Overnight Tech: Feds order national security review of bid for Qualcomm | Video game execs heading to White House | Reddit purged Russian accounts | Washington state passes net neutrality law

Overnight Tech: Feds order national security review of bid for Qualcomm | Video game execs heading to White House | Reddit purged Russian accounts | Washington state passes net neutrality law
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REGULATORS PUMP BRAKES ON BROADCOM TAKEOVER: The government threw a wrench into Broadcom's plans for a hostile takeover of the U.S. tech giant Qualcomm on Sunday, pushing Qualcomm to delay a shareholder meeting and board of directors election this week.

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The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is looking into whether the Broadcom's bid, which would be the largest tech deal in history if it goes through, threatens national security.

Qualcomm agreed to postpone the meeting for at least 30 days, sparking off a public spat between the two companies that played out in incendiary public statements:

 

Reaction from Broadcom: "Broadcom was informed on Sunday night that on January 29, 2018, Qualcomm secretly filed a voluntary request with CFIUS to initiate an investigation, resulting in a delay of Qualcomm's Annual Meeting 48 hours before it was to take place. This was a blatant, desperate act by Qualcomm to entrench its incumbent board of directors and prevent its own stockholders from voting for Broadcom's independent director nominees."

"It is critical that Qualcomm stockholders know that Qualcomm did not once mention submitting a voluntary notice to CFIUS in any of its interactions with Broadcom to date, including in the two meetings on February 14, 2018 and on February 23, 2018. This can only be seen as an intentional lack of disclosure – both to Broadcom and to its own stockholders. This brings Qualcomm's "engagement theater" to a new low."

Reaction from Qualcomm: "Broadcom Limited's response to the order from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) is a continuation of its now familiar pattern of deliberately seeking to mislead shareholders and the general public by using rhetoric rather than substance to trivialize and ignore serious regulatory and national security issues. CFIUS is an independent, multi-agency U.S. governmental body charged with protecting U.S. national security. CFIUS has determined that there are national security risks to the United States as a result of and in connection with the transaction proposed by Broadcom."

"Broadcom's dismissive rhetoric notwithstanding, this is a very serious matter for both Qualcomm and Broadcom. Broadcom's claims that the CFIUS inquiry was a surprise to them has no basis in fact. Broadcom has been interacting with CFIUS for weeks and made two written submissions to CFIUS."

 

What's the threat? Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster  Will Putin sink Biden? MORE (R-Ark.), who has become an outspoken opponent of foreign forays into the U.S. tech sector, warns that Qualcomm's operations are vital to U.S. leadership in emerging technologies.

"I raised concerns about this proposed takeover to the Treasury Department directly, and I commend the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. for putting it on hold," Cotton said in a statement. "It's hard to see a good reason why we should hand over one of our leading computer-chip makers, and thereby give Chinese companies a leg-up in the race to develop 5G and the next generation of technology. Better to keep it in American hands and protect American national security."

 

VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY TO VISIT WHITE HOUSE ON THURSDAY: There was some confusion last week after the White House said that it planned to meet with executives from the video game industry this week to discuss gun violence. The problem? The industry hadn't gotten the invite. The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) said last week that it hadn't heard from the White House.

But on Monday, the trade group told The Hill that the meeting is on for Thursday, though details are still unclear on who's been invited and whether President TrumpDonald TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report MORE will attend.

Background: Many have blamed violent video games for school shootings since at least the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999. Media and some experts at the time tried to link the tragedy to the shooters' playing Doom, a popular first-shooter video game in the '90s. Researchers have largely fought back against this narrative and the industry says there is no evidence they are to blame for gun violence.

Read more here.

Industry's stance: "Like all Americans, we are deeply concerned about the level of gun violence in the United States," said ESA spokesman Dan Hewitt in a statement Tuesday. "Video games are plainly not the issue: entertainment is distributed and consumed globally, but the US has an exponentially higher level of gun violence than any other nation."

 

Please send your tips, comments and compliments to Ali Breland (abreland@thehill.com) and Harper Neidig (hneidig@thehill.com) and follow us on Twitter: @alibreland and @hneidig. We're also on Signal and WhatsApp. Email or DM us for our numbers.

