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From Chip Victory to Post-Roe Data Privacy

Welcome to Citizen Tech’s July 2022 monthly policy newsletter, InformationWeek. This month we are seeing the triumph of Biden’s long-delayed semiconductor bill in the Senate; SEC debates on crypto tokens and securities laws; Russia’s one-sided information war; interesting results of a census of European digital businesses; data privacy for women in states that ban abortion; airport infrastructure; and Elon Musk being Elon Musk.

Approves the Token Law

Citizen Tech has covered the semiconductor shortage and Biden’s bill, the “Chips and Science Act,” to promote their manufacturing in the country. The $280 billion bill passed the House, but languished in the Senate until late on the 27th, when it passed by 64 votes out of 100. Partisan politics played a familiar and depressing role, with the Republican leadership urging senators to vote against. kind of payback for other spending bills, like the Washington Post reports. But this really is a bipartisan concern, as the breakdown of the votes makes clear, and several Republicans found the opportunity to bring more industry jobs back too enticing to turn down. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, who seems to be reconsidering quite a bit lately, voted yes; Bernie Sanders of Vermont voted no, for the same reason as Kevin McCarthy (R-CA): he sees it as a concession to Biden’s cronies in the semiconductor industry.

Even some of the bill’s supporters were somewhat disappointed. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), for example, said POLITICAL
that, “It will be unfortunate. It will be a chip bill, which is vitally important, but it will not be a China strategy bill.”

Anyway, it happened. As Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo reported to the Post, once the law takes effect, the US will outspend China on semiconductor production and related activities by $130 billion. This law promises to change not only the American economy, but the course of currents in geopolitics. Now it’s up to Biden to make sure it gets done.

At the SEC: What is security…

Do crypto tokens count as securities? at the end of this month, Bloomberg
I learned that the SEC has been investigating Coinbase Global, a major NASDAQ-listed cryptocurrency platform. This is not related to, and started before, the SEC and Justice Department‘s investigation on possible use of privileged information in the same company. The question at hand is semantics. All companies that trade securities must register with the SEC, but Coinbase has claimed that the SEC never bothered to define “security.” Technically, the SEC has a listed definition for “security token”, but it’s circular: “a crypto asset that is a security” and thus, for these purposes, useless. If the Biden administration is serious about crypto, it will have to develop an entirely new legal lexicon on top of any regulatory framework. Citizen Tech has covered case after case of governments, often the White House, circling the cryptocurrency industry like a suspicious dog, taking turns sniffing and growing. If this case results in a final decision on the nature of Coinbase tokens and securities, the long prelude will be over much faster and the real fight can begin.

…And All Elon

We can stay with the SEC for just one more minute, to point out that Elon Musk’s attempt to give up on his bid to buy Twitter has drawn the ire of the Commission. Like most news involving Musk, this story, covered by the New York Times, feels embarrassingly childish. Either time, or mores. After Musk became the main shareholder of Twitter, but before his aggressive attempt to buy the company outright, he complained, via tweet, that his campaign had stalled due to “spam” on the platform. . It seemed the deal was done, though he hadn’t disclosed any such news to Twitter’s other remaining investors, or to the SEC. Musk’s lawyers insist the deal is still in effect, just on pause.

The Commission has cast a sinister eye on Musk for years, most recently for allegedly delaying his disclosure that he would become Twitter’s largest shareholder. Nothing is certain yet, except our gratitude: so far, he has kept his pants on.

It was bulletin no. 6

The Ukrainian War has digital theaters, even beyond satellite reconnaissance and guided rockets. Information warfare is a theater in itself, and as POLITICAL
points out, the European Union is outgunned. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov published an opinion piece this month that was widely circulated by Russian state media, sympathetic media outlets and their respective social media audiences. The piece received thousands of visits especially on social networks. The EU response? silence

The EU has a diplomatic corps with a quasi-military name, East StratCom, dedicated to countering Russian propaganda and disinformation. A look at your place, organized by the EU diplomatic service, reveals a problem: all they can offer is vapid Eurocrates on “strategic partnerships” and “civil society actors”. That is not the red meat that Sputnik offers. Furthermore, as POLITICO points out, East StatCom is nowhere near the kind of funding the Kremlin lavishes on its information campaigns.

The good news for the EU and for Kyiv is that the war has diminished sympathy for propaganda outlets like RT among formerly friendly governments like Hungary. Russia’s latest information campaign in Africa also seems like a waste of time: African governments in need of cheap grain are much more likely to negotiate with Beijing than with Moscow. But on the periphery of the EU, in the Balkans and the Caucasus (not to mention the African Sahel), every Facebook profile is a border. East StratCom will either adapt or lose.

Post-Roe Privacy

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier in the month, the White House ran executive order

to “protect and expand access to abortion care,” challenging states now seeking to abolish abortion altogether. The order nods to the tech sector: specifically “the potential threat to patient privacy caused by the transfer and sale of sensitive health-related data and by digital surveillance related to reproductive health services.”

How serious is this threat? Even in the age of GDPR and annoying cookie warnings to click on every website, personal data is an important commodity; and how he New York Times warns that the collection of personal data for targeted ads is going strong. That makes it relatively easy to find out if a woman has had an abortion — data from an iPhone period-tracking app is often a dead giveaway. Will law enforcement in states like Missouri use this kind of data to search for abortion tests? they can; they do Internet search histories and text messages have been used as evidence in such cases in Mississippi and Indiana, as Times reports, and well before the 2022 Roe decision.

Here’s the dilemma for Democrats: Their support in big tech circles could weaken if the party takes on personal data trading with any real vigor. Similarly, Republicans have long complained that the tech giants are turning the Internet into a liberal fiefdom. That can change your tone. Money familiarizes a man with strange bedfellows.

EU digitization census

On the 28th, the European Commission published the results of its Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), a country-by-country census of the block’s digitization. The criteria included adapting 5G networks, adapting AI by large companies, digitizing operations by small and medium-sized businesses and other transformations, to which the Commission has dedicated €127 billion.

Some of the results were disappointing (only 54% of European adults are digitally literate) and others optimistic, such as the huge progress made by Greece, Italy and Poland in the last five years. COVID appears to have accelerated cloud storage and AI transitions, but only among the largest companies. Just 8% of companies in general use AI, for example. Two thirds of Europe have access to 5G, but half of the harmonized spectrum remains unassigned.

In general, and unsurprisingly, the Baltic and Scandinavian states scored the best on digitization progress. Countries in the South, Central and Balkans, dominated by small businesses and with historically underdeveloped infrastructure, scored the lowest. All EU member states had to dedicate at least a fifth of their Post-COVID Recovery Funds (RFFs) to digital transformation; the average percentage was 26.

think about airports

Finally, the White House announced this month that it would spend $1 billion on airport infrastructure across the United States. the Press release It cites 70 discrete grants, primarily for terminal expansions and sustainability goals such as net-zero operations and LEED-certified facilities. But the projects are surprisingly analogous. There is no mention of 5G anywhere, nor is there any digital transformation. Currently, 5G remains tied to the FAA, as Citizen Tech has reported, but the absence of any mention of the Internet or cybersecurity is striking.

What to read next:

Special Report: How Fragile Is the Cloud Really?

Legislator’s team braces for cloud outages

Global Tech Policy Bulletin June 2022: From USB-C Chargers to the Supreme Court

Global Technology Policy Report: March 2022

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