Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon will answer questions from regulators during a packed day of hearings focusing on big tech.
'Amid calls for big tech to be regulated—and even broken up—Facebook, Google , Apple , and Amazon will face questions from lawmakers at several hearings on Tuesday that could serve as a flashpoint for how regulators deal with big tech in the future. “These are the early stage discussions focused on understanding the underlying issues to solve the right problems,” says Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, a trade group that represents media organizations. On Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET, the four tech giants will send representatives to answer questions in front of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), the leader of the panel, has pledged to review the alleged anti-competitive practices of the tech giants and “how consolidation is hurting entrepreneurs.” In terms of antitrust, Kint thinks the hearing will show Congress taking a step away from the tech companies. “Look at the long, documented history of Facebook making decisions that benefit the company over consumers,” he says. “Despite growing distrust, and in light of that, can we envision giving them that sort of role over the future?” While the four tech giants will testify together, Kint says he expects they’ll be quick to point out their differences and perhaps some will put distance between themselves and Facebook. “There is a lot of momentum in antitrust around the platforms’ use of data privacy,” Kint says. “Apple has a pro-consumer viewpoint that is different than Facebook and Google, for instance.” In addition, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing called “Google and Censorship Through Search Engines” on Tuesday afternoon. Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president for government affairs and public policy, will answer questions in the hearing, which will be presided over by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has been a vocal critic about perceived conservative censorship. Kint will testify during this hearing, along with a panel of other experts, including Andy Parker, the father of slain journalist Alison Parker, and Dennis Prager, founder of the conservative site PragerU. In two hearings this week, Facebook’s plan to release its Libra cryptocurrency will be scrutinized on Capitol Hill. David Marcus, head of Facebook’s cryptocurrency initiative, will testify before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday at 10 a.m., and the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday at 10 a.m. “Our first goal is to create utility and adoption, enabling people around the world—especially the unbanked and underbanked—to take part in the financial ecosystem,” he plans to tell lawmakers, according to prepared remarks released on Monday . Marcus’s testimony comes as politicians and government officials have expressed scrutiny about Facebook’s plan to release its Calibra digital wallet and Libra cryptocurrency in 2020. In his remarks, Marcus says Facebook won’t release Libra until all regulatory concerns are “fully addressed.” He added that it will be registered with the Department of the Treasury and won’t compete with sovereign currencies. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) is working on a proposal called the “Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act,” which would prohibit large internet companies from becoming a financial institution or offering cryptocurrencies. Last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee he’s concerned about Libra. “While the project’s sponsors hold out the possibility of public benefits, including improved financial access for consumers, Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection and financial stability,” Powell says. “These are concerns that should be thoroughly and publicly addressed before proceeding.” Ultimately, this week will be about taking another step toward ensuring big tech is accountable, learns from its mistakes of the past, and moves forward with an approach that respects the rights of consumers, Kint says. “These companies are the most powerful, most valuable and most innovative companies on the planet,” he says. “They do have unbelievable amounts of resources and engineering talent and ideas and employee capital to do things better.” More must-read stories from Fortune : —The fall and rise of VR: The struggle to make virtual reality get real —A new A.I. is running the table against poker pros. Is business strategy next? — Video game addiction : These are the warning signs to look out for —Apple has new MacBooks . Here’s what you need to know —Listen to our new audio briefing, Fortune 500 Daily Catch up with Data Sheet , Fortune ‘s daily digest on the business of tech. Catch up with Data Sheet , Fortune ‘s daily digest on the business of tech.'
Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon will answer questions from regulators during a packed day of hearings focusing on big tech.
( National University of Singapore ) Researchers from the National University of Singapore have incorporated metamaterials into conventional clothing to dramatically improve signal strength between wearable electronic devices. This innovation could
The economist says legislators need to curb big tech's excessive power with individual laws.
