📺 This week on "Axios on HBO" — An exclusive: DNC chair Tom Perez said on Monday he's "not contemplating" an online convention despite the spread of the novel coronavirus (clip). Watch the full interview Sunday 6pm ET/PT on all HBO platforms.
Situational awareness: The U.S. is officially in a bear market as stocks plunge amid coronavirus fears and President Trump’s announcement of a travel ban on Europeans.
Today's Login is only 1,479 words, a 6-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
As the coronavirus pushes more human activities online, it's forcing a reckoning with the often-invisible digital divide, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports.
Why it matters: The virus crisis is offering vivid case studies of real-world, everyday harms that result from inequality between those who have access to and can afford high-speed internet, and those who cannot.
What's happening: Both the government and private sector are moving to online systems and operations, but not everyone in the U.S. can easily follow.
What they're saying: "Coronavirus, without some immediate changes being made, is certainly going to exacerbate the haves and have nots for who's digitally connected," Federal Communications commissioner Geoffrey Starks told Axios.
By the numbers: The FCC estimates 21 million Americans don't have access to high-speed broadband, though that number could be higher due to problems with data collection.
Yes, but: A key issue in closing the digital divide is accurately determining where there is and isn't broadband, something the FCC has struggled to do because its process for collecting connectivity and speed data has overstated broadband coverage.
What's next: Carr has championed a pilot program now under consideration at the FCC that would see the agency offer $100 million over three years to subsidize telehealth services for low-income users, underserved areas and veterans. If successful, the program could be extended and given more funding.
But the agency's Democrats, Starks and commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, want to see the FCC do more to address immediate needs raised by the coronavirus crisis.
The bottom line: "We need to think creatively on how we're going to help the American people through a time of crisis," Starks told Axios. "I firmly believe that families are going to rely on connectivity in a way that they've never done before. And the FCC has to lead."
Google's G Suite, which includes Gmail, Google Docs, Hangouts, Meet and other apps, quietly passed a major milestone at the end of last year: It now has more than 2 billion monthly active users, G Suite boss Javier Soltero told Axios Wednesday.
Why it matters: Long seen as the upstart challenger to Microsoft Office, Google's productivity suite is now one of the two incumbents, facing fresh rivals of its own.
"That's a staggering number ... these products have incredible reach. Changing the way people work is something we are uniquely positioned to do."— Javier Soltero
Driving the news: Soltero, who joined Google from Microsoft last year, said his focus has been on doubling down on features that make G Suite unique, like its robust search, conversation focus in Gmail and built-in collaboration.
Once a startup CEO himself — he sold mobile email app Accompli to Microsoft — Soltero now touts the benefits of going with an established player, rather than some company that might not even be around a year from now.
Yes, but: The presence of so many startups out there shows there is more work to be done. Soltero said. "This is not a solved problem. Nobody has run the table on communication and collaboration."
What's next: Soltero said to expect the "smart compose" feature — which suggests email replies, for instance, based on the content of the message — to expand beyond Gmail and Docs. The feature, he said, should go everywhere it is prudent to do so.
He also sees room for improvement in better integrating the separate apps. "I think we still have work to do," Soltero said.
Twitter's San Francisco headquarters. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
After previously recommending all employees work from home, Twitter took things a step further on Wednesday, making telecommuting mandatory for nearly all employees.
Why it matters: It's another sign of just how seriously big tech companies are taking the coronavirus outbreak.
Twitter said in a blog post that it was making the move to support the health of its employees and those vulnerable in the communities in which it has offices.
Twitter also said:
Yes, but: The edict applies to most, but not all employees. Some folks, such as those in Twitter's data center, have to be physically in the office to do their jobs.
In other tech industry coronavirus news:
Photo illustration: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.
Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Rick Scott are introducing legislation to bar federal employees from using TikTok on government devices, citing national security concerns, Axios' Kyle Daly reports.
The big picture: Chinese tech companies like TikTok parent ByteDance are drawing rising scrutiny from policymakers who argue that Beijing can tap them to harvest vast amounts of data from Americans.
Details: The No TikTok on Government Devices Act would ban all federal employees from installing "TikTok or any successor application developed by ByteDance or any entity owned by ByteDance on any device issued by the United States or a government corporation."
Context: TikTok, a wildly popular video app, doesn't collect much personal information compared to other social media platforms, and there's little public evidence that it is monitoring other activity on its users' devices.
You have to watch this talented singer who redid Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" for the work-from-home era.