Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sam Jayne / Axios

America's largely romantic view of its tech giants — Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, etc. —is turning abruptly into harsh scrutiny. Silicon Valley suddenly faces a much more intrusive hand from Washington, based on rapidly accumulating vulnerabilities in nine big areas listed below.

Be smart: Today's conditions — populist rage in the country, combined with growing suspicion of corporate behemoths — closely mirror those that gave us Teddy Roosevelt's trust-busting of oil and steel at the turn of the 1900s, and the progressive reforms that ushered in today's antitrust protections.

  1. Content in a 50-50 nation: After the election, the left was furious about the spread of fake news online, which is sure to get worse. And a lot of conservatives worry about the tech giants injecting liberal bias into their handling of political comments and stories.
  2. Privacy controversies.
  3. Sexism, an issue freshly ignited with this week's eruption at Google over an engineer's manifesto blaming biology for the shortage of women engineers, and accusing the company of a "politically correct monoculture." The engineer said last night that he'd 'been fired for ""perpetuating gender stereotypes."
  4. Job-killing robots, automation and artificial intelligence.
  5. Paranoia by the companies about a bill by Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to constrain human trafficking, because it gives victims and state attorneys general new tools against social networks and other online sources of exploitive content.
  6. Backlash over the mounting data trove about us: In many cases, we aren't the customer — we're the product.
  7. Contribution to income inequality.
  8. Tax avoidance by shifting revenue overseas.
  9. Astonishing concentration of wealth and power.

Big tech, already facing billions in fines from European regulators, is an increasing target of both U.S. political parties:

  • Steve Bannon and his nationalist acolytes in the White House are eager to take on the tech companies as selfish and monopolistic, and top GOP staffers are warning Google, Facebook and Amazon not to get too aggressive with their net-neutrality advocacy.
  • Bannon's not the only conservative floating concerns about the power of these companies. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told Axios' David McCabe just before the Senate left on recess: "I certainly have concerns about media companies and large tech companies putting their thumb on the scales and skewing political and public discourse."
  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) introduced a privacy bill this year that would put the same restrictions on Google and Facebook as it would on Comcast, Verizon and other internet providers.
  • On the other side, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called in June for a revival of antitrust enforcement.
  • Last month, House and Senate Democrats singled out corporate monopolies as a key target of the party's new "better deal" economic platform.
  • Lobbyist Bruce Mehlman, executive director of the Technology CEO Council, a business consortium, said: "No industry in the history of the world has gotten to this level of ascendancy not run into political crosswinds."
  • Another top lobbyist told me: "The AI [artificial intelligence] issue is the big monster in the room — only a handful of members of Congress even understand what it means. It sounds sexy and scary at the same time. That is probably where Congress is going to wake up shortly and get heavily involved."
  • One problem for pols licking their chops: Most consumers love and depend on the products. And they like using the "utility" (Facebook, Google, etc.) for free.

When I showed a draft of this item to my tech colleagues at Axios, they pointed out that many of the giants have been trying to recalibrate their Washington operations for the Trump era:

  • Facebook hired a former top Senate aide to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Google, with long Democratic ties, did "an about-face" to woo Republicans after the election, the N.Y. Times wrote. Amazon hired a lobbyist with close Trump ties, Brian Ballard.
  • A key executive at one of the targeted companies told me: "It's the attitude and the mood of the country, underscored by the election. It's hit in so many different directions, including the institutions of news and the institutions of higher learning."
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.
Not a valid email format.
Not a valid email format.
Server error. Please try a different email.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Reports: Up to 17 U.S. missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Haitian soldiers guard the public prosecutor's office in Port-au-Prince earlier this month. Photo: Richard Pierrin/AFP via Getty Images

Children were among up to 17 American Christian missionaries and their relatives kidnapped by a gang in Haiti on Saturday, the New York Times first reported.

Details: The missionaries had just left an orphanage and were traveling by bus to the airport to "drop off some members" and were due to travel to another destination when the gang struck in Port-au-Prince, Haitian security officials said, per the NYT.

3 hours ago - World

Melbourne, "world's most locked-down city," to lift stay-at-home orders

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews during a news conference in Melbourne, Australia, on Sunday. Photo: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Melbourne's stay-at-home orders will end five days earlier than planned, officials in Australia's second-biggest city announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The capital of the state of Victoria has had six lockdowns totaling 262 days since March last year. That means Melbourne spent longer under lockdown than "any other city in the world" during the pandemic, Reuters notes.

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. on Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro. Security forces placed six U.S. oil executives under house arrest hours later, per AP.