With help from John Hendel and Doug Palmer
Editor’s Note: Morning Tech is a free version of POLITICO Pro Technology’s morning newsletter, which is delivered to our subscribers each morning at 6 a.m. The POLITICO Pro platform combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the day’s biggest stories. Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.
— Here come the tech talking points: A flood of legislation, reports and other missives about online disinformation hits Washington just as the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter prepare to face their latest congressional grilling.
— New this morning: A key telecom player is calling for the U.S. government to throw its full weight behind 5G open RAN — or risk ceding ground in the next-gen networks to foreign rivals.
— G-7 asks: IBM, Zoom and Qualcomm are among more than two dozen companies calling for G-7 countries to assemble a “Data and Technology Forum” to create standards on regulating the digital economy.
GREETINGS, TECHLINGS: IT’S WEDNESDAY. WELCOME TO MORNING TECH! I’m your host, Alexandra Levine.
Got a news tip? Write me at [email protected], and follow @Ali_Lev on Twitter and @alexandra.levine on Instagram. An event for our calendar? Send details to [email protected]. Anything else? Team info below. And don’t forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.
THE DELUGE BEFORE THE TECH CEO HEARING — We tend to see a familiar pattern before most major tech hearings in Congress: Lawmakers, researchers, advocacy groups and tech critics drop legislation, reports, letters and other rhetorical bombs in the days and hours before the big event, calling attention to their views on the issues and often, how to make things better.
This week has been no different, ahead of a Thursday House hearing that will mark the first time Silicon Valley CEOs face questions from the 117th Congress. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sundar Pichai of Google and Jack Dorsey of Twitter will testify before House Energy and Commerce members on social media’s role in amplifying misinformation and accelerating extremism — plus whatever else the lawmakers ask about.
— On Covid mis- and disinformation, which is expected to be a top talker: The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security published a report Tuesday calling for a top-down, national strategy to fight bogus health information during the pandemic and future emergencies. That should involve a unified response across federal agencies and stronger coordination among social media companies and public health experts, the authors say.
A bicameral duo of Democrats also introduced legislation Tuesday to fund a National Science Foundation study on how false or misleading content on social media has affected vaccine distribution and the broader public response to Covid.
— On internet hate and extremism: Roughly 40 percent of Americans have endured hate or harassment online during the past year, the Anti-Defamation League says in a report out this morning. Most of the abuse occurred on Facebook, followed by Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, according to the study, and Asian Americans experienced a larger surge in severe online hate and harassment than any other group.
Experts from Harvard’s Kennedy School, NYU Stern’s Center for Business and Human Rights and elsewhere also delivered a paper to Congress and the administration on Tuesday with recommendations for reining in disinformation and harmful content on social media. They call for changes (read: limits) to Section 230; a new regulatory regime at the FTC; expanded requirements for online ads; and more support for news outlets. Check out the proposals here.
— And you can be sure there’s more coming today.
— The view from Facebook: “We have every motivation to keep misinformation off of our apps and we’ve taken many steps to do so at the expense of user growth and engagement,” Facebook’s vice president of integrity, Guy Rosen, said in a blog post highlighting the company’s work to counter misinformation. “As with every integrity challenge, our enforcement will never be perfect even though we are improving it all the time,” he added.
— Look out for more on the CEOs’ testimony in Thursday’s Morning Tech, even though one familiar voice has already proclaimed the leaders’ testimony to be a waste of Congress’ time. (That’s time better spent “subjecting business executives to felony prosecution,” he writes in WIRED.)
MAVENIR SAYS IT’S TIME TO BACK UP 5G ‘OPEN RAN’ RHETORIC — Texas-based telecom company Mavenir says the U.S. government needs to offer more tangible support for deploying 5G wireless through so-called open radio access networks — a disruptive approach that doesn’t rely on hardware from traditional vendors like Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei. Mavenir is partnering with satellite company Dish Network to help build a cloud-based 5G wireless network along these lines.
