In Defense of Section 230
Democratic leaders and industry officials cast GOP talk of cracking down on tech’s content moderation practices as out of touch with conservative values. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who helped author Section 230, said “calls for government regulation of online speech and the business practices of private corporations run counter to everything conservatives claim to believe.” Sen Wyden added altering liability protections would unleash “an onslaught of bad-faith lawsuits and pressure campaigns” on tech companies.
FCC Commissioner Starks Says Pai Report Needs an Edit
Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said the “rosy picture” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave on broadband access needs to be reworked before the agency votes on its annual deployment report. Chairman Pai first teased the report in Feb 2019, saying he’d circulated it to his fellow commissioners and hoped to get a vote on it soon (commissioners can vote in favor of adopting the annual report or can dissent if they disagree with its findings).
Beto on Tech
Want to know where Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) stands on key tech and telecom policy debates? 1) He's a longtime net neutrality, privacy advocate, 2) he supports beefing up antitrust, and 3) he's a favorite among tech staffers and a prolific social media campaigner.
Sen Sinema the Net Neutrality Skeptic?
As Democratic leaders unveiled legislation to revive Obama-era net neutrality rules, one name was conspicuously absent: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The lawmaker was the sole member of the Senate Democratic caucus not to co-sponsor the measure. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) had circulated his Save the Internet Act since January seeking a widespread show of Democratic backing. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) “signed on this morning,” Sen Markey told reporters, leaving Sen. Sinema as the lone holdout.
Show Chairman Wicker the Money
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) is slated to participate in a fundraiser hosted by the telecommunications industry on Feb. 26 — the evening before the panel holds the hearing on privacy issues that are a point of contention between telecom and internet companies. The political action committees for AT&T and US Telecom are listed as hosts. Entry starts at $1,500 for individual guests, $2,500 to attend as a sponsor and $5,000 to co-host.
Consumer groups livid over Senate privacy hearing snub
Consumer advocates are furious that the Senate Commerce Committee's initial witness list for its upcoming hearing on data privacy consists entirely of industry-backed groups. The panel, led by Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS), announced a slate of witnesses headlined by representatives from prominent tech trade groups. A Senate staffer familiar with the committee described the Feb. 27 session as a starting point on privacy discussions that will lay the groundwork for future hearings. But privacy advocates said the snub reflected a lack of regard for consumers.
Marking Up Newsom's 'Data Dividends' Proposal
Democrats on Capitol Hill say they are intrigued by a proposal from Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) for users to “share in the wealth that is created from their data” — though they would like to hear more details. Gov.
Sen Sanders brings tech criticism to campaign trail
Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) wasted no time taking aim at e-commerce giant Amazon over its economic practices after announcing his 2020 presidential bid — marking an early campaign appearance for the senator's long-standing critiques of tech titans. Sen. Sanders criticized the company over how it conducted its second headquarters search and for not paying any federal income taxes for 2018.
So Much for 'Senator Pai'
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, who has long attracted rumors about a potential run for political office, shot down speculation that he would seek the seat in his home state of Kansas that Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) will vacate with his upcoming retirement. Asked about his interest at a press conference following the FCC’s February meeting, Chairman Pai said, “I’ve said repeatedly that I’m going to be the FCC chairman for the next two years, and I have no plans to do anything else during that time.”
Don't Hold Your Breath on Privacy
Senate Commerce Committee leaders signaled they do not expect to unveil a draft privacy bill along with the committee’s hearing on Feb. 27. “There won’t be any unveiling,” said Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS). “But I know a lot of people are working hard on various approaches.” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) echoed the remarks. “I don’t think it’s that close,” he said of the prospects of a draft bill unveiling at the hearing. Still, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said the panel’s working group has made “steady progress.”