Situational awareness: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is proposing new laws and regulatory actions to break up tech giants, including unwinding long-consummated deals like Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram, and Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods.
And, for your listening pleasure, I spoke with Marketplace's Kai Ryssdal about Facebook's moves toward private messaging.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Privacy policies have been the standard approach to online privacy for the entire existence of the commercial internet. Now key Democrats are souring on them, Axios' David McCabe reports.
Why it matters: Moving away from relying on the so-called "notice and consent" requirements would be a sea change for users and could put the U.S. at odds with Europe's sweeping privacy regulation.
How it works: Internet users experience "notice and consent" daily.
Democrats say that system just isn't enough anymore.
Driving the news: Consumers don't read privacy policies before consenting to data collection — yet they're bringing more and more connected devices into their lives.
While lawmakers are unlikely to abandon the notice and consent framework entirely, they're saying it needs to be bolstered by more explicit prescriptions for how services can collect, use and store consumer data.
Yes, but: Some conservatives say lawmakers shouldn't be too prescriptive in regulating privacy, or give regulators new broad authority to make their own rules.
What they're saying: "The apparent congressional shift away from notice and consent is important," said Paul Gallant, an analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group who noted the trend in a note last week.
Go deeper: David has more here.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Photo: Astrid Riecken/Getty Images
Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen has asked U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate whether President Trump "improperly tried to influence" recent media merger reviews, Axios' Sara Fischer and David report.
Why it matters: This follows other requests from Democrats for more information after a New Yorker report alleged the president ordered his former chief of staff and top economic adviser to ensure the Justice Department sued to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal.
Details: In a letter to Barr obtained by Axios, Van Hollen asked the DOJ to investigate not just whether Trump had meddled in the AT&T deal but if he or White House officials had made "formal or informal inquiries encouraging the Department of Justice to approve or expedite the Disney/Fox merger."
The big picture: Democrats, now with a majority in the House, have ramped up investigations into the White House on several fronts.
What's next: At this point, Van Hollen said he doesn't know how Congress would proceed if the effort unearths political interference with either deal.
IBM CEO Ginni Rometty.: Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Tech companies are leading a broad push designed to convince Congress to pass the Equality Act, which would extend a number of civil rights protections to lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender Americans.
What's happening: As first reported by Axios, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, speaking on behalf of the Business Roundtable group of large employers, wrote a sharply worded letter urging passage of the bill.
Background: The Equality Act would amend several existing federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, offering protection in areas ranging from employment and housing to credit and public accommodations.
"As employers, America's leading companies know that our economy works best when our employees can be who they are, without fear of bias, discrimination, or inequality — in the workplace or in their communities."
Between the lines: The letter, addressed to Rep. David Cicilline and Sen. Jeff Merkley, notes that most large businesses have already added nondiscrimination policies protecting LGBTQ workers from discrimination.
Who's on board: The HRC letter is a who's who of the tech industry, including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, and Microsoft among many others. Also on the list are companies from other sectors, including American Airlines, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Hershey, Kellogg, Marriott, Procter & Gamble and Target.
Who's not on that list: While AT&T and T-Mobile US are listed, Sprint and Verizon are not.
The bottom line: Despite some bipartisan support and significant corporate backing, the bill faces a challenge given Republican control of the Senate and White House.
When you think of cosmetics firm Lush, you might think of lots of adjectives, but high-tech probably isn't one of them.
What's new: The British company is looking to change that, starting with a "digital bath bomb" it hopes to introduce before the holidays.
Details: The device wouldn't replace its signature scented balls of bicarbonate, but rather augment a soaking or shower with sights and sounds. Think waterproof speaker meets Hue light bulb, says Adam Goswell, who heads tech R&D for Lush.
Lush showed a prototype to consumers and is now going back to the drawing board to tweak the product based on feedback.
What's next, per Goswell: Lush is looking for other ways to incorporate technology, particularly if it can aid the company's overall environmental goals.
The Queen of England has made her first Instagram post — and it has to do with coding. (Thanks to Axios colleague Shane Savitsky for spotting this.)