Hillicon Valley: Biden: Social media platforms ‘killing people’ | Tech executives increased political donations amid lobbying push | Top House antitrust Republican forms ‘Freedom from Big Tech Caucus’

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Welcome and Happy Friday! Follow our cyber reporter, Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and tech team, Chris Mills Rodrigo (@millsrodrigo) and Rebecca Klar (@rebeccaklar_), for more coverage. 

A day after the surgeon general issued an advisory labeling health misinformation an “urgent threat,” President BidenJoe BidenJ.D. Scholten: Democratic Party is ‘getting blown out of the water’ by not connecting to voters Children under 12 could be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by winter: report Georgia secretary of state calls for Fulton County elections officials to be fired MORE ramped up the pressure on tech companies, telling reporters social media platforms that allowing the spread of COVID-19 misinformation was “killing people.” 

And amid the bitter fights between Washington and Silicon Valley, executives at the largest tech companies have made huge donations to key lawmakers in recent months. But some lawmakers are still doubling down on their pressure to take on Big Tech, with Rep. Ken BuckKenneth (Ken) Robert BuckBipartisan group calls on Biden to clarify reasoning for Syria airstrikes Rep. Jordan releases Big Tech agenda Court ruling sets up ever more bruising fight over tech MORE (Colo.) leading a handful of his GOP colleagues to form a new “Freedom From Big Tech Caucus.” 


TELL US HOW YOU REALLY FEEL: President Biden on Friday said that social media companies that allow coronavirus misinformation to spread on their platforms are “killing people,” escalating a fight with Facebook and other companies as the White House warns about the spread of inaccurate information about COVID-19 vaccines. 

Biden was asked by reporters at the White House on Friday afternoon what his message is to social media platforms on coronavirus misinformation. 

“They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people,” Biden said.

Surgeon General Vivek MurthyVivek MurthyChildren under 12 could be able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by winter: report Surgeon general says social media companies have ‘enabled misinformation’ on vaccines Overnight Health Care: Surgeon general issues health misinformation advisory | WHO chief: ‘Premature’ to rule out COVID-19 lab leak theory MORE issued an advisory Thursday labeling health misinformation an “urgent threat” amid the Biden administration’s push to get more people vaccinated.

Read more about Biden’s comments


BIG BUCKS FROM BIG TECH: Executives at the nation’s largest tech companies made huge donations to key lawmakers in recent months as Congress debated legislation that would reshape the industry.

The influx of donations came in as the tech industry urged lawmakers to abandon antitrust legislation that could make it easier for regulators to break up tech giants. Tech companies also lobbied Senate leaders to prioritize a bill to provide $52 billion toward U.S. semiconductor manufacturing.

Tech executives cut the largest checks to Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden needs to help end federal cannabis prohibition Biden hails ‘transformative’ child tax credit payments Watchdog files FEC complaint against super PACs linked to congressional leaders MORE (D-N.Y.), according to recent Federal Election Commission filings covering fundraising from April through June.

Read more here


NEW CAUCUS ON THE BLOCK: Rep. Ken Buck (Colo.), the top Republican on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, is forming a new “Freedom From Big Tech” caucus along with a handful of other GOP lawmakers who supported antitrust bills advanced by the committee last month, the congressman announced Friday.

Rep. Lance GoodenLance GoodenCourt ruling sets up ever more bruising fight over tech Hillicon Valley: House targets tech giants with antitrust bills | Oversight chair presses JBS over payment to hackers | Trump spokesman to join tech company | YouTube suspends GOP senator House unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants MORE (R-Texas) will serve as co-chairman of the caucus. Other founding members of the caucus include Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Burgess Owens (R-Utah) and Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarJuan Williams: Republicans prefer Trump’s fantasies over truth and facts Sears, Kmart pull shirt calling Ashli Babbitt an ‘American Patriot’ Five big questions about the Jan. 6 select committee MORE (R-Ariz.). 

The caucus will aim to unite Republicans in Congress to “rein in Big Tech” through “legislation, education, and awareness.” 

Read more here


BACKING THE BIPARTISAN PLAN: Tech industry groups on Friday urged lawmakers to support the infrastructure framework negotiated by President Biden and a bipartisan group of senators.

Ten groups representing U.S. tech firms, including the Chamber of Progress and the Internet Association, sent a letter to members of Congress showing their support for the $1.2 trillion deal.

“Better infrastructure will help connect more Americans to digital opportunity, improve the resilience of our technology networks, move us toward a cleaner energy future, and make it easier for U.S. technology firms to create more American jobs,” the groups wrote.

Read more here


DYNAMIC DUO: Olivia Rodrigo schooled Anthony FauciAnthony FauciFour NFL teams haven’t reached 50 percent vaccination threshold: report DeSantis fundraises off Fauci criticism NFL Network’s Rich Eisen says he has COVID-19 despite being vaccinated MORE on “man crush Mondays” in a new video aimed at pushing young people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The nation’s leading infectious diseases expert and the “good 4 u” singer read tweets from fans in the pro-vaccination video released Friday by the White House.

After Fauci reads aloud a tweet wishing him a “happy man crush Monday” and praising his “intelligence” and “compassion,” he tells Rodrigo, “Well that’s very nice to say that.”

When asked if he knows what the lovey-dovey term means, he responded with a laugh, “No idea.”

Read more about the video and vaccine push


What we’re watching next week:

-The Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity will meet in closed session on July 19 to mark up the cybersecurity provisions of next year’s National Defense Authorization Act. 

-The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing July 20 on the threat of ransomware attacks.

-The House Small Business Committee will hold a hearing July 20 on strengthening the cybersecurity of small businesses.

-The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on July 21 to examine cybersecurity vulnerabilities impacting critical infrastructure. 


An op-ed to chew on: Paying attention to critical infrastructure can combat sophisticated cyberattacks

Lighter click: The evolution



The two sides of Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskEquilibrium/ Sustainability — The gentler side of Shark Week Branson: I’d be delighted to go to Bezos space launch if invited Kaseya hack proves we need better cyber metrics MORE (Washington Post / Will Oremus) 

‘I Sold My Soul.’ WhatsApp Content Moderators Review the Worst Material on the Internet. Now They’re Alleging Pay Discrimination (TIME / Billy Perrigo) 

Zoom gave employees stock to stay during the pandemic. It’s turned into a windfall. (Protocol / Biz Carson) 

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