After Congress repealed Federal Communications Commission rules that required internet service providers to get permission from customers before collecting their data and selling it to advertisers. ISPs Comcast and Verizon assured everyone that they had no intention of selling their customers’ internet histories. In the wake of that repeal, about half of the country’s states chose not to take the ISPs at their word, and began crafting their own legislation to restore the FCC’s rules within their borders.
As the tech industry has grown in power and influence, its politics have moved to the left. When people want to understand Silicon Valley’s political leanings, they often look to CA’s 17th Congressional District. Apple and Intel are headquartered there, as is Tesla’s manufacturing plant. In 2016, the voters of the 17th elected Ro Khanna, a former deputy assistant secretary in Obama’s Commerce Department, to represent them. Based on his 2017 legislative record, GovTrack ranked Rep Khanna the 14th-most-liberal representative in the House.
As controversies have piled up for top tech companies, so have their lobbying bills. Tech firms continued to pour record sums of money into federal lobbying during the second quarter, new disclosures show, reflecting their defensive maneuvering on matters like consumer privacy, market competition and the treatment of political speech on social media. Facebook spent its largest single-quarter sum ever, $3.67 million, during a period that included CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s grilling in Congress over the company’s privacy lapses and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
Even as President Donald Trump holds court in large arenas filled with thousands of cheering supporters, he also has been giving rich financiers and business executives up-close access, helping cultivate the kind of big-money outfit he once derided.
California’s major internet service providers and their trade association have contributed more than $1 million to members of the California Assembly since January 2017.
For tech executives, the Trump administration's child separation policy provided a moment of clarity when the choice to speak out was relatively easy. But after Trump's executive order, companies were once again struggling to figure out how to respond.
Across the country, cities are straining. Housing costs are exploding, transportation systems are overwhelmed, infrastructure is crumbling, and inequality is on the rise. Yet there’s little support from federal or state authorities — “infrastructure week” is a punch line in Washington, not a policy. Efforts to raise money for local projects are under siege from conservative activists, while measures to build more housing are halted by liberal ones. Into this void march the techies, who come bearing money, jobs and promises of out-of-this-world innovation. But there’s a catch.
A California network neutrality bill that advocates hailed as the “gold standard” for Internet protections was “eviscerated,” its chief backer said, in a committee hearing the morning of June 20. In an 8-0 vote, the state Assembly Communications and Conveyance Committee adopted amendments to SB822, by CA State Sen Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), which stripped it of provisions that would have given the state the strongest prohibitions against discriminatory treatment of Internet traffic in the country.
When Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com Inc more than two decades ago, he sought to keep the online bookstore away from the government’s reach. He has said he looked into placing its headquarters on an Indian reservation as a tax-saving strategy. That was then. Today, Amazon, whose revenues in 2017 topped $177 billion, has become deeply entwined with the federal government. Bezos has built one of the largest lobbying operations in Washington, bigger than those of powerhouses such as Exxon Mobile and Walmart.
A strong network neutrality bill is advancing through the CA legislature, and the Big Intenet service providers (ISPS)–mainly AT&T and Comcast–are working overtime to stop it in its tracks. The bill passed the state Senate on May 30 by a healthy 23 to 12 margin. In the weeks leading up to that vote, lobbyists for the big ISPs tried to spread enough doubt about the bill’s possible implications that lawmakers would simply not vote on it. CA Senate Democrats needed an extra date to find the votes, but they found them, and the bill moved on to the Assembly.