The company is already testing mobile games in Vietnam.
The first slate of releases could arrive as early as this fall.
TikTok is getting much more serious about gaming, according to a new report from Reuters. The social video platform is already testing mobile games with users in Vietnam, due to the country’s high concentration of younger smartphone owners. Eventually, TikTok plans to roll out games more broadly in Asia and possibly other markets as well.
This isn’t parent company ByteDance’s first foray into gaming. The company partnered with Zynga last November to release an exclusive dance game, Disco Loco 3D. “We see a tremendous opportunity to reach new audiences across the globe through TikTok’s massive and unparalleled user base,” Zynga Publishing President Bernard Kim said at the time.
TikTok also partnered with the nonprofit Feeding America to release a mini-game, Garden of Good, in June of last year. Users of ByteDance’s version of TikTok for the Chinese market, called Douyin, have been able to play mini-games and other gaming content since 2019.
For TikTok, gaming represents a major growth opportunity and a way to keep user engagement high, similar in ways to Netflix’s recent push into mobile gaming and Facebook parent company Meta’s Instant Games platform. The global mobile games industry is expected to surpass $100 billion this year, and the market is overwhelmingly fueled by free-to-play games ranging from casual puzzle and endless runner games to complex versions of console and PC titles like miHoYo’s Genshin Impact, Krafton’s PUBG Mobile and Roblox.
TikTok will focus at first on mini-games in the hypercasual space, according to Reuters, and the first slate of releases could arrive as early as this fall. It’s unclear whether the company intends to build games itself — ByteDance last year did acquire a mobile gaming studio called Moonton — or if it will continue to license games from third parties like Zynga and others.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the name of Garden of Good. This story was updated May 19, 2022.
Nick Statt is Protocol’s video game reporter. Prior to joining Protocol, he was news editor at The Verge covering the gaming industry, mobile apps and antitrust out of San Francisco, in addition to managing coverage of Silicon Valley tech giants and startups. He now resides in Rochester, New York, home of the garbage plate and, completely coincidentally, the World Video Game Hall of Fame. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kraken CEO Jesse Powell is stepping down and will be replaced by chief operating officer David Ripley, the company announced Wednesday.
Powell, who co-founded Kraken in 2011, will become the crypto marketplace’s board chairman. Ripley will take over after Kraken finds a new COO.
Ripley’s leadership and experience “give me great confidence that he’s the ideal successor and the best person to lead Kraken through its next era of growth,” Powell said in a blog post.
He also said that he will be “spending more of my time on the company’s products, user experience and broader industry advocacy.”
Ripley, who joined Kraken through its 2016 acquisition of Glidera, is credited with growing Kraken from 50 to 3,000 employees.
Powell is giving up the CEO post at a critical time when the crypto industry is still reeling from a major downturn that wiped out about $2 trillion in value.
Kraken has managed to weather the storm like other major crypto players, FTX, Binance and Ripple, that have continued expanding, even as rivals like Coinbase pulled back on growth plans.
But Kraken’s workplace culture came under scrutiny after a New York Times report based on leaked Slack messages and employee interviews accused Powell of making insensitive comments on gender and race, sparking heated conversations within Kraken. Powell defended the company’s culture and policies in an interview with Protocol.
Kraken began as a bitcoin exchange before emerging as one of crypto’s biggest marketplaces. Kraken is currently the fourth-largest crypto exchange, after Binance, FTX and Coinbase, according to CoinMarketCap.
Tuesday’s “Made On YouTube” event was basically a competition to see how many ways creators and YouTube execs could talk about beating TikTok without actually saying the word “TikTok.”
YouTube is rolling out ad revenue-sharing for Shorts and lowering the barrier to join its partner program, which execs said will bring more “sustainability and inclusivity” to creators. Previously, both TikTok and YouTube paid short-form creators through a set fund.
The announcement is an obvious jab at TikTok, which has been a frontrunner in the short-form video race. And by the way, YouTube didn’t mention the word “TikTok” once.
Will YouTube’s moneymaking strategy for Shorts turn people away from TikTok? It’s likely too soon to tell, and many new creators have already built huge communities on TikTok. But if people can make money from short-form video elsewhere, don’t be surprised if they start flocking to Shorts. “Other platforms are focused on getting people their 15 seconds of fame, which is great. But YouTube is taking a different approach,” Collins said.
A version of this story appeared in Wednesday’s Source Code. Sign up here to get it in your inbox each morning.
Coinbase is launching a new product to connect developers to the Ethereum blockchain as part of its effort to offer a full stack of crypto infrastructure technology and diversify its business away from consumer trading revenue.
The new Node product provides APIs for developers to connect to the Ethereum blockchain, the most popular system for smart contracts. Its free plan gives up to 120,000 daily requests. It also has an API specifically for developers building NFTs.
“We think the product that we’re [launching today] is the most fundamental piece for anybody building in the ecosystem,” said Luv Kothari, a product manager overseeing Node at Coinbase. “It’s almost like going to AWS and getting an EC2 instance so you can start writing code and then deploying your code.”
That idea of becoming the AWS of blockchain infrastructure is a goal for many companies and the investors backing them.
Part of Coinbase Cloud, Node is Coinbase’s first major free self-serve developer product. Coinbase’s Query & Transact service connecting enterprise customers to blockchains launched in 2020, but the new product is free and adds NFT functionality and other new ways to query the blockchain.
It also fits into Coinbase’s long-stated goal to diversify its business from just trading revenue to other types of businesses.
While there are already large startups competing with Coinbase in areas such as custody and node infrastructure, Coinbase is seeking to leverage its existing products that connect to Node, such as its Pay SDK for fiat-to-crypto transfers, trading APIs and Commerce API for accepting payments.
The tech industry is way ahead of the curve when it comes to setting climate goals, particularly compared to other major industries.
A new report out today from Climate Impact Partners, an organization that develops carbon market solutions, found that only 42% of Fortune Global 500 companies have taken climate action or committed to doing so by 2030. By contrast, more than 80% of tech companies within that group have done so, the highest percentage of any sector.
The report defines actions or commitments as one of four publicly stated aims: going carbon neutral, reaching net zero, setting science-based targets or securing 100% renewable energy.
The report analyzed the climate commitments of the 500 largest companies in the world by annual revenue. Together, they’re responsible for at least 15% of global emissions (or more than 5.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) annually. That means that the commitments they make — or don’t — have a major impact on the climate.
