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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

The biggest headline from Biden's town hall

President Biden greets attendees during a commercial break in Baltimore last night. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

What matters from President Biden's town hall with CNN's Anderson Cooper at Baltimore Center Stage on Thursday, via Axios night owl Hans Nichols:

The biggest headline: Biden is jettisoning the corporate tax increases that White House officials have insisted, for the past 10 months, are wildly popular across the country. He admitted he doesn't have the votes.

Trump, your 2024 GOP nominee

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Former President Trump is telling most anyone who'll listen he will run again in 2024 — and poll after poll shows the vast majority of Republicans would gladly cheer him on and vote for him. 

Why it matters: Trump is the heart, soul and undisputed leader of the Republican Party and will easily win the nomination if he wants it, the polls make unmistakably clear.

Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology
Column / Signal Boost

How smartphone cameras became the best cameras

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

For years, the smartphone has been the most convenient camera, and in recent years it has also become the easiest and most versatile camera. But this year's high-end smartphones have taken things to a new level — capturing images that would be either tough or impossible even with a high-end digital camera.

Between the lines: Traditional cameras have the advantage of bigger sensors and better lenses, but smartphone cameras are rivaling and even surpassing them by tapping computational power.