Overnight Technology

Overnight Tech: Senator says clock is ticking for on-demand policy

LEDE: Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has become one of the loudest voices in Congress calling for public policy that creates a safety net for workers in the on-demand economy. But at a Thursday event, he said that reforms need to happen quickly — before the issue is further polarized.

“I will just say, there needs to be a real sense of urgency around this,” he said while speaking on a panel hosted by the Aspen Institute. “Because I bet you dollars to doughnuts, if we aren’t leaning into this we’re going to have presidential candidates before the end of the year, by next spring coming out with their two-point platforms on this that are going to sound very 20th century from either end of the spectrum.”

He said during his opening remarks: “We’ve got to make sure that this doesn’t get captured in the partisan divide. Democrat [vs.] Republican, liberal [vs.] conservative, I don’t believe it’s on those distinctions. It really is much more future [vs.] past.”

Several presidential candidates have adopted on-demand economy companies like Uber as symbols of economic innovation.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) rode an Uber earlier this year as a photo app, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) said that the companies were “raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future.”

Warner, on the other hand, is a soft spoken moderate Democrat who has focused on the policy questions around the on-demand, rather than its political potency. He has raised the idea of an “hours bank” that would administer benefits to on-demand economy workers instead of companies.

He’s also suggested that the current system for classifying workers into either employees, who get benefits and protections like the minimum wage, and independent contractors, who don’t, doesn’t make sense.

He has yet to proposed legislation on the topic, however, and has said he wants to take a measured approach to developing and laying out his proposals.

JACKSON SAYS VALLEY ‘UNICORNS’ SHOULD RELEASE DIVERSITY NUMBERS: Jesse Jackson, who has been a voice arguing for more diversity at technology companies, is turning his attention to unicorns, or startups worth more than $1 billion.

He is calling on the firms to release their diversity figures, much as more established companies like Apple and Google have done.

“These are new, young companies, with young, progressive leaders who should value fairness and equity,” he told the International Business Times. “They should act now before disenfranchisement, exclusion and lack of diversity become ingrained and institutionalized.”

DROPBOX JOINS INTERNET ASSOCIATION: The file storage company Dropbox on Thursday joined the Internet Association, adding its name to a laundry list of prominent tech companies associated with the trade group.

Amber Cottle, Dropbox’s head of global public policy, said the company joined because it is “critical for Internet firms to speak up on behalf of their users with a unified voice.

The company, which boasts 400 million users, joined the lobbying fray in Washington in 2013. After regularly spending $30,000 per quarter for the past few years, it reported no spending in the early half of 2015.

GOODLATTE ANNOUNCES COPYRIGHT LISTENING TOUR: The House Judiciary Committee is heading to Nashville.

Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) announced the start of a listening tour in their two-year old review of U.S. copyright law. The committee will hold a roundtable discussion in Nashville, Tenn, on Sept. 22, which is expected to feature professionals from the music industry.

The names of the participants and future roundtables are expected to be announced at a later date.

SURVEY SAYS PEOPLE KNOW RADIO WAVES: A total of 72 percent of U.S. adults know that radio waves are used to make and receive mobile phone calls, according to a Pew Research survey published Thursday.

Radio waves, or spectrum, has become a hot topic in the tech industry as the government attempt to free up more to power the country’s increasing demand for connected devices. In the survey exploring “what Americans know about Science” most people answered the radio wave question correctly. It was the seventh most correctly answered question of 12 questions. People were least likely to know that water boils at a lower temperature in high altitudes.

PAO WON’T APPEAL: Ellen Pao, the former interim head of Reddit who sued venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers for alleged gender discrimination, said in a Re/code post she won’t appeal a decision in the firm’s favor in the case.

“I think I brought these important issues to the forefront of the conversation, but the online aggression has had a toll on me and my family,” she told Kara Swisher in an interview. “That so many people heard what I had to say, against all that was brought to bear against me, is a testament to the depth of the problem related to women and tech … [But] I have gone as far as I can go and cannot commit the resources and time that would be needed to continue.”

STAY UP PAST BEDTIME: The headline guest on tonight’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert is Vice President Biden. But the comedian, whose show debuted this week, will also host Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. And for country fans, the musical guest is Toby Keith.


Apple and Microsoft are finding allies on Capitol Hill in their fight to restrict the government’s access to customer data.

Auto industry and telecommunications groups announced Thursday they had reached an understanding about how federal agencies should test ways for wireless devices and connected cars to share certain wireless spectrum

California Governor Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a state bill Wednesday night aimed at increasing citizens’ privacy protections against drone flights.  

Television stations owned by 21st Century Fox are planning to put some of their spectrum, which carries wireless signals, up for sale in an auction next year.

Many predict Congress will eventually have to step in to define the geographical limits of a U.S. warrant to collect emails — but one appeals court judge is not holding his breath.

Tags Bob Goodlatte Hillary Clinton Mark Warner

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video