With help from John Hendel, Alexandra S. Levine and Emily Birnbaum
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— Moving fast: The Senate Commerce Committee is aiming to hold a confirmation hearing for the FCC nominees in as little as two weeks.
— Privacy standard latest: House Energy and Commerce Republicans are unveiling their own draft privacy bill this morning.
— Big ideas: House lawmakers will examine the impacts of tech innovation on the American economy.
IT’S WEDNESDAY, NOV. 3. WELCOME TO MORNING TECH. I’m your host, Benjamin Din. I ended up on an eBay store for secondhand books the other day and had 18 books in my cart before I realized I was out of control. With that said, do you have any good book recommendations?
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CANTWELL AIMS FOR MID-NOVEMBER FCC CONFIRMATION HEARING — The Senate Commerce Committee is planning to pull together a wide-ranging confirmation hearing for the week of Nov. 15 to hear from a bevy of President Joe Biden’s telecom nominees.
“That would be our goal,” Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) told John in an interview. “Two FCC [nominees] for sure, and we’ll see about the other ones.”
These FCC nominees, of course, are Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, who’s up for another term, and new commissioner pick Gigi Sohn. As John reported Monday, Sohn may face a tougher time given the Senate’s 50-50 split and uncertainty about where certain moderate Democrats like Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona may fall. Sinema is a member of Senate Commerce, so this hearing could offer clues about how she’s leaning.
Cantwell said the hearing’s precise date and the slate of nominees to be considered is still in flux. The other nominees in the mix would be Alan Davidson, Biden’s pick for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and Alvaro Bedoya, his nominee to fill out the FTC.
— Must-see telecom watching: Although nominees typically try to meet individually with senators, this session will be the highest-profile public opportunity for members to pepper them with questions, from how they will approach interagency airwave squabbles to what types of broadband and media regulation they will seek.
Senate Democratic leaders have good reason to move quickly on these nominees. If they’re both confirmed, they’d create tie-breaking Democratic majorities on the FCC and FTC. (And if the Senate doesn’t vote on the FCC nominations, Republicans would assume an FCC majority in January.) Left-leaning advocacy group Free Press is petitioning in support of both Rosenworcel and Sohn, citing an interest in reviving Obama-era net neutrality rules.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS RELEASE DRAFT PRIVACY BILL — House Energy and Commerce Republicans this morning released the Control Our Data Act, a draft privacy bill aimed at creating a national privacy standard.
— First things first: With this bill, the lawmakers have not budged on two major sticking points that have plagued privacy legislation talks. Similar to Senate Commerce Republicans’ privacy bill, the SAFE DATA Act, today’s new draft bill would not let private citizens sue over violations and would not allow state laws to exceed the “one national standard.”
“This national standard will provide clear rules of the road and give Americans the same data protections wherever they go,” ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and consumer protection subcommittee ranking member Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) said in a statement. “Privacy does not end at state lines and Americans deserve better than a patchwork of different and conflicting state laws.”
As a part of the effort, each Republican on the consumer protection panel will take the lead on a specific component of the draft framework.
— Getting into specifics: The Republicans are calling for the creation of a Bureau of Consumer Privacy and Data Security — something that Democrats on the committee have proposed devoting money to as part of their partisan social spending package. In this bill, Republican lawmakers, who complained the Democrats’ proposal was too vague, offer some specifics about what they think the bureau should look like.
The bureau should be staffed with at least 250 people, and at least 25 should be technologists, the bill says. It also calls for at least five psychologists at the bureau, with two having experience “in the well-being of children and teens” — a seeming nod to recent congressional scrutiny of children’s use of social media and platforms’ targeting of young users.
Another section of the draft bill includes a legislative fix for the FTC’s section 13(b) authority, which the Supreme Court gutted earlier this year. It would also give the FTC the authority to fine big tech companies that misuse data up to $100,000 per violation on their first offense.
Like the Senate GOP bill, the House lawmakers want data brokers to register with the FTC and provide relevant information to the agency. The bill would also require data brokers to self-identify as such on their websites.
EVALUATING TECH’S IMPACT — The House Economic Disparity Committee is meeting today to examine the effects of technological innovation and automation on the economy, as well as what they might mean for the future of work. The lawmakers will discuss the positive effects of technological advancements, as well as their disproportionate consequences for groups such as low-skilled workers.
“We cannot understate the impact technology has had on our workers and our economy, but we also can’t broadly paint these innovations as simply good or bad,” Chair Jim Himes (D-Conn.) will say, per his prepared remarks. “A topic like this demands a nuanced conversation, a thoughtful dialogue and a wide range of perspectives to truly understand it.”
Ranking member Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) will urge lawmakers to not be deterred by the risks of such technologies, but embrace the opportunities and “focus on preparing workers for the jobs for the future.”
— Tech on deck: One witness in particular is expected to take aim at “Big Tech.” Daron Acemoglu, an economist at MIT, urged policymakers in his written testimony “to reevaluate the role of large tech companies” and to consider how their business models are “centered on the use of algorithms for replacing humans.”
“The problem is that these companies have become so dominant both in their sector and in terms of their impact on US society’s priorities that their approach has become the only game in town,” he wrote.
— Committee context: The select committee, which Speaker Nancy Pelosi created at the end of last year, is meant to examine ways to combat wealth inequality in the U.S. Its members include progressive Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), both vocal tech critics.
