In today’s ExchangeWire News Digest; US House inquiry accuses Amazon of obstructing Big Tech probe; Twitter launches privacy-protected version of its site to evade Russian surveillance; and the UK government is updating its online safety bill to target fraudulent adverts.
Amazon accused of obstructing US House investigation
A US congressional committee that investigated Amazon for potential anti-competitive behavior accused the company of unlawfully obstructing its progress.
The committee’s 16-month inquiry investigated long-standing suspicions that the e-commerce giant is using data it has about sellers on its site to influence its own-brand products. The inquiry, which also looked into antitrust concerns from Facebook, Google and Apple, concluded that the size and influence of these big tech companies allow them to dictate the “winners and losers” of the economy. American. So far, Amazon is the only technology company interviewed by the committee to be accused of obstructing the investigation.
The committee referred the case to the Justice Department, asking that the e-commerce giant’s executives be investigated for “potentially criminal conduct”.
In a letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, the group claimed that Amazon had “engaged in a pattern and practice of deceptive conduct that suggests it was ‘acting for an improper purpose’ ‘d ‘influence, hinder or impede’ the [committee]“, adding that the company withheld internal documents necessary for the investigation.
“We therefore refer this matter to the Department to investigate whether Amazon or its officers have obstructed Congress or violated other applicable federal laws.”
According to the Financial Times, the US Department of Justice has confirmed that it will review the committee’s letter.
Amazon responded to the accusation in a statement saying, “There is no factual basis for this, as evidenced by the enormous volume of information we have provided over several years of good faith cooperation in this survey.”
Twitter launches privacy-protected site on the dark web
Twitter has taken to the dark web to launch a privacy-protected version of its site. The move follows Russia’s decision to limit its citizens’ access to the platform in an effort to stifle information about its invasion of Ukraine.
The privacy-protected version of the site is intended to circumvent Russian government censorship and surveillance.
Called the “onion” service, this version of Twitter is available to users who download Tor, a browser that provides access to the dark web. Although commonly associated with illegal sites, the dark web can also provide access to platforms censored by repressive governments.
Alec Muffett, software engineer and internet security expert, announced the launch of the new privacy-protected version of Twitter on his personal Twitter account, saying, “This is probably the most important and long-awaited tweet I’ve ever had. ever composed.”
Twitter is not the first platform to have turned to Tor to evade Russian surveillance and censorship; Other sites that have launched alternative versions of Tor include the BBC and social media giant, Facebook.
Facebook, which has been completely blocked in Russia following the platform’s decision to suspend access to Russian state media Sputnik and RT in the European Union, joined Twitter in saying it is working to restore the access of Russian citizens to its site.
UK government targets fraudulent ads with Online Safety Bill
The UK government has updated the Online Safety Bill, a landmark law on how websites handle harmful content, to target fraudulent adverts. The amendment to the bill could legally require search engines and social media sites to prevent the appearance of fraudulent paid advertisements.
The intention of the online security bill is to weed out online scams where criminals impersonate companies to steal user data or gain access to their bank accounts. The added proposal would place the responsibility on platforms to implement processes that prevent fraudulent advertisements from appearing on their sites, in addition to removing any that pass.
Commenting on the proposed addition to the Online Safety Bill, UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “We are also announcing a review of the wider rules around online advertising to ensure that the practices of industry are accountable, transparent and ethical – so people can trust what they see advertised and tell fact from fiction.”
The UK government is also launching a separate consultation on proposals to toughen rules in the online advertising sector. Under tougher regulations, social media influencers could face stiffer penalties for underreporting when they’ve been paid to promote products or services.
Ofcom, the communications regulator, is set to outline which new regulatory platforms will need to comply and how they can meet these requirements in practice.
Also in the news:
– Exterion Media France selects Hivestack as DOOH & SSP partner
– Xandr and Scibids partner to bring independent, customizable AI to paid digital media buyers
– Hivestack and MediaMath Announce Global Programmatic DOOH Partnership
– Hivestack Announces Strategic Partnership with BlueFocus Media