– Latest infrastructure: Congress avoided a government shutdown on Thursday, but House lawmakers are expected to continue arguing over the bipartisan infrastructure package today.
– Reality check: another “Big Tech” audience has passed. Will it be enough for lawmakers to take action against business?
– Deadlocked again: The Senate has confirmed that FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra will head the Office of Consumer Financial Protection, meaning the FTC will again be party-divided.
IT’S FRIDAY, OCT. 1. WELCOME TO MORNING TECH. I am your host, Benjamin Din. You know, it’s October when FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr shares his ranking of the worst Halloween candy. What do you think? I would say it’s pretty spot on.
– What is at stake: The trillion dollar infrastructure package includes 65 billion dollars for broadband, a historic investment to bridge the digital divide. Of that money, $ 14 billion would fund a codified version of the pandemic broadband emergency benefits program, although the monthly subsidy for low-income Americans is reduced from $ 50 to $ 30. The lion’s share of that money – around $ 42 billion – would go towards subsidies for building broadband infrastructure. Although President Joe Biden initially wished to prioritize municipal broadband, private ISPs and city-run networks would be eligible to bid for state grants of that money.
INFRASTRUCTURE WEEK NEVER ENDS – Democrats will pick up this morning where they left off last night on infrastructure, unable to strike a deal with centrist Sens. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) On another but the Democratic-related social spending package they say is overpriced.
Manchin and Sinema met with White House officials last night, trying to find a compromise on the $ 3.5 trillion social spending program that is also making its way to the Senate. Progressives have threatened to defeat the bipartisan infrastructure bill if this separate bill is not completed in tandem. But the pair of moderate Democrats, whose equal Senate votes amount to a veto, held their own against the high cost of the welfare spending bill, and Manchin told reporters Thursday night he wanted let that figure be reduced to $ 1.5 trillion. This would ignite matters further with the Progressives, who say they have already fallen considerably from their original $ 6 trillion proposal.
At stake in the $ 3.5 trillion social spending bill: $ 4 billion to bolster the FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund, a pandemic program to connect students and library patrons the Internet, and $ 1 billion to create an FTC office focused on breaches of privacy and data security, among other tech and telecoms priorities.
– And then: Despite all this, the bipartite infrastructure deal is not dead, although some moderates are probably upset that the planned vote was postponed twice (our Heather Caygle points out a technical detail that could appease some of the those grunts). In a letter to her caucus Thursday evening, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi thanked her colleagues and said “discussions are continuing with the House, Senate and White House” but did not mention a timeline. for a potential vote. “We are closer than ever to an agreement,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Thursday evening. “But we’re not there yet, so we’ll need a little more time to finish the job, starting early tomorrow morning.”
FTC IMPASSE – With Chopra’s departure and Biden’s replacement pick, Alvaro Bedoya, in limbo, FTC President Lina Khan will no longer have a Democratic majority. And with two Republican commissioners who have vocally opposed many of her ideas, she won’t be able to get costly things like the development of privacy rules underway until her commission gets through. new fully staffed. – Waiting game: Biden called on Bedoya to take Chopra’s place on the commission in mid-September, even as other agencies still waited for new candidates – an indicator of how important the FTC is to government efforts to promote competition in the economy. (In contrast, the FCC still does not have a permanent chairman and candidate for the fifth open commissioner post.) Bedoya, a privacy expert, would be a welcome addition to the agency for Democrats on the move. hill as they seek to fund a new $ 1 billion from the privacy and data security enforcement office at the FTC. The Senate Trade Committee, which has jurisdiction over the agency, has not yet announced a hearing on Bedoya’s appointment.
ICYMI: BEST PRIVACY STAFF LEAVING THE FTC – Maneesha Mithal, associate director of the FTC’s privacy unit, and Daniel Kaufman, deputy director of the FTC’s consumer protection office, have resigned from the agency this week after decades of service, Emily chose Pros on Thursday. Mithal heads to Wilson Sonsini, Google’s benchmark law firm and one of the biggest players in Silicon Valley. SO THE SENATE BROACHED FACEBOOK. NOW WHAT? – Almost every time Congress holds a blockbuster hearing with the top brass of one of the “Big Four” tech companies – with a relentless grid of tech-skeptical lawmakers and a scathing viral phrase – we ourselves. let’s ask: is bipartisan outrage strong enough this time around for Congress to crack down on Facebook or its peers? After the Senate session with Facebook’s global security chief Antigone Davis on Thursday, close observers believe so.
“Facebook’s failure to adequately answer questions and its continued denials regarding the unhealthy consequences of its social media system for young people and other vulnerable populations, paves the way for much broader action against the company. and others, such as YouTube TikTok, ”said Jeff Chester, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Digital Democracy. “Facebook has given lawmakers and regulators invaluable political openness to start restructuring the way it can do business, in terms of research, advertising and data use.” – About those other platforms: It may have appeared, at least on Thursday, that other Google-owned social media apps like TikTok, Snap, and YouTube had managed to escape the Congressional spotlight, despite struggling Similar with underage users, manipulative and abusive algorithms or harmful content. But not for long: TikTok and others have been and will be called to testify before the Senate Commerce Consumer Protection Committee, according to Chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). “Others will be there,” he said. “At this point, we are not specifying who, but I would like to stress that each company bears its own responsibility. The race to the bottom must stop.
– And then: the identity of the Facebook whistleblower who has handed over a mine of documents to Congress and the Wall Street Journal, revealing what the company knows about its effects on the mental health of young users, will be revealed from one day to the next. She is due to testify before the Blumenthal subcommittee early next week, after an appearance scheduled for Sunday in “60 Minutes.” Watch to see how the company reacts, beyond its current defense: that the leaked research into the effects of Instagram on young users was taken out of context, and that it actually supports Facebook’s arguments. for a safer and more private Instagram app for kids. (That project was put on ice this week as Facebook deals with the whistleblower fallout.) Asked repeatedly on Thursday whether the company will take action against the whistleblower or others who come forward, Davis weighed her words , telling Blumenthal: “We have pledged not to retaliate against this individual who spoke to the Senate.
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- Broadband dreams meet an obstacle
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