Hillicon Valley — Presented by Cisco — Feds forge ahead on internet ‘nutrition labels’
Today is Thursday. Welcome to Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Subscribe here: thehill.com/newsletter-signup.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) unanimously voted to push forward a proposal that would require internet providers to display a label with information to help consumers understand their options.
Meanwhile, the FCC and the Federal Trade Commission are each still down a member. The Senate Commerce Committee will vote on President Biden’s nominees on Wednesday after Democrats failed to get them confirmed last year.
Let’s jump into the news.
Put a label on it
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously Thursday to proceed with a proposal that would require internet service providers to display certain cost and service information in easy-to-understand labels for consumers.
The FCC was directed to take action on a “Broadband Nutrition Label” as part of the infrastructure law signed in November. The label is modeled after the Food and Drug Administration’s nutrition labels for food products and aims to help consumers compare options for better deals and boost competition.
The proposal builds off the voluntary labels the commission approved in 2016.
Just the start: There is still some time before such labels will be implemented.
After the 4-0 vote on Thursday, the commission will seek comments about the efficacy of the 2016 labels in assisting consumers and whether the label and relevant requirements should be updated.
A MESSAGE FROM CISCO
The Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday will vote on President Biden’s nominees to fill spots at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), vacancies that have remained open one year into Biden’s presidency.
The panel failed to advance Biden’s FCC nominee, Gigi Sohn, and FTC nominee, Alvaro Bedoya, at the end of last year. The president renominated them earlier this month, teeing off another debate on the committee over past comments Bedoya and Sohn made about conservative media that Republicans have centered their pushback on.
As the confirmations have been held up, the two commissions have been comprised of 2-2 splits along party lines — limiting the agendas the Democratic chairs can push forward.
Amazon is shutting down a third-party seller program it operated after Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) filed a lawsuit in which he said his investigation found the program violated antitrust laws.
Amazon operated its “Sold by Amazon” program from 2018 to 2020. Ferguson said in his lawsuit that the program allowed Amazon to agree on prices with third-party sellers instead of competing with them, which he characterized as illegal price-fixing.
As part of the agreement, Amazon will stop its “Sold by Amazon” program nationwide as well as pay the Washington attorney general’s office $2.25 million, which will go towards antitrust enforcement.
The invite-only program involved hundreds of sellers that Amazon had previously competed with for sales. Ferguson noted that third-party sales account for more than half of Amazon’s sales.
The technology will be sold to Silvergate Capital Corp., a small bank in California that works with bitcoin and blockchain companies, for about $200 million, according to WSJ.
The bank and Diem previously reached a deal to issue some of the stablecoins, which are considered to be less volatile and are backed by hard dollars. That deal was part of an effort to revamp the project to satisfy regulators, the Journal added.
The project, initially called Libra, was met with challenges from its start.
At the end of 2020, the project changed its name from Libra to Diem Association to reflect adjustments made by its designers to “meet regulatory expectations.”
A MESSAGE FROM CISCO
Robinhood ‘meme stock’ case dismissed
A federal judge dismissed a multi-district lawsuit this week that was filed against the online trading platform Robinhood for restricting trades of certain stocks in the midst of the “meme stock” short squeeze that took place last January.
Chief U.S. District Judge Cecilia Altonaga for the Southern District of Florida wrote in her 66-page motion to dismiss that the duty plaintiffs were seeking to impose on Robinhood was “remarkably broad” and found that they had offered “virtually no limiting principle to this theory of duty.”
Last January, the stock prices of certain companies like GameStop, AMC and BlackBerry skyrocketed after retail traders from the popular subreddit r/WallStreetBets worked together to drive up the price. Shortly after the stock prices rose, Robinhood, through which many retail traders had bought their shares, restricted users’ ability to buy certain stocks, citing “recent volatility.”
BITS AND PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: Russia and China’s private internets are the ideal forts for cyberattacks
Lighter click: A fair warning
Notable links from around the web:
Amy Klobuchar Leads Her Final Assault On Big Tech’s Power (The Verge / Makena Kelly)
IRS wants to scan your face (Washington Post / Drew Harwell)
This NFT on OpenSea Will Steal Your IP Address (Motherboard / Joseph Cox)
Why Spotify can’t afford to lose Joe Rogan (The Verge / Ashley Carman)
One last thing: Tesla’s top priority
The human-like robot that Tesla is developing is considered the “most important product” in 2021 that they are working on, CEO Elon Musk said during a fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday, CNBC reported.
During the Wednesday call, the Tesla chief executive said that the robot, known as both the “Tesla Bot” and Optimus, had important implications for tackling possible labor shortages.
“If you think about the economy, it is — the foundation of the economy is labor,” Musk said, according to CNBC. “Capital equipment is distilled labor. So what happens if you don’t actually have a labor shortage? I’m not sure what an economy even means at that point. That’s what Optimus is about, so [it’s] very important.”
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