Lawmakers Criticize Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google at Hearings

Lawmakers leveled stinging criticism and sharp questions at Big Tech executives, attacking Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google for their market power, their perceived bias as gatekeepers of communication and Facebook’s ambitions to reshape the financial industry. The criticisms came at three hearings on Capitol Hill that showcased Washington’s widening range of concerns with Silicon Valley.

At Senate Hearing, Facebook Executive Defends Plans to Create Digital Currency

Under sharp criticism from senators, a Facebook executive defended the social network’s ambitious plan to create a digital currency and pledged to work with regulators to achieve a system that protects the privacy of users’ data. “We know we need to take the time to get this right,” David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading the project, told the Senate Banking Committee at a hearing.

After Trump's Threat, Google Executive Denies Work with Chinese Military

A Google executive denied allegations that the company works with the Chinese military, one day after President Trump said that his administration would investigate claims of improper ties between China and Google. Karan Bhatia, Google's vice president of global government affairs and public policy, emphasized during a Senate hearing that Google has little business in China and denied the company has any ties to its military.

Sprint Says Hackers Broke Into Customer Accounts Via Samsung Website

U.S. mobile network operator Sprint said hackers broke into an unknown number of customer accounts via the "add a line" website. "On June 22, Sprint was informed of unauthorized access to your Sprint account using your account credentials via the 'add a line' website," Sprint said in a letter it is sending impacted customers.

Justice Department Asks Court to Pause Enforcement of Qualcomm Ruling

The U.S. Justice Department asked a federal appeals court to pause the enforcement of a sweeping antitrust ruling against mobile chip supplier Qualcomm Inc, citing support from the Energy Department and Defense Department. “For DoD, Qualcomm is a key player both in terms of its trusted supply chain and as a leader in innovation, and it would be impossible to replace Qualcomm’s critical role in 5G technology in the short term,” Ellen M. Lord, Under Secretary for Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, wrote in a filing made in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Facebook Says Libra Cryptocurrency Will Wait for Regulatory Concerns

Facebook Inc said it would not proceed with the launch of its Libra cryptocurrency until regulatory concerns are addressed, as the U.S. Treasury secretary took the unusual step on of saying he had serious concerns it could be used for illicit activity. David Marcus, who oversees Facebook’s blockchain efforts, planned to tell Congress that Libra is not being built to compete with traditional currencies or interfere with monetary policy.

Intelligence Committee Chairman Probes 'Deepfake' Images, Videos

U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff pressed major social media companies on how they plan to handle the threat of deepfake images and videos on their platforms ahead of the 2020 elections. The Democratic congressman wrote letters to the chief executives of Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Google, which owns YouTube, asking about the companies’ formal policies on deepfakes and their research into technologies to detect the doctored content.

Twitter Says Trump's Attacks on Congresswomen Don't Violate New Policy

Twitter’s new policy for holding powerful leaders to account for engaging in hate speech and harassment received its first major test this weekend when President Trump called on several Democratic members of Congress to “go back” to their countries — prompting widespread allegations of racism against women of color. Twitter said that the president’s tweets didn’t violate its policies, but independent researchers who study social media said they struggled to see why.

Judge's Ruling Lets Pentagon Choose Amazon or Microsoft for $10B Project

A federal judge ruled that Amazon did not unduly influence the shape of one of the largest technology contracts in the Pentagon’s history, setting the stage for the Department of Defense to choose between Amazon and Microsoft for the $10 billion project. Oracle had alleged that Amazon and the Defense Department biased the contract, known as the joint enterprise defense infrastructure, or JEDI, in Amazon’s favor because of conflicts of interest with past employees.

Chad Lifts Year-Long Ban on Social Media After Security Concerns

Chad lifted a more than a year-long ban on social media including Facebook and Twitter that the government said had been necessary for security reasons. The announcement was made by President Idriss Deby at a conference about digital technology in the capital, N’Djamena. While he said he’d instructed internet service providers to suspend the restrictions immediately, he appealed “to everyone’s sense of responsibility so that these means of communication are an instrument of development and not a source of division.”

Online Education Platform Exposes Personal Info on 7 Million Students, an online education platform, inadvertently exposed the personal information of nearly seven million students, according to security researchers at Comparitech. The exposed database contained full names, email addresses, birthdates and gender identities, as well as the school that the students attend, authentication keys for accessing their accounts and other internal data.

FTC Votes to Approve $5 Billion Settlement with Facebook Over Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission voted to approve a roughly $5 billion settlement with Facebook that could end an investigation into its privacy practices, according to a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak on the record, a deal poised to result in unprecedented new government oversight of the company. The settlement -- adopted along party lines, with the FTC’s three Republicans supporting it and two Democrats against it -- puts in motion an end to a wide-ranging probe into Facebook’s mishandling of users’ personal information that began more than a year ago.

Trump Criticizes Facebook's Plans to Launch 'Libra' Cryptocurrency

President Trump sharply criticized Facebook’s plans to enter the cryptocurrency market, tweeting that the United States has “one real currency” and suggesting the social media giant may need to submit to heightened banking regulation. In a series of tweets, Trump said Facebook’s plans to help launch the currency, called Libra, would have “little standing or dependability,” warning that if Facebook wanted to become a bank it should seek “new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations, just like other Banks, both National and International.”

Trump Hosts Prominent Conservative Social Media Figures at White House

President Donald Trump welcomed prominent conservative social media provocateurs to the White House on Thursday and said that along with himself, they are being treated unfairly by big tech firms, which he says suppress conservative voices. Trump said he has told his administration to look for regulations and legislation that could protect free speech — though he did not provide details on what measures were being discussed - and said he would summon major social firms to the White House for talks in coming weeks.

Schools Struggle with What to Do About Digital Data Collected on Students

Data generated in the classroom is becoming a heated front in the battle over digital privacy, but privacy experts say the issue is more complicated than it might seem. Many school districts have hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors that collect data through apps or online curricula and most are just now beginning to catch up to the proliferation of new tech tools, Ms. Vance says.

Lawsuits Accuse Ocasio-Cortez of Blocking Critical Users on Twitter

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is facing two federal lawsuits for blocking Twitter users who were critical of her or her policies. Republican congressional candidate Joseph Saladino and former New York assemblyman Dov Hikind sued the freshman congresswoman, shortly after a New York appellate court upheld an earlier decision affirming that President Trump violated the First Amendment for doing the same.

Trump Orders Investigation of France's Plan to Tax Tech Companies

U.S. President Donald Trump ordered an investigation into France’s planned tax on technology companies, a probe that could lead to the United States imposing new tariffs or other trade restrictions. “The United States is very concerned that the digital services tax which is expected to pass the French Senate unfairly targets American companies,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement announcing the investigation.