Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sen. John Thune. Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Lawmakers have focused for close to a year on what consumer data platforms like Google and Facebook collect. Now, another question is becoming increasingly central: How do they get that data in the first place?

Why it matters: Policymakers are digging into how so-called "dark patterns" and opaque algorithms affect the experience of people using the platforms, putting a spotlight on design practices many view as deceptive.

The backdrop: The term "dark patterns" can describe various interfaces used to manipulate or trick users into taking actions they wouldn't take if they had clear options and informed consent.

  • Such tactics can include catching a user unaware by interrupting them, asking repeatedly until a user consents, hiding alternate choices, and making it harder to agree to more privacy-friendly options.

Driving the news: A Senate Commerce Committee hearing this morning is looking into the ways "algorithmic decision-making and machine learning on internet platforms influences the public."

  • Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), who is chairing the subcommittee hearing, said in a statement he looks forward to "convening this important hearing, particularly as Congress continues its work on crafting data privacy legislation."
  • A briefing later in the day will feature experts talking about these user design features plus comments from the sponsors of a bill to regulate their usage.

What they're saying: "User consent remains weakened by the presence of dark patterns and unethical design," according to prepared remarks from Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a sponsor of the anti-dark patterns bill along with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). "Curbing the use of dark patterns will be foundational to increasing trust online."

  • Witnesses at the hearing will include Tristan Harris, a former Google design ethicist who has become a very public critic of Big Tech, and Maggie Stanphill, a director of user experience at Google.

The big picture: This is another sign that lawmakers are moving beyondthe "notice and consent" approach that has dominated privacy regulation for years.

The bottom line: These proposals could strike at the heart of Silicon Valley platforms' business models, and the way today's tech products are built.

Go deeper

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.

Lawmakers hide behind AG's investigation as Cuomo lingers

A billboard outside Albany, N.Y. Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is politically wounded but not yet dead, several state lawmakers tell Axios.

The state of play: Most are holding their fire and punting to state Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations. They expect the inquiry to be credible and thorough — and buy Cuomo badly needed breathing room.