Tech

End in sight for Endless Frontier

With help from Leah Nylen

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— Almost done: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s legislative package to outcompete China could get a vote in the Senate as early as today.

— Ad boosts: Advertisers will likely benefit from Google’s ad tech settlement in France.

— Striking back: The White House will form a “strike force” to combat foreign trade practices that target critical U.S. supply chains, with a focus on China, a senior administration official told reporters.

HAPPY TUESDAY! MORNING TECH IS HERE FOR YOU. I’m your host, Benjamin Din. Fun fact: The summer of 2018 was an exciting time. I had just graduated college and I had a MoviePass subscription, so I went to see a movie almost every day after work. I was in L.A., where the cost of a single movie ticket was more than that of a monthly MoviePass subscription … which probably contributed to the FTC allegations that MoviePass’ operators settled yesterday.

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SENDING OFF THE ENDLESS FRONTIER After partisan divisions and procedural setbacks, Schumer’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (formerly known as the Endless Frontier Act) is back in front of the Senate.

On the agenda: The upper chamber will vote first on an amendment from Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) that would strip prevailing wage requirements for projects funded by the bill’s pot of $52 billion for domestic semiconductor manufacturing. (Democrats introduced the language and have stood firm on the matter, and the amendment is expected to fail.) Lawmakers will also vote to adopt the substitute amendment that they have spent the last few weeks haggling over. The bill, S. 1260 (117), will then go to a final vote. If passed, it’ll head to the House, where it’s not clear when Democratic leaders will take up the legislation.

But first, some tech takeaways: The bill has seen significant changes since it was first introduced, including a substantial downscaling of funding for a new tech directorate at the National Science Foundation. And both lawmakers and lobbyists have been eager to attach their own projects to the bill, a rare piece of bipartisan legislation in a closely divided Senate.

The legislative package now contains provisions from the Advancing American AI Act, S. 1353 (117), which would require OMB to issue guidance on government use of artificial intelligence; the American Security Drone Act, S. 73 (117), which would ban federal agencies from buying unmanned aircraft systems made or assembled by Chinese entities; the No TikTok on Government Devices Act, S. 1143 (117), from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), which would require OMB to publish guidance that mandates the removal of the Chinese-owned social media app; and the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act, S. 228 (117), led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), which would increase merger fees for multibillion-dollar transactions.

Our Julia Arciga has the full details for Pros on what’s in this massive bill.

GOOGLE’S FRENCH AD TECH SETTLEMENT — The search giant agreed to make changes to its ad technology business Monday in a settlement with France’s competition authority, and some of those tweaks will help advertisers globally. (Our Europe colleague Laura Kayali has the full details on the settlement.) At least two changes to Google’s business will be global in nature: support for a technology known as “header bidding” and pricing rules for some kinds of ads.

Header bidding is like a hack that helps website publishers consider multiple bids at once, thereby increasing the money they make from advertising. Google said it will work with ad buyers to ensure those using header bidding receive equal access to data on auctions that take place within its platforms (the company had come under fire for self-preferential advantages in its ad tech business). The new global pricing rules will also let website publishers set custom pricing rules for ads that involve things Google deems “sensitive” — topics like sex, weight loss and dieting, religion and politics.

Will this impact other antitrust cases against Google? Maybe, but not by much. The antitrust suit brought by Texas and other U.S. state attorneys general makes some allegations related to header bidding — including that Google colluded with Facebook to persuade the social network not to allow header bidding — but that case is much broader overall than the French settlement.

WHITE HOUSE RELEASES SUPPLY CHAIN FINDINGS The Biden administration announced this morning it will form a supply chain “strike force” led by the U.S. trade representative, one of several actions the White House is taking after conducting its 100-day supply chain review. The review focused on four sectors: semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, rare-earth minerals and large batteries, like those used in electric vehicles. President Joe Biden ordered the review in February to determine whether U.S. companies are relying too much on foreign suppliers, particularly those in China.

To combat the global semiconductor chip shortage, the administration said it will partner with industry and allies, and it highlighted a $17 billion commitment from South Korean companies for U.S. semiconductor investments. It also called on Congress to provide at least $50 billion in investments for domestic semiconductor manufacturing and semiconductor research and development.