The tech industry is more consumer-facing than some other sectors in the analysis, and public pressure may factor into why companies are more likely to set climate targets. In many cases, there are also readily available solutions, such as switching data center operations to run on renewables, compared to other industries. Industries like aerospace and defense, for example, have a much steeper path to decarbonization and under 20% of companies in those sectors have set a 2030 or sooner goal.
Still, some of the biggest tech companies haven’t set 2030 climate goals. Though nearly 90% have made a major climate commitment for mid-century, under 10% have set goals between 2031 and 2050.
“Setting targets well beyond 2030, a critical decade to align with the goals of the Paris Agreement and limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, indicates a lack of urgency and ambition,” the report authors wrote.
“We’re encouraged to see more and more companies from this prestigious group put a stake in the ground and make climate commitments,” Saskia Feast, Managing Director of Global Client Solutions at Climate Impact Partners said in a statement. “There are some signals, however, that ambition and urgency might be waning. Much of the growth in commitments this year has been driven by targets set well beyond 2030, which we know is a critical decade for the planet.”
Indeed, the report also found that Fortune Global 500 companies that made climate commitments within the last year were more likely to have set 2050 goals than 2030 goals. And although almost 40% of these companies have any sort of net zero target, nearly a third of them exclude Scope 3 emissions from those targets. Scope 3 emissions include those from companies’ supply chain partners and typically make up the bulk of companies’ footprints. A serious climate plan needs to address these emissions, yet more than 20% of the world’s biggest tech companies only include Scope 1 and 2 emissions in their net zero targets, omitting Scope 3 entirely.
The good news is that things are moving in the right direction, although perhaps not quickly enough. This is the fourth year of Climate Impact Partners’ analysis of Fortune Global 500 companies and their climate commitments, and an increasing number of these companies are making specific and achievable climate commitments compared to years past. The group observed an 11% increase in companies with a 2030 commitment, 22% increase in companies with a 2050 target and 50% increase in companies making a net zero commitment.
Now, companies actually need to follow through.
Privacy groups are outraged at New York’s plan to install cameras in all subway cars in a bid to stop crime. The proposal, announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday, is an expansion of an earlier pilot project that the governor said was “working very well.” Under her expanded plan, there will be two cameras in each of New York’s 6,455 subway cars.
But civil liberties groups are raising alarms about the imminent plan, saying it is yet another example of an erosion of privacy. In a statement shortly after the speech, Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, condemned Hochul’s approach, describing it as “surveillance theater” that would put New Yorkers on “an express train to authoritarianism.”
The ACLU in New York also criticized Gov. Hochul’s plans. “New York City is already home to tens of thousands [of] surveillance cameras and there’s no evidence this massive expansion of subway cameras will improve safety,” it said in statement. “Real public safety comes from investing in our communities, not from omnipresent government surveillance.”
Hochul, who made the announcement in a subway maintenance facility in Queens, said as ridership of the subway continues to slowly return to pre-pandemic levels, many remain concerned about transit crime. “That is why we are leaning into finding strategies and technologies to make sure that we address [it] just as we are doing here today,” she said. “If you think Big Brother is watching you on the subways, you are absolutely right, that is our intent,” she added.
But Cahn argues the proposal is “ripe for abuse by the NYPD.”
“Big Brother’s spying never prevented crime before, and it won’t start now,” his statement read. Earlier this month, Cahn’s New York-based organization expressed concern about another plan, which would phase out the iconic MetroCard in 2023 and replace it with the digital OMNY vending machine and cards. The group called for the subway operator to guarantee that riders would still be able to use cash to pay for OMNY cards and shield riders’ data from agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The subway system already has about 10,000 cameras, but until now, their reach has been contained to the platform and mezzanine. The city’s buses also have cameras installed. The mayor has also deployed more police officers on subways. But critics have pointed to the fact that during April’s subway shooting, in which 10 people were injured by gunfire, existing cameras did not stop the crime, and it was later revealed the cameras in some stations were faulty. “This tech has failed us too many times to count,” Cahn wrote. “In April, when the cameras were supposed to keep us safe, they couldn’t even capture the subway shooter’s image.”
Despite being based in New York City, the governor of New York, not the mayor, has had overall responsibility for the subway system since 1968. During her speech, Hochul said the cameras would be paid for with a grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security and the subway’s operator, Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The cameras would not be monitored live, but footage will be used to conduct investigations.
Although Hochul said that transit crime in New York was down compared to pre-pandemic levels, recent high-profile killings on the subway — including the fatal shooting of a man in May and fatal pushing of a woman onto the tracks in Times Square in January — have contributed to the public perception that New York’s transit system is unsafe.
Hochul, a Democrat, is currently running for re-election in New York. Her opponent, Republican Lee Zeldin, has made addressing crime a key part of his campaign.
This story was updated to include comment from the ACLU.
Microsoft is hoping that adoption of its latest version of Windows 11 will wipe out a popular technique for stealing credentials, thanks to the company’s move to turn on certain security features by default in the operating system.
The Windows 11 2022 update is generally available today. Among the on-by-default security features in the new version of Windows 11 is Credential Guard, which protects against the theft of login and password data stored in Windows.
The technique for stealing login and password information is known as “credential dumping,” and it’s widely used by attackers ranging from ransomware operators to nation-state hackers. Credential dumping entails copying credentials from several different areas within Windows, often with the help of a software tool such as Mimikatz.
Organizations will automatically be protected against this tactic by updating to the latest Windows 11 version, as Credential Guard will be turned on by default for the first time, according to David Weston, vice president for enterprise and OS security at Microsoft.
Ultimately, the new Windows 11 update “eradicates the most common techniques from a credential-dumping standpoint,” Weston told Protocol.
Illegitimate use of credentials is the largest source of data breaches by far, according to Verizon, which found that credentials usage was responsible for 48% of breaches in 2021.
While Microsoft has offered Credential Guard as an optional feature since Windows 10, few organizations have used the feature because it wasn’t on by default, Weston said.
For Microsoft to turn the feature on by default, the company had to ensure that the underlying technology used by Credential Guard, known as virtualization-based security, could run without delivering an outsized hit to PC performance, he said. Microsoft now feels confident that it’s able to do that as part of the new version of Windows 11, according to Weston. (The ability to run virtualization-based security features by default was a main driver for the higher CPU requirements for Windows 11, Weston has said.)
