#advertising, #apple, #biz-it, #policy, #privacy, #tech, #tracking

Restrictions on Psilocybin ‘Magic Mushrooms’ Are Easing as Research Ramps Up

Here’s how the psychedelic substance’s legal status has been shifting

#advances, #health, #policy

Big Tech just got one step closer to squashing key US antitrust bill

Big Tech just got one step closer to squashing key US antitrust bill

Enlarge (credit: jimfeng | iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Sponsors of a key bipartisan antitrust bill have tried for months to secure a Senate vote and potentially pass “the first major bill on technology competition” to come before the Senate “since the dawn of the Internet.”

Now, The Wall Street Journal reports, that bill will remain “in limbo” as Congress has failed to schedule a vote before its recess. This could signify that Big Tech companies will prevail—through intense lobbying and criticism—and prevent the bill from passing a Senate floor vote. In just one week this summer, one industry group reportedly spent $22 million in ads against the bill.

The bill is controversial because it targets large companies like Amazon, Alphabet, Meta, and Apple. It stops them from self-preferencing business practices, like promoting their products above others or forcing smaller businesses to buy ad space to compete. Critics, like Google, say the law could threaten everything from the quality of online services to national security, but supporters, like bill co-sponsor Representative David Cicilline (D-RI), say much of the criticism boils down to “lies coming from Big Tech.”

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#alphabet, #amazon, #antitrust-law, #apple, #facebook, #google, #meta, #policy

Musk challenges Twitter CEO to debate—Twitter will stick to its lawsuit instead

A cellphone displaying a photo of Elon Musk placed on a computer monitor filled with Twitter logos.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Samuel Corum)

Elon Musk, unsatisfied with the ongoing court case over his attempt to break a $44 billion merger contract, has challenged Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal to a public debate.

“I hereby challenge @paraga to a public debate about the Twitter bot percentage,” Musk wrote in a tweet on Saturday. “Let him prove to the public that Twitter has <5% fake or spam daily users!”

Of course, a Musk/Agrawal debate is unlikely to happen, and Musk’s proposed debate would not be likely to prove any facts about Twitter spam that couldn’t be proven at trial. Musk, Agrawal, or both could also choose to testify at the upcoming trial in the Delaware Court of Chancery. CNBC reported, unsurprisingly, that a “source close to the company says a debate is not going to happen outside of a pending trial.”

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#elon-musk, #policy, #twitter

Senate Passes Historic Climate Bill–Here’s What Comes Next

The Senate’s passage of a monumental climate bill comes after decades of legislative defeats, but it is still an early step in drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions

#climate-change, #environment, #policy

Nearly $53 Billion in Federal Funding Could Revive the U.S. Computer Chip Industry

The CHIPS and Science Act aims to support domestic semiconductor production, new high-tech jobs and scientific research—even NASA

#computing, #policy, #politics, #technology

Twitter says Musk’s spam analysis used tool that called his own account a bot

Illustration of three bots with Elon Musk's face.

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images | Christopher Pike/Bloomberg )

Twitter yesterday slammed Elon Musk’s response to the company’s lawsuit in a 127-page filing in the Delaware Court of Chancery that says Musk’s claims are “contradicted by the evidence and common sense.” Twitter’s court filing also said Musk’s spam analysis relied on a tool that once called his own Twitter account a likely bot.

“According to Musk, he—the billionaire founder of multiple companies, advised by Wall Street bankers and lawyers—was hoodwinked by Twitter into signing a $44 billion merger agreement,” Twitter wrote. “This story is as implausible and contrary to fact as it sounds. And it is just that—a story, imagined in an effort to escape a merger agreement that Musk no longer found attractive once the stock market—and along with it, his massive personal wealth—declined in value.”

Twitter’s filing was in response to Musk’s defense and counterclaims, which were submitted last week but not made public immediately because Twitter was given time to request redactions. Twitter apparently chose not to make any redactions.

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#elon-musk, #policy, #twitter

Twitter subpoenas emails, texts from Tesla bigwigs and Musk’s BFFs

Twitter subpoenas emails, texts from Tesla bigwigs and Musk’s BFFs

Enlarge (credit: picture alliance / Contributor | picture alliance)

Are spam accounts really the reason behind Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s decision to back out of his cursed Twitter deal?

This week, Twitter sent a bunch of subpoenas to find out, pulling Musk’s close circle of friends and business associates into the chaotic trial. One subpoena includes more than two dozen document and communications requests for Tesla. The documents that Twitter seeks from Musk’s friends, advisors, banks, legal team, and investors include emails, text messages, and Twitter DMs.

