Politico

Big Tech faces a ‘Big Brother’ trap on coronavirus

As the federal government shifts into an all-hands-on-deck fight to battle coronavirus, President Donald Trump and his White House have increasingly called on tech companies to lend a hand.

Outbreak Loosens E-Book Rules for Libraries

Book publisher Macmillan rescinded its policy that restricted libraries from buying e-books for the first two months after release. The change will take effect March 20. “There are times in life when differences should be put aside,” Macmillan CEO John Sargent said in a letter to authors and libraries.

All Eyes on Broadcasters

President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai spoke to broadcasters to assess how they can help. Vice President Mike Pence said public service announcements will boost Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, while Chairman Pai is urging broadcasters to air public service announcements (PSAs) to promote social distancing. The National Association of Broadcasters announced a PSA campaign last week.

Counties Take on Connectivity Challenge

Local government officials are grappling with how to keep communications flowing for the millions of people who have retreated to their homes. “This is a true test of all of our connectivity, whether it's through a satellite provider, cable provider, cellphone provider,” said Rita Reynolds, the chief technology officer for the National Association of Counties. Her trade association is in the middle of assessing how local chief information officers and IT directors are processing the logistical challenges prompted by COVID-19.

Berin Szóka to step down after "poetic justice" tweet

Berin Szóka, president of Washington-based think tank TechFreedom, is stepping down as its president after tweeting that it would be “poetic justice” if President Donald Trump died from the coronavirus. He will take an indefinite sabbatical to write a book on tech policy. Shane Tews, a longtime member of the group's board, will lead the organization in his stead. The move deals a blow to one of the tech industry’s staunchest defenders in Washington, where Szóka has served as its combative and outspoken leader for nearly a decade.

FCC Chairman Pai: President Trump Doesn't Undermine FCC's Independence

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai maintains that the Trump administration hasn’t sought to exert its will over the decision-making of the commission, an independent agency not subject to executive command. “Not the case,” Chairman Pai told the House Appropriators Committee during a hearing. That’s apparently despite President Donald Trump occasionally reaching out to the agency chief, as he did in 2019 on a coming C-band airwaves auction.

Biden vs Bernie on Net Neutrality

Democrats once touted network neutrality as political dynamite, but now hardly any seem to realize their party’s presidential frontrunner has said nothing about it — now a key difference between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as they vie to secure the Democratic presidential nomination.

Ben Scott seeks to rewrite anti-tech lobbying rulebook

From an office in London's diamond district, Ben Scott has his eyes set on Big Tech.