Other security features will be on by default in the new Windows 11 version as well. Those include hypervisor-protected code integrity, which prevents the modification of Windows kernel code such as drivers (as occurred in the WannaCry attack), and another feature aimed at thwarting credential theft (credential isolation with Local Security Authority protection).
Meanwhile, Microsoft is also introducing features aimed at preventing malware (Smart App Control) and phishing (Microsoft Defender SmartScreen) in the latest Windows 11 update.
All in all, “I would say Windows 11 is substantially more secure than [Windows] 10 at this point, from a feature standpoint,” Weston said. “I expect a lot of the momentum — particularly in commercial — for Windows 11 will be driven by security.”
The successor to the Windows 10 operating system, Windows 11 was first introduced in October 2021. As of June, 23.1% of Windows PCs were running Windows 11, according to a report from AdDuplex.
Leading U.S. companies including Amazon, Pfizer and PepsiCo have pledged to hire 20,000 refugees over the next three years.
The commitment was made at a summit organized by the Tent Partnership for Refugees, which was founded in 2016 by Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO of Chobani. The announcement comes at a time when the U.S. government expects to welcome more Ukrainian refugees as the war with Russia continues, with several thousand who fled from the Taliban in Afghanistan already in the country.
Amazon said it would hire 5,000 refugees in the next three years, the largest commitment among the 45 companies that pledged. PepsiCo and Pfizer will each hire 500 refugees.
“Being displaced from your homeland and having to start again somewhere is never easy,” Janet Saura, vice president of employee relations, WW Amazon Stores and Corporate, said. “Which is why we are committed to helping where we can, by providing refugees and other displaced people with access to meaningful employment.”
LinkedIn and Coursera pledged to work with refugee support agencies to offer training and networking for 6,000 and 7,500 refugees, respectively, so that they can find jobs in the U.S.
In 2021, Uber, Mastercard and Facebook made commitments to hire 95,000 Afghan refugees. That plan initially faced some hurdles, including the uncertain status of the Afghan people airlifted to U.S. bases around the world and a government bureaucracy gutted by the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies.
Although significant, the commitments pale in comparison to the number of refugees already in the U.S., with more set to arrive. Nearly 90,000 Afghans have been resettled in the U.S., and in July, the Department of Homeland Security said 100,000 Ukrainians had been admitted in the country in the five months since the invasion and war with Russia began.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the month in which DHS said 100,000 Ukrainians had been admitted. This story was updated on Sept. 20, 2022.
The Department of the Treasury issued a request for comment Monday on Biden’s March executive order on cryptocurrency, creating a formal process around an issue that has already generated significant discussion. The Treasury is accepting comments through Nov. 3.
The order specifically directs the Treasury, along with other applicable agencies, to assure that laws and regulations prevent national security and financial risks. The Treasury is to use law enforcement and other measures to compel crypto entities to comply with anti-money laundering and counter the financing of terrorism best practices. Now, it’s requesting comment on how the agency alone and through private-public partnerships can best mitigate risks.
Though commenters can provide input as they see fit, the Treasury listed specific questions it would like addressed in the report. Most important for DeFi include questions about what risks are attached to peer-to-peer payments, how to maximize public-private information sharing for the purposes of monitoring illicit activity and how financial institutions offering cryptocurrencies can better integrate know-your-customer controls.
The agency also asked what “additional steps” it should take in order to prevent the use of digital assets by criminals. The Treasury is currently being sued by six plaintiffs, supported by Coinbase, over sanctions against cryptocurrency trader Tornado Cash. Tornado Cash was sanctioned because, according to the Treasury, it had been used to launder over $7 billion.
Now, the agency appears to be inviting comment on the move, though the phrasing implies that the agency is more interested in adding restrictions than removing sanctions. The agency also asked for “specific areas” where it can provide further clarity on AML/CFT and sanctions obligations, and how it should address “mixers and other anonymity-enhancing technologies.”
It’s still unclear whether the breach of Uber’s internal IT systems, revealed on Thursday, was anything more than embarrassing for the company.
But for businesses everywhere, the attack should serve as yet another reminder that certain security controls that we once thought were a panacea are no such thing.
Specifically, multifactor authentication. This security control, which requires a second form of verification for a user to log into a corporate network, is considered essential for keeping the hackers out. But lately, hackers have been finding clever ways to beat it.
In the Uber breach, the method employed by the hacker appears to be what’s known as an “MFA fatigue” attack: The attacker (posing as someone from IT) sends repeated login notifications to an employee until the employee approves it. Basically, the attacker wears the employee down. But once approved, the attacker is in.
“We thought MFA was always the silver bullet,” said Bryan Murphy, senior director for consulting services and incident response at identity security vendor CyberArk.
In the past, “the conversation was always ‘MFA everything,'” Murphy said. “Now we’re starting to see that attackers are finding ways around it.”
Another recent high-profile breach, the attack on Twilio, was a different version of the same story.
According to a blog from Cloudflare, which experienced a similar attack to Twilio, the attackers who targeted Twilio most likely tricked employees into giving them the one-time password that was used as the second factor for verification. That’s because the employees were actually entering the code into a fake site maintained by the attackers, allowing the attackers to intercept the code and bypass the MFA protections.
Notably, there is one form of MFA that is still considered “unphishable.” Hardware security keys that comply with the latest authentication standard, known as FIDO2, serve as a second factor that can’t be thwarted because they require the user to physically touch the key. Cloudflare, which provides its employees with YubiKey hardware keys, said the attackers were unable to get around its use of MFA through the use of the keys, preventing the company from getting breached.
Uber said Monday that it doesn’t appear the attackers, which it claimed were operating as part of the Lapsus$ group, were able to access any personal customer data or make any changes to its source code.
This story was updated with Uber’s blog post on some of the details behind the breach.
In 2020, employees from Facebook and Twitter contacted the Pentagon with concerns about fake accounts they suspected had ties to the U.S. military, according to a Washington Post report. One Facebook executive even reached out to the Pentagon’s head of influence operations policy, Christopher C. Miller. The executive warned Miller that foreign adversaries could likely suss out the origin of these accounts, given that Facebook could, too.
Altogether, Facebook and Twitter ended up taking down around 150 fake profiles and media sites suspected of being created by the U.S. military as part of psychological operations, known as psy-ops. It’s a tactic the U.S. has frequently accused Russia of employing, as with the Russian disinformation issue that surrounded the 2020 elections.
