Apple CEO Tim Cook visits Washington, D.C., meets with Sen. Mark Warner

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Apple CEO Tim Cook was on Tuesday spotted in Capitol Hill where he reportedly lunched with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who has taken an interest in digital encryption and privacy.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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Sen. Chuck Schumer says the world would be a ‘worse place’ without Amazon

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On Recode Decode, Schumer says he’s “sympathetic” to tech giants like Facebook and Amazon.

Tech companies are changing everyday life in the United States, and not always in good ways — but on balance, Senator Chuck Schumer says he’d rather they regulate themselves than wait for government to step in.

“For a decade, tech was a great, great thing,” Schumer said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “It allowed people to agglomerate. It allowed people who had no power, who didn’t own a newspaper, who didn’t own a TV station, who didn’t have a megaphone, to get together and have power.”

The senior Democratic Senator from New York, currently the minority leader in the U.S. Senate, said he agrees with the legislation proposed by his colleagues Mark Warner and Amy Klobuchar, requiring transparency in political ads on platforms like Facebook. But he’s wary of Congress directly involving itself with the content on those sites.

“Government regulation of speech is a frightening thing and has a bigger downside than upside,” Schumer said. “So I approach the issue with care, maybe more so than some of my colleagues who have similar politics to me.”

Speaking with Recode’s Kara Swisher and Democratic political strategist Hilary Rosen, he characterized himself as “sympathetic” to tech giants like Amazon, recognizing that they have had both disruptive and positive effects on his constituents — and, in Amazon’s case, more of the latter.

“Amazon does great things for huge amounts of people, and they only have three to four percent of the retail market,” he said. “Could it get greater? Yes! But again, I’d be careful. They are creating cheaper, better competition.”

“Yes, they’re big,” Schumer added. “Big can do good things as well as bad things, and you’ve got to separate the wheat from the chaff. Would the world be a better place or a worse place if there were no Amazon right now? My guess is a worse place. And yet, there’s a lot of problems, for sure.”

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Sen. Schumer also talked about how he’s thinking about the social media giants whose platforms were used by Russian agents posing as Americans during the 2016 election.

“Facebook is a very powerful force,” he said. “I think, overall, it’s been a very positive force and now people are taking advantage of the openness of the net. And Facebook has an obligation to try and deal with it.”

“I talked to them,” Schumer added. “I truly believe they want to, I truly believe they know their future is at stake with this. I also believe it’s a hard thing to do.”

The “first big test” for Facebook and its peers, he said, will be whether they are similarly manipulated for political ends in America’s midterm elections later this year.

“The amount the Trump administration is doing against Russia is, appallingly, zero, almost,” Schumer said. “So it’s up to tech to do more. And I do think they’re making an effort — not only because it’s the right thing to do but because they know that down the road, their survival depends on it.”

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on Apple Podcasts — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.


Recode – All

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Sen. Marco Rubio says Apple bending to Chinese authoritarianism to gain market access

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Speaking at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday, Florida Senator Marco Rubio took Apple CEO Tim Cook to task for his policies on China, accusing him of hypocrisy when it comes to the company’s stated values.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is demanding more information from Facebook and Twitter about Russian users on their sites

In new letters, she asks both companies for reams of information about many users with Russian ties.

A powerful Democratic lawmaker from Silicon Valley’s own backyard is demanding that Facebook and Twitter turn over reams of new data about Russian disinformation spread on their platforms during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The new scrutiny comes from California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and her requests — detailed in exhaustive letters to the two tech giants’ chief executives — are part of her broader probe into the Kremlin’s potential coordination with Donald Trump’s campaign.

Specifically, Feinstein seeks information about any Russian-connected user accounts, pages, organic content and ads that targeted their efforts at the United States. And with Twitter, in particular, she asks the company to share some direct messages sent and received by Julian Assange, the publisher of WikiLeaks.

In both cases, though, Feinstein demands answers by Nov. 6. That’s five days after Facebook and Twitter are set to send their senior legal advisers to Capitol Hill for back-to-back hearings before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, which have spearheaded lawmakers’ Russia investigations.

Feinstein is a major player on the Senate’s panel, but she also serves as the top Democrat on her chamber’s Judiciary Committee — another group of lawmakers that has explored potential ties between Trump and Kremlin agents.

Still, her requests on Friday suggest that congressional interest in Russia’s disinformation efforts on social media is only widening, compounding an already awful political headache in Silicon Valley.

A spokesman for Feinstein did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

From Facebook, the California lawmaker seeks more information than the company has already provided.

Earlier this month, the social giant turned over copies of roughly 3,000 ads purchased by Russian trolls before Election Day to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Apparently, though, Facebook did not provide any of the organic content posted by the 470 identified Russia-tied accounts. To that end, Feinstein wants the contents of those pages, as well as detailed information about the accounts themselves, including their IP addresses.

But Feinstein also demands that Facebook turn over any data related to “Russia-connected accounts,” which she broadly defines as “a person or entity … that may be connected in some way to Russia, including by user language setting, user currency or other payment method.” And Feinstein calls on Facebook to share copies of communications between its employees and “individuals or entities associated with Russia-connected users” that purchased ads.

Feinstein’s letter to Twitter, meanwhile, marks her committee’s first formal request of the tech giant. In many ways, she asks the company to provide the same kind of information, broadly targeting any users or ads with Russian ties.

The lawmaker further asks Twitter to unearth and share ads and organic content that the company “determined was attempting to suppress voter turnout or otherwise interfere with the right to vote.” And she even demands account information about WikiLeaks, Assange and Guccifer, the latter of which allegedly hacked Democrats’ email servers. That includes some direct messages sent and received by those accounts that are older than 180 days.

In doing so, though, Feinstein also acknowledges the difficult nature of her own request.

“While I recognize that this type of information is not routinely shared with Congress,” she says, “we have sought to limit the requests to communications only with those entities identified as responsible for distribution of material that was unlawfully obtained through Russian cyberattacks on U.S. computer systems.”


Recode – All

Apple responds to Sen. Al Franken’s Face ID concerns in letter

Apple has responded to Senator Al Franken's concerns over the privacy implications of its Face ID feature, which is set to debut on the iPhone X next month. In his letter to Tim Cook, Franken asked about customer security, third-party access to data…
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Sen. Franken lauds Apple response detailing Face ID security

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Shortly after Apple introduced iPhone X with Face ID biometric security in September, U.S. Senator Al Franken challenged CEO Tim Cook to address the technology’s potential impact on consumer privacy. Apple has since responded in a letter detailing the system’s built-in security features.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News