Tik Tok Time Bomb: App Poses Potential Security Threat

The Gavel

Despite this growing distrust of TikTok in the United States, ByteDance has been working to rebuild its public image. Recently, TikTok joined NetChoice, a trade association that has been aggressive in pushing back on critics of tech companies and has begun to enhance its lobbying efforts in the U.S. 

Streaming Shakeout, Platform Outlook Examined at SOTN2020

Multichannel News

Steve DelBianco, president/CEO of NetChoice, warned that antitrust actions could affect innovation, since small companies often build strategies with expec​t​ations of being acquired by a major provider, such as the platform companies.

DelBianco also predicted that by 2030, “Government will still be trying to figure out how to regulate artificial intelligence,” which will continue to be a major initiative of all the platform providers.

House Bill Would Allow Suits Over Kids’ Privacy Violations

Bloomberg Government

“Empowering the plaintiff’s bar to go after every business is the surest way to eliminate age appropriate content for young people,” said Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel at NetChoice, a trade group whose membership includes Google and Twitter. “Just as COPPA was responsible for decimating innovative content for children, a private right of action will do the same for young people.”

Media Cheered AB5 Law Now Causing Media Layoffs

Wall Street Journal

Your editorial “California Runs Off the Road” (Jan. 24) highlights the many problems California’s new AB5 law has caused for employees across the state. The overregulation of independent contractors, resulting in the persecution of freelance journalism in the state, has led to hundreds of journalist layoffs. Lower advertising dollars or decreased readership isn’t the cause.

Though the editorial notes that the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association are both challenging the law for abridging free speech, many journalists and media entities initially celebrated the passage of AB5. News sites like Vox Media celebrated that independent contractors in California will “get basic labor rights for the first time” under AB5. Then a mere three months later, Vox Media announced the layoff of hundreds of freelance journalists due to AB5’s additional costs of using freelance reporters in the Golden State.

While some blame tech for destroying America’s press industry, tech actually made it easier for freelancers to become journalists and news photographers. Perhaps a better cause of the decimation of journalism is the anticontractor activists, the demonization of where and when a person can work and laws like AB5 that are decimating local journalism.

Feds Ground 800 Drones Over Fears About Chinese-Made Tech

Reason Magazine

“Drone restrictions based on nationality rather than security standards won’t protect our nation from cybersecurity vulnerabilities. Discrimination against foreign-made drones means our country won’t have access to the best technologies,” says Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, which advocates for free markets in technology. “What we really need are cybersecurity standards for drones that apply to all manufacturers, enabling greater competition and security.”

The House Democrat Taking On Silicon Valley

Politico

“You can’t just ignore facts that don’t prove your presupposed conclusions. That’s not how ‘investigations’ work,” says Carl Szabo. “Especially from the Judiciary Committee? We should be better than that.”

On a warm Friday in October, sun streamed in the window of Szabo’s K Street offices, decorated with thick books on telecommunications law, a LEGO R2-D2 and framed mock patent applications of heavy machinery from the “Star Wars” universe. Szabo is the outspoken vice president and top lawyer for Silicon Valley’s most aggressivelobbying presence in Washington: a group called NetChoice, which counts Facebook and Google among its members.

Szabo’s job is to say what the tech companies don’t want to be seen saying themselves, which, in this case, is that Cicilline is unfairly targeting them. That he isn’t after going after bad corporate behavior but simply taking scalps from some of the highest profile companies in the world. That, despite his declarations that he is keeping an open mind, the result of his investigation is a foregone conclusion. Cicilline, the argument goes, is convinced there’s no competition left in the tech industry. Says Szabo, ever heard of TikTok?

Cicilline’s investigation won’t add up to much of anything, Szabo insists, because there’s no there there. The worry, though, is that he adds his powerful voice to the “cacophony of people complaining about technology”—many of whom, Szabo argues, are motivated, somewhat perversely, by the desire to get their name in headlines smack up against mentions of Facebook, Google and the rest. “I think the whole reason we’re even talking about these groups is because of SEO,” or search engine optimization, Szabo said.

Senate impasse on Huawei

Politico Morning Tech

2020 tech watchers are still reeling, meanwhile, from surprise support from Democratic front-runner Joe Biden for nixing the online liability protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Tech trade group NetChoice rushed to slam Biden’s comments, saying that scrapping the prized provision “would prevent online services from effectively curating content created by users, meaning Biden’s proposal would accomplish the complete opposite of its goal.”

Truth and lies: Social media political ads

Carl Szabo is with the internet industry trade group, Net Choice.  

“Senator Warren has said her health care plan will not increase taxes on the middle class. Many studies have said this is impossible. President Trump announced the border wall will be paid for entirely by Mexico. Should those types of statements be removed?” Szabo said. 

Szabo says social media companies usually defer to free speech on their platforms and oppose legislation to put limits on political ads.

“Allow the voters to be the ones to decide whether a statement is true or false,” Szabo said.

Szabo says as the 2020 campaign approaches, he expects calls to regulate political ads to get louder.

A Tech Stakeholder Group Is Solidifying Its Presence in the Scooter Regulatory Arena

Morning Consult

NetChoice eyes restrictive markets for advocacy work as it releases new e-scooter guidelines.

After publishing its first white paper examining regulations of dockless e-scooters, a Washington e-commerce group representing the likes of Google, Lyft Inc. and Airbnb Inc. said it expects to lean more into micromobility issues in 2020.

NetChoice, which also includes e-scooter company Lime among its members, will release its guidelines Tuesday on how city officials should approach e-scooters, including proposals related to scooter curfews, speed limits and geofencing. The proposal makes NetChoice one of the few Washington tech groups focusing on a space typically saturated by transportation advocacy groups and city officials.

California lawmakers push for data privacy protection

Nexstar

Carl Szabo, the vice president of NetChoice, said stricter rules on data collection could hurt online business and consumers.  “We’re seeing a fracturing of the internet,” Szabo said. “There are going to be unintended consequences. People are going to see an increase in prices, or fewer offerings of stuff they really enjoy having.”

Even so, Szabo said Congress should act to make privacy laws consistent nationwide.