Apple, antitrust and clueless pols (video)

From Cecilia Kang's "As Europe Approves New Tech Laws, the U.S. Falls Further Behind" in Saturday's New York Times:

The United States may be the birthplace of the iPhone and the most widely used search engine and social network, and it could also bring the world into the so-called metaverse. But global leadership on tech regulations is taking place more than 3,000 miles from Washington, by European leaders representing 27 nations with 24 languages, who have nonetheless been able to agree on basic online protections for their 450 million or so citizens.

In the United States, Congress has not passed a single piece of comprehensive regulation to protect internet consumers and to rein in the power of its technology giants.

It’s not for lack of trying. Over 25 years, dozens of federal privacy bills have been proposed and then ultimately dropped without bipartisan support. With every major hack of a bank or retailer, lawmakers have introduced data breach and security bills, all of which have withered on the vine. A flurry of speech bills have sunk into the quicksand of partisan disagreements over freedoms of expression. And antitrust bills to curtail the power of Apple, Amazon, Google and Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, have sat in limbo amid fierce lobbying opposition...

The prospects that any legislation will pass imminently are dim, though regulations at some point are almost inevitable because of the way tech touches so many aspects of life. Of all the proposals currently in front of Congress, an antitrust bill that would bar Apple, Alphabet and Amazon from boosting their own products on their marketplaces and app stores over those of their rivals has the best shot.

My take: A good round-up by a reporter who's been covering the beat forever. My favorite paragraph links to a classic moment of congressional cluelessness (see video below)...

There’s no single reason for the sludge of progress in Congress. Proposals have been caught in the age-old partisan divide over how to protect consumers while also encouraging the growth of business. Then there are the hundreds of tech lobbyists who block legislation that could dampen their profits. Lawmakers have also at times failed to grasp the technologies they are trying to regulate, turning their public foibles over tech into internet memes.

12 Comments

  1. Jerry Doyle said:
    It is as it is as this is the U.S. Congress that does still exercise a degree of “laissez faire” while clinging to save capitalism. Europe is as it is as it constrains in its own impotence, weakness and dependence. Did it ever occur to the scholarly, highbrow media and erudites that the good senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, wanted Mark Zuckerberg to acknowledge that the existence of Facebook is on getting all its users’ personal data through “advertising.” The NYT and the far-left press is as oblivious as European regulators in grasping the obvious instead of attaching or attributing a new or different meaning to something so simple as the good senator’s comment.

    6
    April 23, 2022
  2. Brian Loftus said:
    Since it is paywalled – I cannot read it. Does anyone know how technically iMessage and WhatsApp can provide end to end encryption and yet pass information from one app to the other. Seems technically impossible without losing end to end encryption.

    Doing the technically impossible seems to be the theme of the law based upon my limited readings.

    3
    April 23, 2022
    • David Emery said:
      Seems to me that you would need to understand sending a message outside of the Apple system ‘forfeits’ encryption. So instead of an encrypted message sent to Apple’s servers, you’d send a message using a key that Apple can decrypt (for transmission security) and then pass through some (hopefully similarly transmission-secure mechanism) to the other service. And of course what happens there is out of Apple’s control.

      Definitely doable, but with what should be clear limitations on message security.

      (I don’t know how the various messaging services manage their internal keys for end-to-end security.)

      1
      April 23, 2022
      • David Emery said:
        The other approach would be a MUCH more complicated PKI key exchange across company servers, i.e. I send a message from iMessage to you on WhatsApp. Apple and WhatsApp negotiate PKI for you and me, and then come back to iMessage saying “Here’s the key to encrypt the message to ‘you’,” and vice versa. A lot more complex, and requires a lot more engineering and interoperability standards & agreements.

        0
        April 23, 2022
  3. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    “…a classic moment of congressional cluelessness.”

    Methinks you’re misreading that video clip PED.

    Looks to me that he cleverly set ZuckieBoy up with a one-two punch ending with the poor Zuckster’s strained-reply-with-smirk, “Senator, we run ads.” inconspicuously/conspicuously as Facebook/Meta’s (sigh) raison d’être.

    Schoolyard pants down. Who’s fooling whom?

    3
    April 23, 2022
  4. Robert Varipapa said:
    Blame it on the American Plutocracy. Our country is run by corporations and billionaires. Our representatives don’t represent us.

    2
    April 23, 2022
  5. Rodney Avilla said:
    “ regulations at some point are almost inevitable because of the way tech touches so many aspects of life.”

    Translation:

    1. They are guilty until proven innocent.
    2. They have more affect on the populace than we do, and we cannot allow that
    3. They are proficient, make lots of money, and the people love them. Therefore they must be doing something wrong.

    4
    April 23, 2022
  6. About 3 weeks back Gen. Michael Hayden and John Brennan, retired CIA directors, along with Mike McConnell, retired NSA director, William Evanina, retired National Counterintelligence and Security Center; Richard Clarke; and others filed this with the court:
    “Requiring Apple devices to accept third-party apps and app stores necessarily increases the risk of malware on iOS devices, which directly correlates to an increased risk to national security,”
    Given the average age of our politicians, all realize Hayden, Brennan, Mike McConnell and especially Clarke understand national security matters.

    1
    April 24, 2022

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