Oct 4, 2017

IBM breaks with Google, Facebook to support sex-trafficking bill

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.

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Trump gets "woke" in 15-city campaign to court black voters

The Trump campaign is leaning into its effort to woo African-American voters, opening "Black Voices for Trump" offices across six swing states, the campaign says.

Why it matters: "Woke" stickers, "Black Voices for Trump" T-shirts and other branded swag is part of this storefront approach as the campaign ramps up its efforts to erode Democrats' lock on this key demographic.

House passes bill to make lynching a federal hate crime

Photo: Aaron P. Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images

The House voted 410-4 on Wednesday to pass legislation to designate lynching as a federal hate crime.

Why it matters: Congress has tried and failed for over 100 years to pass measures to make lynching a federal crime.

This year's census may be the toughest count yet

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Community leaders are concerned that historically hard-to-count residents will be even harder to count in this year's census, thanks to technological hurdles and increased distrust in government.

Why it matters: The census — which will count more than 330 million people this year — determines how $1.5 trillion in federal funding gets allocated across state and local governments. Inaccurate counts mean that communities don't get their fair share of those dollars.