Overnight Tech: GOP senator presses Apple over phone slowdowns | YouTube cancels projects with Logan Paul after suicide video | CEOs push for DACA fix | Bill would punish credit agencies for breaches

Overnight Tech: GOP senator presses Apple over phone slowdowns | YouTube cancels projects with Logan Paul after suicide video | CEOs push for DACA fix | Bill would punish credit agencies for breaches
© Greg Nash

THUNE PRESSES APPLE FOR ANSWERS ON PHONE SLOWDOWNS: Apple is facing questions from a top Republican senator about its practice of slowing down older iPhones with aging batteries.

Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators share their fascination with sharks at hearing Helsinki summit becomes new flashpoint for GOP anger Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash MORE (R-S.D.) is pressing for answers in a letter sent Tuesday to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Thune asked if Apple throttles iPhones older than the iPhone 6 and 6S as they age, if the company has tracked consumer complaints about slowed performance and if Apple would offer rebates to those who already purchased new batteries before the company started offering discounted rates.

Apple admitted last month it slows down the performance of iPhone 6 and 6S to help the phones preserve battery life as they age.

There has long been speculation that Apple intentionally reduces older iPhone performance to encourage consumers to purchase newer phones.

ADVERTISEMENT

Apple says the slowdowns are to save battery life and not to push sales.

Thune questioned Apple's handling of the situation.

"Even if Apple's actions were indeed only to avoid unexpected shutdowns in older phones, the large volume of consumer criticism leveled against the company in light of its admission suggests that there should have been better transparency with respect these practices," he wrote.

In December, Apple apologized and offered a $29 battery replacement to iPhone 6 and 6S users, down from $79.

But Thune hinted that was not enough

"Apple's proposed solutions have prompted additional criticism from some customers, particularly its decision not to provide free replacement batteries," he wrote.

Read more here.

 

Please send your tips, comments and compliments to Ali Breland (abreland@thehill.com) and Harper Neidig (hneidig@thehill.com) and follow us on Twitter: @alibreland and @hneidig. We're also on Signal and WhatsApp. Email or DM us for our numbers.

 

YOUTUBE CANCELS PROJECTS WITH LOGAN PAUL AFTER SUICIDE VIDEO: YouTube is putting on hold a planned movie that was set to star Logan Paul in the latest rebuke to the YouTube personality after he posted a video showing a dead body. 

YouTube announced on Wednesday that it would not move forward with a movie for its paid subscriber service YouTube Red, titled "The Thinning: New World Order." Paul was supposed to star in the movie.

"In light of recent events, we have decided to remove Logan Paul's channels from Google Preferred," a YouTube representative said. "Additionally, we will not feature Logan in season 4 of 'Foursome' and his new Originals are on hold."

Paul has apologized for posting a video of a dead body hanging from a tree.

Read more here.

 

CRYPTOCURRENCIES ON THE RISE IN IRAN: The popularity of cryptocurrencies in Iran appears to be on the rise amid mounting economic anxiety in the country.

Experts say Iranians are increasingly turning to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to circumvent sanctions leveled against their country by the U.S. and other world powers.

While investors all over the world have purchased large amounts of digital currencies, their moves are largely speculative based on their expectations of future value. But for Iranians, bitcoin is more than a speculative investment, the experts said.

"Visa, Mastercard and everything in the outside world is working well, but in Iran, because of the embargo, we don't have access to these tools," said Hadi Nemati, a cryptocurrency researcher in Iran who works at Blockchain Match, a blockchain technology accelerator.

Nemati was referencing the heavy sanctions Iran has faced from the United States and its allies in an effort to curb Tehran's missile development program and its funding of terrorist groups.

Read more here.

 

CEOS CALL ON CONGRESS TO PASS DREAMER LEGISLATION BY JAN. 19: More than a hundred prominent chief executives are urging Congress to pass legislation to protect young undocumented immigrants, calling the looming expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program a "crisis."

In a letter to House and Senate leaders sent on Wednesday, the group called on lawmakers to pass a bill supporting the so-called "Dreamers."

"We write to urge Congress to act immediately and pass a permanent bipartisan legislative solution to enable Dreamers who are currently living, working, and contributing to our communities to continue doing so," the letter reads. "The imminent termination of the DACA program is creating an impending crisis for workforces across the country."

