Overnight Tech: Ad industry urges Congress to eliminate FCC privacy rules | Yahoo offers Google help in data fight | Facebook bans use of its data for surveillance

Overnight Tech: Ad industry urges Congress to eliminate FCC privacy rules | Yahoo offers Google help in data fight | Facebook bans use of its data for surveillance
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DEM HITS TRUMP ON MERGERS: A top Democrat is hammering President Trump for discussing a planned multibillion merger during a meeting with the companies' CEOs.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) voiced her concerns over any interference by the president in the government's review of the pending $66 billion merger between the agrochemical company, Monsanto, and the pharmaceutical giant, Bayer.

"At a meeting with the President-elect that occurred recently, the CEOs of Bayer and Monsanto discussed their $66 billion merger, which is currently being reviewed by the Justice Department," Klobuchar said in a speech on antitrust policy at the Center for American Progress on Monday.

The lawmaker, who is the top Dem on the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, noted that the Justice Department typically reviews mergers without White House involvement.

"After the meeting, the administration took credit for commitments the companies made to create new jobs and invest in Research and Development," she said. "This was an uncharacteristic discussion and raises concerns that the president may want to negotiate merger settlements himself."


Trump met with the CEOs of Bayer and Monsanto in January, before his inauguration, and reportedly asked them questions about the deal.

As president, Trump has regularly sought to take credit for companies' plans for new investments or to boost hiring.

During the campaign, he also weighed in on one of the biggest mergers awaiting regulatory approval – the deal between Time Warner and AT&T. On the trail, Trump said he would block the deal, but in office has hinted he hasn't made up his mind. He's also criticized the already completed merger between Comcast and NBCUniversal.

On Monday, Klobuchar also announced that she would introduce three new bills on mergers, which would increase scrutiny of the deals and raise merger fees for companies.

"The [merger] fee has not been adjusted since 2001. And parties involved in large deals are simply not paying their fair share," Klobuchar said.

Read more here.

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AD INDUSTRY WANTS FCC'S INTERNET PRIVACY RULES GONE: The advertising industry is calling on Congress to eliminate the Federal Communications Commission's privacy rules on internet providers. Six advertising trade groups on Monday applauded Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally ties Democratic rival Kelly to Sanders in new ad McSally launches 2020 campaign Sinema will vote to convict Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnTikTok introduces new parental controls Abortion wars flare up in Congress Hillicon Valley: Judge approves T-Mobile, Sprint merger | FTC to review past Big Tech deals | State officials ask for more cybersecurity help | House nears draft bill on self-driving cars MORE (R-Tenn.) for introducing bills last week that would roll back the rules approved in October.

Critics of the FCC rules say it clashes with privacy regulations already in place from the Federal Trade Commission.

"Our digital economy is the global leader, providing billions of dollars in ad-supported content and services to consumers, and the innovation and investment that have driven its success have rested on robust, consistent self-regulatory privacy standards backstopped by the Federal Trade Commission," the groups said in a statement.

Read more here.

YAHOO LENDS A HAND TO GOOGLE: Yahoo released an amicus brief on Monday in support of Google. In the case, Google is appealing a judge's decision that requires the company to provide private customer communication from outside the U.S. Yahoo contends that the ruling against Google is in violation of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41 (Rule 41)  

"The Magistrate Judge's ruling makes it difficult for Yahoo and other providers to understand when it must produce private customer data residing on a server outside of the United States to law enforcement in response to a warrant," wrote Yahoo Assistant General Counsel Chris Madsen on the ruling.

FACEBOOK TIGHTENS CONTROLS ON USER DATA: Under pressure from civil liberties advocates, Facebook has updated its policies to explicitly prohibit the use of company data for surveillance purposes. Facebook announced the move on Monday after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) published records showing that Facebook and other social media platforms provided user data access to a company that marketed its products to law enforcement for surveillance purposes.

"Today we are adding language to our Facebook and Instagram platform policies to more clearly explain that developers cannot 'use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.' Our goal is to make our policy explicit," wrote Rob Sherman, Facebook's deputy chief privacy officer, in a post on the company's privacy page Monday.

Read more here.

PHONE SEARCHES: A new NBC investigation found at least 25 instances where U.S. citizens were forced to hand over their cell phones during border crossings. Twenty-three of the 25 reported instances were of Muslims and none were on watchlists. The searches took place at various border crossings, including by car and by plane and covered a variety of groups ranging from business travelers to families.


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