It’s possible that just one email out of all the subpoenaed material could give Twitter enough information to convince the Delaware Chancery Court to force Musk to cough up $44 billion and actually buy the social network. By crawling documents from Musk’s inner circle, Twitter hopes to reveal what was happening behind Musk’s tweets through the negotiation. In their lawsuit, Twitter claims that Musk violated their merger agreement, and the subpoenas could help prove that he possibly never planned to follow through on the purchase.

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#elon-musk, #policy, #tesla, #twitter

Record labels’ war on ISPs and piracy nets multiple settlements with Charter

A computer keyboard with a pirate's skull and cutlasses symbol on one of the keys.


Charter Communications has agreed to settle piracy lawsuits filed by the major record labels, which accused the cable Internet provider of failing to terminate the accounts of subscribers who illegally download copyrighted songs.

Sony, Universal, Warner, and their various subsidiaries sued Charter in US District Court in Colorado in March 2019 in a suit that claimed the ISP helps subscribers pirate music by selling packages with higher Internet speeds. They filed another lawsuit against Charter in the same court in August 2021.

Both cases were settled. The record labels and Charter told the court of their settlements on Tuesday in filings that said, “The Parties hereby notify the Court that they have resolved the above-captioned action.” Upon the settlements, the court vacated the pending trials and asked the parties to submit dismissal papers within 28 days.

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#charter, #policy

Accused of profiting on child sexual abuse, Visa halts Pornhub ad payments

Accused of profiting on child sexual abuse, Visa halts Pornhub ad payments

Enlarge (credit: Matt Cardy / Contributor | Getty Images News)

This week, a California court denied Visa’s motion to be dropped from a lawsuit alleging that Visa “intended to help” monetize child sexual abuse materials hosted on sites like Pornhub. In part, because the credit card company processed payments for ads featured alongside these videos, the judge determined that Visa will have to answer to victim claims that Visa provided the tool that made hosting illicit videos profitable.

Today, Visa responded to the court’s decision by suspending all advertising purchases from Pornhub owner MindGeek’s advertising arm, TrafficJunky. “During this suspension, Visa cards will not be able to be used to purchase advertising on any sites including Pornhub or other MindGeek affiliated sites,” Alfred F. Kelly, Jr., Visa chairman and CEO, wrote in a statement.

This move follows an earlier decision Visa made in December 2020 to stop allowing payments on MindGeek’s websites featuring user-generated content, like Pornhub. The new statement says that they decided to end advertising payments, too, because the California court’s decision “created new uncertainty about the role of TrafficJunky” in MindGeek’s alleged practice of posting illegal videos depicting content that Visa says it condemns.

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#mindgeek, #policy, #pornhub, #visa

The women calling out Apple’s handling of misconduct claims

The women calling out Apple’s handling of misconduct claims

Enlarge (credit: Bloomberg | FT)

Megan Mohr was five years into her Apple career when, in 2013, a male colleague took advantage of her after a platonic night out drinking together.

After the colleague drove her home and helped her inside, she briefly fell asleep before waking to the sound of clicking. The colleague had removed her shirt and bra. He was snapping photos, and grinning.

Mohr previously had a bad experience with human resources—known internally as Apple’s People group—when another colleague had broken into her accounts and harassed her, leading her to file a police report. HR didn’t listen well or help in any way, she says, so this time she didn’t bother. “I was afraid of retaliation and knew HR wouldn’t have my best interest in mind,” she says.

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#apple, #hr, #policy, #sexual-harassment, #tech

Record-short days could speed up debate on leap seconds

An atomic clock based on a fountain of atoms.

An atomic clock based on a fountain of atoms. (credit: National Science Foundation)

Meta recently joined the ranks of tech giants calling for the end of the leap second, the fascinatingly complex way humans account for tiny changes in the Earth’s rotation timing. The owner of Facebook and Instagram adds to a chorus that’s been growing for years, and the debate could come to a head at a global conference in 2023—or even sooner if the Earth keeps having record-short days.

Facebook, like many large-scale tech companies, is tired of trying to time a global network of servers against leap seconds, which add between 0.1 and 0.9 seconds to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) every so many years. There have been 27 leap seconds added since 1972. In a post on Meta’s engineering blog, Oleg Obleukhov and Ahmad Byagowi say 27 is quite enough for non-solar-scientist types—”enough for the next millennium.”

