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Newsletter: Big tech pushes back against Russia

In today's 'Internet Insider' newsletter, we also look at what comes next after a recent FCC and FTC nominees vote.


Andrew Wyrich


Posted on Mar 8, 2022   Updated on Mar 9, 2022, 10:06 am CST

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Hey everyone! Andrew here. Welcome to the Tuesday edition of Internet Insider

Today, we’ve got the latest on how the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine is impacting big tech and pop culture. Meanwhile, down below I dive into what comes next after a Senate committee finally voted on the nominations of President Biden’s FCC and FTC picks. 

Also make sure to stick around for our breakdown of the Minecraft movie memes you may have seen over the weekend. 

Let’s dive right into the news. 



Big tech vs. Russia: Over the past few days, major companies in both big tech and the entertainment industry have pushed back against Russia. Netflix joined other entertainment brands and announced that it would “suspend” its service in the country in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, TikTok said it was temporarily suspending livestreaming and new video content in Russia after the country passed a law banning “fake news” about the invasion of Ukraine. Facebook has banned Russian-controlled news agencies to stop propaganda.  

Minecraft memes: You may have seen a bunch of folks on your timeline talking about Minecraft movie over the past few days. No, a Minecraft movie hasn’t come out. But the memes you probably saw reflected the fact that one was supposed to come out on March 4. Michelle, one of our culture reporters, breaks down the development-hell the Minecraft movie has been through and sifts through all of the memes and jokes about it. 

Tech dystopia: A video has gone viral after an apparent Amazon worker filmed the both scary and humorous moment when they were trapped in between the company’s infamous robot shelves while working on the warehouse floor. In the video the worker says it took him 15 minutes to get out of the robot-created maze. 


FCC nominee Gigi Sohn at a confirmation hearing.
Roy Blunt/YouTube (Fair Use)

Biden’s FCC and FTC picks FINALLY got a committee vote. So what comes next?

After seemingly endless delays, the Senate Commerce Committee finally voted last week on the nominations of Gigi Sohn for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Alvaro Bedoya for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can check out our coverage of the vote from Jacob Seitz, our contributing writer, here

So what comes next

As we’ve noted in the past, the nominations of Sohn and Bedoya are critical for the agencies to get to work on a number of telecommunicationstech, and internet rights issues. But both nominations were met with numerous delays.

Both nominees would give their respective agencies a 3-2 Democratic majority. That majority would allow the FCC and FTC to vote on issues that would likely require a party line vote

For instance, the FCC could begin a process to restore net neutrality rules and the commission’s authority over the broadband industry.  

While the Senate Commerce Committee’s vote last week was a big first step, there’s still some hurdles left to clear before they can get to work. 

First, the committee vote sets the stage for a vote before the full Senate. Sohn and Bedoya would need a majority vote to be confirmed. While the Senate is split 50-50 along party lines, Democrats technically have control because Vice President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaking vote

While the committee voted 14-14 on both Sohn and Bedoya’s nominations, rules allowed for their nomination to be sent to the full Senate. However, because of the tie, there will be additional procedural steps that need to play out before a full vote can occur. 

Considering that the FCC in particular has not had a Democratic majority since Biden took office, there’s already been a push among public interest groups to get Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to hurry up and schedule votes for Sohn and Bedoya. 

Shortly after the vote was held in the committee, Evan Greer, the director of digital rights groups Fight for the Future, called on Schumer to “move quickly to schedule a floor vote so we can get these champions confirmed and working for the public interest.” 

Similarly, Matt Wood, the vice president of policy and general counsel for Free Press Action, called on Schumer to schedule a vote “as soon as possible.” 

“We’ve waited over a year for a fully functional FTC and FCC. We can’t let cynical political maneuvers from obstructionist lawmakers and industry-aligned hacks further delay Bedoya and Sohn’s ability to serve people everywhere. There’s so much important work ahead, and having both of them in place is essential to getting it all done,” Wood said in a statement. 

Andrew Wyrich


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*First Published: Mar 8, 2022, 12:00 pm CST