Internet Watchdog Says Ex-Intelligence Community Officials Are Echoing Big Tech Talking Points

A warning by former national security officials about the dangers of regulating technology companies is in lockstep with arguments made by Big Tech chief executives, according to a report from an internet watchdog group.

A group of former intelligence community officials sent a letter Wednesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy arguing against the passage of a series of antitrust bills advanced in the House Judiciary Committee in June. The warnings echo talking points made by groups lobbying for the tech industry and major tech firms themselves, according to a report by the Internet Accountability Project, a nonprofit conservative advocacy group focused on issues related to Big Tech.

The intelligence community officials argued the bills would make the U.S. less competitive with China and could even compromise America’s national security. 

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Commentary: The Other Back to School Story

Back to school stories this year will focus, naturally, on the Covid-19 pandemic’s toll on students and families and on remedying these difficulties.

But another story is being shortchanged: it’s about how parents sought new options for their children like homeschooling, small learning pods, and micro-schools, with civic entrepreneurs and their partners creating new organizations or expanding existing ones to meet this demand.

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Apple Engaged in ‘Anticompetitive Conduct,’ Court Rules in Antitrust Lawsuit

A judge ruled Friday that Apple engaged in anticompetitive conduct in its App Store, concluding a lawsuit filed by game developers alleging the tech giant was an illegal monopolist.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled Friday that Apple’s policy of preventing app developers from linking to third-party payment systems within their apps was anticompetitive, forcing the iPhone maker to change its app store guidelines. However, Rogers ruled in favor of Apple on several other allegations, finding the tech giant did not illegally maintain a monopoly.

“While the Court finds that Apple enjoys considerable market share of over 55% and extraordinarily high profit margins, these factors alone do not show antitrust conduct,” Rogers wrote. “Success is not illegal.”

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Commentary: Four Scientific Questions We May Never Know the Answers To

Questions set the scientific method in motion. Without that initial curiosity, that “I wonder…”, that “What if…”, we would not have the technology, the medicine, nor the knowledge that we have today.

But not all questions have readily attainable answers. Despite our formidable advances in probing reality over the years, there are some things we are still incapable of concretely knowing. One day, that could change, but for these topics it’s currently hard to fathom how. Here are four questions that humans may never know the answers to:

Do You See Red Like I See Red?

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Apple and Google Face First Major Challenge to Their App Store Dominance

smartphone app store

Apple and Google might change their app store business practices because of a new South Korean law similar to recent legislative efforts by U.S. lawmakers.

The new law would prohibit app stores, including Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, from forcing developers to use the tech giants’ payment systems, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bill, passed by South Korea’s National Assembly, will become law once signed by President Moon Jae-in.

The Korean bill is similar to a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, Amy Klobuchar, and Marsha Blackburn to the U.S. Senate earlier this month that seeks “to promote competition and reduce gatekeeper power in the app economy, increase choice, improve quality, and reduce costs for consumers.” Both bills prevent app stores from requiring the use of their billing systems and take aim at the tech giants’ commission structure.

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Apple to Overhaul Its App Store in $100 Million Class Action Settlement

Apple proposed a settlement with app developers Thursday, requiring the tech company to restructure its app store and change some of its more controversial practices.

The agreement, still pending court approval, would settle a class action antitrust lawsuit filed by app developers against Apple for alleged anticompetitive practices in its app store.

The company will now permit app developers to use information obtained in their apps to directly communicate with consumers about payment options outside the app store, Apple announced in court filings Thursday. This helps developers avoid paying Apple a commission on app purchases, and grants developers greater control over their apps.

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Bipartisan Bill Targets Apple, Google for App Store Tactics

Marsha Blackburn

Senators from both parties introduced a bill Wednesday targeting alleged anticompetitive conduct among Apple and Google app stores.

The Open App Markets Act, introduced Wednesday by Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn along with Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar, would prevent app stores such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store from requiring developers to use the tech giants’ in-app payment systems as a condition of distribution. The bill would also stop Apple and Google from taking “punitive action” against developers who offer different pricing terms in other app stores.

“This legislation will tear down coercive anticompetitive walls in the app economy, giving consumers more choices and smaller startup tech companies a fighting chance,” Blumenthal said in a joint statement.

