If you missed last night's "Axios on HBO" summer finale, you owe it to yourself to go back and watch it. Some of the tech-related items are recapped below, but there's way more in the episode — including a megascoop from Axios' Jonathan Swan.
Today's Smart Brevity count: 968 words, < 4 minute read.
Sen. Mark Warner talks with Axios' Kim Hart. Photo: "Axios on HBO"
Politicians are increasingly interested in putting a price tag on the personal data you share with online platforms, Axios' Kim Hart writes.
Why it matters: The grand bargain of the digital age, in which consumers have traded their data for free services, is being criticized more and more as a lopsided exchange in which consumers give up valuable assets to use "free" services.
Driving the news: As first reported on "Axios on HBO," Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are introducing legislation today that would require Big Tech platforms to tell users how much money their data is worth.
What they're saying:
"I think you've got to have this value proposition out there for Americans to realize what they are giving up in terms of value when you have this data basically taken from you — often times without knowledge of not only how it's being taken, but how it's being used, and in certain cases, how it's being manipulated."— Sen. Mark Warner, to "Axios on HBO"
California Gov. Gavin Newsom supports the concept of a "data dividend" for California residents. He's unsure how big those checks should be.
"Your data is being monetized every single nanosecond. And, to the extent it's been monetized and it's yours, I think in some way shape or form you should be rewarded."— Gov. Gavin Newsom, to "Axios on HBO"
Be smart: It's been argued that it's hard to apply modern antitrust doctrine to Facebook and Google because antitrust laws are focused on price, and the tech platforms are technically free.
The bottom line: Even if these proposals go nowhere, they're useful in demonstrating to users that they're not getting something for free.
Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: "Axios on HBO"
In interviews with "Axios on HBO," Newsom and Warner both warn social media companies to tread carefully when it comes to hosting manipulated content.
Newsom calls Facebook's decision not to remove a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "curious."
Warner says his "patience is wearing thin" with the companies' inaction on multiple issues.
Axios cybersecurity reporter Joe Uchill notes that there's a big risk associated with the cyberattacks the U.S. is said to have conducted against Iran, in response to attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman and an unmanned U.S. drone.
The big question: Given its history of responding to threats with cyberattacks of its own, how will Tehran respond?
Background: Iran is believed to have launched several cyberattacks against the U.S. financial sector in 2012, just after the U.S. implemented sanctions against Iran — and with the memory still fresh of the Stuxnet malware, likely designed by the U.S. and Israel to disable Iran's nuclear program.
The intrigue: Iran has recently been increasing its cyber espionage efforts against the U.S. But the operations appear (at this point) to be more about gathering intelligence than causing damage. That could change at any time.
Yes, but: While the specter of U.S. cyberattacks against Iran might bring to mind Stuxnet, we don't know what form these attacks took. It could have been something minor — more of a brushback pitch designed to deter, rather than destroy.
Go deeper: Joe has more here.
Catch up quick: Ordinary Americans use Kiva to lend money to some of the poorest people in the world, in dollars and with 0% interest.