Hillicon Valley — Microsoft heats up the AI arms race 

The Microsoft Bing logo and the website’s page are shown in this photo taken in New York on Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023. Microsoft is fusing ChatGPT-like technology into its search engine Bing, transforming an internet service that now trails far behind Google into a new way of communicating with artificial intelligence. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Microsoft said it will incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into a new version of its search feature Bing, on the heels of a similar announcement from Google.  

Meanwhile, President Biden will address kids’ online safety and data privacy during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday. These issues have emerged as a point of rare bipartisan agreement, and the president will urge lawmakers to work together to get proposals across the finish line.  

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 Kagubare

Microsoft reveals new AI-powered Bing 

Microsoft will incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) tools into a new web search browser, the Washington-based company said Tuesday, just one day after rival Google announced its own plans to launch AI-powered features in search tools.  

Microsoft’s AI-powered search will come in the form of a new version of its search engine Bing, and will be powered by an updated version of the AI that powers the increasingly popular ChatGPT tool, Microsoft said in a blog post.  

The dual announcements this week sets off a race between the two tech companies battling in the consumer-facing AI space.  

  • “AI will fundamentally change every software category, starting with the largest category of all – search,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in the announcement. “Today, we’re launching Bing and Edge powered by AI copilot and chat, to help people get more from search and the web. 
  • In the new version of Bing, users will be able to ask questions in their queries and receive “complete answers” before scrolling through results. For “more complex searches,” the new version of Bing will also offer an interactive chat feature. It will allow users to ask for more “details, clarity and ideas,” Microsoft said in the blog post.  

The updated Bing will also generate content for users, for example help a user to write an email or create an itinerary for a vacation. The feature will “cite all its sources” to see where on the web the content it’s referencing comes from, according to the company.  

Read more here.  

Biden to talk tech policy during address

President Biden will push for Congress to work together, with bipartisan support, for a number of tech policy issues including kids’ online safety and data privacy during Tuesday night’s State of the Union address.

The president will urge bipartisan support to ban targeted advertising for children, and to create strong protections for their privacy, health and safety online, according to a fact sheet released by the White House.  

  • Kids’ online safety has emerged as a rare unifying issue in a deeply divided Congress, however despite bipartisan support lawmakers failed to get a kids’ online privacy bill across the finish line last year.  
  • The Senate Commerce Committee advanced two kids’ safety bills last year with broad bipartisan support, but neither were passed by the end of the session. One of the bills, Sen. Ed Markey’s (D-Mass.) Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA 2.0, would ban targeted advertising to kids similar to the proposals Biden is expected to urge during Tuesday night’s speech.  

More broadly, the president will also push for Congress to strengthen data privacy and platform transparency for all Americans.  

Biden has recently voiced support for boosting competition in the tech sector, and supporters of antitrust reform bills are hoping the brings that up in Tuesday night’s speech as well.  

Read more of The Hill’s State of the Union coverage here.  


Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) pressed Meta founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg over documents showing that developers in “high-risk” countries such as China and Russia have access to users’ data.  

In a letter sent on Monday, the senior members of the Senate Intelligence Committee cited new evidence, released as part of litigation, showing that Facebook was aware that tens of thousands of developers based in Iran, North Korea, China and Russia have access to user information. 

  • “As Facebook’s own internal materials note, those jurisdictions ‘may be governed by potentially risky data storage and disclosure rules or be more likely to house malicious actors,’ including ‘states known to collect data for intelligence targeting and cyber espionage,’” the senators wrote in their letter.  
  • “As the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, we have grave concerns about the extent to which this access could have enabled foreign intelligence service activity, ranging from foreign malign influence to targeting and counter-intelligence activity,” they wrote.  

The lawmakers said the documents were released as a part of ongoing litigation involving Facebook’s handling of users’ personal data in connection with Cambridge Analytica. Facebook agreed in December to pay $725 million to settle the class-action lawsuit in that case. 

Read more here.


Microsoft said it is investigating a reported outage with its Microsoft Outlook email service after many users experienced issues sending emails, searching emails or receiving emails overnight and into Tuesday morning. 

Microsoft’s service status page indicated many users in North America were affected by the outage and that it also impacted the calendar function and Microsoft Teams. At around 11 p.m. Monday, more than 2,000 users reported issues with Microsoft Outlook, according to Downdetector, which is a website that tracks user reports of online service outages. 

Microsoft Service tweeted early Tuesday morning that a “recent change” contributed to the email service outage and that it was working on “potential solutions to restore availability of the service.” 

Read more here


Zoom announced Tuesday that it was cutting about 1,300 jobs, a 15 percent reduction of its workforce. 

Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said that the company didn’t take as much time to understand whether it was sustainably growing, adding that the uncertainty of the global economy pushed it “to look inward to reset ourselves so we can weather the economic environment.” 

“As the CEO and founder of Zoom, I am accountable for these mistakes and the actions we take today – and I want to show accountability not just in words but in my own actions,” Yuan said in a statement.  

He added that he was reducing his salary by 98 percent for the coming fiscal year and foregoing this year’s corporate bonus. His executive team will also reduce their base salaries by 20 percent and forfeit corporate bonuses.   

Read more here


An op-ed to chew on: China’s spy balloon: A new cold war unfolds before our eyes 

Notable links from around the web:   

The balloon affair is a Sputnik moment (Vox / Jonathan Guyer) 

The People Onscreen Are Fake. The Disinformation Is Real. (The New York Times / Adam Satariano and Paul Mozur) 


Twitter restores Daines’s account 

Twitter restored Sen. Steve Daines’s (R-Mont.) account on Tuesday afternoon after it was suspended earlier in the day for what the company said was a violation of its “media policy.” 

“I’m free! Thanks, @elonmusk,” Daines tweeted.  

The account was restored shortly after Twitter CEO Elon Musk said the suspension was “being fixed.” 

The suspension apparently happened after Daines’s account displayed an image of him and his wife hunting as the profile picture, prompting an outcry from Republicans.  

On Tuesday morning the account for the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman did not show his profile avatar or background picture. In addition, a number of posts going back days were unavailable and slew of posts going back as far as last Friday showed a statement that read, “@SteveDaines’s account is temporarily unavailable because it violates the Twitter Media Policy.” 

Read more here.  

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 tomorrow.

Tags Biden Satya Nadella

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