The Biden administration seems intent to rein in or at least account for the scope of such operations. Last week, the undersecretary of defense for policy, Colin Kahl, ordered a full report of the military’s online influence operations for White House review by October, The Post reported. The Biden administration has also reportedly asked the Pentagon to provide more information on its policies for conducting online influence campaigns, concerned that their use could erode U.S. credibility.
One problem: Congress green-lit this activity in 2019 when it passed Section 1631, which gave the military permission to conduct and defend against online information operations, so long as it didn’t infringe on the CIA’s covert authority. Of note, Section 1631 also exempted those activities from the typical oversight system.
We have a better sense of the nature of pro-Western online influence operations thanks to an August 2022 report from Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory. The report found that suspicious pro-Western accounts on Twitter and Meta “created fake personas with GAN-generated faces, posed as independent media outlets, leveraged memes and short-form videos, attempted to start hashtag campaigns, and launched online petitions.” Their efforts didn’t seem to go all that well, as the majority of posts received “no more than a handful of likes or retweets.” The studied activity spanned eight social platforms and went back as far as March 2012.
The campaigns promoted U.S. talking points, often taking aim at strategic geopolitical regions such as Central Asia and Iran. Favored topics included “U.S. diplomatic and humanitarian efforts in the region, Russia’s alleged malign influence, Russian military interventions in the Middle East and Africa, and Chinese ‘imperialism’ and treatment of Muslim minorities,” according to the researchers. In some cases the accounts posted content from U.S.-backed media outlets such as Radio Free Europe.
The acknowledgement of suspected U.S.-led online influence operations could diminish U.S. authority to speak out against similar campaigns conducted by China and Russia. Direct communications between U.S. social media platforms and the Pentagon could also be used to further justify government oversight of social media in places like India, Nigeria and Indonesia.
A federal appeals court has once again backed a Texas law that would fundamentally remake social media by forcing companies such as Meta and Twitter to carry most content, including hate speech.
In a ruling released Friday, a three-judge panel on the Fifth Circuit vacated a trial court’s preliminary injunction, which had paused the measure during a lawsuit over its constitutionality. The vast majority of scholars and civil liberties advocates say that, in telling a private company what content it must allow, the state’s law violates both free speech protections and decades’ worth of legal precedent.
The judges argued in their Friday ruling, however, that Texas law regulated the platforms’ conduct, not their views. The decision also asserts that Twitter is a “monopolist,” and argued social media firms are more like phone companies, which must allow all customers.
Earlier in the year, the same appeals court, after a hearing in which the judges revealed a poor grasp of technology, overruled the trial court and let the law go into effect. The Fifth Circuit is known as the most conservative circuit court in the U.S. Soon after that decision, however, the Supreme Court ruled that the appeals court’s decision to let the law go into effect was inappropriate — albeit by a narrower margin than tech advocates were hoping to see — and put a pause on enforcement, pending the outcome of the appeal.
Many tech companies and proponents of free speech had expected the appeals court’s ruling, which technically focused on the appropriateness of the trial court’s initial injunction. The trial court can still find that the law is unconstitutional, but the tech trade groups that had sued to stop the law are likely to appeal to the full Fifth Circuit, or again to the Supreme Court.
In either case, the ongoing litigation will almost certainly set up a lengthy court battle that could prompt the high court to weigh in on the legal status quo underlying content on the internet.
This story was updated Sept. 16 with additional details.
Call it a reconnaissance mission to Europe’s future Silicon Steppe.
Eric Schmidt, Alphabet’s technical adviser and former Google CEO, just returned from a personal mission to Ukraine where he scoped out its military tech operation and met with the country’s minister of defense. A tireless advocate and funder of emerging tech for defense and national security uses, Schmidt sees the war in Ukraine as a launch pad for fast-moving tech implementation.
“For me, the war answers a central question: what can technology people do to help their government, and the answer is a lot,” Schmidt wrote in a dispatch of what he called “the first networked war.”
Schmidt’s case in point: Elon Musk’s contributions of Starlink internet terminals from SpaceX to Ukraine.
Schmidt praised Musk from the stage at an event underway on Friday, held by the Special Competitive Studies Project, a group Schmidt created to carry on the work of the National Security Commission on AI, a now-defunct government commission.
“Elon [is] a real hero in the story,” Schmidt said. “They got a whole bunch of Starlinks, which allowed them to avoid the attacks that Russia had done on the internet.”
“Today, there are about 20,000 Starlinks. I was on a train — brand new, built in May, in Ukraine — where as a passenger on the train, I had 200 megabits coming down. Imagine if that were true on Amtrak, right?” Schmidt continued.
Starlinks may be just the beginning. As Schmidt and others watch Ukraine for clues about how AI and other emerging tech can be used in a military setting, he expects the country to be a force for tech in general.
“The reason this is important is the war will end,” Schmidt said. “And at that point, Ukraine is going to have one heck of a tech industry. Because it’s war-hardened, smart. They understand how this stuff works. I was really impressed.”
We’re living in the midst of a carbon capture boom.
A new PitchBook data analysis released on Friday shows a record amount of venture capital investment poured into post-combustion carbon capture companies and startups in this year’s second quarter. VCs invested a stunning $882.2 million across 11 deals, which easily set a record for the sector. For context, total investment in the sector for the previous four quarters combined totaled $432.1 million.
Post-combustion capture involves removing carbon dioxide after it’s been released. That includes point source capture — that is, removing carbon dioxide at the smokestack or wherever its emitted — or direct air capture, which involves removing carbon from the ambient air. The advantage both forms have over other forms of carbon capture is that they “can readily integrate with (and capture carbon from) existing infrastructure,” according to analysis from PitchBook’s senior analyst for emerging technology John MacDonagh.
Clearly, climate tech investors are taking note. The biggest contributors to the major jump in investment were two big deals: Climeworks’ $634.4 million series F round and Carbon Clean’s $150 million series C raise, the former being the largest-ever investment in direct air capture technology. Carbon Clean also said its funding round was the largest ever for a point source carbon capture company.
Carbon removal has an essential role to play in a net zero world, though how much it’s needed depends on how fast we cut emissions starting now and into the coming decades. Industries like aviation, which rely heavily on fossil fuels and for which renewable energy alternatives are currently hard or impossible to procure, are part of the reason direct air capture has picked up steam.
