yesEmily BirnbaumNone
×

Get access to Protocol

I’ve already subscribed

Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy

Politics

Republicans say Democrats are excluding them from talks with Big Tech CEOs

"We hope that this incident was simply a misunderstanding and not an intentional Democrat effort to exclude Republicans and then misrepresent our views to the companies," House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan wrote.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan accused the Democrats of keeping Republicans out of negotiations with Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee is criticizing Democrats for allowing only a handful of lawmakers to participate in the upcoming hearing with Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai.

House Judiciary Committee ranking member Jim Jordan in a letter on Tuesday accused the Democrats of keeping Republicans out of negotiations with Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google and urged his Democratic counterpart — House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler — to allow the whole committee to interrogate the country's top tech executives.

Right now, only the antitrust subcommittee — which is made up of 13 members and is chaired by Democratic Rep. David Cicilline — is slated to question the CEOs.

"Although Republicans look forward to this hearing, we were surprised to learn it would not occur at the full committee — the venue that makes the most sense given the scope of the committee's investigation, the broad interest from members of both parties who do not serve on the subcommittee, and the significance of the witnesses who will testify," Jordan wrote in the letter.

A Democratic aide accused Jordan of looking for a spectacle. "It's clear Mr. Jordan is confused," the aide said. "This is a serious hearing, not Diamond and Silk 2.0."

A source familiar with the negotiations told Protocol that the Democrats had originally asked for the executives to testify in front of the full committee, which includes dozens of members, but the companies requested that the hearing be held by only the subcommittee. "Democrats wouldn't use all the tools viable to them to compel the companies to come on their original terms," the source said.

Spokespeople for Nadler and Cicilline did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letter.

In the letter, Jordan alleged that Democratic staffers held calls with lawyers representing the companies without including Republicans. He said during those calls, Democrats "misrepresented" Republicans' views.

"We hope that this incident was simply a misunderstanding and not an intentional Democrat effort to exclude Republicans and then misrepresent our views to the companies," Jordan wrote. "We nonetheless remain committed to conducting this investigation in a bipartisan manner and we are optimistic that you will be open to our ideas."

The hearing is set for July 27. It will happen in person with an option for lawmakers and the executives to appear virtually due to COVID-19. It's the first time Bezos, Zuckerberg, Cook and Pichai are scheduled to testify before Congress all together.

People

Expensify CEO David Barrett: ‘Most CEOs are not bad people, they're just cowards’

"Remember that one time when we almost had civil war? What did you do about it?"

Expensify CEO David Barrett has thoughts on what it means for tech CEOs to claim they act apolitically.

Photo: Expensify

The Trump presidency ends tomorrow. It's a political change in which Expensify founder and CEO David Barrett played a brief, but explosive role.

Barrett became famous last fall — or infamous, depending on whom you ask — for sending an email to the fintech startup's clients, urging them to reject Trump and support President-elect Joe Biden.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.

People

Amazon’s head of Alexa Trust on how Big Tech should talk about data

Anne Toth, Amazon's director of Alexa Trust, explains what it takes to get people to feel comfortable using your product — and why that is work worth doing.

Anne Toth, Amazon's director of Alexa Trust, has been working on tech privacy for decades.

Photo: Amazon

Anne Toth has had a long career in the tech industry, thinking about privacy and security at companies like Yahoo, Google and Slack, working with the World Economic Forum and advising companies around Silicon Valley.

Last August she took on a new job as the director of Alexa Trust, leading a big team tackling a big question: How do you make people feel good using a product like Alexa, which is designed to be deeply ingrained in their lives? "Alexa in your home is probably the closest sort of consumer experience or manifestation of AI in your life," she said. That comes with data questions, privacy questions, ethical questions and lots more.

Keep Reading Show less
David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Politics

'Woke tech' and 'the new slave power': Conservatives gather for Vegas summit

An agenda for the event, hosted by the Claremont Institute, listed speakers including U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The so-called "Digital Statecraft Summit" was organized by the Claremont Institute. The speakers include U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, as well as a who's-who of far-right provocateurs.

Photo: David Vives/Unsplash

Conservative investors, political operatives, right-wing writers and Trump administration officials are quietly meeting in Las Vegas this weekend to discuss topics including China, "woke tech" and "the new slave power," according to four people who were invited to attend or speak at the event as well as a copy of the agenda obtained by Protocol.

The so-called "Digital Statecraft Summit" was organized by the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank that says its mission is to "restore the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life." A list of speakers for the event includes a combination of past and current government officials as well as a who's who of far-right provocateurs. One speaker, conservative legal scholar John Eastman, rallied the president's supporters at a White House event before the Capitol Hill riot earlier this month. Some others have been associated with racist ideologies.

Keep Reading Show less
Emily Birnbaum

Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.

The current state-of-the-art quantum computers are a tangle of wires. And that can't be the case in the future.

Photo: IBM Research

The iconic image of quantum computing is the "Google chandelier," with its hundreds of intricately arranged copper wires descending like the tendrils of a metallic jellyfish. It's a grand and impressive device, but in that tangle of wires lurks a big problem.

"If you're thinking about the long-term prospects of quantum computing, that image should be just terrifying," Jim Clarke, the director of quantum hardware at Intel, told Protocol.

Keep Reading Show less
Dan Garisto
Dan Garisto is a freelance science journalist who specializes in the physical sciences, with an emphasis on particle physics. He has an undergraduate degree in physics and is based in New York.
Election 2020

Google says it’s fighting election lies, but its ads fund them

A new report finds that more than 1,600 brands, from Disney to Procter & Gamble, have advertisements running on sites that push pro-Trump conspiracy theories. The majority of those ads are served by Google.

Google is the most dominant player in programmatic advertising, but it has a spotty record enforcing rules for publishers.

Photo: Alex Tai/Getty Images

Shortly after November's presidential election, a story appeared on the website of far-right personality Charlie Kirk, claiming that 10,000 dead people had returned mail-in ballots in Michigan. But after publishing, a correction appeared at the top of the story, completely debunking the misleading headline, which remains, months later, unchanged.

"We are not aware of a single confirmed case showing that a ballot was actually cast on behalf of a deceased individual," the correction, which quoted Michigan election officials, read.

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.
Latest Stories