Hillicon Valley — Klobuchar pulls committee vote on tech bill
CORRECTION: A previous version of this newsletter listed an incorrect name for the head of the Center for Democracy and Technology.
The Senate Judiciary Committee debated a proposal Thursday morning that aims to give news outlets the ability to collectively negotiate with tech platforms — but the vote on the bill was held after Democrats pushed back on an approved amendment.
We’ll also break down the White House announcement on core principles for reform aimed at enhancing competition and tech accountability.
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Klobuchar: Agreement ‘blown up’ by amendment
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked to pull a committee vote on a bill aimed at giving news outlets the ability to negotiate collectively with tech platforms after she said an adopted amendment offered by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) impeded the bipartisan agreement senators reached ahead of the Thursday meeting.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were slated to vote on a revised version of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, but Klobuchar asked to hold it after Cruz’s amendment was adopted by a one-vote margin by the Republicans on the committee.
- “I think the agreement that we had has been blown up,” Klobuchar said.
- In a statement, she said she fully plans to move forward with the bill.
- “This bill is about protecting local journalism by leveling the playing field and allowing local news outlets to band together to negotiate for fair compensation from tech platforms. I am committed to targeted, bipartisan legislation to achieve this goal,” she said in the statement.
The amendment passed in a 11-10 vote. Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), who is isolating in India after testing positive for COVID-19, was not present and did not provide a proxy vote either way on the amendment — giving the GOP senators an upper hand.
The underlying bill would grant newsrooms that employ fewer than 1,500 full-time employees — a cap essentially aimed at excluding the country’s three largest newspapers and national broadcasters — the ability to collectively negotiate with dominant tech platforms, like Google and Facebook, to be compensated for distributing their content.
The pre-markup debate on the bill
The debate around the proposal that aims to give news outlets the power to negotiate with tech giants to distribute their content was heating up ahead of the Thursday a Senate markup.
Bipartisan sponsors of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act in the House and Senate released a revised version of the bill in August, which kicked off campaigns from advocacy groups for and against the legislation.
Chamber of Progress, Public Knowledge and 19 other advocacy groups sent a letter on Friday to top senators of the Judiciary Committee against the bill, arguing the revised version would force tech platforms to carry digital content “regardless of how extreme” it is.
But the News Media Alliance, a trade association that represents newspapers across the U.S., dismissed the arguments made against the legislation and said it would help even the playing field after years of tech platforms decimating local news.
“This is expected opposition based on the organizations asserting these claims,” Danielle Coffey, executive vice president and general counsel for the News Media Alliance, told The Hill.
THE WHITE HOUSE TECH AGENDA
The White House released a set of core principles for reform aimed at enhancing competition and tech accountability Thursday after a round table session convening experts, including officials from advocacy groups, private companies and the government.
Attendees included Washington, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D), Sonos CEO Patrick Spence, President and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology Alexandra Reeve Givens and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law head Damon Hewitt, among others.
The White House identified six broad principles for reform, including promoting competition in the technology sector, providing “robust” federal protections for privacy, protecting kids’ safety online, increasing transparency about algorithms, and stopping discriminatory algorithmic decision-making.
The other core principle the White House identified was reforming “special legal protections for large tech platforms,” referring to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The controversial provision provides a liability shield for tech companies over content posted by third parties on their platforms.
In the announcement, the White House said President Biden has “long called for fundamental reforms to Section 230.” On the presidential campaign trail, Biden said Section 230 should be revoked but the president has yet to expand on what that reform under his administration may look like.
BITS & PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: No car loans from Bank Australia, unless it’s an EV — and the US may do the same
Notable links from around the web:
When Teens Find Misinformation, These Teachers Are Ready (The New York Times / Tiffany Hsu)
The Facebook button is disappearing from websites as consumers demand better privacy (CNBC/ Jonathan Vanian)
🎤 Lighter click: The next American Idol?
One more thing: DOJ appeals special master ruling
The Justice Department on Thursday filed a notice of intent to appeal a ruling granting former President Trump’s request for a special master, asking the judge stay a ruling blocking their investigation.
“Without a stay, the government and public also will suffer irreparable harm from the undue delay to the criminal investigation,” DOJ writes in its filing.
“Any delay poses significant concerns in the context of an investigation into the mishandling of classified records.”
That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.
Updated: Sept. 9 at 11:49 a.m.
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