Point source carbon capture will also be crucial for industries like cement, which is responsible for 8% of global carbon emissions. Wiping them out from the manufacturing process will be extremely challenging, making carbon capture a near necessity for the industry.
While there are a growing number of companies looking to pull carbon from the sky or smokestacks that are attractive to VCs, regulations and policies are also lining up to make them a particularly enticing investment. Changes to the 45Q tax credit as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, in particular, have made capturing carbon more appealing. The IRA bumped the value of carbon captured and used to pull more oil from the ground — a process of dubious climate benefit — from $35 per ton to $60 per ton. And it increased the tax credit for a ton of carbon gathered by direct air capture from $50 to as high as $180.
The changes to the tax credit also lowered the project eligibility threshold, making it easier for smaller startups to qualify. That’s big “considering the relative immaturity of the DAC space,” MacDonagh wrote, and it could help more startups gain a toehold and grow.
Beyond venture capital funding, major tech companies have offered up hundreds of millions in advance commitments to buy carbon removal services. That includes Frontier — Stripe, Alphabet and Meta are among its members — which committed to spending $925 million on carbon removal over the course of this decade. (The group made its first purchases this summer.)
While money is pouring into the space, the technologies remain unproven at scale. And while regulations that could spur the growth of carbon capture and removal are in place, oversight is still relatively sparse. Parts of the carbon removal community are working on frameworks to ensure the technology does no harm, but a huge gap remains and any commitments would be voluntary at best.
There are also real concerns that the promise of carbon removal working at some point down the road could slow emissions cuts in the near term. This despite the fact that a ton of carbon not emitted today doesn’t need to be removed tomorrow. Oil companies are investing heavily in carbon capture, which could give fossil fuels a lifeline or serve as greenwashing window dressing. (Carbon Clean’s series C investment round was led by Chevron.)
Ultimately, VC investments are one piece of the puzzle in bringing the industry to maturity and ensuring that it’s used in a judicious and fair manner.
Update: This story was changed to reflect updated information on the amount of Carbon Clean’s series C funding round. This story was updated Sept. 20, 2022.
The Biden administration offered a deeper look into its crypto game plan Friday, unveiling a strategy that focuses more closely on the risks posed by the controversial industry. It released nine reports that came in response to the president’s crypto executive order issued in March.
The Biden order was praised by the crypto industry for stressing the need for the U.S. to play a leading role in the growth of crypto and blockchain technologies, while protecting consumers, investors and the financial system.
A fact sheet on the reports released by the White House underscores the Biden administration’s concern about the risks posed by the fast-growing crypto sector. The reports, prepared by federal agencies led by the Treasury, Justice and Commerce departments, stressed the importance of law enforcement and strengthening the country’s financial and monetary systems:
The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday signaled rising concern with manipulative digital interfaces, including subscriptions that auto-renew without disclosure, countdown clocks that falsely suggest deals will go away if customers don’t buy quickly and the steering of consumers toward privacy options that give “away the most personal information.”
As part of its open meetings series, the FTC voted unanimously to make public a staff report on the concerns, which includes examples of what are often called dark patterns. While multiple commissioners said that some practices in the report might not violate the law, and the two Republicans on the FTC suggested they’d be uncomfortable with enforcement seeking to rein in certain practices cited, such research often signals the direction of future cases or rule-making. Democrats also hold the majority on the commission.
A 2021 FTC report on repair restrictions, for instance, was followed two months later by a formal statement on prioritizing the issue, which itself set the stage for several tech companies to open up repair options to some device owners. The dark patterns report also cited several past cases that included similar conduct. And two Democratic commissioners, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Alvaro Bedoya, urged the public to send comments to the FTC as part of a separate agency effort examining the possibility of privacy rules on dark patterns that extend how long children and teens spend online.
Dark patterns are pervasive online, and more FTC interest in them could result in probes or action against an array of companies, including Amazon. The ecommerce giant’s process for canceling Prime has come under criticism from consumer groups as being full of nudges and design features that make it difficult to complete, and it’s under investigation by the FTC.
In addition, on Thursday the three Democratic commissioners voted to issue a policy statement about the gig economy, making clear the FTC would prioritize actions to rein in deceptive “claims to prospective gig workers about potential earnings” and costs. The statement also said there would be increased scrutiny of wage-fixing and the use of “artificial intelligence or other advanced technologies to govern workers’ pay, performance, and work assignments” if the “automated boss” was breaking promises.
As part of the open meeting, which allows for public comment, the FTC also heard from at least two DoorDash drivers who praised gig work and urged the commissioners not to come down too hard on the industry. In addition, commissioners referred again to Amazon, specifically its $62 million settlement over withholding tips from Flex drivers.
The FTC, which is led by longtime Amazon critic Lina Khan, has long been on a collision course with the company, with a years-long probe of the retailer’s competitive practices still ongoing. Amazon has also gone on a buying spree that has attracted the attention of the FTC, which helps oversee merger law.
During the meeting, the commissioners also agreed unanimously to propose a rule that would make it easier to tackle fraudsters who impersonate representatives of legitimate businesses or government agencies.
ByteDance VR subsidiary Pico is getting ready to unveil its new headset next week: The company is holding an online event on Sept. 22, it revealed on social media Thursday. “We can’t wait to show you what we have in store for you,” Pico teased in a posting on LinkedIn that promised a “new product announcement” and featured the silhouette of a VR headset.
The company didn’t share anything else about the upcoming device, but a number of additional details have leaked over the past few weeks. The device, which may be branded either Pico 4 or Pico Phoenix, will come in two configurations, with a Pro version offering face- and eye-tracking functionality. It will run Android Q and is being powered by a Qualcomm processor, according to an FCC filing first reported by Protocol.
Pico’s headset will also be equipped with an inside-out RGB camera that will be used for color video pass-through for mixed reality experiences. That’s similar to Meta’s upcoming Project Cambria headset, which will be officially unveiled in October. The new Pico headset will be smaller than the company’s current Neo 3 device, and will feature a higher-resolution display and clearer optics. It will also have automatic hardware IPD adjustment to adapt to a person’s pupillary distance for a “more accurate and comfortable vision experience,” according to a submission to the Bluetooth SIG that was first reported by Protocol.
ByteDance is clearly positioning the Pico 4 as a competitor to Meta’s VR hardware and has made efforts in recent months to reposition Pico from a company primarily focused on enterprise VR to a mass-market consumer hardware maker. This has included striking content deals and building out an internal studio organization focused on VR games and experiences.