International timekeeping bodies add leap seconds at unpredictable intervals because the things that cause them—the braking action of tides on rotation, moon position, the distribution of ice caps on mountaintops, mantle flow, earthquakes—are unpredictable. When the Earth’s speed varies too much from atomic time-keeping, a leap second is called for by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS).

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#earth, #leap-second, #leap-second-smearing, #leap-seconds, #meta, #policy, #science, #tech

50 state AGs vow action against carriers that bring foreign robocalls to US

A smartphone on a wooden table displaying an incoming call from an unknown phone number.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Diy13)

Attorneys general from all 50 states have created an Anti-Robocall Litigation Task Force “to investigate and take legal action against the telecommunications companies responsible for bringing a majority of foreign robocalls into the United States,” they announced yesterday.

In the task force’s first action, it “issued 20 civil investigative demands to 20 gateway providers and other entities that are allegedly responsible for a majority of foreign robocall traffic,” said an announcement from North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein. The task force’s formation was led by Stein and the attorneys general of Indiana and Ohio, the announcement said.

Stein cited data suggesting that “more than 33 million scam robocalls are made to Americans every day,” such as “Social Security Administration fraud against seniors, Amazon scams against consumers, and many other scams targeting all consumers, including some of our most vulnerable citizens.”

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#policy, #robocalls

SpaceX and Viasat fight over whether Starlink can meet FCC speed obligations

A Starlink satellite dish on the roof of a house.

Enlarge / A Starlink satellite dish. (credit: Starlink)

Over a year and a half after tentatively winning $886 million in broadband funding from the government’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), SpaceX is still trying to get paid by the Federal Communications Commission. One problem for Starlink—though not the only problem—is a series of objections from satellite company Viasat, which says Starlink lacks the capacity and speed to meet FCC obligations.

In a new FCC filing, SpaceX denounced Viasat’s “misguided campaign” against the Starlink funding. “Viasat is transparently attempting to have the Commission impede competition at all costs to protect its legacy technology,” SpaceX told the FCC. The new SpaceX filing was submitted on Friday and posted to the FCC’s website Monday, as pointed out by Light Reading.

But SpaceX might have struggled to get its funding even if Viasat never objected. Starlink was tentatively awarded $886 million in December 2020 by the FCC during the final weeks of Chairman Ajit Pai’s tenure. Consumer advocacy group Free Press accused Pai of “subsidiz[ing] broadband for the rich,” pointing out that Starlink was awarded money in urban areas including locations at or adjacent to major airports.

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#policy, #spacex, #starlink, #viasat

Microsoft’s $3M anti-abortion donations under fire from activists, shareholders

Microsoft’s $3M anti-abortion donations under fire from activists, shareholders

Enlarge (credit: Anadolu Agency / Contributor | Anadolu Agency)

Microsoft isn’t the only company that seems to contradict its own politics by promising to cover abortion travel costs for employees, while at the same time donating to political action committees that funded the governors and attorneys general who fought to overturn Roe v. Wade. However, Microsoft is one of the biggest donors that helped install so many anti-abortion officials over time. The Center for Political Accountability (CPA) told Bloomberg that since 2010, Microsoft donated $3 million to Republican groups doggedly working to end abortion in America.

Microsoft might be donating to these groups for any number of reasons, but a UK activist shareholder group called Tulipshare says the company should change its political giving policy to resist political contradictions and increase transparency. To put pressure on Microsoft, Tulipshare partnered with CPA. Together, they propose that Microsoft release an annual report that would publicly connect the dots between the money Microsoft donates, the elected officials those donations support, and the specific causes that those elected officials support. Such a report could end any company claims about incidental anti-abortion donations.

According to Jenna Armitage, Tulipshare’s chief marketing officer, the activist group’s strategy is to “engage with Microsoft’s investor relations department” to request the annual report. That report would ideally “mandate that the company require political action committees it funds to say which candidates and causes they support.” If Microsoft rejects the proposal, Tulipshare’s next step would be to prompt investors to “introduce a shareholder motion.”

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#google, #microsoft, #opensecrets-org, #policy, #roe-v-wade

How listening to uninterrupted noise helped millions to focus

How listening to uninterrupted noise helped millions to focus

Enlarge (credit: Juan Pablo Machado)

Who among us isn’t depressingly familiar with the constant tug of war between putting off tasks that require focus, and, like a moth to a flame, being drawn to distraction?

Sometimes we blame ourselves, cursing our tendency to procrastinate. But we should give ourselves a break. We’re living in an unprecedented age where billions of dollars have been made by machines designed to tempt us away from doing what we had planned to do.