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Apple Will Scan All U.S. iPhones for Illegal Child Abuse Imagery, Prompting Privacy Concerns

Apple plans to scan all iPhone in the U.S. for potential child abuse imagery.

The move announced Thursday generated shock waves among security experts who say it could allow the company to surveil many millions of phones for reasons unrelated to images of child abuse.

“This sort of tool can be a boon for finding child pornography in people’s phones. But image what it could do in the hands of an authoritarian government,” tweeted Johns Hopkins professor and cryptographer Matthew Green.

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36 States Sue Google over Alleged Anticompetitive Practices in Play Store

Google Play Store on Android

State attorneys general of 36 states and the District of Columbia filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Wednesday alleging the company engaged in anticompetitive practices in its Play Store for Android.

The complaint argues Google holds and unlawfully maintains a monopoly in the market of “Android app distribution,” using anticompetitive tactics such as blocking competitors from accessing the Play Store, discouraging the creation of competing app stores, and acquiring smaller app developers. The complaint also alleges Google charges app developers up to a 30% commission when customers purchase their products through the Google Play Store.

“Google has taken steps to close the ecosystem from competition and insert itself as the middleman between app developers and consumers,” the plaintiffs argue.

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Commentary: Remote Work’s Impending Transformation of Middle America

Computer with video chat on screen and mug next to laptop

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a great deal about America and Americans. Most have acquiesced to anything and everything government bureaucrats asked for in the name of public safety. Masks have been donned, churches have been shuttered, and many of us stayed at home for months, working remotely.

This last item may end up being the largest and most permanent transformation of the United States. The mobility that comes with remote work may end up transforming middle America as left-coast technologists migrate inward. Freed from the work-based ties that bind them to Silicon Valley and New York City, they can now easily take their jobs and their left-wing politics to the heartland, ushering in a transformative moment in American politics.

Thomas Edsall, writing for The New York Times, discusses how many from densely populated urban areas on the coasts are finding that remote work enables them to have big city paychecks while living in suburban or rural areas with lower costs of living. 

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Commentary: Too Much Data, Too Little Wisdom

Every day, we are bombarded with information. A police shooting under questionable circumstances. A tense encounter between people of different races. A flood of statistics on COVID-19 cases, mortality, and vaccine effectiveness. 

We receive the data in the form of easily digested soundbites and a never-ending reel of videos. We are supposed to respond by taking a stand and making a judgment. If there is any doubt as to what that stand should be, the mood music on the news and the explicit narratives on social media make it plain what we are supposed to feel and think. 

Objectively speaking, these videos present as many questions as they present answers. Maybe it’s grainy and fast moving. Maybe the lens is distorting perspective. With YouTube, we can slow it down, rewind, and enhance the color. Ah ha! See! The kid dropped the gun a tenth of a second before the officer’s shot went off, says the know-it-all. 

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JC Bowman Commentary: Exposed in a Technological Age

classroom

An old and wise saying challenges us to: “Believe nothing you hear, half of what you read, and some of what you see.”  It is critical to examine issues from all angles, rejecting gossip, mistruths, bias or information not supported or misinterpreted.  Put what you see or read into proper context to make sure what you think you are seeing is factual. 

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The Left’s Delusions on Economics and the Slow Decline of Human Employment

Steve Gill

During Monday’s broadcast of The Gill Report – live on WETR 92.3 FM in Knoxville – conservative political commentator and Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill questioned whether the left truly understands the dynamics of equality and economics and how mandating the rise of minimum wage may inadvertently deplete a human…

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TDOT Commissioner Says Nashville Transit Plan Would Have Helped No One

John Schroer

TDOT’s leader said Nashville’s transit plan failed at the ballot box because it “had no bearing on regional traffic” and would not help anyone, the Nashville Business Journal reports. John Schroer made the comments at a town hall meeting last week at Williamson Inc., the Williamson County Chamber of Commerce.…

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Identity Politics Is Now Undermining Science

JPL Scientists

by Michael Liccione   The prestige of science in our culture is well-earned. That scientists discover truths (or at least serviceable approximations to truths) is undeniable. The evidence for that is how successfully scientific findings have been applied for centuries as technology, which has improved life greatly for countless people. Sound…

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