Jan 16, 2019

Rubio debuts alternative privacy bill

Sen. Marco Rubio. Photo: Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) will introduce a privacy bill Wednesday tasking the Federal Trade Commission with recommending, and Congress with finalizing, national rules for companies like Google and Facebook.

Why it matters: Rubio's bill seems to steer clear of giving the FTC wide new authority, instead only letting the agency write rules itself if Congress fails to do so.

Details:

  • The American Data Dissemination Act would instruct the FTC to write recommendations to Congress for what privacy rules should look like for commercial services like Facebook, based on a 1974 law that created rules for federal agencies.
  • The agency will be required to find a way to exempt smaller companies from new rules.
  • If Congress failed to successfully pass a law within two years of the bill going into effect, the FTC would have the power to write rules in line with its own recommendations. Right now, the FTC can only enforce rules — not create its own.

Any rules that were created as a result of the bill would preempt certain state privacy regulations, according to a Rubio aide, fulfilling a major request from industry groups.

What he's saying: "It is critical that we do not create a regulatory environment that entrenches big tech corporations," Rubio said in a statement. "Congress must act, but it is even more important that Congress act responsibly to create a transparent, digital environment that maximizes consumer welfare over corporate welfare."

Yes, but: Congressional Democrats have indicated that they will only agree to preempt state laws — like new rules going into effect in California in 2020 — in exchange for national rules with teeth. Without full FTC rule-making authority, Rubio's proposal may not fit that bill for some privacy-minded Democrats.

  • The bill is launching without any cosponsors, the Rubio aide said.

What's next: More privacy proposals from Rubio's colleagues, including one from a bipartisan group of senators that includes the chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee.

Go deeper

The mystery of coronavirus superspreaders

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A small percentage of people — called superspreaders — may be responsible for a large number of COVID-19 infections, research is starting to indicate.

Why it matters: While there's no method to detect who these people are before they infect others, there are ways to control behaviors that cause superspreading events — a key issue as states start to reopen and debate what types of events are OK.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 5,931,112 — Total deaths: 357,929 — Total recoveries — 2,388,172Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 1,711,313 — Total deaths: 101,129 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. States: New York to allow private businesses to deny entry to customers without masks.
  4. Public health: Louisiana Sen. Cassidy wants more frequent testing of nursing home workers.
  5. Congress: Pelosi slams McConnell on stimulus delay — Sen. Tim Kaine and wife test positive for coronavirus antibodies.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Chinese official's claims that coronavirus originated in U.S.
  7. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Twitter fact-checks Chinese official's claims that coronavirus originated in U.S.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

Twitter slapped a fact-check label on a pair of months-old tweets from a Chinese government spokesperson that falsely suggested that the coronavirus originated in the U.S. and was brought to Wuhan by the U.S. military, directing users to "get the facts about COVID-19."

Why it matters: The labels were added after criticism that Twitter had fact-checked tweets from President Trump about mail-in voting, but not other false claims from Chinese Communist Party officials and other U.S. adversaries.