Overnight Tech: Senators unveil bill to halt election meddling on social media | Google, Twitter, Facebook lawyers to testify on Russia probe | Trump taps new FTC chief

Overnight Tech: Senators unveil bill to halt election meddling on social media | Google, Twitter, Facebook lawyers to testify on Russia probe | Trump taps new FTC chief
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NEW BILL AIMED AT CRACKING DOWN ON ONLINE POLITICAL ADS: Bipartisan legislation to boost social media ad transparency and curb foreign influence in elections was introduced Thursday, the latest congressional response to Russian hackers using Facebook and other social media to influence the 2016 election.

Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Senate Democrats push to include free phone calls for incarcerated people in next relief package Lobbying world MORE (D-Minn.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election US intelligence says Russia seeking to 'denigrate' Biden GOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe MORE (D-Va.), along with Republican Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), drafted the bill, which aims to put social media companies on par with radio and TV in their ad disclosure requirements.

Klobuchar had earlier told reporters that they do not have the support of tech companies on the legislation. Warner said that he is still hopeful they will change tact.


"It's our hope that social media companies, the platform companies will work with us," Warner said. "The leadership of Facebook recently said they'll do everything they can to keep our community safe from interference. If they believe those statements, [they should] work with us to get these common sense, light-touch regulations in place."

The proposed legislation will affect websites, apps, search engines, social media and ad networks with over 50 million unique visitors.

Such platforms would be required to provide data on campaigns that spend at least $500 on political ads a year. Necessary information would include copies of ads, information about groups purchasing ads and data on who the ads may have targeted.

Additionally, like TV regulations, the social media ads must clearly show who is funding such content.

The ads encompass paid political advertisements on these digital platforms, made by or on behalf of candidates or encompassing national issues.

It remains to be seen if the bill will have a path forward amid a crowded docket of legislative priorities that lawmakers are pushing to get done by the end of the year.

When asked by reporters about the bill's likelihood of passing, Warner deflected the question, stressing the issues the bill addresses are matters of national security.  

According to the lawmakers, some technology firms have said that they're interested in voluntarily imposing their own transparency rules, but to Warner and Klobuchar, opting in isn't enough.

Read more here.


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TRUMP REVEALS FTC NOMINEES: President Trump will nominate antitrust attorney Joseph Simons for chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, a White House spokeswoman confirmed.

Simons is a partner and co-chairman of the antitrust department at the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. He would replace Maureen Ohlhausen, a Republican commissioner who has been serving as acting chairman since January.

Trump will also nominate Rohit Chopra and Noah Phillips to fill the remaining Democratic and Republican commission seats respectively.

Read more here.


GOOGLE WILL TESTIFY AT INTEL HEARINGS: Google will send its general counsel Kent Walker to testify before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees next month as part of Congress's investigation into how Russia may have used social media to interfere in the 2016 election, a company spokesperson confirmed to The Hill.

The hearings were announced following Facebook's revelation last month that it had sold $100,000 in political ads to fake accounts suspected of ties to the Kremlin.

Read more here.


FACEBOOK...: Facebook's general counsel, Colin Stretch, will testify before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees during hearings examining how Russians may have used social media companies to interfere in the 2016 election, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed.

Read more here.


...AND TWITTER TOO: Twitter's Sean Edgett will also testify at both hearings on Nov. 1, the social media giant said on Thursday.

Read more here.


LYFT RAISES $1B FROM GOOGLE PARENT COMPANY: Google's parent company Alphabet has invested $1 billion in Lyft, providing a major boost to the ride-hailing firm as it looks to compete with rival Uber.

Lyft secured the latest funding round from Alphabet's private-equity arm, CapitalG, giving the company an $11 billion post-money valuation.

Google was an early investor in Uber, but has had a complicated and stormy relationship with the embattled ride-hailing company, including a lawsuit alleging that a former Google executive stole self-driving car technology and brought it to Uber.

Read more here.


SENATORS DEMAND ANSWERS FROM APPLE: Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOn The Trail: Pence's knives come out Pat Fallon wins GOP nomination in race to succeed DNI Ratcliffe The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline MORE (R-Texas) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing Vermont has a chance to show how bipartisanship can tackle systemic racism MORE (D-Vt.) are demanding answers from Apple CEO Tim Cook after his company removed apps in China that allowed users to skirt the country's internet censors.

In a letter that was released by the senators on Thursday, Cruz and Leahy criticized Apple for going along with China's internet regulations.

"If these reports are true, we are concerned that Apple may be enabling the Chinese government's censorship and surveillance of the Internet," the senators wrote.

The New York Times reported in July that Apple had removed some of the most popular virtual private network (VPN) apps from its China store. VPNs can be used to bypass Beijing's filters that block out much of the internet.

Read more here.



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