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Mary Altaffer / AP

IBM threw its support behind an anti-sex-trafficking bill that online platforms such as Google and Facebook are lobbying against.

IBM's move: In a letter to bill sponsors Sens. Rob Portman and Richard Blumenthal, IBM's top lobbyist Chris Padilla wrote that, while the company is optimistic about the positive benefits of technology, "we also support appropriate, balanced measures to prevent new technologies and online services from being abused by criminals."

Between the lines: In joining other tech companies like Oracle and Hewlett Packard Enterprise in publicly supporting the bill, IBM distances itself from the position of the major platform companies that oppose the bill, which Google and Facebook say undermines their business model by making them legally liable for some content users post on their sites.

Of course, the companies throwing their weight behind the bill aren't platforms that host user-generated content. So they avoid any real business risk while still making a smart political move in supporting a bill to clamp down on the emotionally charged issue of sex trafficking

Meanwhile: Advocacy group NetChoice, which represents Facebook and Google, is taking a different tack by suggesting that law enforcement simply needs to better enforce existing laws to combat sex trafficking. "The DOJ already has all the power and permission it needs to prosecute trafficking sites and other bad actors like notorious sex trafficking website Backpage," NetChoice said in a press release.

Go deeper: Axios' David McCabe breaks down this issue in more detail here.

Go deeper

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. fears Iran won’t scale back to 2015 nuclear deal

Officials gather in Vienna on Sept. 29 for the first day of renewed nuclear talks with Iran. Photo: EU Vienna Delegation/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. officials have extremely low expectations as world powers resume negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, believing the Iranians aren't yet ready to negotiate seriously, Axios is told.

Driving the news: Senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community have assessed the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, thinks of his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, as a weak accommodationist who negotiated a bad deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015.