 

WASHINGTON IS FIRST STATE TO PASS NET NEUTRALITY LAW: Washington became the first state in the country on Monday to pass its own net neutrality law in the wake of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) repeal of the popular Obama-era rules.

Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a bill Monday afternoon forbidding internet service providers from blocking or throttling web content, or from charging websites for higher delivery speeds. During a ceremony for the bill signing, he called the legislation a "free speech bill."

"All Washingtonians should enjoy equal and unfettered access to the educational, social and economic power of the internet," Inslee said. "I'm proud that Washington state is helping lead the way to preserve these net neutrality rules, which ensure a level playing field for consumers and innovators."

Read more here.

 

REDDIT PURGES SUSPECTED RUSSIAN ACCOUNTS: Reddit said Monday they had removed "a few hundred accounts" linked to Russian propaganda.

Reddit CEO Steve Huffman, writing under the username spez, said the site removed accounts they "suspect are of Russian origin or content linking directly to known propaganda domains."

"We have found and removed a few hundred accounts, and of course, every account we find expands our search a little more," Huffman wrote. "The vast majority of suspicious accounts we have found in the past months were banned back in 2015–2016 through our enhanced efforts to prevent abuse of the site generally."

Read more here.

 

FACEBOOK SAYS QUESTION ABOUT 'SEXUAL PICTURES' FROM CHILDREN WAS MISTAKE: Facebook says that it made a mistake after it asked users in a poll if it should allow child predators to ask children for sexual photos on its platform.

The odd admission comes after Facebook prompted some of its users with a survey asking about acceptable behaviors on its platform.

One survey question asked how a user would "handle" a man asking for inappropriate pictures of a young girl if that user was in charge of setting Facebook's policies.

"There are a wide range of topics and behaviors that appear on Facebook," one question read, according to screenshots posted by The Guardian. "In thinking about an ideal world where you could set Facebook's policies, how would you handle the following: a private message in which an adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures."

Read more here.

 

MORE ON FACEBOOK: The Guardian's digital editor, Jonathan Haynes, walks us through Facebook's latest mix-up, where the company asks users about whether or child predators should be able to solicit "sexual pictures from children on its website.

 

MORE COMPANIES JOIN NET NEUTRALITY LAWSUIT: Six technology companies, including Kickstarter, Foursquare and Etsy, have launched a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in an effort to preserve net neutrality rules.

The companies, which also include Shutterstock, Expa and Automattic, on Monday filed their petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

"Already, over 30,000 Etsy sellers participated in the FCC's public comment process, and tens of thousands more reached out to Congress in support of net neutrality. Now we're bringing their stories and experiences to the courts," said Althea Erickson, head of advocacy and impact at Etsy.

Read more here.

 

RHODE ISLAND LAWMAKERS CONSIDER ONLINE PORN FEE: Rhode Island's state legislature could soon vote on a bill that would impose a $20 fee on residents accessing pornography online.

The legislation, which two Democratic state senators introduced in the General Assembly on Thursday, would require internet service providers to digitally block sexual content or "patently offensive material."

Rhode Island residents who want to access the content would be able to unlock it for a $20 digital access fee.

Read more here.

 

LONG READ OF THE DAY: The New Republic looks back at Silicon Valley's origins and examines how the industry got to where it is today. Stories of misogyny in tech are in the news today, but tales of the early days show such behavior isn't new. In the article, one executive describes the old Atari office as "a bunch of guys getting whacked every day and chasing women."

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

The Washington Post:  D.C., Maryland and Virginia are pushing hard to Amazon's new HQ2, but so are a lot of other cities.

Reuters: Microsoft is going to offer governments a local version of its Azure cloud service.

The Wall Street Journal: Silicon Valley venture capital heavyweight, Sequoia Capital, is raising a new $12 billion in capital. The 46-year-old firm's investment list is a who's who of major Silicon Valley companies including Apple, Google, Oracle, PayPal, Stripe, YouTube, Instagram, Yahoo! and WhatsApp.

The DNC is pushing DACA, but Donald Trump is suggesting otherwise.

The feds will auction off $25 million worth of bitcoin, most of which came from DEA seizures.