Sep 13, 2017

Senator wants Google, Facebook to testify on sex-trafficking bill

Cliff Owen / AP

A Republican senator wants Google and Facebook to publicly defend their opposition, articulated through one of their top trade groups, to a bill aimed at stopping sex-trafficking. The companies say it would imperil them legally.

The bigger picture: Large tech companies are no longer sacred in Washington and lawmakers keep suggesting their executives should testify.

The details:

  • The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing next week on the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act. It would weaken a provision that protects websites like Google, Facebook and YouTube from being sued for what their users post, so that trafficking victims could sue sites that facilitated the crime. The industry has said this could have disastrous consequences for the platform business model.
  • Lawmakers will hear testimony from a staffer for the Internet Association, which represents both companies. Bill sponsor Sen. Rob Portman wants the companies to show up themselves.
  • Two Senate sources tell Axios, however, that the companies were offered the opportunity to testify and said no. Instead they pointed towards the Internet Association. Facebook declined to comment on whether they had declined an opportunity to testify, Google did not respond.

Key quote: "I would hope that they would come and testify and tell the American people why they oppose it," Portman told Axios. "Whoever opposes it — if they're out lobbying against it, we should hear from them. Rather than behind closed doors, talk about it publicly."

Go deeper

China tries to contain coronavirus, as Apple warns of earnings impact

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's NHC; Note: China refers to mainland China and the Diamond Princess is the cruise ship offshore Yokohama, Japan. Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

As China pushes to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus — placing around 780 million people under travel restrictions, per CNN — the economic repercussions continue to be felt globally as companies like Apple warn of the impact from the lack of manufacturing and consumer demand in China.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 1,775 people and infected more than 70,000 others, mostly in mainland China. There are some signs that new cases are growing at a slower rate now, although the World Health Organization said Monday it's "too early to tell" if this will continue.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Apple will miss quarterly earnings estimates due to coronavirus

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple issued a rare earnings warning on Monday, saying it would not meet quarterly revenue expectations due to the impact of the coronavirus, which will limit iPhone production and limit product demand in China.

Why it matters: Lots of companies rely on China for production, but unlike most U.S. tech companies, Apple also gets a significant chunk of its revenue from sales in China.

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.