This story is developing and will be updated throughout the day.
If there is an area where some Democrats and Republicans can find some common ground in these divisive days, may be the extraordinary power and reach of big tech companies and social media giants.
On Wednesday, some of the biggest tech giants, to include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; Amazon’s Jeff Bezos; and Google’s Sudar Pichai are squaring off with members of Congress in a highly anticipated antitrust subcommittee hearing.
Their testimony is crucial. And they answers they give to Congressional lawmakers will have to keep opponents in both political parties satisfied. The stakes are high, as members of Congress and the public have become more concerned about civil liberties and the partisan behavior of companies that once promised to be platforms for free thought.
Chairman David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat ,has been leading an investigation into the tech giants for more than a year. He said “any single action by one of these companies can affect hundreds of millions of us in profound and lasting ways…Simply put: They have too much power.”
Cicilline made that comment in his opening statement and as the hearing goes on it’s easy to gauge why as the powerful tech bosses discuss the extensive role their companies now play in the lives of everyday Americans, from food delivery, medical necessities, as well as privacy issues that are cause for concern with modern technologies.
Watch the hearing live:
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Daily Wire investigation: Italian company may have illegally sold rights to the Vatican’s priceless art
The Daily Wire has been conducting a fascinating investigation into the Vatican Museum’s priceless artwork. “Rights to the Vatican Museums’ priceless trove of art treasures may have been illegally sold without the Holy See’s approval in what one attorney described as a “high-tech heist,” the investigation finds.
An Italian company is allegedly selling the rights to reproduce the Vatican artwork in six-figure deals, while claiming to be working in “collaboration with” the Vatican Museums.
“This scheme is nothing less than a pre-meditated, high-tech heist of world-class treasured art from the Vatican Museums under the disguise of bogus licenses, as if sanctioned by the Vatican,” Sarah Rose Speno, a New York attorney, told The Daily Wire.
The Daily Wire’s report notes that Speno said she stumbled upon the alleged scheme in March when she sought permission to use images of Vatican art for an exhibition by a client.
“We discovered that a large table book had been published with high-resolution images of the interiors of the Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel,” Speno said. “We very much wanted to pursue an opportunity to license these images, as soon as possible.”
Speno contacted Scripta Maneant — the Italian publisher that licensed the photos in the book. Scripta Maneant claimed authority to broker the publishing rights via its “collaboration” with Vatican Museums vice director, Monsignore Paolo Nicolini. Scripta Maneant wanted $550,000 for the rights — with a portion being paid to the Vatican through Nicolini, according to Speno. Although Scripta Maneant claimed the fee would be shared with the Vatican, Speno said she later became suspicious.
“The Scripta Maneant scheme became obvious when the Scripta principals demanded a cash wire in the amount of $82,500 no later than their return from summer holiday in late August,” Speno said. “They said that they would produce Vatican approval for our Italian Renaissance Immersive project ‘if and only if’ the fee were wired to the Scripta bank account they provided. It was at this point that grave suspicion entered my mind.”
Ultimately, Speno said, “we terminated the deal when Scripta could not provide us with documented consent by the Vatican.”
Continue Reading: Daily Wire
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