Social platform with Trump ties gets surprise debut

With help from Leah Nylen, Laurens Cerulus, Sam Sabin and Simon Van Dorpe PROGRAMMING NOTE: Morning Tech will not publish on Monday, July 5. We’ll be back on our normal schedule on Tuesday, July 6. Editor’s Note: Morning Tech is a free version of POLITICO Pro Technology’s morning newsletter, which […]

With help from Leah Nylen, Laurens Cerulus, Sam Sabin and Simon Van Dorpe

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Morning Tech will not publish on Monday, July 5. We’ll be back on our normal schedule on Tuesday, July 6.

Editor’s Note: Morning Tech is a free version of POLITICO Pro Technology’s morning newsletter, which is delivered to our subscribers each morning at 6 a.m. The POLITICO Pro platform combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the day’s biggest stories.Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.

— GETTR done! Privacy experts have panned GETTR, the social media site run by a former Trump spokesperson. Can it become the next big thing for conservatives?

— Public comments: Much of the focus on the FTC has been around reining in Silicon Valley’s tech giants. But what are ordinary folks really concerned about?

— Green light: Negotiators have agreed on a global tax deal, but some low-tax countries aren’t signing on.

IT’S (FINALLY) FRIDAY! MORNING TECH IS IN A HOLIDAY MOOD. I’m your host, Benjamin Din. It’s July 2, and antitrust nerds know what that means: Happy 131st birthday to the Sherman Act! Leah will have some octopus tonight to commemorate the occasion. How are you celebrating? Let me know!

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INTRODUCING GETTR: LIKE TWITTER, BUT RED — GETTR, the shiny new social media platform for conservative supporters of former President Donald Trump, claims to use “cutting edge” technology. But people quickly pointed out bugs in the site’s code, as well as concerns about user privacy and pornographic content. (That link, FWIW, is SFW.)

The app’s apparently lax security caught the attention of several Silicon Valley security leaders and former government privacy officials. They spotted issues ranging from APIs that can easily be scraped to missing references to the California Consumer Privacy Act in the platform’s privacy policy.

Other issues found in the app include vulnerabilities that make it easy to see which users a person has blocked or muted, as former FTC CTO Ashkan Soltani pointed out. And as Cristiano reported for Pros, GETTR’s feature allowing users to “import copies” of their Twitter content may mean it generates hundreds of thousands of shell accounts for people who haven’t actually signed up.

— Security wonks jump in: Alex Stamos, the former chief security officer at Facebook who now leads the Stanford Internet Observatory, created an account, which he is using to push the platform to improve its security (by, for instance, setting up a vulnerability disclosure program).

— The backstory: Though scheduled for a July 4 rollout, the new platform, led by former Trump senior adviser Jason Miller, has been live on the Google and Apple app stores for two weeks. POLITICO was first to report its existence on Thursday. At first glance, GETTR is essentially a carbon copy of Twitter, though with a red color scheme. Users get up to 777 characters for posts and three minutes for videos. And before it became a pro-MAGA free-speech social media platform, it was a Chinese-language site for dissidents opposing the Chinese Communist Party, Tina Nguyen reports for Pros.

— The million-dollar question: Will GETTR succeed? Other platforms aimed at conservatives, like Gab and Parler, have failed to become the go-to platform for the Trump base. It’s an uphill climb for a new platform with a niche reach — especially compared to Facebook’s 2.7 billion members and Twitter’s more than 300 million monthly users.

With Miller in charge, GETTR does have some advantage. However, Bloomberg reported that Trump himself doesn’t plan to join the social network, even though GETTR handle @realdonaldtrump is reserved for him, Miller said Thursday evening on Newsmax.

FTC PUBLIC COMMENTS (IN 60 SECONDS OR LESS) — The FTC held its first open meeting in decades Thursday (Leah has a full write-up on the takeaways). It included a novel public comment period, in which businesses, advocacy groups and consumers could opine for a single minute about where the commission should focus its attention. Thirty individuals took the FTC up on its offer, many of them focusing on tech.

Delivery apps: Two restaurateurs urged the FTC probe the practices of delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash and GrubHub. Andrew Martino asked the agency to look into the services, charging that DoorDash had begun taking orders for his restaurant even though he had declined to partner with the company. “There was complete confusion and chaos caused, for our restaurant, the consumers placing the meal and the driver picking up the meal,” said Martino, who has complained about this issue before.

Ed tech: Providers of the education technology that has become so ubiquitous during the pandemic have “little to no accountability or transparency” about how they use student data, said Cheri Kiesecker of the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, urging the FTC to investigate unfair or deceptive practices by education tech companies.

