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Hillicon Valley — Presented by Cisco — Media industry divided over Big Tech bill

Today is Wednesday. 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

Follow The Hill’s tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage.

Senators on Wednesday debated a proposal aimed at giving news publishers the ability to negotiate with dominant tech platforms over the distribution of their content. But some media groups and advocates argued the bill may hurt the small outlets it looks to help.

Meanwhile, shares in the newly formed Meta fell more than 20 percent following the release of the company’s fourth quarter earnings results and projections.

Let’s jump into the news.

 

Journalism Competition bill splits media groups 

A proposal aimed at giving news publishers the power to bargain with dominant tech platforms over the distribution of their content is dividing media groups, with some advocates arguing the proposed solution could actually hurt small and local outlets it aims to help.

Members of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee clashed over the proposal during a Wednesday hearing, despite a version of the bill being introduced last year with bipartisan support.

Subcommittee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who co-sponsored the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), said the proposal would help ensure the survival of local news outlets amid the ongoing rise of digital ad revenue “titans” Google and Facebook. 

But ranking member Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) bashed the proposal as a misguided effort and suggested that at least some news publishers are facing issues because they failed to take into account evolving technology to adapt their business models.  

He also said the proposal could lead to a news “cartel,” a concern also raised by some of the witnesses at the hearing and by public advocates who sent a letter to the senators warning against the bill.  

“News giants with the greatest leverage would dominate the negotiations and small outlets with diverse or dissenting voices would be unheard if not hurt,” a group of public interest advocates wrote in a letter to Klobuchar and Lee.

Read more.

A MESSAGE FROM CISCO

How did privacy become mission critical for organizations across the world? Find out how organizations view privacy and privacy laws in Cisco’s 2022 Data Privacy Benchmark Study

Meta mayhem 

Shares of the newly formed Facebook parent Meta Platforms tumbled more than 20 percent in after-hours trading Wednesday after the company released its latest earnings and projections. 

Meta’s shares dropped from around $323 per share to $252. The company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, predicted that first-quarter revenue in 2022 will be between $27 and $29 billion, below the $30 billion anticipated by Wall Street. 

Meta attributed the lower estimate to a combination of factors including privacy changes to Apple’s iOS and supply chain issues. 

Facebook’s user growth slowed last quarter, with daily active users dropping from 1.93 to 1.92 billion. Most of that drop came from Africa and Latin America, a potentially worrying sign given that the social media’s growth has been stagnant in North America and Europe for some time. 

Read more about the report.

 

FBI SAYS PEGASUS SPYWARE TESTED

The FBI tested the NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware for potential use in criminal investigations.  

At the same time, lawyers from the Justice Department have questioned the potential for complicating prosecution efforts that could follow the FBI’s use of the spyware, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post.  

The FBI confirmed to The Post that it had tested the technology developed by the Israeli company but said it had not been used “in support of any investigation.” 

“The FBI works diligently to stay abreast of emerging technologies and tradecraft — not just to explore a potential legal use but also to combat crime and to protect both the American people and our civil liberties,” the FBI’s statement said. 

“That means we routinely identify, evaluate, and test technical solutions and problems for a variety of reasons, including possible operational and security concerns they might pose in the wrong hands,” it added. “There was no operational use in support of any investigation, the FBI procured a limited license for product testing and evaluation only.” 

Read more here.  

Biden’s FCC nominee back on schedule 

Senators on the Commerce Committee will again get a chance to debate President Biden’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nominee Gigi Sohn.  

Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said the committee will meet next Wednesday, Feb. 9, to consider Sohn’s nomination.  

She was initially slated to be discussed at a hearing on Wednesday morning, but was pulled from the schedule on Tuesday after Sen. Ben Ray Luján’s (D-N.M.) office announced the senator was hospitalized after suffering a stroke last week. He is expected to make a full recovery.  

His absence put Sohn’s nomination at risk, given previous Republican pushback to Sohn. 

The committee also pulled Federal Trade Commission (FTC) nominee Alvaro Bedoya from this week’s hearing, but the committee has not yet announced when Bedoya will be back on the schedule for a vote.  

Both the FTC and FCC are split 2-2 along party lines until the Senate confirms the nominees.

A MESSAGE FROM CISCO

How did privacy become mission critical for organizations across the world? Find out how organizations view privacy and privacy laws in Cisco’s 2022 Data Privacy Benchmark Study

BITS AND PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: The America Competes Act: Let’s make sure it helps us compete 

Lighter click: The power of family 

Notable links from around the web: 

Europe’s crackdown on those annoying consent banners is a huge deal (Protocol / Issie Lapowsky) 

North Korea Hacked Him. So He Took Down Its Internet (Wired / Andy Greenberg) 

Site Sells Famous Songs as NFTs Without Permission, Sparks Global Outrage (Motherboard / Edward Ongweso Jr.) 

How one company took over the NFT trade (The Verge / Russell Brandom) 

Tesla drivers report a surge in ‘phantom braking’ (The Washington Post / Faiz Siddiqui and Jeremy B. Merrill) 

 

One last thing: SpaceX investigation 

The U.S. Coast Guard this week opened an investigation into a scrapped SpaceX launch after a Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailed too close to the spacecraft’s hazard zone. 

An operator was forced to abort the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket mission on Sunday evening nearly 30 seconds before its launch after Royal Caribbean cruise ship Harmony of the Seas approached the rocket’s exclusion zone, according to Florida Today.  

“We can confirm the cruise ship was Harmony of the Seas,” Coast Guard spokesman David Micallef told the news outlet in a statement. “The Coast Guard is actively investigating Sunday’s cruise ship incursion and postponement of the SpaceX launch. 

“Our primary concern is the safety of mariners at sea, and we will continue to work with our federal, state and local port partners to ensure safe and navigable waterways,” he reportedly added. 

 

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.{mosads}

Tags Amy Klobuchar Joe Biden Maria Cantwell Mike Lee

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