Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley — Musk’s big reversal 

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Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter is rolling ahead after months of roadblocks, with the billionaire agreeing to buy the company for the original price reached in April if a lawsuit brought by the company against him is thrown out.  

Meanwhile, Musk is also drawing criticism after he tweeted a “peace” proposal for Ukraine that involved permanently making the Crimean Peninsula part of Russia and potentially recognizing the country’s annexation claims to four Ukrainian territories. 

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.

Musk agrees to original Twitter deal  

Elon Musk agreed to pay $44 billion to buy Twitter if a lawsuit brought by the company in an attempt to force him to follow through with the deal is closed, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) uploaded Tuesday.

Attorneys representing Musk sent a letter to Twitter Monday stating they intend to proceed with the closing of the deal the parties agreed to in April, provided that the court enters an immediate stay in the case.

  • The offer to follow through on the deal Musk reached with Twitter on Tuesday comes roughly two weeks before the Tesla CEO was set to face Twitter in a trial over the agreement.
  • News of Musk’s intent to move forward with the deal at the original offer of $54.20 per share was first reported by Bloomberg News. After the report, trading of Twitter shares halted

What they’re saying: A Twitter spokesperson said the company intends to close the deal with Musk.  

“We received the letter from the Musk parties which they have filed with the SEC. The intention of the Company is to close the transaction at $54.20 per share,” the spokesperson said in a statement. 

The Hill reached out to an attorney for Musk for comment.  

Previous rationale: Musk was trying to back out of the deal over allegations that Twitter was breaching its side by not providing him with information about the number of bots on the platform. He tried to boost his case based on allegations raised by a Twitter whistleblower that in part cast doubt over how the company counts spam bot accounts online.

Twitter denied Musk’s allegations and was suing to try to hold the billionaire accountable to follow through with the deal to buy the company. 

Read more here.  

Musk spurs pushback with Ukraine ‘peace’ proposal

Elon Musk is drawing criticism after he tweeted a “peace” proposal for Ukraine that involved permanently making the Crimean Peninsula part of Russia and potentially recognizing the country’s annexation claims to four Ukrainian territories.

  • Musk asked his more than 100 million Twitter followers to vote on the proposal, which included conducting United Nations-supervised referendums in the regions Russia annexed to determine which country the areas should belong to, drawing a firestorm from Ukrainian officials.
  • Russia last week laid claim to the four regions, located in Ukraine’s south and east, after holding referendums that were roundly condemned by U.S. and Western officials as a sham. 

“This is highly likely to be the outcome in the end — just a question of how many die before then,” Musk wrote of his proposal. 

“F— off is my very diplomatic reply to you @elonmusk,” responded Ukrainian diplomat Andriy Melnyk. 

Read more here

PRIVACY BILL GETS A NEW HOUSE ALLY 

The centrist New Democrat Coalition (NDC) on Tuesday backed a privacy bill — currently stalled in the House — that would create a comprehensive national privacy law to protect consumer data and prohibit discrimination based on personal information. 

The American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee over the summer with bipartisan support but has gone nowhere since. 

Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), the chairwoman of the NDC, said the “legislation is a big step forward in our effort to ensure all Americans have strong data privacy and security protections under federal law.”

“Since our Coalition’s founding at the start of the Internet Age, New Dems have been policy leaders on innovation and technology,” DelBene said in a statement. “Early on, New Dems worked to tackle the challenges and embrace the opportunities of the 21st Century. Our members have also prioritized advancing policies that make privacy the default and put people in control of their own information.” 

Read more here

A new age ‘Bill of Rights’ 

The White House is urging technology companies to develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems with options for users to opt out of using them and with discrimination protections in mind, according to a blueprint for an “AI Bill of Rights” the administration released Tuesday.

The blueprint lays out five core protections the administration said Americans should be entitled to as companies increasingly use automated technologies that affect Americans’ daily lives.  

The AI Bill of Rights includes nonbinding proposals without enforcement mechanisms tied to them, though, meaning it lays out a framework for companies to choose to adopt or ignore. 

  • One of the core principles states that users are entitled to alternative options to AI systems, including ones allowing them to opt out “where appropriate” and have a human alternative. The administration’s plan says that in some cases, a human or other alternative “may be required by law.”
  • Another principle laid out in the blueprint calls for algorithmic discrimination protections.
  • Other principles the AI Bill of Rights blueprint laid out are a push for safe and effective systems, a focus on built-in data privacy protections and the inclusion of a notice and explanation about the automated systems being used and how they contribute to users. 

Read more here.  

CYBER BILL TO INVEST IN MINORITY, COMMUNITY COLLEGES 

Rep. Marc Veasey (D-Texas) introduced a bill on Tuesday that would invest in cybersecurity curriculums in predominantly minority schools and community colleges.  

The Cybersecurity Clinics Grant Program Act would establish a grant program based at the Department of Homeland Security that would fund cybersecurity education programs at community colleges and minority-serving institutions. 

“Building the next generation of young Americans in the cyber workforce requires strategic investments in opportunities that offer a high-potential path to help increase the number of experienced cybersecurity professionals,” Veasey said in a statement. 

The bill would also require the DHS to develop an experiential cybersecurity curriculum for the grant recipients. 

Read more here

EU VOTES FOR UNIVERSAL CHARGER

The European Parliament on Tuesday approved a new law requiring everyday electronic devices sold in the European Union (EU) to use USB-C charging ports. 

  • The body voted 602-13 in favor of the law, which will extend to mobile phones, tablets and cameras by the end of 2024 and laptops in spring 2026, enabling consumers to use a singular charging technology for their devices. 
  • The Council of the European Union still must approve the measure before it is enacted, but negotiators reached the agreement in July, so the vote is seen largely as a formality. 

“The common charger will finally become a reality in Europe,” Alex Agius Saliba, a member of the European Parliament from Malta, said in a statement.

“We have waited more than ten years for these rules, but we can finally leave the current plethora of chargers in the past,” he continued. “This future-proof law allows for the development of innovative charging solutions in the future, and it will benefit everyone — from frustrated consumers to our vulnerable environment.” 

Apple — which previously opposed the rules, arguing they would stifle innovation and create waste — would be among the companies most affected by the shift.

Read more here.  

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: Squandering an opportunity on trade 

Notable links from around the web: 

Uncovered an Army of Fake Men on Hinge (Wired / Lauren Goode) 

How the Supreme Court could change the internet as we know it (NBC News/ David Ingram) 

Banning TikTok won’t protect Americans’ sensitive data (CyberScoop / Justin Sherman) 

🐕  Lighter click: A trendsetter 

One more thing: Sandberg donates $3M to ACLU

Former Meta executive Sheryl Sandberg donated $3 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to fight abortion restrictions following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the group announced on Tuesday.

  • “Few things are more important to women’s equality than access to safe and legal abortion,” Sandberg said in a statement.
  • “Today, over one-third of women in the U.S. can’t access safe abortions,” she continued. “We’ve only just begun to see the devastating impact that state abortion bans will have on women’s health, and their ability to determine the course of their own lives. Now, more than ever, we must keep up the fight to defend our right to choose and protect abortion access.”

Sandberg served as chief operating officer of Meta, then Facebook, from 2008 until she stepped down on Aug. 1. 

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 Artificial Intelligence Elon Musk Elon Musk privacy rights Sheryl Sandberg Suzan DelBene Twitter deal ukraine war
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