With help from Simon Van Dorpe, John Hendel and Gavin Bade
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— Bad neighbors: Nextdoor, which doesn’t find itself tangled in the congressional crosshairs nearly as much as larger social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube, now stands accused of not doing enough to police vaccine disinformation in non-English languages.
— Taking a bite of delivery apps: Privacy advocates are up in arms over a new New York City Council bill that would force DoorDash, Uber Eats and the like to share customers’ personal data with restaurants.
— Postcard from Brussels: Facebook’s acquisition of Kustomer, a customer interaction platform, is raising antitrust eyebrows on both sides of the Atlantic.
AH, SUMMER FRIDAY AND THE LIVING IS EASY. HAPPY WEEKEND AND WELCOME TO MORNING TECH! I’m your guest host, Alexandra Levine. I’ll be signing off the newsletter again after today, but I’ve been covering all-things-privacy for POLITICO, so send newsy nuggets to [email protected]com or just reach out to say hello. You can follow me on Twitter at @Ali_Lev.
KLOBUCHAR CONTINUES MISINFO CRUSADE — Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who last week introduced legislation that would create a carevout in tech companies’ liability shield law to spur them to crack down on medical misinformation online, is now taking that plan a step further. She, Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) are leading two dozen Democratic lawmakers across both chambers of Congress in calling out tech platforms for shortcomings in policing disinformation in Spanish and other non-English languages.
— The unusual suspect: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, all frequent targets of congressional scrutiny, heard from the Democrats this morning. But so did Nextdoor, a smaller site that connects locals living in the same neighborhood. In letters to the heads of all four companies, the lawmakers demanded details on how they’re investing in content moderation to tamp down on mis- and disinformation, including about vaccines.
“We urge you to release specific and clear data demonstrating the resources you currently devote to protect non-English speakers from misinformation, disinformation, and illegal content on your platform,” said the letter to Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar. “Congress has a moral duty to ensure that all social media users have the same access to truthful and trustworthy content regardless of the language they speak at home or use to communicate online.” The lawmakers demanded a response by Aug. 13.
RESTAURANTS TO GIG APPS: GIVE US YOUR DATA — The New York City Council passed a bill Thursday that would require food delivery platforms like DoorDash, Uber Eats and GrubHub to turn over their customers’ personal information — including their names, phone numbers, emails, addresses and more — to the restaurants and other establishments they serve. The hospitality world views it as a win in its push to see the third-party delivery apps that exploded during the pandemic regulated. But privacy advocates and civil rights groups rallying for consumer data protections at the local, state and federal level say the measure runs counter to many of those efforts.
— For and against: Dining establishments argue that the measure would help small businesses learn more about their customers and grow their operations. But DoorDash and other tech industry players, along with a number of advocacy groups, have been fighting the measure for weeks.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation argued that the bill “will place consumer personal information at risk for no consumer benefit.” Many restaurants are not equipped with the tools or resources to keep troves of consumer data secure, the group said, and the bill does not require them to. The National Action Network, New York Urban League and Arc of Justice wrote in a joint letter that the “lack of detail” in the bill’s language “should frighten all New Yorkers” but that it poses the greatest risks to communities of color, undocumented immigrants and other vulnerable populations. The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce echoed that “this legislation is particularly problematic for a community that has already faced heightened risk in navigating confidentiality and security.”
— But: Customers would be able to opt out of sharing their data. Advocates fear, however, that actually doing so would be challenging.
“New York City policymakers not only shut out the concerns of more than 5,400 New Yorkers who wrote to them opposing this bill, but they ignored the voices of civil rights, immigration, and privacy groups who warned how dangerous this bill could be,” a DoorDash spokesperson said Thursday, after the bill was approved.
— Zooming out: If signed, the bill would likely take effect while there remains no comprehensive privacy law enacted in either the state of New York or at the federal level. But getting one on the books could afford consumers some of the privacy safeguards that advocates complain are missing from this bill.
ANTITRUST DEADLINE APPROACHING IN EUROPE — Brussels has until Monday to start an in-depth investigation into Facebook’s plans to buy customer-service platform Kustomer, POLITICO Europe’s Simon Van Dorpe reports.