'For an economist, Luigi Zingales has an unconventional approach when it comes to regulating technology giants and their ever-increasing power. It boils down to this: Breaking up the tech giants isn’t the answer, but regulatory fixes are still needed to preserve competition and democracy. Zingales, director of the Stigler Center for Study of the Economy and State at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, argues that smaller, targeted legislative moves could address competitive issues without stifling innovation or destroying the companies responsible for some of the biggest technological advances of the last couple of decades. Zingales is scheduled to speak at Fortune ‘s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen on Tuesday. “I think what these companies have done, by and large, is fantastic,” says Zingales. “I’m just concerned with their excessive power.” Big tech’s rising power has gained global attention from a growing number of politicians, legislators, and users. Critics worry that companies like Facebook, Google , and Amazon have become monopolies that are destroying competition and public discourse, and are aiding in the spread of hate, misinformation, and harmful content. Last week, Facebook reached a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over its data practices. That came on the heels of the FTC and Department of Justice starting investigations into whether Facebook, Amazon, and Google violated antitrust laws. Meanwhile, the European Union and its member states have hammered Google for its data practices and anti-competitive actions. The debate has also hit the national stage of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has taken one of the most aggressive stances, championing breaking up the tech giants . But Zingales, who has spent decades as a financial analyst, has a much more nuanced opinion. “I don’t go extreme to get something smaller done,” Zingales says. The answer, he says, is to individually address the problems associated with each technology company, rather than create sweeping legislation for all. For example, the U.S. traditionally hasn’t allowed companies to both run a marketplace and participate in it at the same time, Zingales says. But regulators have yet to crack down on Amazon, which appears to do both. Meanwhile, a company like Google, for example, should have a fiduciary duty to society, in which board members hold the company accountable for both financial performance and the company’s effects on society. Zingales’ approach aims to do two things: Limit giant tech companies’ power and strengthen the economy with more competition—all while having a relatively light touch on the legislative front. But some experts say any new legislation will likely create new problems. Diane Katz, senior research fellow at the Institute for Economic Freedom, believes that consumers need to be the catalyst for driving change, not regulators. “Government intervention will not make the problems go away, and in fact, may exacerbate them,” Katz says. “It’s almost impossible to adapt regulations in keeping with the degree of innovation and the pace of churn.” Will Rinehart, director of technology and innovation policy at the center-right policy institution American Action Forum, also doesn’t like the idea of new regulation. Instead, he thinks regulating bodies need more support and expertise. “So far I haven’t seen that the process is broken,” he says. “We can be more aggressive on enforcement, but I think we need to temper our expectations.” Zingales’ perspective may have something to do with his global background. An Italian native, Zingales has worked as an economist sine 1992, when he joined the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. In 2003, he won the Bernácer prize for best young European financial economist. He also serves as a fellow of the European Governance Institute and writes editorials for Il Sole 24 Ore , which is the Italian equivalent of the Financial Times , and was a co-creator of the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index, which monitors changes in Americans’ confidence in the financial system. But in the past several years Zingales has become more attracted to the power of big tech. The companies remind him of the big banks before the financial crisis began in 2007. “I felt that this was to some extent the financial industry again, and to some extent the financial industry on steroids,” he says. “Now we have organizations that are not only powerful as employers… but because they can mobilize consumers.” Uber, for example, was able to win over consumers, who helped champion regulatory changes so that the company could operate. And most of the large tech companies have numerous lobbyists fighting in Washington, D.C., to protect their interests. Zingales says though he comes from a traditional economist background, he differs in opinion because of his interest in saving democracy. Excessive power “is very dangerous,” he says. “We need to recognize that and do something about it.” More must-read stories from Fortune : —The fall and rise of VR: The struggle to make virtual reality get real —A new A.I. is running the table against poker pros. Is business strategy next? — Video game addiction : These are the warning signs to look out for —Apple has new MacBooks . Here’s what you need to know —Listen to our new audio briefing, Fortune 500 Daily Catch up with Data Sheet , Fortune ‘s daily digest on the business of tech.'
SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule (Photo Credit: SpaceX/Twitter) SpaceX has identified the cause of its Crew Dragon capsule explosion in April.
'SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule (Photo Credit: SpaceX/Twitter) \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t SpaceX has identified the cause of its Crew Dragon capsule explosion in April. A leaky valve reportedly allowed propellant to enter high-pressure helium tubes some 100 milliseconds before the spacecraft’s thrusters were due to ignite. A slug of liquid oxidizer—known as nitrogen tetroxide (NTO)—wound up in a high-pressure system, resulting in a structural failure and, ultimately, an explosion, according to SpaceX . In partnership with NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the aerospace manufacturer led an investigation into the “anomaly.” It helps that the blast happened on land, leaving behind debris and intact parts that are easier to examine than, say, components lost in outer space or scattered across an ocean. The ruined rocket was a test version of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon—a capsule being built for NASA to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station. This particular module was the first Crew Dragon launched into space: In March, the unoccupied vehicle successfully docked with the ISS , before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean in a flawless test mission. A month and a half later, the spacecraft detonated, sending clouds of orange gas into the Florida sky. “It is worth noting that the reaction between titanium and NTO at high pressure was not expected,” SpaceX said this week, defending the long-established use of titanium on spacecraft “from all around the world.” “Even so, the static fire test and anomaly provided a wealth of data,” the firm continued. “Lessons learned from the test—and other in our comprehensive test campaign—will lead to further improvements in the safety and reliability of SpaceX’s flight vehicles.” The company initially planned to start ferrying astronauts between Earth and the ISS by the end of the summer. It remains unclear whether the April eruption will delay future launches, but SpaceX said it expects its commercial crew program to “stay on track.” More on Geek.com: FCC Allows SpaceX to Fly Starlink Internet Satellites in Lower Orbit SpaceX’s Cute ‘Zero-G Indicator’ Sells Out After Space Debut Elon Musk ‘Confident’ SpaceX Ticket to Mars Will Cost Less Than $500K'
Don't see the video? Click here. In the latest episode of Future You, check out an armband that lets you control tech devices with your mind. This is not a brain implant or even a headset. It's an armband that reads neuron activity to let you move
( University of California - Irvine ) An end-to-end transmitter-receiver created by engineers in UCI's Nanoscale Communication Integrated Circuits Labs, is a 4.4-millimeter-square silicon chip that is capable of processing digital signals with
Zoom, on the other hand, is an example of what not to do.