These thoughts are hardly new. But something happened recently, which—ironically—has captured no small amount of attention and provided me with a glimmer of hope that the Internet that has rewired our minds could also be used to untangle them.

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#gaming-culture, #lofi-beats, #lofi-girl, #policy, #streaming

Avowed bitcoin creator Craig Wright is not happy with £1 win in UK libel lawsuit

Craig Wright, self-declared inventor of bitcoin, center, arrives at federal court with his attorney Andres Rivero, right, in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday, June 28, 2019.

Enlarge / Craig Wright, self-declared inventor of bitcoin, center, arrives at federal court with his attorney Andres Rivero, right, in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday, June 28, 2019. (credit: Bloomberg / Contributor | Bloomberg)

In 2016, when Craig Wright promised to provide “extraordinary proof” that he is bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, he was met with a lot of skepticism. Some had doubts when Wright fabricated evidence, and many weren’t surprised when he failed to bring forward the supposed proof he promised. Instead, he apologized for lacking the “courage” to share any real evidence. Then, in 2018, he committed perjury, further inflaming public perceptions that he could be a fraud.

By 2019, Wright began fighting back at critics by threatening to take them to court for defamation. Among Wright’s most vocal skeptics is bitcoin expert Peter McCormack, who became the first target of Wright’s litigiousness. In 2019, Wright sued McCormack for libel for tweeting things like “Craig Wright is a fucking liar, and he’s a fraud; and he’s a moron; he is not Satoshi.” Wright expected that a successful libel lawsuit against McCormack would finally prove he founded bitcoin.

This week, a verdict was delivered by a UK high court—where Justice Martin Chamberlain wrote that “the identity of Satoshi is not among the issues” determined. The libel lawsuit, in the end, was a victory for Wright; he was awarded damages for the “serious harm” McCormack caused to his reputation. But it also proved that, once again, Wright is not being forthcoming about evidence in his public fight to be acknowledged as bitcoin’s creator.

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#bitcoin, #craig-wright, #policy, #satoshi-nakamoto

SEC: Crypto fraudsters raised $300M with “textbook pyramid and Ponzi scheme”

Golden coins stacked in a pyramid.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | SimoneN)

The US Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday filed a lawsuit against 11 people accused of creating and promoting a crypto pyramid and Ponzi scheme known as “Forsage.” The fraudulent scheme “raised more than $300 million from millions of retail investors worldwide, including in the United States,” the SEC’s announcement said.

The SEC alleged that “in January 2020, Vladimir Okhotnikov, Jane Doe a/k/a Lola Ferrari, Mikhail Sergeev, and Sergey Maslakov launched, a website that allowed millions of retail investors to enter into transactions via smart contracts that operated on the Ethereum, Tron, and Binance blockchains.” Forsage allegedly “operated as a pyramid scheme for more than two years, in which investors earned profits by recruiting others into the scheme.” Forsage also “used assets from new investors to pay earlier investors in a typical Ponzi structure,” the SEC said.

The SEC filed a complaint in US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the four alleged co-founders and seven other people, accusing them of violating the registration and anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The complaint seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement, and civil penalties.

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#crypto, #policy

Visa knew about Pornhub’s child porn, judge says, and now must face trial

Visa knew about Pornhub’s child porn, judge says, and now must face trial


In December 2020, a New York Times op-ed declared that Pornhub had a child porn problem. Subsequently, Visa temporarily suspended all business with Pornhub and other sites hosted by Pornhub owner MindGeek.

At that time, a MindGeek employee confidentially claimed that this was MindGeek’s worst fear—losing one of its major payment processors—and, therefore, it was unsurprising when MindGeek responded to increased pressure from Visa and other companies by immediately deleting 80 percent of its hosted content, approximately 10 million unverified videos. According to a California court, much of that was likely child porn.

After that, Visa seemed to think that the matter was resolved and continued doing business with MindGeek, claiming it has no control over MindGeek’s content. Now, a lawsuit from a plaintiff named Serena Fleites (a Pornhub child sex-trafficking victim since the age of 13) and 34 other plaintiffs alleges that Visa has become a willing co-conspirator in alleged child sex trafficking on MindGeek sites, and a judge has agreed that they’re not just speculating. It’s a real possibility that Visa could be liable.