The letter was signed by more than a hundred major executives, including Facebook's Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Officials pressed on Russian interference at security forum | FCC accuses Sinclair of deception | Microsoft reveals Russia tried to hack three 2018 candidates | Trump backs Google in fight with EU | Comcast gives up on Fox bid Facebook's Zuckerberg congratulated Trump after 2016 election: report Facebook to start removing misleading posts that incite violence MORE, Tim Cook of Apple, Microsoft president Brad Smith, Amazon's Brad Smith and Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam.

Read more here.

 

BILL WOULD PUNISH CREDIT REPORTING AGENCIES OVER BREACHES: Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOn The Money: Trump rips Fed over rate hikes | Dems fume as consumer agency pick refuses to discuss border policy | Senate panel clears Trump IRS nominee Dems fume as Trump's consumer bureau pick refuses to discuss role in border policy Trump vows to hold second meeting with Putin MORE (D-Mass.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenate panel advances Trump IRS nominee Bipartisan bill would bring needed funds to deteriorating National Park Service infrastructure Senate Dems press for info on any deals from Trump-Putin meeting MORE (D-Va.) have introduced legislation that would allow regulators to punish credit reporting agencies in the wake of the massive Equifax data hack.

The Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act would provide the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with more direct supervisory authority over data security at the agencies, as well as impose penalties on credit reporters and provide for consumers to be compensated.

"We are introducing a bill today to say that when a credit reporting agency lets your data be stolen, that there are substantial automatic penalties that go into place, and there's money that automatically goes back to the people whose data has been stolen," Warren said on CNN Wednesday.

Read more here.

 

DEMS PROMISE NET NEUTRALITY SHOWDOWN IN THE SENATE: Democrats are promising a showdown on the Senate floor over net neutrality, betting that the issue will give Republicans headaches ahead of the midterm elections.

Using an obscure procedural tactic, Democrats are moving to force a floor vote on a resolution that would block the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from repealing net neutrality rules. Those rules, passed under former President Obama, required internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.

The FCC's decision last month to roll back the rules sparked a massive uproar, creating an issue that Democrats believe could prove politically potent in November.

By forcing a roll call vote on protecting the rules, Democrats are hoping to redirect public outrage -- especially among young voters -- toward congressional Republicans.

Read more here.

 

FACEBOOK BEGINS TESTING LOCAL NEWS APP: Facebook announced Wednesday that it's releasing a new tool aimed at making it easier to find legitimate local news stories.

The new feature, called "Today In," shows users a feed of local events, announcement and other news.

Facebook is currently testing "Today In" in New Orleans; Little Rock, Ark.; Billings, Mont.; Peoria, Ill.; Olympia, Wash.; and Binghamton, N.Y., according to Recode.

News specific to these communities will be directed to users by both human curators and algorithms. News appearing on each cities' "Today In" feed will reportedly be vetted by Facebook's news partnership team.

Users in the initial test batch of cities can access the feature in the bottom menu of the mobile Facebook app.

Read more here.

 

CHAMBER PREZ WARNS AGAINST 'TECHLASH': Thomas Donohue, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, warned against the growing skepticism of technology giants on Wednesday, arguing that the businesses are vital for growth and innovation.

In his 2018 "State of American Business Address," Donohue said it's important not to overregulate an industry that is "improving people's everyday lives."

"This is especially important as a backlash against major tech companies is gaining strength -- both at home and abroad, and among consumers and governments alike," he said, according to a transcript of his prepared remarks.

"We must be careful that this 'techlash' doesn't result in broad regulatory overreach that stifles innovation and stops positive advancements in their tracks."

Read more here.

 

ON TAP:

The Atlantic will hold an event on e-commerce at 7:45 a.m.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The Hill: Power goes out at Consumer Electronics Show

BuzzFeed: In October, Twitter promised an ad transparency center in 'coming weeks.' Where is it?

Gizmodo: Jack in the Box CEO: If wages rise 'it just makes sense' to replace my employees with robots

Bloomberg: Big Ten schools extend e-sports league, scholarships through 2019

Reuters: Buffett says he will never invest in cryptocurrencies

The Guardian: Russian bid to influence Brexit vote detailed in new US Senate report