Oettinger stateside, building bridges while carrying a big stick

Digi Commissioner chewing the fat with Google, Facebook, Apple et al

Europe’s gaffe-prone digi Commissioner Günther H-dot Oettinger is in the US this week to meet top tech companies, start-ups and policy makers, promising to ask those tricky regulation questions.

Kicking off his five-day trip in San Francisco, Oetti, the Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, will meet senior staff from Facebook, Google, Apple and eBay on Wednesday.

With all of those companies facing either competition investigations, regulatory pressure, or court cases in Europe, the top brass may well want to have a few words in Oetti’s ear. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg are amongst those on the schedule.

“I know that many in the US are worried that our aim with the Digital Single Market is to benefit only European companies. I will be listening very attentively to these concerns, and will discuss with an open mind,” said Oettinger.

The car-mad Commissioner will also squeeze in a visit to Mercedes-Benz North America Research Centre.

Thursday and Friday, he heads to Washington to meet policy makers including Federal Communications Commission chairman, Tom Wheeler, US Commerce Secretary, Penny Pritzker and Under Secretary Stefan Selig as well as Cathy Novelli, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment.

The Commission is due to launch a consultation on the role of internet platforms in the coming weeks, with a view to legislative overhaul.

“I will be very clear with all my interlocutors: no political decision on this matter has been taken yet. Europe is ready to listen to the concerns and suggestions of the US, but we will not be lectured or pressured to back off from asking tough questions, nor impressed by cheap claims of over-regulation,” said Oettinger.

Last Friday, the more measured Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip said that he believes the tech communities “on either side of the Atlantic can help each other. Their goals are the same: to expand into new markets by scaling up beyond their borders and to expand their individual businesses, by forging new relationships with their customers, end-users and suppliers, with their partners, developers and data source providers".

Oetti’s final stop on Saturday is in New York to participate in the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development meeting. Next week he takes the charm offensive to China. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022