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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers has introduced a bill that would require online platforms to let users opt out of having personal data-driven algorithms select the content they see, according to a copy of the text shared exclusively with Axios.

Driving the news: Recent revelations about Facebook's internal research findings have renewed lawmaker interest in bills that seek to give people more of a say in how algorithms shape their online experiences.

Why it matters: The bill shows that anger over how platforms use their algorithms to target users with specialized content is a bipartisan issue with momentum on Capitol Hill.

  • The algorithms that personalize content on social networks and other apps can make services addictive, violate users' privacy and promote extremism, critics and many lawmakers argue. Conservatives have also claimed that services deliberately censor their speech.

What's happening: The Filter Bubble Transparency Act would require internet platforms to let people use a version of their services where content is not selected by "opaque algorithms" driven by personal data. It's sponsored by Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), David Cicilline (D-R.I.), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) and Burgess Owens (R-Utah).

  • The Senate version of the bill, also bipartisan, is sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), an influential member of Republican leadership. Buck and Cicilline are the bipartisan duo responsible for passing six antitrust bills out of the House Judiciary committee in June.
  • Buck and Thune plan to work together on tech and antitrust issues going forward, a Republican aide told Axios. That could boost the chances of such bills passing muster with Senate Republicans in the future.

What they're saying: "Consumers should have the option to engage with internet platforms without being manipulated by secret algorithms driven by user-specific data," said Buck.

  • Cicilline said: "Facebook and other dominant platforms manipulate their users through opaque algorithms that prioritize growth and profit over everything else. And due to these platforms’ monopoly power and dominance, users are stuck with few alternatives to this exploitative business model, whether it is in their social media feed, on paid advertisements, or in their search results."

Flashback: Last month, Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce committee introduced a bill that would remove online platforms' protection from content liability if they used algorithmic ranking to deliver content that caused harm.

Details: The bill would exempt smaller companies with fewer than 500 employees, those with annual gross receipts lower than $50,000,000 in the last three-year-period, and those that gather data on fewer than one million users annually.

Yes, but: Legislative days in 2021 are running out as Democratic lawmakers scramble to pass President Biden's spending bill.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that the law aims to cover algorithms that select content based on personal data.

Go deeper

Demand for anime content soars

Data: Parrot analytics; Chart: Will Chase and Allie Carl/Axios

Global demand for anime content grew 118% over the past two years, making it one of the fastest-growing content genres by that metric during the pandemic, according to data from Parrot Analytics.

Why it matters: Surging viewership has led to more deal-making in Hollywood around the genre.

Updated 53 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a powerful and potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring an array of hazards, from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten coastal property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Republican-led Pennsylvania court deems mail-in voting law unconstitutional

Workers count ballots for the 2020 Presidential election at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo: Hannah Yoon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Republican-led Pennsylvania court on Friday ruled that the state's mail-in voting law is unconstitutional.

Driving the news: Three Republican judges sided with Republican challengers and ruled that no-excuse mail-in voting is prohibited under the state's constitution. Two Democrats on the panel dissented.