Feb 5, 2017

Snapchat's fear: Weaker net neutrality rules

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Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, filed its papers to go public this week, making it the first big tech listing of the year. But it's wary of another development expected this year that would be bad news for its long-term success.

In its filing with the SEC, Snap said it relies on current FCC net neutrality rules banning mobile providers from discriminating against content providers like Snapchat, and also preventing carriers from striking deals with certain content providers for faster, better service.

"If the FCC, Congress, the European Union, or the courts modify these open internet rules, mobile providers may be able to limit our users' ability to access Snapchat or make Snapchat a less attractive alternative to our competitors' applications. Were that to happen, our business would be seriously harmed."

Why Snap is worried: Republicans at the FCC and in Congress want to dismantle the current rules that expanded the FCC's oversight of the broadband industry. Without firm rules requiring providers treat internet traffic equally, Snapchat content could be slowed down on some networks in favor of competitors' content or apps. That wouldn't go over well with its primary user base: impatient teenagers.

The latest: On Friday, a day after Snap filed for its IPO, new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai indicated he doesn't intend to go after wireless carriers over free data, or "zero rating," programs that let consumers view certain content and apps without it counting against their data limits. (Current FCC rules allow the agency to assess these plans on a case-by-case basis and intervene if necessary.) In response the Internet Association, which counts Snapchat among its members, said zero rating can promote consumer choice. But, "when done improperly or left unchecked it can also be harmful to consumers and stifle competition online."

What's next: Republican policymakers generally agree that the current rules' prohibition of blocking, throttling and fast lanes should stay in place, but they want to vanquish provisions that gave the FCC expanded regulatory power. How they'll go about doing that is still an open question. And Snapchat, like other companies who rely on broadband networks to reach consumers, knows the devil is in the details.

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How to understand the scale of American job decimation

Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics via St. Louis Fed; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Sentence from a nightmare: 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment last week, a decline from the previous week's 6.9 million.

The big picture: Over the past three weeks, 1 in 10 working-age adults filed for unemployment, Axios' Courtenay Brown notes.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 1,579,690 — Total deaths: 94,567 — Total recoveries: 346,780Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:30 p.m. ET: 452,582 — Total deaths: 16,129 — Total recoveries: 24,790Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under coronavirus public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — Another 6.6 million jobless claims were filed last week.
  5. World latest: Boris Johnson is moved out of ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  6. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Biden rolls out new policies in effort to court Sanders supporters

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Biden campaign announced two new policies on Thursday on health care and student debt that are squarely aimed at appealing to supporters of Bernie Sanders, who ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The policies don't go as far as Sanders' platform, but they signal that Biden is serious about incorporating elements of his former rival's agenda in an effort to help unify the Democratic Party and defeat President Trump in the general election.