Hillicon Valley: Trump adviser presses House to make Bezos testify | GOP senator offers bill to restrict US sales to Huawei | Facebook to let campaigns use paid influencers

Hillicon Valley: Trump adviser presses House to make Bezos testify | GOP senator offers bill to restrict US sales to Huawei | Facebook to let campaigns use paid influencers
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Welcome! Follow the cyber team, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and the tech team, Emily Birnbaum (@birnbaum_e) and Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills).

 

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**Programming note** Hillicon Valley will not publish on Monday, Feb. 17. We will return after the long weekend on Tuesday, Feb. 18.

 

NAVARRO PUSHES FOR BEZOS TESTIMONY: A top White House adviser is pressing lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee to bring Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosJeff Bezos gives 0M to Feeding America amid coronavirus pandemic Fired Amazon striker demands Bezos protect workers in open letter Hillicon Valley: Coronavirus deal includes funds for mail-in voting | Twitter pulled into fight over virus disinformation | State AGs target price gouging | Apple to donate 10M masks MORE to testify before Congress, a request that could shake up the political dynamics around the investigation into the country's largest tech companies.  

At a private meeting this week, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told the Republicans and Democrats leading the House's antitrust investigation into Big Tech that they should invite Bezos and other e-commerce executives to testify about counterfeits, sources confirmed to The Hill.

Navarro has been leading the Trump administration's efforts to curb the spread of fake and pirated products online -- particularly on Amazon, the world's largest online retailer. 

His request marks the first time a White House official has weighed in publicly on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee's tech probe.  

"What I said clearly was that, given the extreme seriousness of this issue and the failure of the e-commerce hubs to cooperate in any substantive way on any of this, it's prudent to have the CEOs of the major e-commerce platforms come and talk truthfully to the American people about this on Capitol Hill," Navarro told The Hill. 

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"This committee appears to be doing a very substantive investigation of how market power is affecting the American people," Navarro added. "My point was simply that e-commerce platforms, absent market power, are doing great damage. When you add the market power of the Amazons and eBays of this world to the mix, it's counterfeiting danger on steroids."

The move is the latest salvo in a public feud between Navarro and Bezos. Last week, Navarro accused Bezos of walking back an invitation to meet with him about counterfeits. Trump has long maintained a personal vendetta against Bezos.

Navarro's request comes at a sensitive moment for the bipartisan House investigation, which has focused on whether the largest tech firms -- Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple -- are using their vast market power to suppress competition, ultimately harming consumers.

Read more on what it could mean for the probe here.

 

TARGETING HUAWEI LOOPHOLES: Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) on Friday introduced legislation to limit a loophole allowing American tech companies to sell products to Huawei despite Department of Commerce restrictions.

The agency placed Huawei on the "entity list" in May, preventing U.S. firms from conducting business with the company unless they obtain a specific license, citing national security concerns with the Chinese telecommunications giant.

Although Huawei has been granted multiple temporary licenses to delay that designation -- most recently on Thursday for another 45 days -- companies have already begun finding ways to continue selling equipment to Huawei without running afoul of Commerce Department penalties.

One way to do that is through a loophole that allows companies to sell products made outside of the U.S. to Huawei without a license, as long as the products contain less than 25 percent U.S.-made content subject to export restrictions.

The bill introduced by Scott on Friday would lower that threshold to 10 percent when companies do business with Huawei.

Read more on the bill here.

 

GOOD NEWS FOR INFLUENCERS: Facebook on Friday announced it will allow social media influencers to produce sponsored content for political campaigns, as long as they clearly disclose who paid for their posts. 

The social media giant established the new guidelines amid scrutiny over a flood of memes on Instagram sponsored by Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg this week, which were not overtly labeled as "branded content." Facebook owns Instagram.

A Facebook company spokesperson said in a statement that the platform has determined "there's a place" for campaign-sponsored influencer content on its platforms, as long as it's properly labeled. For now, the rules will only apply to U.S. politicians.

"We believe it's important people know when they're seeing paid content on our platforms," the spokesperson said. "After hearing from multiple campaigns, we agree that there's a place for branded content in political discussion on our platforms."

"We're allowing US-based political candidates to work with creators to run this content, provided the political candidates are authorized and the creators disclose any paid partnerships through our branded content tools," the spokesperson noted. 

It's a change from Facebook's previous policies, which barred political entities from running branded content. Facebook said it is currently developing its approach to the novel issue.

This week, the Bloomberg campaign began paying a string of social media influencers to post memes about the billionaire candidate. The posts from popular Instagram accounts all followed the same format: screenshots of direct messages from Bloomberg asking them to make memes for the campaign.

"Can you make a viral meme to let the younger demographic know I'm the cool candidate?" one of the screenshots shows Bloomberg asking @sonny5ideup. The screenshots imply Bloomberg offering up his billions of dollars in exchange for memes.

Read more on the Facebook policy here.

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ZUCKERBERG ON TAXES: Facebook founder and CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Schiff presses intel chief on staff changes | Warren offers plan to secure elections | Twitter's Jack Dorsey to donate B to coronavirus fight | WhatsApp takes steps to counter virus misinformation WhatsApp limiting message forwarding in effort to stop coronavirus misinformation Hillicon Valley: Trump, telecom executives talk coronavirus response | Pelosi pushes funding for mail-in voting | New York AG wants probe into firing of Amazon worker | Marriott hit by another massive breach MORE is expected to deliver remarks on Saturday in Germany expressing his company's acceptance of having to pay more taxes under global tax reforms.

"I understand that there's frustration about how tech companies are taxed in Europe. We also want tax reform and I'm glad the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] is looking at this," excerpts of Zuckerberg's speech read, Reuters reports.

"We want the OECD process to succeed so that we have a stable and reliable system going forward. And we accept that may mean we have to pay more tax and pay it in different places under a new framework," he added.

Last month, the OECD said that government officials have agreed to draft a new set of tax rules that would dictate where taxes should be paid and the percentage of profit that should be taxed.

At the moment, tech giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon are able to file taxes in countries with low tax rates, even though they operate globally.

Read more on his comments here.

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ORACLE CEO TO HOST TRUMP: Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison has announced a Feb. 19 fundraiser for President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE to be hosted at his golf course and California estate to support the president's reelection campaign.

The tech billionaire will host supporters at a golf event in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for the outing next week, USA Today reported. For $100,000, supporters can join the golf event and have their photo taken with Trump. For $250,000, supporters can take a photo, attend the event and participate in a roundtable discussion. Both donation options are available for two guests. 

As of the end of 2019, Ellison had never contributed to Trump's campaign or any political action committees supporting the president, USA Today reported.

The contributions will help fund Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee launched by the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee (RNC) and state GOP organizations, USA Today reported. The funds will be distributed between Trump's primary and general election accounts, the RNC and state parties, in addition to funding the Republican National Convention.

After the golf event, Trump will also appear in Phoenix for a campaign rally on Wednesday. He is also scheduled to make other California campaign stops, including in Bakersfield and Beverly Hills.

Read more here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: Saddest moment in T.V. history?

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:

Target's Delivery App Workers Describe a Culture of Retaliation and Fear (Motherboard / Lauren Kaori Gurley)

Instagram Influencer Marketing Is Already A Nightmare. Political Ads Will Make It A Shitshow. (BuzzFeed News / Katie Notopoulos)

Tinder may not get you a date. It will get your data. (Recode / Rebecca Heilweil)

Google redraws the borders on maps depending on who's looking (The Washington Post / Greg Bensinger)