Overnight Tech: Internet lobby criticizes GOP privacy bill | Apple sees security requests for user data skyrocket | Airbnb beefs up lobbying

Overnight Tech: Internet lobby criticizes GOP privacy bill | Apple sees security requests for user data skyrocket | Airbnb beefs up lobbying
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INTERNET ASSOCIATION SKEPTICAL OF PRIVACY BILL: The Internet Association, a leading Silicon Valley trade group, expressed skepticism about a bill introduced last week that would strengthen privacy protections for internet users.

The bill, which was put forth by Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnSunday shows preview: Biden transition, COVID-19 spike in spotlight Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus Senate Judiciary to vote on subpoena for Twitter CEO next week MORE (R-Tenn.), would require internet service providers and web companies such as Facebook and Google to get consumers' permission before sharing their data with advertisers.

In a statement, Internet Association spokesman Noah Theran said the group was "tracking" the proposal.

"This bill has the potential to upend the consumer experience online and stifle innovation," Theran said. "Policymakers must recognize that websites and apps continue to be under strict [Federal Trade Commission] privacy enforcement and are not in an enforcement gap, unlike other stakeholders in the ecosystem."


Earlier this year, Congress voted to kill a set of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules that would have imposed similar restrictions on internet service providers, but not websites that share consumer data with advertisers.

Blackburn said that her bill would put all of the internet ecosystem under a uniform set of privacy rules.

"I thought the Internet Association would be more supportive of protecting consumers," Blackburn said in a statement to The Hill. "I think if you ask the American people if they're ok with having less control over their online privacy so companies can sell their data -- they'd say no."

Read more here.

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APPLE SEES INCREASE IN SECURITY REQUESTS: Apple says the number of United States government requests for user data skyrocketed in the second half of 2016. The computer and phone company released its twice-yearly transparency report Tuesday evening, showing that the number of National Security Letters more than doubled between the first and second half of 2016.

National Security Letters are similar to warrants but don't require the same evidentiary standard or approval from a judge for an agency to issue.

According to the report, between 5,750 and 5,999 National Security Letters were issued for data from 4,750 to 4,999 different accounts. National Security Letters (NSLs) usually contain a nondisclosure clause preventing a company like Apple from releasing information on the letters, even to the users whose account has been requested. Companies can, however, issue reports giving a range of possible numbers.

Read more here.

AIRBNB BEEFS UP LOBBYING: Airbnb is ramping up its lobbying efforts as its battle with the hotel lobby intensifies on Capitol Hill.

Meagan McCanna, who has been at the company as their head of federal affairs since December, has registered as a lobbyist for Airbnb. She will advocate for the company on issues including labor, online marketplaces, access to Cuba, government operations and the travel and tourism industry, according to disclosure forms.

Before joining Airbnb, McCanna worked for former Republican Reps. Tom PetriThomas (Tom) Evert PetriKeep our elections free and fair Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Combine healthcare and tax reform to bring out the best in both MORE (Wis.) and John Kline (Minn.).

Read more here.

GROUP ACCUSES COMCAST OF TRYING TO CENSOR NET NEUTRALITY SITE: Comcast sent a cease-and-desist letter to an advocacy group asking it to shut down a website set up to promote net neutrality.

Fight for the Future created Comcastroturf.com to urge supporters to comment in favor of the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules, which are in the process of being repealed.

On Tuesday, the group posted a letter from LookingGlass Cyber, which says it represents Comcast, arguing that the website is in violation of laws prohibiting domain names "confusingly similar" to trademarked names.

Read more here.

SERENA WILLIAMS JOINS SURVEYMONKEY: Tennis champion Serena Williams is joining the board of online polling service SurveyMonkey, with the goal of helping technology companies improve their diversity.

"I feel like diversity is something I speak to," Williams told the Associated Press. "Change is always happening; change is always building. What is important to me is to be at the forefront of the change and to make it easier for the next person that comes behind me."

The AP said Williams didn't offer specifics for what she would do in her new role but that she sought to help push the company and industry in a more diverse direction.

Read more here.



The Open Tech Institute (OTI) hosts a panel on European encryption policies at 9:30 a.m.

The FCC hosts a conference call on broadband infrastructure at 1 p.m.



FCC opens public comment period for net neutrality

The New York Times looks at Amazon's efforts to build brick-and-mortar bookstores

Trump budget makes heavy cuts to science research

Protesters at Amazon meeting urge company to end Breitbart ads

Politico: FEC member urges probe into alleged Russian Facebook ads