Republicans accused Facebook, Google and Twitter of bias. Democrats called the hearing ‘dumb.’

Facebook, Google and Twitter on Tuesday sought to defend themselves against accusations from Republican lawmakers that the tech giants censor conservative news and views during a congressional hearing that devolved into a political sniping match.

Facebook offers 500 pages of answers to many, but not all, of lawmakers’ questions about Cambridge Analytica and more

A question about Taylor Swift goes unanswered, as do scores of others.

Who’s behind those political ads on Facebook? Now, you can find out.

Facebook and Twitter forged ahead Thursday with new efforts to disclose more information about the political advertisements that appear on their sites, part of a broad campaign to help users better understand why they see the content they do and who’s behind it.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will meet with European regulators probing Cambridge Analytica

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will meet with key European regulators as soon as next week as the region’s leaders and data-protection authorities continue to scrutinize the company’s privacy practices and its previous entanglement with Cambridge Analytica.

Trump pledges to help Chinese phonemaker ZTE ‘get back into business’

ZTE had said last week that it would cease “major operating activities” because of the U.S. government’s recent trade restrictions.

These are the 3,400 Facebook ads purchased by Russia’s online trolls around the 2016 election

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday released about 3,400 Facebook ads purchased by Russian agents around the 2016 presidential election on issues from immigration to gun control, a reminder of the complexity of the manipulation Facebook is trying to fix ahead of the midterm elections.

Lawmakers hope to use Facebook’s ‘oil spill’ privacy mishap to usher in sweeping new laws

The Cambridge Analytica controversy has lawmakers wondering whether it’s time for a comprehensive data privacy law in the United States.

Tech opens new war with Trump over transgender rights rollback

Apple, Uber and Microsoft took aim at President Donald Trump after he issued a directive on Wednesday that rolls back federal protections for transgender students in public schools.

In a statement, Apple stressed its belief that "everyone deserves a chance to thrive in an environment free from stigma and discrimination," adding: "We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections.”

Uber, meanwhile, said it’s "proud of our longstanding opposition to harmful initiatives aimed at the LGBT community," and it pledged it would "continue to speak out against discriminatory actions and in favor of good policy that champions equality and inclusion for all."

And Microsoft, through a tweet from president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, swiped at the order in a subtle way. "Since Continue reading “Tech opens new war with Trump over transgender rights rollback”

Before immigration furor, tech giants donated to Trump inauguration

Some of the same technology giants that are waging a legal war against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies quietly offered support to his inauguration in January — complete with some previously undisclosed checks, POLITICO confirmed Tuesday.

In a move that might rile the liberal engineers who have spent weeks protesting Trump’s presidency, Amazon, Google and Microsoft donated both cash and technical services to the celebrations surrounding Trump’s swearing-in, according to federal documents and multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Now, those gifts are a visible symbol of the tech industry’s awkward balancing act when it comes to the Trump White House — doing battle with the president’s executive order on immigration while trying to engage with the new administration on issues like tax reform.

Microsoft contributed $250,000 in cash and the same amount in technology and other tools on Dec. 28 to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, federal ethics records filed Continue reading “Before immigration furor, tech giants donated to Trump inauguration”

Tech vs. Trump war over immigration intensifies

Shortly after his election victory, Donald Trump assembled executives from tech giants including Amazon, Apple and Google for a meeting at Trump Tower meant to mend fences with the industry, pledging: “We’re going to be there for you."

Just two months later, those same companies are going to war with the White House.

By barring visa-holders from a slew of Muslim-majority countries, Trump has reopened his intense political rift with Silicon Valley and darkened any prospects for collaboration with a tech sector that’s crucial to economic growth — and had shown some early signs of cooperation. In response to Trump’s immigration directive, the Valley’s biggest players in recent days have issued sharp rebukes, backed public protests and filed legal salvos over a policy they regard as an imminent threat to their industry.

