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DNC week: On Thursday, August 20 Axios co-founder Mike Allen hosted a conversation on the future of broadband access featuring Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Microsoft President Brad Smith and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

Randi Weingarten discussed coronavirus' impact on education and the necessity of expanding broadband access across America.

  • On remote education becoming a fact of life: "In a global pandemic where you have a virus that is very contagious and spreads asymptomatically, we have an obligation to make remote [education] better because, until we can decrease community spread throughout the United States, distance learning and distance working is going to be a fact of life."
  • On equitable broadband access: "A hotspot does not substitute for connectivity into a home or into a school. A hotspot does not substitute for reliable high speed Wi-Fi...We should be thinking about connectivity like we think about radio waves. It should be free to everyone."

Highlighting how public education now depends on not just hardware but internet connectivity, Brad Smith underscored the necessity of prioritizing broadband access as a critical part of infrastructure.

  • On the challenge of bridging the digital divide: "The kids that lacked a broadband connection in May are probably going to lack it in September as well...[they'll] be facing that same problem as they start school in a couple of weeks. For a country for whom I think universal public education has been a defining value and attribute of our society, we have a huge problem."
  • On the social responsibility of the tech sector: "We were born as an industry free of regulation. But given the impact of technology on society today, we need to step up and recognize we need to exercise more responsibility ourselves, and we need to help governments move forward and create a regulatory floor."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar discussed the security challenges of the fall election, unpacking her views on the Trump administration's efforts to suppress voter turnout.

  • Her view on the chaos created by the Trump administration: "When it comes to what [the Trump administration] is doing on the postal service, what they are doing when it comes to not adequately funding and helping our states during the pandemic with elections...it feels like they're trying to foment chaos. Every one Democrat, Republican, Independent has a right to vote. And I would rather put ballots in the mail box and voters in the hospital."
  • Her view on voting by mail versus voting machines: "For right now, at least, the mail in ballots can't be hacked into like the voting machines. It's another reason to vote by mail."

Thank you Microsoft for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Nov 23, 2020 - Technology

Biden's openings for tech progress

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images 

Item No. 1 on President-elect Joe Biden's day-one tech agenda, controlling the flood of misinformation online, offers no fast fixes — but other tech issues facing the new administration hold out opportunities for quick action and concrete progress.

What to watch: Closing the digital divide will be a high priority, as the pandemic has exposed how many Americans still lack reliable in-home internet connections and the devices needed to work and learn remotely.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in DecemberAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  4. Education: U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists — National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
  5. Cities: Los Angeles County issues stay-at-home order, limits gatherings.
  6. World: London police arrest dozens during anti-lockdown protests — Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.

Tony Hsieh, longtime Zappos CEO, dies at 46

Tony Hsieh. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic

Tony Hsieh, the longtime ex-chief executive of Zappos, died on Friday after being injured in a house fire, his lawyer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He was 46.

The big picture: Hsieh was known for his unique approach to management, and following the 2008 recession his ongoing investment and efforts to revitalize the downtown Las Vegas area.

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