'Security issues and outages frequently affect tech companies, but it’s the way that they respond that says a lot about the company. On July 2, internet services provider Cloudflare experienced a global outage across its network , which resulted in visitors to Cloudflare-proxied domains to be shown 502 errors or “Bad Gateway.” It raised a huge concern given that the nature of Cloudflare is to protect website visitors from security threats. About a week later, in over 4,000 words on its company blog, Cloudflare shared in detail the series of events that led to the issue, what caused the issue, and how it corrected the situation as well as how it will be continuing to go “deeper to protect against any further possible problems” by replacing the underlying technology. How Cloudflare responded to the outage shows a company that knows how to communicate and to be transparent with its users— and, ultimately, being able to admit when it isn’t perfect. Notably, Cloudflare did not cover up its failures; instead, it openly admitted fault. The outage appeared to have been caused by an engineer who improperly set configuration settings and other compounding factors, according to the blog post. “We know how much this hurt our customers. We’re ashamed it happened. It also had a negative impact on our own operations while we were dealing with the incident,” Cloudflare wrote. “It must have been incredibly stressful, frustrating, and frightening if you were one of our customers. It was even more upsetting because we haven’t had a global outage for six years.” On Twitter, various people, including engineers, credited Cloudflare for transparency. Thanks for the detailed explanation, which we can all learn from. Most companies would probably try to cover up their failures. Now going to verify/profile some of my RegEx’s. — Stefan Holm Olsen (@StefanHolmOlsen) July 14, 2019 Major respect for posting this. Cloudflare nails all of the important points of a post-mortem, leaving out any ambiguity. — Ryan Hickman (@ryanhickman) July 12, 2019 The Cloudflare outage is an example of how communication between leadership and customers is critical for tech companies, says Ben Auton, vice president of operations at SpearTip, a cybersecurity advisory firm. “Cloudflare seemed to implement proper incident management and took the issue very seriously,” he said. Cloudflare not only clearly indicated to the public the details of what went wrong but also posted a more technical explanation , which, in turn, helps other companies and individuals learn from what happened. In addition, the company used a system status page to communicate the exact status of the problem to the public and what they were doing to resolve it, giving users the latest updates. Companies like Dropbox and Amazon also use status pages to document security concerns as well, according to Auton. This approach seems to stand in contrast with Zoom’s recent handling of a security flaw that enabled any Mac user with Zoom software to be forced to join a video call . The company initially dismissed the vulnerability . It was only after a software engineer posted a viral Medium post exposing the security concern and adverse reactions from media ensued that the company removed the feature causing the vulnerability. Auton points out that Apple also stepped in and updated the MacOS to remove the feature linked to the security concern. While Zoom addressed the security concerns via its company’s blog , the post was more general rather than technical, suggesting the limits to how much the company wanted to expose. A few days after the security flaw came out, on July 10, Zoom CEO Eric S. Yuan admitted to misjudging the situation and responding too slowly. “We take full ownership and we’ve learned a great deal,” Yuan wrote . In the future, Zoom says it plans on implementing more formal processes for people to submit security concerns, according to the post, including a “public vulnerability disclosure program” and an improved “process for receiving, escalating, and closing the loop on all future security-related concerns.” The recent issue that Zoom faced also is a reminder to the newly public company that the bar has now been set higher. Auton says that tech giants Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have experienced a slew of security concerns over the years, and are learning that customers are increasingly demanding greater transparency . And as Cloudflare’s blog post shows, that’s not to say that users are expecting perfection—after all, it is humans that runs these services. Rather, what they want is a proper response.'