Tech 5: Big tech testifies

In the week during which the leaders of the world’s biggest tech firms were summoned to give evidence to the US government, we’re back to bring you more of the biggest tech business news.

1: US Congressional Committee target the big four.Four CEOs from some of the world’s most powerful companies spent time testifying to the US Congress this week, producing the sort of viral soundbites and clickbait headlines you might expect. Answers from Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, were all live streamed. Some of the biggest takeaways included scrutiny over Facebook’s takeover of Instagram as ‘neutralizing a potential competitor’ and Jeff Bezos admitting “we have a policy against using seller-specific data to aid our private label business, but I can’t guarantee you that that policy has never been violated.”

2: Wiley’s anti-semitic remarks stamped out… eventually.In the UK, Facebook and Instagram were also criticised for their slow response in shutting-down the accounts of grime musician Wiley – after an anti-semetic tirade by the artist. After a temporary ban was placed on Wiley, celebrities and politicians began boycotting the platforms citing a continued failure to properly manage hate speech. This comes after hundreds of brands pulled their ads from the site in July, standing with the Black Lives Matter movement and against Facebook’s failure to remove racist content. 

3: More guidance needed to bring Fibre to all.BT has warned that the UK’s digital infrastructure plan could be knocked off course unless the government moves forward with their £5bn pledge to bring Fibre-Optic connection to all parts of the UK. On Thursday, BT Openreach published a three-year plan to build full fibre in what the regulator Ofcom defines as the final third of the country. However, with government subsidies going to a range of companies, like Cityfibre and Gigaclear, and not just BT these contractors will need clear guidance on where and when to install fibre if homes and businesses expect a smooth rollout.

4: Worries over Huawei deadline.Since we reported on the UK’s u-turn on Huawei as a supplier of the nation’s 5G, experts and business leaders have criticised comments on shorting the timeline to remove the company’s equipment from existing networks. Some Conservative backbenchers are pushing to amend the 2027 deadline to a ‘rip-out’ deadline before the 2024 general election. BT had stated that “We welcome the clarity, and we welcome the fact 2027 has been discussed,” there is now worry that shortening the deadline “would create significant network outages for customers, effectively blackouts across 2G and 3G as well as the 5G network.”

5: TikTok clones closed by Indian government. A further 47 Chinese apps have been banned by the Indian government. A lot of those outlined in the ban were clone applications that allowed people to access apps previously banned in June. India cited “data sovereignty” when removing 59 apps on June 29th – including the wildly popular social video app TikTok. Plans do not appear to be slowing down as a list of 275 more apps the government is considering banning was also published this week. The impact on Chinese tech companies is still yet to be understood fully. Audiences in India accounted for more that 30% of TikTok’s activity prior to the ban. 

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash