Wednesday 22nd of September 2021

not worth the paper it was written on...




















The Defense Department said on Tuesday that it would not go forward with a lucrative cloud-computing contract that had become the subject of a contentious legal battle amid claims of interference by the Trump administration.

The Pentagon had warned Congress in January that it would walk away from the contract if a federal court agreed to consider whether former President Donald J. Trump interfered in a process that awarded the $10 billion contract to Microsoft over its tech rival Amazon, saying that the question would result in lengthy litigation and untenable delays.

The Defense Department said Tuesday in a news release that the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, known as JEDI, “no longer meets its needs,” but it would solicit bids from Amazon and Microsoft on future cloud-computing contracts.

A senior administration official said that soon after the Biden administration took office, it began a review that quickly concluded the lengthy arguments over JEDI had been so costly that the old architecture would be outdated as soon as it was deployed.

“With the shifting technology environment, it has become clear that the JEDI cloud contract, which has been long delayed, no longer meets the requirements to fill the DoD’s capability gaps,’’ the Pentagon said in an announcement.

Instead, the Pentagon proposed a new cloud architecture called the Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability. And the Pentagon made clear that only Microsoft and Amazon Web Services, which currently provides cloud services to the C.I.A., had the capacity to build the new architecture. The Pentagon’s announcement suggested that it would buy technology from both companies, rather than awarding one large contract to a single provider, as it had for JEDI.

Security concerns also played a role in the decision to seek cloud services from multiple companies, officials say. Recent breaches of cloud services have made it clear that there are vulnerabilities, and the Pentagon did not want to be dependent on one company for its technology.

The 10-year JEDI contract was awarded to Microsoft in 2019 after a fight among Amazon and other tech giants for the deal to modernize the military’s cloud-computing systems. Although some of the companies, including the business software company Oracle, lobbied for the Pentagon break the contract into pieces and award them to multiple suppliers, the Defense Department pressed forward with its plan to use a single cloud provider, believing that it would be the most seamless and secure approach.

Because of the size and security requirements of the JEDI contract, Amazon was widely considered the front-runner. But when the award fell to Microsoft, Amazon sued to block the contract, arguing that Microsoft did not have the technical capabilities to fulfill the military’s needs and that the process had been biased against Amazon because of Mr. Trump’s repeated criticisms of Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.

The Washington Post aggressively covered the Trump administration, and Mr. Trump referred to the newspaper as the “Amazon Washington Post” and accused it of spreading “fake news.”


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By Glenn Greenwald


Last June, the House subcommittee overseeing antitrust law issued a comprehensive 450-page report that concluded that four Silicon Valley companies — Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple — are classic monopolies. It was by far the most in-depth and serious governmental attempt in the U.S. to grapple with the unprecedented and increasingly concentrated power of these tech giants.

The report documented the multiple ways that the centralized power and anti-competitive practices of these four tech companies are damaging both consumers and the broader society. It proposed numerous solutions to address those harms — from breaking them up to legislative and regulatory changes to enable more competition. The report narrated that these “companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.” And it concluded that “these firms typically run the marketplace while also competing in it — a position that enables them to write one set of rules for others, while they play by another, or to engage in a form of their own private quasi regulation that is unaccountable to anyone but themselves.”


The report, which came to be known as the Cicilline Report after subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-RI), was widely praised by antitrust activists and scholars. Yet it highlighted a strange political phenomenon. House Republicans have been flamboyantly waving the anti-Big-Tech banner with increasing passion and aggression, often in response to growing online censorship. Virtually every television appearance or in-district rally by a House Republican entails righteous denunciations of Silicon Valley monopoly power. Yet none of the Committee Republicans was willing to sign onto or support the Cicilline report. It was left to Cicilline and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrod Nadler (D-NY) to echo what their Republican colleagues were expressing with words to Fox News audiences or at town halls: “Our investigation leaves no doubt that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation, and safeguards our democracy." 

In sum, there was a huge gap between GOP rhetoric about the evils of Big Tech and the actionsof House Republicans, which not only failed to follow through on their fiery language but oftentimes seemed devoted to protecting the interests of the very Silicon Valley giants they were publicly denouncing. But now, one key House Republican — Rep. Ken Buck, who was first elected to represent Colorado’s 4th Congressional District back in 2012, when he ran as a Tea Party conservative, and became a vocal supporter of former President Trump — has changed that dynamic. Using his vital position as ranking member of the subcommittee, Buck has become increasingly outspoken about the need for legislative and regulatory action, rather than just cable-friendly rhetoric, to rein in the abuses of Big Tech, and has been working with a bipartisan coalition he helped assemble to pass consequential legislation.

Among other things, Buck is now a co-sponsor of various legislative measures that would more assertively enforce antitrust laws in order to foster greater competition. He has, as The Denver Post noted last week, been increasingly vocal in his criticism of his GOP colleagues for failing to follow through on what they tell their base. Along with his GOP Senate colleague Mike Lee (R-UT), Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Cicilline, Buck announced last week that this bipartisan group is urging new Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan “to pursue antitrust enforcement action against Facebook.”


The politics of this debate have become fascinating. There are key members in both parties who seem loyally devoted to shielding Facebook, Google and others from any meaningful reform, while an increasingly vocal bipartisan coalition — led by Cicilline and Buck — is clearly serious about using their legislative power to usher in more competition and reform.


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