📺 This week on "Axios on HBO:" A peek into Biden's secret governing plan, Housing Secretary Ben Carson on cutting housing programs and why Trump should tweet less (clip); tennis great Billie Jean King and more top women athletes on leveling the playing field. Watch Sunday 6pm ET/PT on all HBO platforms.
Today's Login is 1,432 words, a healthy, 5-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Washington is amping up pressure on Big Tech to fight online child sexual exploitation, while critics and some companies fear the real aim is to force the industry to bend to the government's will on encryption, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports.
The big picture: Separate measures from the Trump administration and a bipartisan group of Senate leaders Thursday offer the industry a broad set of general principles for fighting child sexual exploitation, while also threatening to withhold longstanding liability protection from companies that fail to meet government-approved standards.
Driving the news:
Details: The legislation — the Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (EARN IT) Act — would require tech platforms to comply with government-developed best practices to prevent online child sexual exploitation. If they don't, they would lose some of the liability protection they have under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.
Context: Barr welcomed policy experts for a session on Section 230 at the Justice Department last month, and said the department is concerned about the "expansive reach" of the law.
What they're saying: While EARN IT Act proponents note support from 70 groups, including the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, there are plenty of critics across the industry and the political spectrum.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), an author of Section 230, called EARN IT a "deeply flawed and counterproductive bill" and said he will offer his own legislation on fighting child predation.
The other side: In an interview, Blumenthal argued the legislation has "no impact on encryption."
What's next: Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, scheduled a March 11 hearing on the legislation.
Photo: Alfio Giannotti/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Top Silicon Valley investment firm Sequoia Capital today sent a dire warning to portfolio company CEOs about the business impacts of coronavirus, suggesting that they "question every assumption" about their businesses, including cash runway, headcount, and sales forecasts, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.
Why it matters: The last time Sequoia did something similar was in October 2008, at the peak of the financial crisis, via its famed "RIP Good Times" slide deck. The firm is known for placing early bets on such companies as Airbnb, Google, and WhatsApp.
The full memo is worth a read.
Meanwhile, in other virus-related news:
Speaking at an investor conference on Thursday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he was reevaluating his plan to spend several months in Africa this year.
Between the lines: Dorsey specifically blamed COVID-19, though his decision also comes as Twitter struggles with tough content and business issues and as an activist investor, Elliott Management, is seeking his ouster.
Of note: Bloomberg reporter Kurt Wagner noted that despite being interviewed on stage for 40 minutes, Dorsey was not asked a direct question about Elliott's move to have him replaced as CEO.
Still, many of Dorsey's comments seemed aimed at addressing criticisms lobbed by Elliott and others.
What he's saying:
The bottom line: Dorsey may not have addressed Elliott by name, but he was speaking to its attack on his leadership.
After initially indicating it would not take action against campaign ads from President Trump that encouraged people to "take the Official 2020 Congressional District Census today," Facebook said Thursday it would take the messages down.
Why it matters: Facebook has generally subjected political advertising to few rules, but had said it would take a tough stand against any posts designed to mislead people about the census. In this case, the company only took action after the problem was reported and civil rights groups spoke out.
Details: The ads also included a logo touting a "2020 Census," in an apparent effort to encourage supporters to provide the campaign with personal information.
What they're saying:
Separately: Facebook also told CNBC it would take down any political ads that contain misinformation related to the coronavirus.
Dish has a new contest that will pay one lucky winner $1,000 to watch hours and hours of The Office. Huh, I do that every week for free.