October 21, 2022
Photo: Octavio Jones/Getty Images
Hello and welcome to Protocol Policy! Today, we recap the midterms items tech leaders should be paying attention to across states. Also, the future of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in peril and the Biden administration is scrutinizing Elon Musk’s foreign ties.
The midterms are less than a month away, and while all eyes are on major congressional races, lots of other items up and down the ticket could have a big impact on tech. In states across the country, ballot measures will determine the future of everything from EV funding to how gig work works, with some policies kicking in as soon as January if they win voter approval.
Here are a few of the items smart tech leaders should be watching.
California: Proposition 30 would impose a new 1.75% tax on Californians with more than $2 million in annual income to finance climate initiatives and fight wildfires.
Illinois: Amendment 1 would amend the state’s constitution to include an explicit provision that employees have the right to organize and collectively bargain over wages, hours, and working conditions.
Washington: Advisory 40 is a nonbinding vote on HB 2076, which the state legislature has already passed. The bill sets a per-trip pay floor for Uber and Lyft drivers, gives drivers paid sick leave, and prohibits surge pricing during the first seven days of an emergency (as declared by the governor or the president).
Montana: Constitutional Amendment 48 would amend Montana’s constitution to explicitly require law enforcement agencies secure a search warrant before accessing individuals’ electronic data.
Of course, no list would be complete without mentioning the Peter Thiel-backed Arizona and Ohio Senate races, where Blake Masters and J.D. Vance, respectively, are vying for the title of Big Tech’s biggest adversary in Washington. So far, Vance’s chances are looking better than Masters’.
Then there’s the gubernatorial race between Beto O’Rourke and Gov. Greg Abbott in Texas. So far, tech money seems to be mostly flowing to O’Rourke. Wonder why?
— Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu (email)A version of this story first appeared on Protocol.com. Read it here.
Funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is in peril after the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against it in a court case. The Federal Reserve currently funds the CFPB, which critics say limits the oversight Congress has over it. Sen. Elizabeth Warren decried the decision as coming from “extreme right-wing judges.”
The Biden administration is considering upped national security reviews for Elon Musk, according to Bloomberg. Officials reportedly consider his tweet promoting Ukraine peace negotiations as being Russia-friendly. The Twitter deal could be targeted for review since it involves foreign investors, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia, and a Binance-affiliated investment arm.
The Pentagon is expected to rely further on SpaceX over the years, despite the Starlink funding dispute.
The Texas attorney general sued Alphabet over its alleged “indiscriminate” collection of biometric data. The AG said Google collects and stores facial-recognition data without users’ consent. A Google spokesperson responded that the AG is mischaracterizing the Google Photos product feature.
Microsoft confirmed a customer data leak. Cybersecurity vendor SOCRadar reported the leak, which resulted from a server misconfiguration. SOCRadar claims the leak affected 65,000 companies across 111 countries — but Microsoft disputes those figures, and said it was “disappointed that SOCRadar exaggerated the numbers involved in this issue even after we highlighted their error.”
Parler’s COO told Protocol the Ye deal could close before the end of the year. Interest in the company has also grown since the announcement: He said Parler had seen four times as many new users sign up between Monday and Wednesday as it did the entire preceding month.
Valuations have become less hype-driven and more realistic; the amount of time spent on due diligence has increased substantially; and every founder needs to directly, clearly, and concisely answer the question, “Does this project have any real-world utility, and does it create economic value?”
A lawsuit brought by British consumers seeks around $1 billion from Amazon over the company’s use of its “secretive” algorithm to promote its own products on the site through the “Buy Box” button.
EU officials believe banning crypto mining in member states could help alleviate the energy crisis. The EU wants to cut gas use by at least 15% through March.
Russia and China are more likely to conduct a major cyberattack against the U.S. and Western Europe,according to CrowdStrike co-founder and former CTO Dmitri Alperovitch.
75%: In pitching investors on his Twitter takeover, Elon Musk said he planned to axe almost 75% of the company’s 7,500 employees, The Washington Post reported.
The VC correction is proving once again that valuations are not an indicator of success. While money continues to flow, the crypto winter and VC slowdown have forced even the most committed Web3 venture capitalists (and their investors) to proceed with more caution.
Protocol’s Benjamin Pimentel spoke with Molly White, creator of the blog Web3 is going just great, which, as you might guess, is about how Web3 is not going just great. White took issue with Web3 proponents likening their technology to the internet, excluding the possibility it could end up being more like 3D TVs. “You can say that any technology is like the internet and you should just stop being skeptical of it, and everyone should get on board and you don't want to be laughed at in the future for saying it has no promise,” White said.
Thanks for reading — see you Monday!