Adobe is buying Figma. After Bloomberg reported the deal Thursday morning, both companies released announcements confirming the news. “With access to @Adobe’s deep expertise and technology, we believe @Figma will be able to achieve our vision of ‘making design accessible to all’ even faster,” Figma CEO Dylan Field tweeted.
According to Figma’s announcement, the deal has been in the works for several months. Bloomberg reported the deal may be for more than $15 billion. Figma’s goal is to use Adobe’s resources to “to make design and developer tools more collaborative and accessible.” Adobe pointed to Figma’s early bet on browser-based collaboration and its ability to bring Adobe’s design tools into the future. “The productivity tools of the future will be web-based, multi-player, and infused with a new generation of capabilities,” Adobe chief business officer David Wadhwani wrote in his announcement.
Figma has been steadily eating away at Adobe’s user base since its inception in 2012. Even Microsoft, a loyal Adobe customer for decades, couldn’t keep employees away from Figma. Figma became the most popular tool across the tech design community and jumped into more general collaboration with whiteboard FigJam in 2021. Meanwhile, Adobe has faced dropping shares and grave concerns from investors on its ability to grow with upstarts like Figma and Canva in the mix. The old tech giants are showing their age — perhaps Adobe realized it was time for some new blood.
TikTok made a rare appearance before Congress on Wednesday afternoon. Specifically, TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas testified on a panel alongside high-ranking executives from YouTube, Meta and Twitter. The group appeared before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to answer questions about how their respective platforms could be used to promote extremism and civil unrest.
In her opening remarks, Pappas assured the committee that TikTok had adequate data security measures in place to protect U.S. users. Even then, Pappas noted that some China-based employees could access U.S. user data “subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based security team.”
Pappas was repeatedly asked about the BuzzFeed report that found engineers in China had access to nonpublic U.S. user data. She called the reports “not found” and specifically denied the claim that a master administrator account gave at least one Beijing engineer access to virtually all platform data.
In a heated exchange with Sen. Josh Hawley, Pappas also denied ever sharing data with the Chinese government or the Chinese Communist Party. The two then engaged in a long back-and-forth over whether any ByteDance employees held CCP affiliations.
“We have thousands of people that work at the company, so I’m not going to vouch on the political affiliation of any particular individual,” Pappas said of China-based employees with potential CCP ties.
“You have no way to assure me that they don’t have access to our citizens’ data, and you won’t answer my question in a straightforward way about whether a CCP member has ever gained access,” Hawley retorted.
This exchange is indicative of the kind of charges Pappas and TikTok faced throughout the hearing. Even to kick things off, Sen. Rob Portman expressed concerns over TikTok operating in the U.S. since “Chinese law requires all companies operating under its jurisdiction to in essence allow the CCP to access every piece of data collected.”
The focus on TikTok made for a quiet outing for the other tech executives — at least relative to hearings of years past.
Meta, in particular, was able to escape the usual scrutiny it has faced in D.C. appearances. Chief product officer Chris Cox said Meta’s ranking goal is simply to “help people see what they find most valuable,” denying that the company tries to keep users on the platform for a specific length of time.
For Meta, the time away from the spotlight isn’t all good. Of course, there’s an obvious benefit to not being the prime target, and TikTok’s ties to China finally gave Congress bigger fish to fry. But the change in spotlight isn’t just about China — Congress is also paying more attention to TikTok because it’s passing Meta as the most influential social platform in the U.S.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta has sued Amazon, alleging the company prevents price competition by punishing merchants and third-party sellers when they offer lower prices anywhere aside from Amazon’s website, including with competitors such as Best Buy and Walmart.
The suit, following in the footsteps of similar investigations in the U.S. and internationally, alleges that customers pay artificially high prices because Amazon is creating a restraint against natural market competition on cost. The suit also claims that Amazon gains an unfair market advantage because no other commerce site can compete on price, making Amazon a one-stop shop for consumers and further cementing the company’s market dominance.
The press release announcing the suit claimed sellers would like to offer lower prices on other sites, because those sites charge lower listing fees and often vendors pass along fee savings to the consumer when they can afford to do so. But Amazon uses its market dominance to enforce rules that make doing so impossible, the suit claims, even though Amazon’s fees are allegedly higher than competitors’.
“Merchants that do not comply face sanctions such as less prominent listings and even the possibility of termination or suspension of their ability to sell on Amazon,” the AG’s office wrote in the press release.
The suit follows a similar complaint from Washington, D.C., in May 2021. A court dismissed that claim in March 2022, although the district’s attorney general is appealing the decision. Bonta sued under California’s unfair competition law and another state statute that may give the state more leeway. The Federal Trade Commission, currently helmed by a longtime Amazon critic, is also investigating the company and is expected to a file a competition lawsuit, and European authorities are seeking a settlement that would assuage concerns about the company’s competition against outside merchants on the platform.
“Sellers set their own prices for the products they offer in our store. Amazon takes pride in the fact that we offer low prices across the broadest selection, and like any store we reserve the right not to highlight offers to customers that are not priced competitively. The relief the AG seeks would force Amazon to feature higher prices to customers, oddly going against core objectives of antitrust law,” an Amazon spokesperson wrote in a comment to Protocol.
Ben Brody contributed additional reporting. The story was updated at 4:57 p.m. to add comment from Amazon.
A core theme emerged in a Senate committee meeting on Wednesday morning: Social media companies are optimizing for attention — and until or unless government rules change, they’ll keep doing so.
Members of the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee seemed to arrive at the same conclusion as they heard from a panel that included former high-level engineering executives from both Twitter and Meta.
“Today the algorithms are doing exactly what they’re intended to do, which is maximize attention on the platform,” Alex Roetter, a former senior vice president of engineering at Twitter, told the committee. “If companies were penalized for sharing certain types of content, these algorithms would no longer promote that content, because it would no longer be optimal for them to do so.”
The hearing was intended to discuss the impact of social media on homeland security. TikTok predictably received the most scrutiny, with Sen. Mitt Romney going as far to say it was “a huge risk” to allow “an authoritarian regime to have a social media capability of the scale they have in our country.”
