Overnight Tech: Sessions won't say if WH intervened in AT&T merger talks | Dems want hearing on Trump's involvement in merger | YouTube expands crackdown on extremist videos

Overnight Tech: Sessions won't say if WH intervened in AT&T merger talks | Dems want hearing on Trump's involvement in merger | YouTube expands crackdown on extremist videos
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SESSIONS WON'T SAY IF HE'S TALKED TO WHITE HOUSE ABOUT AT&T MERGER: Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat House passes concealed carry gun bill Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee next week MORE on Tuesday refused to say whether he has discussed the pending AT&T-Time Warner merger with anyone at the White House.

"I'm not able to comment on conversations or communications that Department of Justice top people have with top people at the White House," he said in response to a question from Rep. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineOvernight Tech: FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Google pulls YouTube from Amazon devices | Biden scolds social media firms over transparency Overnight Regulation: Senate tax bill to include ObamaCare mandate repeal | Sessions sidesteps questions on WH influence on AT&T merger | Dems seek more transparency on student borrower rule AT&T wants to probe Trump's role in Time Warner merger: report MORE (D-R.I.) at a Tuesday House Judiciary Committee meeting.

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The White House and Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department's antitrust chief, have both denied that there has been any interference in the merger negotiations.

Cicilline, visibly angered by the response, unsuccessfully tried to get the chairman to compel Sessions to be more forthcoming.

"Either you're invoking the Fifth Amendment or you're invoking executive privilege," Cicilline said. "You just can't decline to answer because it's uncomfortable."

According to news reports last week, the Justice Department's antitrust division had demanded AT&T and Time Warner sell off CNN in order to get their merger approved. CNN is a Time Warner subsidiary and a regular target of President Trump.

Earlier in Tuesday's hearing, Sessions declined to comment on the merger discussions but threw doubt on the reports.

"I would just tell you that I would not be able to accept as accurate news reports that have come out on that," he said.

Read more here.

 

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HOUSE DEMS WANT HEARING ON TRUMP INTERFERENCE IN AT&T MERGER: Two top House Judiciary Committee Democrats are pushing the panel to hold a hearing examining the White House's role in the "troubling pattern of potential political interference by President Trump" in the Department of Justice's (DOJ) review of the AT&T's merger with Time Warner.

DOJ sources recently said that antitrust officials had rejected an offer from AT&T to divest from Turner Broadcasting, the parent company of CNN, in order to facilitate the proposed $85 billion deal. AT&T officials flatly deny that the offer was ever on the table -- or would be.

The top Democrat on the Judiciary panel, Rep. John ConyersJohn James ConyersAbortion-rights group endorses Nadler in race to replace Conyers on Judiciary Democrats turn on Al Franken Michigan state senator to run for Congress MORE (Mich), and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) expressed their concern with Trump's possible involvement, noting that he "has repeatedly criticized CNN for the nature of its coverage of him." In their letter, the lawmakers also highlighted Trump's tweets disparaging CNN as "#FakeNews."

Read more here.

 

WH ADVISER: RELATIONSHIP WITH TECH BETTER THAN IT APPEARS: A top adviser to President Trump says that despite appearances, technology firms are actually interacting with the administration more than they let on.

Reed Cordish, who advises Trump on tech policy, said on Monday that even though the administration has decreased its "photo opportunity 'council meetings,'" with top firms, businesses are still talking one-on-one meetings to advise the president on specific policy issues.

"Businesses have not stopped engaging," Cordish explained during the Internet Association Virtuous Circle event in San Francisco, according to reports. "What we moved away from was the political nature of public involvement and kind of photo opportunity 'council meetings.'"

Read more here.

 

YOUTUBE EXPANDS CRACKDOWN: YouTube is expanding its crackdown on extremist videos by now removing content that does not show violence or explicitly advocate hate.

The move is a large shift from the company's former policy of only removing the most egregious extremist content from its platform.

An anonymous YouTube employee confirmed the change to Reuters. The changed policy has reportedly been in place for several months.

YouTube is a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google's parent company.

News of the policy change comes after The New York Times reported on Sunday that hundreds of videos of al Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, many of which did not explicitly feature violent or hateful content, had been removed from YouTube.

Read more here.

 

'FREEDOM ON THE NET' REPORT FINDS ELECTION MEDDLING IN 18 COUNTRIES: At least 18 nations holding elections in 2016 experienced some kind of information attacks similar to the Russian social media campaign in the U.S., according to a new report.

The annual Freedom House "Freedom on the Net" report, released Tuesday, tabulates this kind of election interference into its nation-by-nation rankings of internet freedom, under the theory that diluting authentic speech stifles legitimate debate.

In at least 16 nations, including the U.S., Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea and the United Kingdom, election campaigns included a substantial influx of deliberately fabricated news stories.

In other instances, the government has purchased vast armies of social media posters to hijack discussion threads.

Read more here.

 

ON TAP:

VSAT Congress begins at 8:00 a.m.

Georgetown University Law Center will hold an event on the Sinclair-Tribune merger at noon.

The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on the Federal Information Technology

Acquisition Reform Act at 2:00 p.m.

The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on cyber threat information sharing at 2:00 p.m.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on antitrust at 2:30 p.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

Dems find an unlikely attack dog on Russia

The Guardian: 'Way too little, way too late': Facebook's factcheckers say effort is failing

CNN: Bill Gates invests $80 million to build Arizona smart city

WSJ: Foxconn's Profit Down 39% Amid iPhone Production Woes

IBM's new campaign video pushing Dreamer legislation.