— It’s time for government mandates, Mavenir Senior Vice President John Baker writes in a blog post out this morning.
“Failing to mandate open interfaces only serves to perpetuate foreign dominance in the U.S. market while hurting American companies trying to supplant them with OpenRAN,” Baker said. He added that U.S. policymakers should offer “loan guarantees, grants, tax incentives, and demonstration sites that will help propel mobile carriers to pursue OpenRAN solutions.”
A top Ericsson executive explicitly cautioned acting FCC chief Jessica Rosenworcel to steer clear of this kind of strategy last month.
— Mavenir’s push adds pressure to the U.S. officials eyeing ways to bolster this technology: Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), who co-chairs the Spectrum Caucus, said during a Center for Strategic and International Studies event last week that she wants to ensure full funding of a grant program she helped launch, which is aimed at promoting open telecom networks.
DO WE NEED A G-7 DATA AND TECHNOLOGY FORUM? BIZ SAYS YES — More than two dozen companies headquartered in G-7 countries — including Visa and tech giants IBM, Zoom and Qualcomm — want leaders meeting this June in the U.K. to create a “Data and Technology Forum” that would establish core standards for national efforts to regulate the digital economy.
— “One of the big takeaways from the pandemic is that we really need to prevent any kind of fragmentation in the data space,” former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis told my colleagues in POLITICO’s Morning Trade. “Hopefully the G-7 can take it up and establish a group that will report directly to the leaders.”
Marantis, the senior vice president for global government engagement at Visa, compared the proposed forum to the Financial Stability Board, which G-20 leaders created in 2009 to guide the reform of international financial regulation and supervision.
“It is becoming more and more imperative that governments actually talk to each other and coordinate their approach, whether it’s privacy, cyber-security or artificial intelligence,” Marantis said. The goal of the proposed forum, he said, is “to prevent inefficiencies from being established in the global economy that would end up being a barrier to trading in the digital world.”
Prince Harry is joining the Silicon Valley startup BetterUp as chief impact officer.
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.) announced the re-launch of the Congressional Task Force on Digital Citizenship. … Adrian Boafo, who served most recently as campaign manager for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, is leaving Hoyer’s office after three years to join Oracle as director of government affairs. … Debra Dixon, former chief of staff to then-Rep. Xavier Becerra, has joined the bipartisan lobbying firm Ferox Strategies as a principal (she’ll continue to represent Microsoft).
Danielle Thumann, who most recently worked at Wilkinson Barker Knauer, has joined the office of FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr as legal adviser, and Ben Arden, who has been a legal adviser for Carr since 2019, will become his chief of staff. … Lindsay Kryzak, former director of corporate communications for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was appointed director of the FTC’s Office of Public Affairs.
Tableau president and CEO Adam Selipsky has been tapped to become the next CEO of Amazon Web Services, Protocol reports. … IBM and Intel are teaming up to advance domestic innovation on semiconductors.
Building the Biden administration: Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who earlier on Tuesday pledged to oppose President Joe Biden’s nominees over a lack of Asian American representation, backed down from that threat after receiving “assurances” from the Biden administration to elevate Asian American voices in the federal government, POLITICO reports.
How is Elon Musk charming China? WSJ with the details.
One thing lawmakers can agree on: Children’s safety as a tech policy priority. House members and senators of both parties, led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), are reintroducing legislation this morning directing the National Institutes of Health to study how tech affects children’s development.
Comin’ for ya, Arizona: “Intel announced on Tuesday that it will spend $20 billion to build two major factories in Arizona,” CNBC reports.
Following a recent launch in Rhode Island: Google Cloud is partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to create a similar career platform to help residents there looking for jobs.
Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Bob King ([email protected], @bkingdc), Heidi Vogt ([email protected], @HeidiVogt), John Hendel ([email protected], @JohnHendel), Cristiano Lima ([email protected], @viaCristiano), Alexandra S. Levine ([email protected], @Ali_Lev), and Leah Nylen ([email protected], @leah_nylen).