Late Sunday, a group of more than 100 companies, including Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter, told a Continue reading “Tech vs. Trump war over immigration intensifies”

Corporate America tackles Trump

The resistance to President Donald Trump’s agenda is spreading fast across corporate America.

Technology giants like Google and Facebook are leading the movement. But more traditional American brands like Budweiser, Coca-Cola and 84 Lumber used the Super Bowl, watched by more than 100 million people, to brand themselves in sharp contrast to Trump’s nationalist agenda on immigration and trade.

An early calculus is developing around American board rooms from Silicon Valley to the heartland to New York: While taking on Trump risks sparking anger from an irascible and highly voluble president, staying quiet and potentially alienating customers and employees could be much worse in the long run.

“This is in many ways uncharted territory for American companies and they are faced with some very difficult choices,” said Harvard Business School professor Nancy F. Koehn, an expert in corporate behavior. “What many appear to be deciding is that there are important Continue reading “Corporate America tackles Trump”

Trump convenes business leaders as immigration fight looms

Flanked by business executives wary of his recent actions on immigration, President Donald Trump opened a meeting with companies including IBM and SpaceX by pledging “a tax bill very soon” while taking credit for reports that show 227,000 jobs were created last month.

At the inaugural meeting of his so-called Strategic and Policy Forum, Trump said the group would “discuss all the things you think we can do to bring back our jobs.” He ticked off other items, like “cutting a lot out of Dodd-Frank,” a reform of the country’s banking system, as well as revising other regulations.

Absent from the president’s opening remarks, however, was any mention of his immigration order — a ban on refugees from many Muslim-majority countries and other restrictions on travel from those nations that has unnerved many companies and their executives, especially in the tech industry.

But Stephen Schwarzman, the president of private Continue reading “Trump convenes business leaders as immigration fight looms”

Silicon Valley leaders organizing against Trump

A collection of Silicon Valley executives, engineers and activists are quietly plotting a progressive counterattack against President Donald Trump, a sign of the industry’s growing anger at his election victory and actions on immigration.

Through a new organization tentatively called Win the Future, or WTF, the likes of LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Zynga founder Mark Pincus are teaming up with former Sierra Club President Adam Werbach to connect political organizers and shore up progressive candidates and causes ahead of the 2018 midterm and 2020 presidential elections, according to three sources familiar with the plan.

Their early efforts will include building a platform to connect activists and, potentially, a website similar to the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to fund progressive initiatives, one source said.

The initiative is still in its formative stages, the sources cautioned. But the planning has picked up pace since Trump signed an executive order last week curbing Continue reading “Silicon Valley leaders organizing against Trump”

Uber CEO resigns from Trump business advisory group over immigration concerns

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on Thursday dropped out of President Donald Trump’s business advisory council, saying his participation had been misinterpreted as support for the president and his immigration policies.

In an email to employees sent hours before the group was slated to meet, Kalanick said he had spoken with Trump and "let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council." The Uber executive added: "Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that."

For Uber, Kalanick’s decision to withdraw from participating follows days of protest focused on the ride-hailing giant. But it also reflects the deepening political schism between Trump and Silicon Valley, where many tech executives and engineers alike had backed his Democratic foe, Hillary Clinton.

While tech giants tried initially to forge Continue reading “Uber CEO resigns from Trump business advisory group over immigration concerns”

Uber explains plan to aid drivers affected by border block, as pressure mounts

NEW YORK — Uber pledged Sunday to lobby against President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting many Muslim refugees while compensating affected drivers and creating a $3 million defense fund to help with “with immigration and translation services.”

The commitments, communicated in a blog post by CEO Travis Kalanick, is Uber’s second statement in as many days against Trump’s directive — and it comes amid criticism that Uber continued to operate in New York City even as some local cab drivers paused their rides in opposition.

