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HERE COMES TROUBLE: New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who’s leading a multistate antitrust investigation into Facebook, met with officials at the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday to raise concerns about the company’s market power.
“As we have said in the past, we have grave concerns over potential anticompetitive practices by large tech companies,” James said in a statement. “We are concerned that Facebook’s actions may have put consumer data at risk of data breaches, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising, so we will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to protect consumers and protect competition.”
The FTC declined to comment. Facebook and the Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The meeting was first reported by Axios.
TRADE OFFICIAL INVITED TO TESTIFY: The House Energy and Commerce Committee is asking U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to testify about the administration’s effort to include controversial language protecting internet platforms from legal liability in international trade agreements.
Committee Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) issued a statement on Monday inviting Lighthizer to appear before the panel in its hearing on the issue next week.
“As provisions similar to Section 230 are included in trade agreements, it’s important for the Committee to hear directly from Ambassador Lighthizer about how these provisions may affect the ability of the United States and our trading partners to enforce existing laws or write new ones,” Pallone said.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A growing chorus of lawmakers has called for reexamining the law that shields internet platforms from legal liability for content posted by their users. That protection, enshrined in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and commonly referred to as Section 230, was codified in the Trump administration’s United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) that’s currently awaiting congressional approval.
With tech companies under growing scrutiny in Washington, some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have suggested that internet platforms have abused the protections they’re afforded under Section 230.
APPLE PATENT FIGHT: The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from the University of Wisconsin’s patent licensing arm in a fight against Apple over technology that the school claimed the company used without permission.
The justices did not review a lower court’s 2018 decision to throw out the $506 million in damages that Apple was made to pay after a jury decided the company infringed the university’s patent in 2015.
The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) originally filed the suit in 2014, claiming that Apple infringed on its 1998 patent on a “predictor circuit” to boost processing power.
WARF claimed Apple used the technology in processors found in the iPhone 5s, 6 and 6 Plus, as well as several versions of the iPad.
Apple countered that its processor was separate and distinct, based on specific language in WARF’s patent.
A federal jury in Madison in 2015 ordered Apple to pay $234 million in damages, a figure which was later increased to $506 million based on the company’s continued infringement through the December 2016 expiration of WARF’s patent.
CRYPTOCURRENCY DROPOUT: PayPal has dropped out of Facebook’s cryptocurrency network, which would be managed by the Swiss nonprofit Libra Association.
“PayPal has made the decision to forgo further participation in the Libra Association at this time and to continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priorities as we strive to democratize access to financial services for underserved populations,” a PayPay spokesperson told The Hill in a statement on Saturday.
“We remain supportive of Libra’s aspirations and look forward to continued dialogue on ways to work together in the future. Facebook has been a longstanding and valued strategic partner to PayPal, and we will continue to partner with and support Facebook in various capacities,” the spokesperson added.
Libra project leader David Marcus is the former president of PayPal.
A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment, directing The Hill to the Libra Association.
“It requires a certain boldness and fortitude to take on an endeavor as ambitious as Libra – a generational opportunity to get things right and improve financial inclusion,” Dante Disparte, the Libra Association’s head of policy and communications, said in a statement.
LIGHTER CLICK: That didn’t go as expected
AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Foreign penetration of private equity endangers America
NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:
Addicted to screens? That’s really a you problem. (The New York Times)
Hack attack puts health details of one million New Zealanders at risk (New Zealand Herald)
U.S. researchers are on front line of battle against Chinese theft (Associated Press)