Tuesday's technology stories

Updated Jan 12, 2021 - Technology

What's happened so far at CES 2021

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Having moved entirely online, this year's CES is unlike any other. However, there's still a ton of tech news to watch out for, and Axios has you covered with all the big news in one place.

The big picture: We are in the midst of both a pandemic and political upheaval, but that isn't stopping the biggest tech companies in the world from sharing their latest consumer gear. Here's the latest — check back all week for more from the Axios tech team.

Scoop: Boxer to drop representation of Chinese surveillance firm

Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for CORE Gala

Former Sen. Barbara Boxer tells Axios she will deregister as a foreign agent for Hikvision, a Chinese surveillance firm accused of abetting the country’s mass internment of Uighur Muslims, after President-elect Joe Biden’s inaugural committee said it's refunding a donation from the California Democrat.

Driving the news: "My intent in agreeing to provide strategic advice to the company was based on my desire to help make them better in every way and preserve American jobs," Boxer said in a statement to Axios. "However, due to the intense response to my registration, I have determined that my continued involvement has become a negative distraction for the effort so I will be deregistering."

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Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 12, 2021 - Podcasts

The fall of Parler

Parler, the social media platform for conservatives and far-right extremists, is currently offline after being booted from Amazon's cloud hosting service. The move came just days after Parler was also removed from the Apple and Android app stores, for allegedly violating terms of service related to violent threats its platform.

Axios Re:Cap digs into what happened at Parler, including how most of its public posts and metadata were scraped and archived, with New York Times cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth.

Drivers and union challenge Prop. 22's constitutionality

Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

A group of ride-hailing drivers and the Service Employees International Union have filed a lawsuit to challenge the constitutionality of Proposition 22, the ballot measure recently passed in California that enshrines drivers as independent contractors (with some benefits).

Why it matters: Prop. 22 was a response from gig companies to AB5, a state law that went into effect last January, and put in place stricter requirements for classifying workers as contractors. Having drivers as contractors instead of employees (with full benefits) is central to these companies' business models, prompting their aggressive action to eschew AB5.

Updated Jan 12, 2021 - Technology

A tale of two Jacks

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Costfoto (Barcroft Media), Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

In China, President Xi Jinping has silenced Alibaba founder Jack Ma and launched an antitrust investigation into his company after the e-commerce tycoon publicly criticized state regulators. In the U.S., Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has suspended President Donald Trump's accounts after the president used the platform to incite violence.

The big picture: The juxtaposition of two almost perfectly inverse situations reveals how differently China and the U.S. have approached the management of tech giants and digital information.

Tech companies press pause on political donations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies, along with large businesses throughout corporate America, rushed to announce Monday that they were halting political donations in the wake of the attack on the Capitol.

The big picture: Some limited their pullback to officials who refused to accept the results of the presidential election, while others said they were taking a break from making any political contributions.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 12, 2021 - Economy & Business

Twitter's stock slump is about more than banning Trump

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Twitter shares fell by as much as 12% on Monday after the company announced it had permanently banned President Trump's account.

Between the lines: While many were quick to say the decline was blowback for the company's decision, the performance of other social media companies' stock prices suggests there's more to the story.

The online far right is moving underground

Data: Apptopia; Chart: Axios Visuals

The online purge of far-right figures and platforms that followed last week's Capitol insurrection looks to be driving radicalized users into darker corners of the internet.

What's happening: Downloads have surged for messaging apps that are securely encrypted or designed to cater specifically to the ultra-conservative user.

Updated Jan 11, 2021 - Technology

All the platforms that have banned or restricted Trump so far

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Platforms are rapidly removing Donald Trump’s account or accounts affiliated with pro-Trump violence and conspiracies, like QAnon and #StoptheSteal.

Jan 11, 2021 - Technology

Scoop: Facebook freezing political spending after Capitol attack

Photo: Valera Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook is halting political spending for at least the first quarter of 2021 following last week's deadly attack on the Capitol.

Why it matters: Tech companies have been de-platforming President Donald Trump and his supporters at a rapid pace since the attacks, and freezing political giving may be the next step tech companies take to show they're seriously rethinking their approach to Washington.

Leading tech lobby group taps new president

K. Dane Snowden (left). Photo: Larry Busacca via Getty Images

The Internet Association named K. Dane Snowden, a former official at cable and wireless trade groups, as its new president Monday.

Why it matters: IA represents Google, Facebook and Amazon as they face increasing scrutiny on content moderation and privacy, and have been without a leader for nearly a year.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jan 11, 2021 - Technology

CES shapes up for online-only conference amid pandemic

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It was already shaping up to be a very strange CES this year, with the world's largest consumer tech show going virtual. Now, CES also has to compete with a constitutional crisis and worsening pandemic.

The big picture: The Consumer Technology Association, which puts on CES, has done its best to move the big press events and keynote online.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Jan 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Tech broadens moves to muzzle the far right

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Twitter's decision Friday to kick President Trump off Twitter proved just the opening salvo in a broadening series of other consequential moves by tech companies cracking down on those who took part in or encouraged last week's insurrection at the Capitol.

Why it matters: The moves have renewed debate over how much power tech companies should have to decide whose content lives on the internet.

Democrats' menu for striking back at Big Tech

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Many Democratic legislators say Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other online services stood by while the president used them to discredit a lawful election and his supporters used them to organize a violent assault on the Capitol.

Why it matters: Right at the moment that Democrats are about to take over the White House and both houses of Congress, the Capitol riot poured gas on the fire of the party’s anger at Big Tech platforms.

Growing GOP problem: Powerlessness

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans are losing power where power matters most at the national level: in politics, media, technology and the workplace.

Why it matters: Republicans often felt mistreated when they had real power in the form of the presidency and Senate. Watch Fox News or listen to Ben Shapiro, and you will see and hear how this new isolation will feed Republican worries and grievances in the months ahead.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Payment processor Stripe bans Trump campaign

Photo by Al Drago/Getty Image

Following Wednesday's violent siege of the Capitol, Stripe will no longer process payments for President Trump's campaign, which continued to fundraise. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, and confirmed by Axios with a source close to Stripe.

Why it matters: This is the latest escalation in Big Tech's revulsed reaction to last Wednesday's insurrection in D.C., and the first to directly target money flows.