I hope you had a good Labor Day. It may be a short week, but it's shaping up to be a big one, with Big Tech due before Congress, TechCrunch Disrupt and more.
Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
On Wednesday, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee to make the case they've learned their lesson on foreign election interference — and it won't happen again.
What we're hearing: The execs' message on Wednesday, Axios' David McCabe reports, will be that a year has made a big difference in how seriously they take the threat of foreign election interference.
Google remains in a stalemate with the Intelligence Committee. Lawmakers want a CEO-level witness, and the company wants to send its top lawyer.
The big picture: The revelations of the Russian operation in 2016 poured fuel on the fire for Silicon Valley in Washington, and previously quiet criticism of the platform companies has grown louder.
Twitter may face the brunt of those criticisms this week given that Dorsey is also testifying solo before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, where Republican leaders have seized on complaints that it's limiting the reach of conservative voices.
Meanwhile, an NBC News interview with Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook's head of civic engagement, detailed plans to construct — actually, not virtually — a war room to manage responses to election interference in real time. Chakrabarti also confirmed that, as Facebook promised last year, the company has doubled the size of its safety and security team from 10,000 people a year ago to 20,000 now.
The bottom line: Over the past year, having to publicly answer tough questions from lawmakers has become the new normal for Silicon Valley.
Go deeper: Read Axios' Jim VandeHei's piece on Twitter’s insane mind-control power.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
For those who often hear the word "smart cities" but don't really get what the heck that really means, my colleague Kim Hart has a really great primer.
Here are the highlights:
Why it matters: Metropolitan areas across the country are trying to take advantage of new technologies to become more efficient and sustainable — two qualities that appeal to younger generations of workers, as well as the startups and big corporations that want to employ them.
The reality: Making cities smarter is more of a business model challenge than a technological one, says George Karayannis, who's leading Panasonic's smart city project near Denver's airport. Aligning the interests of everyone involved — utilities, telecom providers, builders, city leaders — is the hardest part. "In that way, it's like a seven-legged race," he said.
Go deeper: Kim has a lot more, and the full piece is worth a read.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Speedy 5G networks may be on the horizon, but consumer demand for wireless broadband is so intense that mobile companies like AT&T and Verizon need alternatives now — even if it means sharing airwaves with each other and with rival tech firms like Google.
Some wireless providers want to use a wide swath of prime airwaves known as Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) that are controlled by the Navy. As soon as a final dispute is resolved, premium frequencies will be available to companies, as long as the Navy still gets first dibs, Kim reports.
The big picture: 5G networks will start showing up next year, but even then will be far from ubiquitous. While we're waiting, the tech, telecom and equipment industries have put aside (some of) their competitive differences to ensure the FCC approves a spectrum-sharing plan that will open up military airwaves for commercial use across the country.
Read more of Kim's story here.
Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joe Simons. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
While a lot of the attention is on this week's congressional hearings, the key players are also focused on another front. Silicon Valley giants, lawmakers and Big Tech critics are trying to influence how a key regulator thinks about antitrust law enforcement, David reports.
Why it matters: Starting this month, the Federal Trade Commission is holding public hearings over concerns like privacy, market power of online platforms like Google and Facebook, and the impact on data on competition.
What they’re saying ...
Trade associations representing the tech giants argue that the current approach to antitrust law — which largely insulates companies online platforms because their products are free to consumers — should remain the standard.
Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter touted their data portability initiative, a broader goal they say is “critical for user control and competition.”
Their competitors urge the FTC to look at issues raised by Big Tech’s dominance in a range of areas.
Hill Democrats urge the FTC to reconsider antitrust in the digital age.
What’s next: The hearings start in the middle of September and continue until November.
Check out this fascinating tale about how one San Francisco man got his Prius running off the same overhead power lines that the city's buses use.