Hillicon Valley — Southwest’s tech issues to be in spotlight at hearing

Flight information is seen at BWI International Airport in Baltimore, Md., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022
Greg Nash
Flight information is seen at BWI International Airport in Baltimore, Md., on Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Southwest Airlines’ chief operating officer will testify next week before a Senate panel to discuss recent technical issues that caused the airline to delay and cancel thousands of flights.

Meanwhile, we’ll take a look at how to anticipate layoffs and what do about it.  

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca Klar and Ines KagubareSubscribe here.

Southwest exec to testify on mass cancellation chaos

The chief operating officer of Southwest Airlines is scheduled to testify next week before the Senate Commerce, Transportation and Space Committee after the airline struggled with technical problems that caused it to delay and cancel thousands of flights in December.

Southwest COO Andrew Watterson will appear on Thursday for the hearing titled “Strengthening Airline Operations and Consumer Protections,” which is intended to analyze the causes and effects of recent “air travel disruptions” and impacts on the public, according to a description of the hearing. 

The description notes Southwest’s “operational meltdown” that “stranded” millions of people during the holidays.  

The committee, chaired by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), will receive recommendations from its witnesses and decide what actions should be taken to improve protections for airline passengers and build more resilient airline operations. 

Read more here

GOP blasts Biden over ‘spy’ balloon

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, blasted President Biden over the high-altitude balloon from China that is traveling across the continental United States, saying it should have been shot down before it reached U.S. territory and speculating it could have “bioweapons.”

Comer told Fox News’s Harris Faulkner in an interview on Friday that he is concerned that the federal government “obviously” does not know what is in the balloon.  

“Is it bioweapons in that balloon? Did that balloon take off from Wuhan?” Comer said, referring to the Chinese city where the COVID-19 virus was first discovered. “We don’t know anything about that balloon.”  

He said China is “clearly playing games” with the U.S., and the balloon should not have been allowed to cross into the airspace of the continental U.S. 

Spotted in Kansas: Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said Friday afternoon that the balloon has been seen over northeast Kansas.

Marshall tweeted that his staff is in contact with law enforcement officials about the balloon.  

“I condemn any attempts the Chinese make to spy on Americans,” he said.

“President Biden must protect the sovereignty of the U.S. whether it’s our airspace or the southern border.” 

Read more here.

Senators press Ticketmaster

A bipartisan pair of senators further pressed the leader of Live Nation Entertainment on Friday to answer questions about the ticketing company’s dominance of the industry following testimony he gave before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, sent a letter to Live Nation Entertainment President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold to request he respond to a series of questions by Feb. 15.  

“As the hearing demonstrated, there is a strong bipartisan consensus about taking steps to improve the way America’s ticketing industry functions,” the senators wrote. “We must ensure that we have competition in the market to drive down prices, encourage companies to innovate, and give consumers choice.” 

Read more here


An op-ed to chew on: Roseanne Barr eyes cancel culture rebound with new comedy special 

Notable links from around the web:   

How ChatGPT Kicked Off an A.I. Arms Race (The New York Times / Kevin Roose) 

The AI boom is here, and so are the lawsuits (Vox / Peter Kafka) 

Why Twitter users are upset about the platform’s latest change (CNN / AJ Willingham) 

☄️ Lighter click: The view of meteorites on Mars

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you next week.

Tags Biden James Comer Maria Cantwell Roger Marshall southwest meltdown spy balloon Ticketmaster

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