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#mindgeek, #policy, #pornhub, #visa

Chipmakers battle for slice of US government support

Employees wearing cleanroom suits monitor chemical vapor deposition operations inside the GlobalFoundries semiconductor manufacturing facility in Malta, New York. Production plants for semiconductors have become a focal point as the economic recovery from the pandemic is held back in areas by a shortage of some of the critical electronic components necessary.

Enlarge / Employees wearing cleanroom suits monitor chemical vapor deposition operations inside the GlobalFoundries semiconductor manufacturing facility in Malta, New York. Production plants for semiconductors have become a focal point as the economic recovery from the pandemic is held back in areas by a shortage of some of the critical electronic components necessary.

The long wait for legislation to boost the US’s position in global semiconductor manufacturing is almost over. The scramble among companies to get their hands on the billions of dollars it unleashes is only just beginning.

The House of Representatives last week followed the Senate in passing a broad law to counter China’s rise as a technology power, including $52 billion in grants to support advanced chip manufacturing and research and development in the US. The law, which has yet to be signed, unlocks an estimated $24 billion more in investment tax credits for chipmakers by letting them write off 25 percent of the cost of new factories, or fabs, against their profits in the first year.

Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel, said the act may be “the most important piece of industrial policy” in the US since World War II. It is designed to reverse a decline in the US share of global chip manufacturing to 10 percent from 38 percent in 1990.

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How the Senate Climate Bill Will Boost Clean Energy

The surprise climate bill’s electricity provisions would help the country surge toward its emissions reduction goals

#climate-change, #environment, #policy, #renewable-energy, #social-sciences

Crucial texts between Trump and top DHS officials leading up to Jan. 6 deleted

Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

Enlarge / Former acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. (credit: Pool / Pool | Getty Images North America)

“Protestors are literally storming the Capitol. Breaking windows on doors. Rushing in. Is Trump going to say something?”

This text from White House correspondent Michael D. Shear to former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is one of thousands preserved from the January 6 attack on the Capitol showing that when the trouble started, people with power immediately turned to their phones to do what they could to stop it.

There are many more deleted texts, though, that would have shown how former President Donald Trump acted before the attack and how he responded to urgent requests to de-escalate the violence in the middle of it. First, the Secret Service confirmed in December 2021 that thousands of their texts were deleted in an agency-wide phone reset. Now, The Washington Post reports that senior Department of Homeland Security officials—acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting deputy secretary Ken Cuccinelli—also lost text messages from that day, blaming a government phone reset that happened during the transition to the Biden administration in January 2021.

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#department-of-homeland-security, #federal-records-act, #january-6, #policy, #trump-administration

What’s inside the US’s first big climate bill?

Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer, who negotiated the new deal, talk earlier in the year.

Enlarge / Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer, who negotiated the new deal, talk earlier in the year. (credit: Chip Somodevilla )

At the end of June, the Supreme Court sent a message to the Biden administration: Any significant actions on the climate couldn’t come through existing environmental laws. Instead, a clear Congressional mandate for emissions reduction would be required. The administration had been working on getting such legislation through a narrowly divided Congress but continually ran afoul of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who represents a conservative, coal-producing state and is personally invested in a coal-fired power plant.

On Wednesday, Manchin finally signaled that a deal was in place, in the form of a 725-page long package of legislation that’s being termed the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.” While its branding comes from changes in the tax code and a new drug pricing plan, the bill is heavily tilted toward actions to limit climate change, with billions of dollars of tax breaks going to renewable energy. While it’s not guaranteed that this package will become law, having Manchin signed on greatly increases its chances.

Inflation? Tax breaks? I thought this was climate stuff

The structure of the package is the result of some quirks of the US political system. First, opposing climate legislation has become necessary to remain a Republican in good standing, meaning that this sort of bill needs to be passed purely on the strength of Democratic votes. That’s no problem in the House of Representatives, where Democrats hold a slim majority. But in the Senate, which is split 50/50 between the two parties, any bills will be subject to a Republican filibuster that requires 60 votes to overcome.

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#policy, #science

Meta to double the dose of force-fed filler on Instagram, Facebook in 2023

Meta to double the dose of force-fed filler on Instagram, Facebook in 2023

Enlarge (credit: SOPA Images / Contributor | LightRocket)

Hundreds of thousands of people recently signed a petition asking Instagram to stop eating up space in their feeds by recommending so many Reels from accounts they do not follow. Shortly after, Instagram-owner Meta confirmed that these users aren’t just imagining that there’s a sudden avalanche of Reels ruining their online social lives. The short videos currently make up about 15 percent of Instagram and Facebook user feeds—and soon, even more often, they’ll be shoving to the side all the updates from friends that users choose to follow.