But for the U.S.-based social media companies, the group homed in on the Platform Accountability and Transparency Act as a potential remedy for the perceived online polarization problem. PATA would require digital communication platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook to comply when university researchers request data for projects approved by the National Science Foundation. If the platforms fail to do so, they will lose their Section 230 liability protections for hosting third-party content (which they really can’t afford to lose). Any shared data would also need to comply with privacy safeguards.
Near the end of the session, Sen. Rob Portman asked Roetter a leading question about whether PATA would have been helpful “to at least get behind the curtain and figure out why decisions are being made.”
Roetter responded that PATA could be “extremely valuable” by allowing for a better understanding of “what sort of content is promoted and what the internal algorithms are that drive both decision-making and usage of the products.”
Brian Boland, a former vice president of strategic operations and analytics at Facebook, described PATA to the committee as “one of the most important pieces of legislation that is before you all.” Boland took issue with having to take tech companies at their word when they tell the public about operations. “In order to understand the issues that we’re concerned about with hate speech and the way that these algorithms can influence people, we need to have a public understanding and a public accountability of what happens on these platforms,” Boland said.
Though the legislative session is nearing its final days before the midterm election, PATA has a few things going in its favor: It was introduced at the end of 2021 by a group of bipartisan senators, including Republican Sen. Portman and Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Perhaps more importantly, PATA doesn’t ask all that much of social media platforms, at least relative to some of the antitrust bills still under consideration. Meta and Twitter already provide at least some data to university researchers. And PATA by itself wouldn’t require them to change their algorithms — it would just give the public greater visibility into them.
BitGo has made good on a promise to sue Galaxy Digital for abandoning its plan to buy the crypto asset custody and management company for $1.2 billion.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, BitGo accused the crypto financial services company of “improper repudiation and intentional breach of its merger agreement. BitGo said it is seeking more than $100 million in damages.
Galaxy Digital hit back, saying in a statement that BitGo’s claims are “without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously.”
Galaxy reaffirmed that the company abandoned its acquisition bid because BitGo “did not provide certain BitGo financial statements needed by Galaxy for its SEC filing,” a spokesperson said in an email.
Galaxy Digital had said that it “exercised its right to terminate” the deal, originally struck in May 2021, after BitGo failed to deliver 2021 financial records “that comply with the requirements of our agreement.” The company also said no termination fee has to be paid. BitGo denied Galaxy Digital’s claim. Brian Timmons, a partner with Quinn Emanuel who represents BitGo, called Galaxy Digital’s bid to “blame the termination on BitGo absurd.”
The legal battle illustrates how complicated rypto merger deals can become in an industry where some players have been criticized for a lack of financial transparency.
The legal complaint was filed under seal in the Delaware Court of Chancery. Timmons said BitGo “does not believe that the complaint contains any confidential information,” but it was filed under seal “in an abundance of caution in the event Galaxy contends otherwise and wishes to redact some of the allegations before the complaint becomes public.”
The Blockchain Association has launched a political action committee to support “pro-crypto” candidates seeking congressional office, the group said Monday.
The move by the crypto lobby organization underlined the industry’s bid for a stronger presence in Washington, where it faces heightened scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.
The Blockchain Association said it will support candidates “from across the political spectrum” noting in a statement that “crypto is, by nature, nonpartisan.” The organization said it plans to endorse candidates in the upcoming November midterm elections. The Blockchain Association’s “hope is to donate roughly 50% of the committees’ funds to Democrats and 50% to Republicans,” a spokesperson told Protocol.
“Crypto has arrived in D.C. and, as an industry, we plan to fortify and expand our presence as lawmakers and regulators continue their engagement on core questions of economic freedom, digital privacy, and financial inclusion,” executive director Kristin Smith said in a statement.
The Blockchain Association includes some of the crypto industry’s most important players, including Circle, Anchorage Digital and Ripple.
The launch of the PAC comes at a time when the crypto industry is dealing with growing concerns about its impact on the financial system in the wake of a stunning cryptocurrency market crash that wiped out about $2 trillion in value. The industry has also reeled from a wave of breaches and ransomware attacks.
The crypto industry has found allies in some lawmakers, such as Sen. Cynthia Lummis, who owns bitcoin and co-authored a bill that seeks to provide more regulatory clarity on crypto. But the industry is also facing tough questions from other legislators led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has warned against the use of crypto in illicit finance and sanctions violations.
The crypto industry is also facing growing pressure from the SEC, whose chairman, Gary Gensler, has argued that most cryptocurrencies should be regulated as securities, a view largely rejected by the industry.
The world’s leading EV is angling to get into the lithium refining game.
In a letter to the Texas Comptroller’s Office, Tesla said it is “evaluating the possible development of a battery-grade lithium hydroxide refining facility” in the state in order to supply its own battery factories with the mineral critical for battery-making. Prices of lithium, as well as of other minerals needed for the energy transition, have skyrocketed in recent years.
Getting into lithium refining has been on the mind of Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk for a while. In April, he tweeted that the “price of lithium has gone to insane levels” and that Tesla “might actually have to get into the mining [and] refining directly at scale” if things do not improve. On a company earnings call in July, he encouraged entrepreneurs to explore lithium refining and described it as a “license to print money,” given the dearth of capacity.
If the company’s application is approved and the facility gets built, it would be “the first of its kind in North America,” Tesla said. Construction on the facility could begin as soon as the fourth quarter of this year, and could be ready for commercial operations by the end of 2024, the company added.
While Tesla explicitly stated that it is still evaluating the project’s feasibility and it remains in very early stages, the application represents the company’s attempt to get the state to offer a break on local property taxes for the potential plant. Tesla is evaluating a site in Nueces County, Texas, though the company said in the letter that it is also looking at one in Louisiana. The only necessity, Tesla said, is Gulf Coast shipping channel access.
Tesla certainly is not alone in prioritizing lithium access. As legacy automakers crowd into the EV market that Tesla has dominated for more than a decade, securing battery supplies has been top of mind industrywide.
In light of Ford’s goal of building 2 million EVs per year by the end of 2026, the company made a number of agreements in July to buy raw materials for its batteries. The bulk of these are with Chinese and Korean companies, including one particularly prominent deal with the Chinese company Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited, the largest battery-pack supplier in the world. A mere week later, GM followed suit with its own slew of agreements with its own suppliers.
The lack of U.S. representation among these large suppliers of battery raw materials underscores the fact that the country lacks a domestic supply chain for battery materials and components that major automakers are increasingly demanding. While there are small mining operations, refining (especially for lithium) currently happens exclusively overseas.
