The Justice Department has filed its second lawsuit against Google’s market power, this time targeting the Silicon Valley giant’s dominance in the advertising space.
Meanwhile, the Senate began its first hearing of the year with a rare display of unity. The problem that bridged the gap across the aisle? Ticketmaster and a chance for lawmakers to outsmart each other with references to Taylor Swift.
This is Hillicon Valley, with everything you need to know about technology and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to Rebecca Klar and Ines Kagubare at The Hill. Subscribe here.
TAKE TWO 🎬
DOJ vs. Google
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and a handful of states have sued Google over the tech giant’s dominance in the digital advertising space, according to a complaint filed Tuesday.
The case is the second antitrust suit the DOJ has brought against Google, adding to the growing legal battle from state and federal antitrust enforcement officials targeting the Silicon Valley giant.
The suit was filed along with Virginia, California, Colorado, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Tennessee.
“An industry giant, Google, has corrupted legitimate competition in the ad technology industry by waging a systematic campaign to take control of the wide array of high-tech tools used by publishers, advertisers and brokers to power digital advertising. .
“Having invested in all aspects of the digital advertising market, Google has used anti-competitive, exclusionary and unlawful means to eliminate or severely mitigate any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies,” the complaint reads.
- A Google spokesperson said the lawsuit “attempts to pick winners and losers in the highly competitive technology sector” and “largely duplicates” claims made in a lawsuit led by the Texas attorney general.
- “DOJ doubles down on a flawed argument that would slow innovation, increase advertising costs and make it harder for thousands of small businesses and publishers to grow,” the spokesperson added in a statement.
- The DOJ and states are trying to settle Google’s alleged “competing acquisitions” in the ad space as part of the joint case.
Read more here.
Ticketmaster, Taylor Swift, and the Senate’s Rare Unity
Ticketmaster defended its online digital ticketing market power at a crowded — and unusually united — Senate hearing on Tuesday, following months of heightened scrutiny following a chaotic sale of tickets for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour.
The company has long been a target of lawmakers after its merger with Live Nation in 2010, but sparks began to fly after its messy rollout and eventual cancellation of the public sale to the pop star’s nationwide tour.
The hearing kicked off the committee’s activity for the year with rare bipartisan unity — and may provide hope for lawmakers seeking to overhaul antitrust law.
Senators on both sides of the aisle have questioned Joe Berchtold, the president and chief financial officer of Live Nation Entertainment, about the company’s claim that there is more competition today than it was 13 years ago and that bots were to blame for the debacle.
“May I respectfully suggest that Ticketmaster should look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me,'” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, citing recent Swift texts.
Read about The Hill’s five takeaways from the hearing here.
NAME DEBT JAN. 6 PANEL FOR PHONE HACK
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) said on Monday that her personal cell number “has been hacked and used to make hoax calls.”
Noem said her phone was hacked after the release of her and her family’s personal information, including her social security number, by the January 6 commission.
“Courtless mishandling of personal information has real-world implications,” Noem said in a statement. “If you get a call like this from my number, know that I had nothing to do with it.”
Noem said she has asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Congress to investigate the leak.
Read more here.
REP. LIEU: ‘I’M FREAKED BY AI’
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) on Monday called on Congress to take more steps to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) in a New York Times op-ed, citing the risks associated with self-driving vehicles and facial recognition systems.
“As one of only three members of Congress with a computer science degree, I am enthralled by AI and excited about the incredible ways it will continue to advance society,” he wrote. “And as a member of Congress, I am crazy about AI, especially AI that is left unchecked and unregulated.”
- Lieu outlined that while AI may have its benefits, including instant search results, navigation systems and credit card fraud protection, the risks could be more damaging if left unregulated.
- He said teachers and newspaper editors may find it “increasingly difficult” to determine whether someone’s assignment was written by AI or by the students.
Read more here.
FBI: North Korean hackers behind $100 million crypto heist
The FBI confirmed on Monday that North Korean-sponsored hackers known as the Lazarus Group were behind the theft of $100 million worth of cryptocurrency from California-based crypto firm Harmony.
Last year, Harmony reported that unknown hackers stole funds from one of its blockchain bridges and that it was working with law enforcement and forensic specialists to identify the perpetrators and recover the stolen funds. The company said at the time that it had tried to contact the hackers with an embedded message sent to the address of the culprit’s crypto wallet.
The Harmony hack was one of many crypto thefts that happened last year. Just two months after Harmony was hacked, another California-based crypto company – Nomad – was reported to have lost $190 million in virtual currency in a series of thefts.
Last year, the FBI also blamed the Lazarus Group for stealing more than $600 million in cryptocurrency from the virtual game Axie Infinity. The US sanctioned the group in 2019.
Read more here.
BITS & PIECES
An opinion piece to chew on: Building AI with democratic values starts with defining our own values
Notable links from around the web:
The unknown hedge fund that got $400 million from Sam Bankman-Fried (The New York Times / David Yaffe-Bellany, Matthew Goldstein and Royston Jones Jr.)
Ex-Twitter engineer talks about FTC security breaches continuing after Musk (The Washington Post/Joseph Menn)
Jeff Bezos wants the world to know he’s a philanthropist (Vox/Whizy Kim)
One more thing: students are embracing ChatGPT
Many students approach artificial intelligence with optimism and a willingness to embrace how the technology can improve their learning, despite the consternation it has caused among educators.
ChatGPT, a free AI technology that went public in November, has brought a debate about the use of AI in education to the mainstream. The platform works like a chatbot, providing human-like answers to questions and tasks it needs to perform. Students can then use the answers to supplement or even complete their work.
For teachers, this has led to concerns about cheating and a loss of critical learning skills their students need. ChatGPT is blocked in some public elementary schools. In some colleges, professors have changed the way assignments work to limit the chances that ChatGPT can be used for cheating.
Students are at the beginning of discovering the possibilities of ChatGPT and many are optimistic but still cautious about what the future might hold.
Read more here.
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s technology and cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.