Despite all the negative feedback, Meta revealed on an earnings call that it plans to more than double the number of AI-recommended Reels that users see. The company estimates that in 2023, about a third of Instagram and Facebook feeds will be recommended content.

“One of the main transformations in our business right now is that social feeds are going from being driven primarily by the people and accounts you follow to increasingly also being driven by AI recommending content that you’ll find interesting from across Facebook or Instagram, even if you don’t follow those creators,” Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg says.

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#facebook, #instagram, #meta, #policy, #tiktok

Jury orders Charter to pay $7 billion for murder of woman killed by cable tech

A parked van used by a Spectrum cable technician. The van has the Spectrum logo on its side and a ladder stowed on the roof.

Enlarge / Charter Spectrum cable van in West Lake Hills, Texas, in April 2019. (credit: Getty Images | Tony Webster)

A Texas jury has ordered Charter Communications to pay $7 billion in punitive damages to the family of an 83-year-old woman murdered in her home by a Spectrum cable technician. The Dallas County Court jury returned the $7 billion verdict on Tuesday after previously finding Charter liable for $337.5 million in compensatory damages.

The damages could be reduced by a judge. Charter says it shouldn’t be held liable for the murder and that it plans to appeal. The jury, which found in the earlier phase of the case that Charter’s negligence was a major cause of the death, reportedly reached the $7 billion verdict after less than two hours of deliberation.

“This was a shocking breach of faith by a company that sends workers inside millions of homes every year,” one of the family’s lawyers, Chris Hamilton, said in a press release Tuesday. “The jury in this case was thoughtful and attentive to the evidence. This verdict justly reflects the extensive evidence regarding the nature of the harm caused by Charter Spectrum’s gross negligence and reckless misconduct.”

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#charter-spectrum, #policy

How the Senate Climate Bill Could Slash Emissions by 40 Percent

A surprise breakthrough on climate and energy legislation revives President Biden’s environmental commitments by outlining large emissions reductions

#climate-change, #environment, #policy

FTC says Meta’s Supernatural purchase could ruin the VR fitness market

Artist's conception of the FTC fighting back against Meta's latest proposed acquisition.

Enlarge / Artist’s conception of the FTC fighting back against Meta’s latest proposed acquisition.

The Federal Trade Commission has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Meta in an attempt to stop the Facebook parent company from purchasing Within, which makes the popular virtual reality fitness app Supernatural.

Meta’s plans to spend a reported $400 million on Within have reportedly been under FTC scrutiny after the proposed acquisition was announced last October. That proposed deal, according to the suit, “would substantially lessen competition, or tend to create a monopoly, in the relevant market for VR dedicated fitness apps and the broader relevant market for VR fitness apps.”

Cornering the VR fitness market?

Meta has been on something of a VR acquisition spree in the last two years, scooping up game developers including Sanzaru Games (Asgard’s Wrath), Ready at Dawn (Lone Echo), Twisted Pixel (Wilson’s Heart), Downpour Interactive (Onward) and BigBox VR (Population: One). But the planned purchase of Within seems to be setting off antitrust alarm bells at the FTC because of the overlap with Beat Saber maker Beat Games, which Meta purchased in 2019.

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#facebook, #ftc, #gaming-culture, #meta, #policy, #virtual-reality, #vr

Meta thinks Facebook may need more “harmful health misinformation”

Meta thinks Facebook may need more “harmful health misinformation”

Enlarge (credit: Caroline Brehman / Contributor | CQ-Roll Call, Inc.)

The US continues to struggle with pandemic management. Where cases are rising right now, some cities and counties are considering reinstating mask mandates, and many hospitals are confronting a chronic nursing shortage.

Despite new concerns and a recent uptick in daily deaths recorded in the US and globally, however, Meta is already thinking about what a return to normal might look like. That includes recently speculating that normalcy might mean it’s time to go back to the company’s heydays of allowing health misinformation to spread through posts on Facebook and Instagram.

On Tuesday, Meta’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, wrote in a statement that Meta is considering whether or not Facebook and Instagram should continue to remove all posts promoting falsehoods about vaccines, masks, and social distancing. To help them decide, Meta is asking its oversight board to weigh whether the “current COVID-19 misinformation policy is still appropriate” now that “extraordinary circumstances at the onset of the pandemic” have passed and many “countries around the world seek to return to more normal life.”

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#anti-vax, #covid-misinformation, #covid-19, #facebook, #instagram, #meta, #oversight-board, #policy