Wolfspeed, which produces chips that make electric vehicles considerably more efficient, said Friday it has embarked on a plan to build a new facility in North Carolina that will enable a 10-fold increase in the company’s manufacturing capacity.
“We make semiconductors or chips, but we use the base technologies called silicon carbide,” Wolfspeed CEO Gregg Lowe said in an interview with Protocol. “Semiconductors for the last 50 years have been dominated by silicon, and there’s a whole little valley a bit south of you named after it. And this new technology is more efficient than silicon.”
Formerly known as Cree, the silicon carbide chips Wolfspeed produces are much harder and hardier — they’re bulletproof — than the typical silicon used to produce chips destined for iPhones and servers. A silicon carbide chip is capable of operating above 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and at electric voltages that are roughly 10 times what a traditional piece of silicon can handle.
Silicon carbide-based chips have found a niche in electric vehicles. After Tesla said that it was using such chips in one of its designs, much of the rest of the auto industry followed. Wolfspeed has inked a deal to supply chips to GM, and Lowe says the rest of the traditional automakers are following suit.
EV makers are interested in chips based on silicon carbide because they can use them in a component called an inverter, which transmits power from a car’s battery to the motors that make the wheels turn. The silicon carbide chips are considerably more efficient than using other materials, which can help increase the range of a vehicle.
“And what that means for high-power applications, is you’re going to waste less energy when you use it,” Lowe said. “That translates to an electric car — that it will go five to 15% farther using silicon carbide.”
The silicon carbide-based chips can also be used to speed electric vehicle charging, and Lowe said that the energy savings enable superior fast-charging capabilities because they can transfer considerably more power.
The new North Carolina facility will grow the raw silicon carbide ingots and transform them into 200-millimeter wafers to supply the company’s recently completed factory in New York. That factory is the first one capable of making silicon carbide chips with 200-millimeter wafers, Wolfspeed said.
“We figured out how to make an economic return going from 150 to 200,” Lowe said. “In silicon carbide, it may stop at 200, it may never go to 300. We definitely think we’ve got a whole decade of 200.”
Silicon carbide wafers are difficult to make, Lowe said. To grow the ingots the wafers are derived from, Wolfspeed built its own furnaces that generate roughly half the heat — 4,500 degrees Fahrenheit — at which the sun burns. Wolfspeed then slices the ingots into a slightly smaller version of the wafers that are the basis of the chip manufacturing process.
The company says it is the world’s largest producer of silicon carbide to begin with, and this expansion will increase its capacity to produce the raw material by tenfold.
Wolfspeed said it expects the first phase of construction to wrap up in 2024, and the second phase to end in 2030. All told, the facility will be more than a million square feet. Based on the state and local government incentives Wolfspeed says it will receive, the completed factory will require at least a $4.8 billion investment from the company.
Correction: This story was updated on Sept. 9, 2022 with the correct spelling of Gregg Lowe’s name, and after the company corrected the size of the capacity increase provided by the new facility.
A bipartisan bill intended to help local newsrooms bargain for higher payouts from online news distributors failed to make it out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday morning.
Sen. Ted Cruz successfully introduced a contentious amendment to the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act that subsequently split the already-tenuous bipartisan coalition. As a result, Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked to hold the legislation for a future committee meeting, explaining “the agreement we had was blown up.”
Introduced by Klobuchar in March 2021, the JCPA brought together an unusual cohort of co-sponsors that included Republican Sens. John Kennedy, Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham alongside Democratic Sens. Cory Booker, Dianne Feinstein and Richard Blumenthal.
The bill attempted to create a temporary antitrust carveout that would allow small media organizations to collectively bargain for advertising rates against Big Tech companies. The carveout would last eight years, and it would only apply to companies with fewer than 1,500 full-time employees. If the two sides couldn’t negotiate a deal in good faith, the media cohort could force Big Tech firms into arbitration.
Media conglomerates that acquired dozens of local news organizations would still be able to bargain under the exemption, which became a contentious issue. Sen. Klobuchar said she preferred a version of the bill that didn’t place any restrictions on the size of a newsroom, such that it would include even the New York Times and Washington Post, both of which were excluded under the current draft. Several conservative senators expressed concerns that the antitrust carveout would allow media organizations to exclude right-leaning media organizations from negotiations.
“These self-appointed mainstream left-wing media cartels are allowed to exclude based on the usual, totally subjective factors they always do, such as trustworthiness, fake news, extremism, misinformation, hate speech, conspiracy, correction policy, expertise, authoritativeness, etc,” Sen. Mike Lee said in the committee meeting.
Lee said he didn’t intend to vote for the bill, in part because of the way it skewed media incentives. “This version of the JCPA would inextricably link the financial incentives of Big Tech and the news industry by requiring tech platforms to share their monopoly rents with news publishers,” Lee said. This dynamic would incentivize news publishers to cover up and defend Big Tech rather than hold it accountable, he said.
Cruz’s amendment revoked antitrust protections if the news organizations discussed content moderation in negotiations. The amendment passed along party lines by a single-vote margin.
Klobuchar retorted by telling Cruz the JCPA already included provisions that ensured content-neutral negotiations; tech platforms would only be forced to pay for content they were already accessing.
“Since news outlets depend on the antitrust exemption — other covered platforms do not — the platforms could then raise content moderation at the first opportunity and attempt to avoid the joint negotiations,” Klobuchar said.
Sen. Klobuchar told POLITICO she’s still committed to passing a bipartisan bill to protect local journalism. Still, given the failed committee vote this morning, the legislation faces even longer odds to pass. Cruz said several times that he had a hard time seeing how it would pass on the floor, even if it made it through the committee.
The stalled negotiations show the fragility of any bipartisan efforts to rein in Big Tech. The JCPA had a unique set of issues, however, and even organizations typically critical of Big Tech found flaws in its approach. The EFF, for instance, published a response to the JCPA in June that said it would allow “large corporations and investment vehicles that dominate online journalism” to “reap the rewards of buying up, laying off, and click-baiting these newsrooms.”
Even as this bipartisan coalition dissolved, some of the senators maintained an optimistic note on antitrust efforts overall. Sen. Josh Hawley, for instance, commended Sen. Klobuchar for her work on the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, though he said he wouldn’t vote for her proposal this time around.
Correction: This story has been updated to correct Senator Josh Hawley’s name. This story was updated Sept. 8, 2022.