Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Why it matters: Commerce weighs in on everything from privacy to wireless spectrum. So while the Secretary of Commerce doesn't have the high-profile of, say, the FCC chair, it's still a key role to watch for tech and telecom companies.

  • Spectrum: "Well, for sure, the vast majority of the federally occupied spectrum that's unused now is in the hands of the Department of Defense," said businessman Wilbur Ross. "So [the] first objective has to be do no harm, we can't compromise national defense, homeland at all. But we also need to be rational and it can't be that there's hoarding." Quick take: That's probably good news for people who want more federal spectrum turned over to private companies.
  • The internet domain system: He acknowledged that the transition away from a U.S.-controlled domain name system is settled business for now. He was skeptical of the move, however, and said he'd be happy to look at alternatives if they ever come up.
  • Privacy: Asked about the framework governing data transfers between the US and EU, Ross said he recognized that "agreements that exist obviously exist" but said "there will be a tension between privacy on the one hand and the problems of localization of data and the implications that they have for the internet as we go forward."
  • Broadband deployment: "Broadband is to a very large degree a path to a future," Ross said, adding broadband was an important part of infrastructure policy. Quick take: This signals that broadband may be included in the major infrastructure plan Donald Trump is expected to roll out.

Go deeper

Parties trade election influence accusations at Big Tech hearing

Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

A Senate hearing Wednesday with Big Tech CEOs became the backdrop for Democrats and Republicans to swap accusations of inappropriate electioneering.

Why it matters: Once staid tech policy debates are quickly becoming a major focal point of American culture and political wars, as both parties fret about the impact of massive social networks being the new public square.

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Germany goes back into lockdown

Photo: Fabrizio Bensch/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will enact one of Europe's strictest coronavirus lockdowns since spring, closing bars and restaurants nationwide for most of November, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Germany is the latest European country to reimpose some form of lockdown measures amid a surge in cases across the continent.

How overhyping became an election meddling tool

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As online platforms and intelligence officials get more sophisticated about detecting and stamping out election meddling campaigns, bad actors are increasingly seeing the appeal of instead exaggerating their own interference capabilities to shake Americans' confidence in democracy.

Why it matters: It doesn't take a sophisticated operation to sow seeds of doubt in an already fractious and factionalized U.S. Russia proved that in 2016, and fresh schemes aimed at the 2020 election may already be proving it anew.