Overnight Technology

Hillicon Valley: Uber, Lyft agree to take California labor win nationwide | Zoom to implement new security program along with FTC | Virgin Hyperloop completes first test ride with passengers

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Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.

Welcome! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@chrisismills) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

PROP 22’S GOING NATIONAL: Uber and Lyft are celebrating a major ballot measure victory in California, and they’re looking to notch similar wins nationwide that could formalize labor classifications for gig workers.

Passage of Proposition 22 in California effectively exempts gig companies from a state law aimed at providing gig workers with the same kind of benefits for employees: minimum wage, health care and the right to organize.

Top executives at Uber and Lyft are signaling a desire to replicate those exemptions in other states.

“Going forward, you will see us more loudly advocate for new laws like Prop 22, which we believe strike the balance between preserving the flexibility that drivers value so much, while adding protections that all gig workers deserve,” Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said during an investor call Thursday.

“We want to have a dialogue with governments [in] other states,” he added.

Anthony Foxx, secretary of Transportation in the Obama administration who’s now chief policy officer at Lyft, expressed a similar desire to export the ballot measure.

“Ideally, now that this issue has been resolved in California we can have a broader conversation about how to replicate something like Prop 22,” he said Wednesday in an interview with The Hill.

The ballot measure was a last ditch effort by gig companies — DoorDash, Postmates, Instacart and the ridesharing giants — to avoid having to classify their drivers as employees and subsequently extend worker benefits.

The companies spent more than $200 million in support of Proposition 22 and won with 58 percent of voters backing the measure.

The ballot measure was a response to a state law that sets standards for when workers can be considered independent contractors, the classification preferred by Uber and Lyft for their drivers.

Read more.


ZOOM AGREES TO AMP UP SECURITY: Videoconferencing platform Zoom has agreed to implement a security program as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced Monday.

The settlement, approved by the FTC by a vote of 3-2, requires Zoom to heighten security through creating a vulnerability management program, deploying certain safeguards including multifactor authentication and assessing and documenting new security risks and ways to protect against these risks every year.

The FTC alleged that Zoom misled users about its encryption practices, saying in the settlement that “Zoom maintained the cryptographic keys that could allow Zoom to access the content of its customers’ meetings, and secured its Zoom Meetings, in part, with a lower level of encryption than promised.”

The FTC also alleged that the “ZoomOpener” web server, which was rolled out in 2018 and launched Zoom meetings, bypassed an Apple Safari security protocol designed to protect users from a certain kind of malware, thereby compromising the security of the user’s network. The agency further alleged that the Zoom software remained on the user’s network even after the app was deleted, potentially opening the door to remote surveillance by strangers. 

Under the settlement, Zoom personnel will be required to review software updates for security vulnerabilities, including making sure updates do not impede third-party security features, and the company is prohibited from misrepresenting privacy and security practices to users. The company will also be required to allow a third party to conduct biennial assessments of its security program. 

Read more here


A QUICK TRIP: Virgin Hyperloop completed its first test ride with passengers on board the high-speed transportation system on Sunday, the company announced.

The test with Josh Giegel, co-founder and chief technology officer, and Sarah Luchian, director of passenger experience, as passengers took place at Virgin Hyperloop’s test site in Las Vegas. 

The company has previously run more than 400 unoccupied tests at the site.

“I can’t tell you how often I get asked ‘is hyperloop safe?’ ” Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop, said in the announcement. “With today’s passenger testing, we have successfully answered this question, demonstrating that not only can Virgin Hyperloop safely put a person in a pod in a vacuum environment, but that the company has a thoughtful approach to safety which has been validated by an independent third party.”

The first test ride with passengers comes about a month after West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced plans for a new Virgin Hyperloop Certification Center in the state. Work on the new development is expected to begin in 2021.

Hyperloop transportation aims to cut cross-country land travel by moving people and goods through a vacuum at speeds of up to 670 mph. During Sunday’s test ride, the pod reached a top speed of about 107 mph, according to a Virgin Hyperloop spokesperson.

Read more here


NO MORE MR. NICE TWITTER: President Trump’s tweets will face harsher scrutiny from Twitter when he leaves office, losing protections the platform grants to world leaders.

The tech behemoth treats violations of its policies from presidents and prime ministers differently from those of regular users, arguing the public should be able to see what their leaders are saying and that such posts are newsworthy in and of themselves.

But that protection does not extend to leaders once they leave office, meaning Trump’s preferred mode of communication could be restricted in ways he’s been able to avoid for the past four years.

The Associated Press and all the major news networks called the presidential race for Joe Biden on Saturday morning, putting a Jan. 20 deadline on Twitter protections for Trump’s tweets.

Twitter has been loath to delete any of Trump’s tweets while in office, instead opting to flag to users that his controversial posts may contain misleading or false information and restrict users’ ability to retweet and like them.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to The Hill that the president’s Twitter account would be treated like any other when he leaves office.

Read more here. 


JUDGE TO HEAR DISPUTE: A judge on Monday said he would hear arguments regarding the protection of confidential information in the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit filed against Google. 

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta directed the government and Google to by Friday “position statements outlining their respective positions on the disputed terms of a protective order” regarding confidential information, Reuters reported.  

The government and Google on Friday had said they failed to reach an agreement on how to protect confidential information given to the government by third parties, the newswire noted. 

The Justice Department last month charged Google with illegally maintaining a monopoly on search and search advertising. The suit followed a yearlong investigation into concentrations of economic power in the online economy.

Read more here

Lighter click: I’m too shy for a tweet today 🙂

An op-ed to chew on: Prop 22 just passed in California — now what?


The former CEO of Google has applied to become a citizen of Cyprus (Recode / Theodore Schleifer)

VR Furries Are Now Running Around The Four Seasons Total Landscaping (BuzzFeed / Caroline Haskins)

QAnon Is Here to Stay—Even Though Trump Lost (Vice / David Gilbert)

Facebook and Google are still banning political ads. Dems say that’s bad news for the Georgia runoffs. (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky)

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