LET’S MARK THIS UP — The House E&C telecom panel is marking up two bills today related to broadband data and spectrum coordination — both of which have received bipartisan substitute amendments. The first, H.R. 1218 (117), would require the FCC to incorporate maternal health data into its broadband data maps, in order to reduce maternal mortality, while the second, H.R. 2501 (117), would require the FCC and NTIA to update the 2003 memorandum of understanding on spectrum coordination. (If you remember, Republican senators proposed a similar amendment on spectrum coordination during a Senate Commerce markup in May, but Democrats shot it down because Biden had yet to select his top FCC and NTIA nominees at the time.)
“Both of these bills benefited from bipartisan discussions since the legislative hearing, and I am pleased to support them moving forward,” ranking member Bob Latta (R-Ohio) will say, per his prepared remarks.
FIRST IN MT: TECH TRADE GROUP GOES AFTER SENATE ANTITRUST BILL — The Chamber of Progress, which counts Amazon, Apple, Google and the company formerly known as Facebook as members, published a Medium post this morning that touts the benefits of Amazon Prime, Amazon’s paid subscription service, and explains why it believes the latest Senate tech antitrust bill would harm Prime customers.
This latest attack on the bill is a sign that the tech industry is seriously concerned about it. Introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the legislation would ban the tech giants from giving their own offerings higher priority over others’ on their platforms. Other organizations funded by the major tech companies, such as the Progressive Policy Institute, have used the same Amazon Prime argument.
The post was written in response to a document circulated by Klobuchar’s office, which said her bill would not “kill” Amazon Prime. Although the legislation wouldn’t explicitly ban Amazon Prime, its provisions “undercut important components” of how the e-commerce giant offers free two-day shipping, the Chamber of Progress argued.
“If Senator Klobuchar has had a change of heart, and truly doesn’t intend to ban Amazon Prime — a service used regularly by millions — there’s only one solution. Rewrite the bill,” CEO Adam Kovacevich wrote in his post.
— Senators hit back: Klobuchar and a number of the bill’s cosponsors are scheduled to make floor speeches this afternoon in support of the bill. The Minnesota Democrat will also appear in a taped segment this evening on TBS’ “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” where she is expected to promote the legislation.
ALSO FIRST IN MT: ADVOCATES PUSH FOR TRANSPARENCY IN ACADEMIA — Civil society groups are calling on the University of Pennsylvania to require its professors to disclose when they receive corporate funding. In a letter to the law school’s dean, the groups singled out Herb Hovenkamp, a Penn Law professor who is widely recognized as a renowned expert on antitrust law, for his ties to a tech-funded institute.
The groups highlighted similar concerns in a letter in September about a Northwestern law professor who supported Facebook’s petition for FTC Chair Lina Khan to recuse herself from matters involving the company.
NOW LIVE — POLITICO Pro has launched the Project Library to give Premium users a head start when tracking critical issues moving across the policy landscape. Our expert editors have created sample projects that feature the leading players, bills and regulations, news articles and Premium analysis content on key topics.
Be sure to check out our project on antitrust, which features a Pro Bill Analysis on a bill designed to help break up big tech giants, a Pro Analysis on tech antitrust suits and a closer look at several bills targeting competition. There’s also a project on tech privacy and security, which includes a look at the Open Markets Act from both the House and the Senate, a Pro Analysis on the FTC under Khan and a deep dive into the “Right to Repair” movement.
David L. Cohen, the longtime Comcast executive, was confirmed by unanimous consent to be ambassador to Canada. … Cisco Minthorn is joining the Information Technology Industry Council as vice president for government affairs. He was previously at Intel, where he was senior director of government relations and senior counsel. He is a Commerce Department and Hill alum. … Valeska Pederson Hintz has joined Perkins Coie’s emerging companies and venture capital practice as a partner in its Austin office. She was previously a partner in Lowenstein Sandler’s Silicon Valley office and has practiced at Wilson Sonsini.
The FCC announced the members of its Communications Equity and Diversity Council. It also named working group chairs: Robert Brooks will chair the innovation and access working group; Dominique Harrison will chair the digital empowerment and inclusion working group; and Christopher Wood will chair the diversity and equity working group.
First in MT: Prince Harry, the duke of Sussex, will join a Nov. 9 panel on misinformation as part of Wired’s “RE:WIRED” event. He will join Stanford Internet Observatory Technical research manager Renée DiResta and Color Of Change president Rashad Robinson for the session, titled “The Internet Lie Machine.”
DoorDash is launching SafeDash, an in-app safety toolkit, in partnership with security company ADT.
Best buds: “Apple and Its Favorite Chipmaker Get Closer,” via The Information.
Another one bites the dust: Facebook is shutting down its facial recognition system, POLITICO’s Melissa Heikkilä reports. Meanwhile, the Wilson Center released a report on how “consumer applications can help elucidate the broad benefits of facial recognition.”
Digging in: “The Mark Zuckerberg Aesthetic,” from NYT.
ICYMI: “Why Facebook is more worried about Europe than the U.S.” More from our Mark Scott.
Early polling: “Americans Don’t Like ‘Meta’ Name Or Care About Facebook’s Metaverse,” via Morning Consult.
Bye, bye, bye: Yahoo is leaving China, after a rocky two decades, WSJ reports.
Pretty please: The Internet Association wants Congress to delay 1099-K reporting requirements by a year.
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SEE YOU TOMORROW!