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Kim Hart Apr 13
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Democrats plan to push privacy rules after Facebook hearings

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

House Democrats plan to use this week's Facebook hearings as the starting point for an aggressive push for privacy legislation, which sets them up to move a bill forward if the House flips in November.

Why you'll hear about this again: Mark Zuckerberg emerged from 10 hours of testimony without any indication that bipartisan action is imminent. But House Democrats are preparing to introduce proposals for privacy legislation that will put in place concrete protections for how personal data is used and shared, although specifics are still being worked out, according to a Democratic House aide.

What to expect: Democrats on the Energy & Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over tech issues, will introduce proposals in the near term. That gives Democrats the opportunity to point to their efforts even if Republicans fail to make good on their regulatory threats.

What they said: Here's a sampling of what House Democrats said at Wednesday's hearing.

  • Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking member of the House Energy & Committee: "So I was happy to hear that Mr. Zuckerberg conceded that his industry needs to be regulated, and I agree. We need comprehensive privacy and data security legislation."
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.): Regarding Facebook's history of privacy apologies, "this is proof to me that self-regulation simply does not work. I have a bill — the Secure and Protect Americans' Data Act — that I hope you will take a look at."
  • Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.): "[T]he only way we're going to close this trust gap is through legislation that creates and empowers a sufficiently resourced expert oversight agency with rule-making authority to protect digital privacy and ensure that companies protect our users' data."

The Browser Act, a bill from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), is still on the table. It would apply opt-in requirements to internet service providers and online services like Facebook. When Blackburn asked Zuckerberg if he would support it, he told her he was "not directly familiar with the details of what you just said."

Meanwhile, two senators (Democrat Amy Klobuchar and Republican John Kennedy) announced Thursday that they'll introduce legislation that would give consumers more control over their data and let them opt out of tracking and data collection.

Jonathan Swan 12 hours ago
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Trump asked Netanyahu if he genuinely cares about peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Trump at the White House in March. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

In a phone call last year with Bibi Netanyahu, President Trump said something that shocked some of the people who helped prepare his briefing materials for the conversations. According to three sources familiar with the call, Trump asked Bibi bluntly if he actually cares about peace or not.

The details: Trump was pressing Bibi on the importance of striking a "deal" for Mideast peace. He'd read news reports about Bibi planning to build additional settlements to please his conservative base in Israel. Trump thought Bibi was unnecessarily angering the Palestinians. So, in the course of a longer conversation that was mostly friendly and complimentary, he bluntly asked Bibi whether or not he genuinely wants peace.

Jonathan Swan 12 hours ago
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Kellyanne Conway rises — again

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Kellyanne Conway has never actually wanted the job of White House communications director, according to sources who've discussed it with her, but Axios has learned that she left many in the White House communications team this week with the impression that she'd be leading the team in some capacity.

Behind the scenes: Senior White House communications official Mercedes Schlapp convened an off-site team-building and planning retreat last week for the White House comms team. They held the session on Thursday at the General Services Administration building a couple blocks from the WH (the same building that once housed the transition).