In his latest dispatch, Kalanick promised to “do everything we can” to help drivers who are citizens of countries like Iran, Iraq and Syria but live in the United States and cannot return because of Trump’s “unjust immigration ban." That includes “24/7 legal support for drivers who are trying to get back into the country,” he said, as well as financial aid for Continue reading “Uber explains plan to aid drivers affected by border block, as pressure mounts”

Schumer: Democrats will try to undo Trump ban

NEW YORK — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed Sunday that Democrats will push legislation to unravel President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order barring certain immigrants from predominantly Muslim nations, which prompted mass confusion and chaos at airports nationwide.

The New York Democrat, at one point crying through his remarks during a news conference here, called the executive order “mean-spirited and un-American” and argued that it “must be reversed immediately.”

“Senate Democrats are gonna introduce legislation to overturn this and move it as quickly as we can,” Schumer said. “I, as your senator from New York, will claw, scrap and fight with every fiber of my being until these orders are overturned.”

The Democrats’ bill is currently being drafted, a spokesman for Schumer said.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is also preparing legislation to overturn Trump’s far-reaching executive order. A spokesman said it would force the Trump administration Continue reading “Schumer: Democrats will try to undo Trump ban”

Tech scrambles after Trump issues immigration order

President Donald Trump’s broad executive order to restrict visas and refugees particularly from Muslim countries left tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft scrambling on Saturday to safeguard their employees, even as many in Silicon Valley remained silent.

A day after Trump signed the controversial directive, Google CEO Sundar Pichai offered aid to employees who are abroad, noting in a staff email that he is “upset about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US.” The letter was first obtained by Bloomberg News.

Facebook said through a spokeswoman Saturday that it is "assessing the impact on our workforce and determining how best to protect our people and their families from any adverse effects," after the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, sounded off Friday against the executive order. Microsoft, Continue reading “Tech scrambles after Trump issues immigration order”

Trump said to elevate Ajit Pai to FCC chairman

President Donald Trump will tap Ajit Pai as his pick to lead the FCC in the new administration, elevating the sitting GOP commissioner to the top spot overseeing the nation’s communications industry, according to two industry sources familiar with decision.

The announcement could come as soon as this afternoon, the sources said. Pai, a Barack Obama nominee who has served as the senior FCC Republican for more than three years, could take the new role immediately and wouldn’t require approval by the Senate because he was already confirmed to serve at the agency.

A spokesman for Pai declined to comment and the Trump transition team did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Pai, who met with Trump in New York on Monday, had been seen by many as a top contender for the job given his reputation as a telecom law expert who’s comfortable in front of Continue reading “Trump said to elevate Ajit Pai to FCC chairman”

Google’s Schmidt met with Kushner in Republican outreach

NEW YORK — Eric Schmidt, one of the tech industry’s most prominent backers of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, is trying to rekindle his relationships with Republicans as Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House.

Spotted on an unannounced visit to Trump Tower on Thursday, Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, lunched privately with Jared Kushner, an architect of Trump’s election victory who will continue serving in the White House, a source familiar with the meeting told POLITICO.

Kushner, for his part, has ties to the tech industry, and after Trump declared victory, Schmidt praised the president-elect’s son-in-law, calling him in a Fast Company profile at the time “the biggest surprise of the 2016 election." It was Schmidt’s second known visit to Trump Tower, after he huddled with the president-elect for his "tech summit" alongside other Silicon Valley executives in December.

It’s hardly Continue reading “Google’s Schmidt met with Kushner in Republican outreach”

Trump transition weighing Utah attorney general for FTC

President-elect Donald Trump is considering tapping Sean Reyes, the attorney general of Utah, as the next chairman of the FTC, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter.

If selected, it would put Reyes, 45, — a rising Republican star — in charge of a Washington agency that has a role in reviewing major mergers and scrutinizing tech giants like Facebook and Google for their privacy and antitrust practices. It could spell a new headache for Google, in particular, as Reyes joined other state attorneys general last year in asking the FTC to consider re-opening its antitrust probe of the search giant.

A spokesman for Reyes declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Trump transition didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

As attorney general, Reyes frequently joined with his Republican colleagues in suing the Obama administration in a variety of areas — from its use of federal Continue reading “Trump transition weighing Utah attorney general for FTC”