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Virginia's Mark Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
In a policy paper obtained by Axios, Sen. Mark Warner's office laid out 20 different paths to address problems posed by Big Tech platforms. The ideas range from putting a price on individual users' data to funding media literacy programs, according to Axios' David McCabe.
Why it matters: The paper — prepared by Warner’s staff and circulated in tech policy circles in recent weeks — is a window t0 the options available to U.S. policymakers concerned about disinformation and privacy. Enacting any of these plans is a long shot in the near-term, but a shift in control of Congress could give them more momentum.
The details: Options listed in the paper range from relatively small lifts to more drastic policy changes. The paper focuses on three areas: combating disinformation, protecting user privacy and promoting competition.
What they’re saying: “The size and reach of these platforms demand that we ensure proper oversight, transparency and effective management of technologies that in large measure undergird our social lives, our economy, and our politics,” the paper says. “The hope is that the ideas enclosed here stir the pot and spark a wider discussion — among policymakers, stakeholders, and civil society groups — on the appropriate trajectory of technology policy in the coming years.”
What they’re not saying: The list doesn’t include the possibility of breaking up any of the large tech platforms — as some activists have called for — or establishing a new federal regulator for digital issues.
Reality check: Even with vocal support, major tech policy proposals often fail to reach the velocity they need to actually be enacted. A Democratic wave in November could put more momentum behind these ideas — but for now they remain just that.
Go deeper: David has more here, including the full paper.
After a strong earnings report from Google, and weak ones from Facebook, Twitter and Juniper Networks, it will be interesting to see what this week's reports say about the overall health of the tech industry.
Reports are due from a number of other key players, including Apple, T-Mobile and Sprint.
Why it matters: Apple, in particular, will be closely watched, as it's the last of the remaining giants and such a big driver of the tech economy. Should it, or the other reporting companies, suggest weakness, it could mean there are broader issues in tech.
The other side: It could just be problems unique to Facebook and Twitter. "The disappointment from Facebook and Twitter was more due to their outlook than anything else," Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told Axios. "Facebook warned of deceleration in growth and Twitter said to expect MAU [monthly active users] to decline by 2%. Neither [is] showing enough growth to justify premium valuations."
Meanwhile: When it comes to Apple, the June quarter is usually its smallest quarter. All eyes will be on the company's guidance and what it implies about the next iPhone both in terms of timing and expected volume. Apple is unlikely to say much, but its financial outlook often gives some indications. Rumors suggest three new iPhone models for the fall.
Navigating in Xi'an, China. Photo: Feature China/Barcroft/Getty Images
In the 1930s, New York building commissioner Robert Moses built highways and bridges, one after another, with the aim of relieving congestion in America's biggest city. But each time, the result was the same — worse traffic.
Eight decades later, transportation experts are observing a similar phenomenon with the world's newest urban innovation: ride-hailing services. According to a major new study, Uber, Lyft and their smaller rivals are clogging major U.S. cities — not relieving congestion — and even more traffic may be on the way when self-driving cars are commonplace, Axios' Steve LeVine and Henrietta Reily report.
Why it matters: A major promise of the self-driving, ride-hailing future has been cleaner, more walkable, and people-friendly cities, with much more efficient, individual transportation. But if the study — like others before it — is accurate, we are instead heading toward a bigger problem.
Meanwhile, Uber and Lyft are pointing to their carbon footprint-reduction efforts.
Photo: Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images
Twitter has selected two proposals to study user interactions and discourse since putting out a call in March for help in measuring "conversation health" on its service, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports.
Why it matters: A growing number of users have been taking time off Twitter, using it less, or quitting it altogether in recent times as they say the service has become mentally toxic.
The two proposals, which Twitter selected from more than 230 submissions:
1. Echo chambers and uncivil discourse: This project will measure the extent of how much Twitter users interact and acknowledge a variety of viewpoints. It will also work on developing algorithms that can distinguish between incivility and tolerance.
2. Interactions and decreasing prejudice: This project will study how user behavior on Twitter can (or not) decrease prejudice and discrimination when interacting with users of diverse viewpoints.
Yes, but: Twitter will still have to figure out what to do about the problematic interactions or trends these proposals unearth. And this won't solve some of the big criticisms of the company, including its policies and enforcement regarding abusive and harassing behavior.
Read more of Kia's story here.