Watching Commerce: The White House also recommended that Congress enact a supply chain resilience program within the Commerce Department, with $50 billion in funding. That proposal will be one thing to pay attention to this afternoon, when Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo testifies today on Biden’s budget request for her department before the House Energy and Commerce consumer protection subcommittee. In her written testimony, Raimondo repeated that call for funding and laid out a number of other initiatives to bolster domestic manufacturing.

Something lawmakers are thinking about: The American COMPETE Act, H.R. 8132 (116), which passed last year as part of a spending bill, was highlighted by committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) in a briefing memo. The law requires the Commerce Department and the FTC to study and report to Congress on various emerging tech issues, including artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Committee ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) will emphasize the importance of those reports in “deploy[ing] these technologies and keep[ing] our supply chains secure,” according to prepared remarks shared with MT.

STRONG DEMAND FOR BROADBAND SUBSIDY PROGRAM In three weeks, more than 2.3 million households have enrolled in the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit program, FCC acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel said Monday. She also announced a new data dashboard with nationwide and state-specific enrollment numbers, maintained by the Universal Service Administrative Co.

Longtime FCC attorney and broadband expert Lisa Hone joins the National Economic Council as a senior adviser for broadband and technology policy. … Jeanne Moran is now a policy communications manager at Facebook, where she focuses on content and safety. She most recently was a senior director at Forbes Tate Partners. … Davis Pace is now president and CEO at the Mississippi Enterprise for Technology at Stennis Space Center. He previously was a professional staff member for the House Foreign Affairs Committee, covering tech. … Diana Pfeil joins digital rights management company Pex as VP of research and development. She was previously at PayPal’s Honey.

Your lobbying fix from POLITICO Influence: Gig companies are expanding in D.C. Shipt, a delivery app owned by Target, hired its first Washington lobbyists last week, according to a disclosure filing. The team from Rasky Partners includes Sarah Neal, a former aide to now-Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. And the food delivery app Grubhub, which hired its first federal lobbyists at Finsbury Glover Hering (previously Glover Park Group) late last year, announced two new additions to its government relations shop: Ashley De Smeth, a former head of public affairs for Postmates (which was acquired by Uber last year) and Obama administration alum, will be director of federal affairs. Grubhub also added Becca Martin, a Cargill alum, as senior director of government affairs, leading state and local government relations efforts. Grant Klinzman, a Grubhub spokesperson, told PI that the company’s most immediate concerns are more pandemic relief for restaurants and “future of work” discussions (that’s become industry shorthand for worker classification).

Scoop: “Top White House tech critic Tim Wu holds more than $1M in Bitcoin,” Daniel Lippman reports.

Early planning: “Capitol security officials tracking threats of violence on Jan. 6 saw social media posts as early as late December 2020 about a plot to breach the complex — complete with maps of the building’s tunnels and explicit threats of violence against members of Congress,” Nicholas Wu reports.

Data dive: Did social media bans on former President Donald Trump limit his reach? NYT takes a look.

Extra work: Amazon wants its workers to assemble furniture. Drivers say they weren’t given adequate training. Vice’s Motherboard has more.

Bring it on: “Why Amazon Is Confronting the Richest Man in India,” via NYT.

Setting expectations: The Information Technology Industry Council lays out priorities ahead of the U.S.-EU summit, including the creation of a transatlantic Trade and Technology Council. (That council could be an opportunity for the U.S. to warn the EU about how its regulation of American tech companies could unintentionally worsen the national security threat from China, former NSA general counsel Glenn Gerstell writes in Barron’s.)

Doubling down: Apple announced a slew of user privacy updates at its Worldwide Developers Conference, NBC News reports.

For your ears only: Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao chats with NYT’s Kara Swisher about the “thin skins” and “giant egos” in tech and how that impacts the work culture of Silicon Valley.

Trust issues: BSA | The Software Alliance wants to restore trust in AI by tackling bias issues with a new framework.

Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Bob King ([email protected]), Heidi Vogt ([email protected]), John Hendel ([email protected]), Cristiano Lima ([email protected]), Alexandra S. Levine ([email protected]), Leah Nylen ([email protected]), Emily Birnbaum ([email protected]), and Benjamin Din ([email protected]). Got an event for our calendar? Send details to [email protected]. And don’t forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.

SEE YOU TOMORROW!



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