Will the Russians add “crossing US red lines” to the 2021 Olympics?
We begin the episode with the Biden administration’s options for responding to continued Russian ransomware outrages. Dmitri Alperovitch reprises his advice in the Washington Post that Putin will only respond to strength and U.S. pressure. I agree but question whether the U.S. has the tools to enforce another set of red lines, given Putin’s enthusiasm and talent for crossing them. If jumping U.S. red lines were an Olympic sport, Russia would have retired the gold by now. Dmitri further reminds us that Russian cooperation against cybercrime remains a mirage. He also urges that we keep the focus on ransomware and not the more recent attempt to hack the Republican National Committee.
The Biden White House has been busy this week, or at least Tim Wu has. When Wu took a White House job as “Special Assistant to the President for Technology and Competition Policy,” some might have wondered why he did it. Now, Gus Hurwitz tells us, it looks as though Wu was given carte blanche to turn his recent think tank paper into an Executive Order. It’s a kitchen sink full of proposals, Mark MacCarthy notes, most of them more focused on regulation than competition. That observation leads to a historical diversion into the way a Brandeisian competition policy aimed at breaking industry into smaller competitors ended by creating big regulatory agencies and bigger companies to match.
We had to cover Donald Trump’s class actions against Twitter, Facebook, and Google, but if the time we devoted to writing about the lawsuits was proportionate to their prospects for success, we’d have already stopped.
Mark gives more time to a House Republican leadership plan to break up Big Tech and stop censorship. But the plan (or, to be fair, the sketch) is hardly a dramatic rebuke to Silicon Valley – and despite that fact it isn’t likely to get far. Divisions in both parties’ caucuses now seem likely to doom any legislative move against Big Tech in this Congress.
The most interesting tech and policy story of the week is the Didi IPO in the U.S., and the harsh reaction to it in Beijing. Dmitri tells us that the government has banned new distributions of Didi’s ride-sharing app and opened a variety of punitive regulatory investigations into the company
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