Health data: The FTC created a rule in 2009 requiring health vendors that aren’t subject to other health privacy laws to notify consumers of data breaches. Today that “health vendor” category would include apps, smartwatches and mobile devices — not just electronic health records providers — but the rule currently doesn’t apply to them. “The ecosystem has escaped the boundaries of the original rule,” said Pam Dixon of the nonprofit World Privacy Forum. “The impacts of the global pandemic have put an exclamation point on this issue.”

FTC CHAIR MEETS HER EUROPEAN COUNTERPART — Lina Khan will speak virtually today with EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager, who has moved quickly in her own post to challenge Silicon Valley’s reigning giants. Vestager’s experiences at the helm of the European Commission’s antitrust department can offer lessons for Khan’s own ambitious agenda.

The two will discuss “topics relating to the EU/U.S. relationship, including competition enforcement and policy matters,” a European Commission spokesperson said.

WE’VE GOT A DEAL — Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development negotiators reached a consensus Thursday morning on global tax talks, with 130 out of 139 countries and jurisdictions signing on to the deal. It’s a coup for the Biden administration, and both Washington and Silicon Valley hope the agreement will lead to countries dropping their so-called digital services taxes, which they say discriminate against the U.S. tech giants.

The deal’s two-pronged approach would introduce a global tax for the world’s 100 largest companies and set a global minimum effective corporate tax rate of 15 percent. Negotiators made changes to ensure that the deal would affect Amazon, amid concerns it could slip under the radar.

— Those opposed: Ireland, Estonia, Hungary, Peru, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and Kenya, Bjarke Smith-Meyer and Mark Scott report. Those low-tax regimes were against a global minimum tax, fearing it would make them less attractive to international companies.

— What’s next: Thursday’s announcement was just one of several steps in what will be a monthslong process to hammer out the details of the agreement. Now that all G-20 countries have backed the deal, their finance ministers are expected to approve it when they meet on July 9.

From now until October, negotiators will work through many details, such as the implementation plan and possible exemptions for the financial industry and manufacturing. Negotiators hope to begin implementation in 2023.

ACROSS THE POND, MILLIONS AIMED AT OPEN RAN — The U.K. is throwing £30 million ($41 million) at open RAN technology, which aims to use software to supplant the dominance of massive hardware vendors like Huawei and Nokia in the wireless market. It’s part of a new investment fund called the Future RAN Competition.

Telecom companies “are encouraged to submit proposals for projects that will help to fast-track the availability of viable Open RAN products and suppliers,” the U.K.’s digital department said, adding that projects can work on improving the business case for open RAN by making it more energy efficient and secure.

Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft U.S., and Toni Townes-Whitley, president of Microsoft U.S. Regulated Industries, are leaving the company. Deb Cupp will replace Johnson. She is now corporate vice president for enterprise and commercial industries. … Brian Levine is now global head of government relations at Riot Games. He most recently was head of regulatory affairs and public policy at Hulu, and is a Biden alum. … Mark Vena is joining research firm Parks Associates as senior director for smart home and strategy. He is a Dell and Compaq alum.

The 5Gfor12GHz Coalition announced nine new members: Dell, VMware, Altiostar, Airspan, Mavenir, MVD Number 53 Partners, NextLink, Rise Broadband and WeLink.

Rise and fall: The inside story of how a junior Microsoft engineer made $10 million on fraudulent Xbox gift cards — and how the company took him down, via Bloomberg.

Diversity report: “Google reports soaring attrition among Black women,” Reuters reports.

Changing of the guard: “Amazon Revises Corporate Values Days Before Bezos Steps Down,” per Bloomberg.

Well, that didn’t work: A police officer played Taylor Swift to keep a video off YouTube. It still ended up on YouTube, The Verge reports.

Keep up the pressure: The leaders of the Hill’s antitrust panels — Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), as well as Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.) — called on the FTC to continue pursuing its complaint against Facebook over anti-competitive behavior.

Watching out: Are your friends turning into extremists? Facebook is concerned. More from Reuters.

Space race: Richard Branson wants to beat Jeff Bezos to outer space, WaPo reports.

Demanding action: “Putting the onus on women is a PR stunt — the platforms are the problem,” civil society groups wrote to major tech CEOs.

Make it official: Presidents of five major labor unions, including the Communications Workers of America, urged President Joe Biden to make FCC acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel’s position permanent.

ICYMI: “D.C. AG subpoenas Facebook in escalating probe of Covid-19 misinformation,” Cristiano reports.

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.


Valda Udley

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