— Together with antitrust enforcers in the U.S. and the U.K., the European Commission is under pressure to act more forcefully to contain the unprecedented market power of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies (several of which announced more record-breaking earnings this week). Scrutinizing — and potentially prohibiting — these companies from swallowing up promising startups will be key to that effort.
— Germany wants in: The German competition authority last week announced it may start its own parallel probe of Facebook’s Kustomer deal, but overlapping jurisdictions may lead to conflicting outcomes. Meanwhile, back in the U.S., Facebook’s acquisition of Kustomer is also under review by the FTC.
HOUSE AG TO LEADERSHIP: GIVE US A FLOOR VOTE ON BROADBAND — Reps. David Scott (D-Ga.) and G.T. Thompson (R-Pa.), chair and ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, on Thursday pressed House leadership for a floor vote on the panel’s $43.2 billion rural broadband bill, H.R. 4374 (117), which was unanimously approved by the committee earlier this month.
— The catch: What the committee is pushing is distinct from what the commerce-related panels (which also have big stakes over broadband) typically favor and from what Senate infrastructure negotiators eventually settled on in this week’s $65 billion infrastructure deal.
— Perhaps the biggest split: House Agriculture leaders, perhaps predictably, want the Department of Agriculture to play “the leading role in our nation’s broadband strategy,” they wrote to leadership. (While Congress has typically slated a rural broadband role and funds for USDA, the Commerce Department and FCC are also big players; the Senate deal would allocate deployment dollars to Commerce to give out as state grants, with just $2 billion going to USDA’s broadband efforts.)
— And another thing, speaking jurisdictionally: House Ag shares jurisdiction over H.R. 4374 with the Energy and Commerce Committee. (Spokespeople for Chair Frank Pallone haven’t responded to requests for comment.)
Scott “hopes for a standalone vote” on the broadband bill, spokesperson Ralph Jones Jr. told MT. Whatever Congress does on broadband, E&C members will likely still want their say (E&C Democrats’ own infrastructure bill would give broadband deployment money to the FCC, although unlike House Ag, they haven’t come to a bipartisan consensus on how much).
ICYMI: BIDEN TAPS HUAWEI PROSECUTOR FOR COMMERCE GIG — President Joe Biden will nominate Justice Department lawyer Thea Kendler to serve as assistant secretary for export administration at the Commerce Department, a key role in overseeing the White House’s new trade restrictions on China and other global adversaries.
— Working with BIS: If confirmed, Kendler’s role would put her at the head of the export arm of the Bureau of Industry and Security, a powerful Commerce division tasked with preventing national security risks in trade. Earlier this month, Biden nominated a relatively unknown former Pentagon official, Alan Estevez, to lead the BIS — a move that former bureau heads said signaled a tougher approach to China.
Kyle Victor, chief of staff to House Energy and Commerce telecom subcommittee vice chair Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and a recent member of the Biden campaign’s tech and innovation team, will return to VMware to work for its global government relations team in a newly created role as head of U.S. federal government relations.
Kevin McGrann, who served as chief political adviser to former House Speaker John Boehner and more recently served half a decade on AT&T’s government relations team, is joining Forbes Tate Partners as a senior vice president (h/t POLITICO Influence).
Julie Samuels, founder and executive director of Tech:NYC, is stepping down. … Alexis Weiss, most recently SVP for corporate and reputation at Edelman, is joining Walmart as director of technology comms, based in San Francisco. … David Colberg, most recently senior director of government affairs at Palo Alto Networks, is now VP of global government affairs and public policy at Alteryx.
Nothin’ to see here: How Microsoft has escaped Washington’s recent antitrust scrutiny, via The Atlantic.
Podcast OTD: Kara Swisher interviews ex-Google advertising exec Sridhar Ramaswamy, “the man who wants you to give up Google,” on the latest episode of Sway.
Friends like family: Strippers are turning to TikTok to find community, NYT reports.
You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours: Amazon and French energy company TotalEnergies are teaming up to swap strengths. TotalEnergies will “supply renewable electricity to the U.S. online retail giant,” Reuters reports, while Amazon will “help TotalEnergies’ digital strategy.”
Facing off with FTC: Dozens of civil rights and anti-surveillance groups are urging the FTC to use its rulemaking authority to crack down on facial recognition technology.
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