Elizabeth Dwoskin

Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and 94 other tech companies call travel ban ‘unlawful’ in rare coordinated legal action

Silicon Valley is stepping up its confrontation with the Trump administration.

Technology giants Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, Uber and many others filed a legal brief opposing the administration’s contentious entry ban. The move represents a rare coordinated action across a broad swath of the industry — 97 companies in total— and demonstrates the depth of animosity toward the Trump ban. The amicus brief was filed with the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which is expected to rule within a few days on an appeal by the administration after a federal judge in Seattle issued late Feb 3 a temporary restraining order putting the entry ban on hold. The brief comes at the end of a week of nationwide protests against the plan — as well as a flurry of activity in Silicon Valley, a region that sees immigration as central to its identity as an innovation hub.

How a former Bill Clinton aide is rewriting Silicon Valley’s political playbook

Chris Lehane no longer plants political attacks in the news media the way he did in the Clinton White House or for Al Gore’s presidential campaign. Instead, he opts for TV spots that feature happy middle-class families promoting Airbnb, the home-sharing company where he is head of policy.

Lehane is at the forefront of a war to fight fundamental threats to the company — scores of local laws that prohibit individuals from turning private homes into hotels, and the perception that Airbnb drives up housing prices by taking units off the market. He is trying to turn a cutting-edge $30 billion company into an organized political movement — one that is about helping a battered middle class earn extra money by renting out their homes.

The secretive brain trust of Silicon Valley insiders who are helping Trump

Billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel is putting together a brain trust of Silicon Valley insiders to share ideas with the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump. But he’s having trouble finding takers.

In recent days, the Facebook board member and PayPal cofounder - who is also a member of the Trump transition - has been appealing to fellow entrepreneurs of all political stripes to share their best ideas and possibly join the incoming administration. Thiel has been carrying around an iPad with an editable list of possible candidates, say people familiar with Thiel’s thinking who did not want to be named because the venture capitalist has not made his effort public. Those who have been approached by Thiel have been asked to add other names to the shortlist.

Police are spending millions of dollars to monitor the social media of protesters and suspects

Hundreds of local police departments across the United States have collectively spent about $4.75 million on software tools that can monitor the locations of activists at protests or social media hashtags used by suspects, according to new research. The research, by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonprofit organization focusing on criminal justice issues, aims to take a comprehensive look at the fast-growing phenomenon of social media-monitoring by law enforcement. Using public records, the Brennan Center tracked spending by 151 local law enforcement agencies that have contracted with start-ups that siphon data from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other sites, largely out of the public eye. Top spenders were the City of Los Angeles, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the County of Sacramento, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the County of Macomb, which is a large county in Michigan. Each spent roughly $70,000 over the past three years, Brennan found.