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Microsoft and Google traded barbs Friday over proposals to require tech giants to pay news publishers for content, as lawmakers discussed challenges to the news industry at a House hearing. Amazon CEO Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosPentagon awards 0M in contracts to Musk’s SpaceXPhilanthropist MacKenzie Scott remarries after divorce from Jeff BezosMarianne Williamson: Refusal to hike minimum wage is part of ‘rigged economy’MORE is also in the hot seat as a unionization vote is in progress at a warehouse in Alabama, with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersVice promotes Liz Landers to chief political correspondentThe Memo: How the COVID-19 year upended politicsJayapal asks for ethics investigation into Boebert, Gosar, BrooksMORE (I-Vt.) inviting the billionaire executive to testify at a hearing next week about inequality. Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO slammed Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio and bipartisan group of senators push to make daylight saving time permanentThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation – At 50 days in charge, Democrats hail American Rescue Plan as major winSenate GOP faces retirement brain drainMORE (R-Fla.) for backing the unionization push at the plant while simultaneously opposing a federal bill that would offer protections for employees trying to unionize. 

GOOGLE VS. MICROSOFT: Google on Friday slammed Microsoft in a blog post, accusing the rival company of backing proposals for tech giants to pay news publishers for content for self-serving purposes. 

We also believe that this important debate should be about the substance of the issue, and not derailed by naked corporate opportunism … which brings us to Microsofts sudden interest in this discussion, Googles senior vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker, wrote in a blog post. 

The post was published before Friday mornings House antitrust subcommittee hearing about the media. Microsoft President Brad Smith testified at the hearing endorsing a bill a bipartisan group of members reintroduced earlier this week, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which would allow news outlets to negotiate collectively with tech platforms over the distribution of their content. 

Microsoft has also endorsed an Australian proposal that would force tech giants to pay publishers and subject the tech companies to mandatory price arbitration. Smith has urged the U.S. to adopt a similar policy. 

Walker said Microsoft’s self-serving claims were made in an effort to undercut a rival. 

He also questioned the timing of Microsofts push to embrace the policy proposals, noting it comes after Microsoft acknowledged its systems were exposed as part of what has become known as the SolarWinds hack. 

Read more here. 

BEZOS DODGES WASHINGTON: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) announced Friday that he has invited Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to testify at a hearing about inequality scheduled for next week, though Bezos is not expected to attend.

The Senate Budget Committee chairman has already secured the testimony of one worker at the e-commerce giants Bessemer, Ala., plant, where a unionization vote is in progress.

Jennifer Bates, who trains employees at the warehouse, will appear alongside multiple economists at the hearing titled The Income and Wealth Inequality Crisis in America.

A spokesperson for Amazon told The Hill that Bezos will not attend the hearing. 

Read more.

LI’L INCONSISTENT, MARCO: The AFL-CIO knocked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for backing the push for Amazon unionization at an Alabama plant while simultaneously opposing a federal bill aimed at offering protections for employees trying to unionize.

Positive words for workers organizing at Amazon are welcome, but positive actions for workers organizing everywhere distinguish true champions from political pandering, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement Friday.

If you oppose the PRO Act, then youre not pro-worker and youre not pro-union, Trumka added.

Rubio became the first major GOP lawmaker to back the unionization fight at Amazons Bessemer, Ala., plant in a USA Today op-ed Friday.

The piece did not defend the nascent union effort because of its push for worker rights. Rather, Rubios argument focused on Amazon being an ally of the left in the culture war. At one point he said that adversarial relations between labor and management are wrong.

Read more.

NEW WARNINGS: Microsoft warned late Thursday of a threat detected to unpatched networks from a new family of ransomware.

The company said it detected and is blocking against the ransomware known as DearCry.

Microsoft said the updates on Friday are a temporary measure to help protect users from vulnerable machines. 

The company announced earlier this month that a Chinese-sponsored hacking group known as Hafnium was trying to take advantage of previously unknown security weaknesses in the email application Exchange Server. 

Read more here. 

CHINA BLASTS BIDEN: China criticized the Biden administration on Friday over new restrictions on the Chinese telecom giant Huawei, arguing the move shows that the U.S. cannot be trusted.

The comments from the Foreign Ministry follow a report from Bloomberg saying the U.S. notified some Huawei suppliers that starting this week more items will be prohibited for use in 5G technology.

It will severely disrupt the technological exchanges and trade exchanges of the two countries and the world at large, it will undermine the global industrial chains and supply chains, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters. The U.S. should stop the suppression on Chinese companies immediately and treat Chinese companies in a fair, just and nondiscriminatory manner.

Read more here. 

SHARING IS NOT CARING FOR NETFLIX: Netflix said this week that it’s testing a new verification process to crack down on password sharing on its streaming platform.

For users who the company suspects might not be the account owner, Netflix will email or text a verification code to the account owner. If the user does not insert the code within a certain timeframe, they will be unable to view content through that account.

This test is designed to help ensure that people using Netflix accounts are authorized to do so, a Netflix spokesperson told The Verge.

Read more here. 

ICYMI: APPLE SUES OVER ALLEGED LEAKS: Apple filed a lawsuit on Thursday against a former employee that accuses him of leaking trade secrets to an unnamed media contact during his employment. 

The tech giant is taking on Simon Lancaster, who worked at Apple for 11 years before departing in 2019, in a suit filed in federal court in San Jose, Calif., alleging he committed trade secret misappropriation and breached his contract. The lawsuit was first reported by Apple Insider.  

In the lawsuit, Apple asserts that Lancaster, who worked as an advanced materials lead and product design architect, abused his position and trust within the company to systematically disseminate Apples sensitive trade secret information in an effort to obtain personal benefits.

Read more about the lawsuit. 

Lighter click: Vibe check

An op-ed to chew on: The deadly threats we cannot see yet demand a new strategy


My Mom Believes In QAnon. Ive Been Trying To Get Her Out Ever Since. (BuzzFeed News / Albert Samaha)

The billionaire boom (Washington Post / Nitasha Tiku and Jay Greene)Microsoft and newspapers join forces to fight Google (The Verge / Makena Kelly)