tv The Communicators The Communicators Tech Reporter Roundtable CSPAN July 31, 2021 6:29pm-7:01pm EDT
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families can get what they need to be ready for anything. >> comcast supports c-span along with these other television providers, giving a front row seat to democracy. >> on the communicators, a look at some of the telecommunications and tech issues that will be discussed in washington over the next couple of months. 20 of us are three working to take and telecommunications reporters on your left, the washington post, in the center market of axios, on the far right john of politico. we will start in reverse order. i want to start with president trump's suit he filed against facebook and other social media companies. john, what is your thoughts on this? john: it is good to be here. great question.
most people are looking at this suit and do not think it will have many legs in court. the important thing about it is what emma white mean two years from now, four years from now. -- about what that might mean two years from now, four years around. if former president trump russ reelection, he is going to be -- president trump runs for reelection. censorship, that is going to be dominating a lot of the debate there. this is an issue to come back to. his final year in office, he was concerned about the protections tech companies had. it is interesting. it seems to be something every few weeks he would bring into a debate. i do not think many legal
scholars and other folks looking at this expect the case to go anywhere. he is not afraid to hound them any chance he can. it is going to be a campaign message. i think it is useful for him. margaret: i do not think the case is going to go anywhere. this is part of the republican message we are going to hear more about. big tech companies based in silicon valley are biased against conservatives. republicans see that as motivating to their base. even if the case does not go anywhere come in might accomplish the former president's goals. >> do conservatives have a case! -- case?
>> -- i think the companies are trying to moderate content along hate speech and inciting violence and where they draw the line is something i think people on both sides into question. cat: there has not been strong evidence that these companies are systematically biased against it the republican party. the party sees this as a winning issue. we saw after trump lawsuit came out last week there was multiple republican groups including trump fundraising offer that lawsuit. it is significant to view this in the context of the state legislatures. republicans do not have power at the federal level. they are increasingly pushing bills targeting the alleged
censorship at the state level. in florida, a federal judge stepped in and blocked -- we are seeing a texas consider the deflation as well. peter: should we be considering the social media companies as publishers and not platforms? margaret: i think that is where the conversation is going. there is a lot of discussion from republicans and democrats on how they should change the section 230 law to provide them with the liability protections that go beyond what they have under the first amendment. the problem is while there is a lot of agreement that the law should change, there is not agreement on how we should change. it is something that is debated a lot. if that turns into legislation
that passes, i am skeptical. john: we have not seen any big wishes on how to reform the law this year. when you look at the priorities dominating congress, you see the pandemic take over, infrastructure take over now, there are a lot of big tech topics that have attracted interest. they are not front and center. that includes the section 230 debate. data privacy was usually front and center. 2019 2020 initially -- 2019-2020 initially. people are interested, there is no consensus out there -- not consensus out there that would move it anyway. i think there is interest about the differences of views around that are so key to why this is hard to make policy. some of that goes to debated
framing around that. the fact that some republicans will be insistent that these companies need to lose their immunity because they do content moderation. many democrats say this is essential to how they operate. it is worth washing, things are in a early-stage -- watching, things are in a early-stage. peter: you work for an old line publication. do you consider -- online publication, do consider social media to be a competitor? cat: not a competitor, a tool that we rely on heavily as journalists in order to get in touch. it is a tool that we use to push out our own story -- stories. it has completely transformed the media landscape.
i mostly work for traditional newspapers. so much of our thinking has shifted digitally to rather than planning for the paper for the next day, it is thinking about how quickly we can get the news online. social media plays a big role in that. it intensifies the competition. more journalists have the power to get information out quickly via facebook and twitter. peter: you agree with what you have heard from john and margaret regarding section 230 and potential legislation? cat: i do not see there being meaningful action on section 230 in the coming months because the motivations for changing the law are so different among the parties. we have not seen alignment within the democratic already or -- democratic or republican
party on how the law should change. it speaks to the broader debate about power and responsibility. whether we are talking about section 230 or anti-stressed -- antitrust. there is a greater issue after the filing of the 2020 election, the power and influence these take companies have over our society at large. that is fueling so much of this debate. on july 9th president biden assigned executive order on competition. will that have an effect on silicon valley and larger players? margaret: that executive order instructed or encouraged agencies to take a wide range of actions meant to increase
competition across the economy. on the tech front it was telling the federal trade commission, you need to scrutinize tech mergers. looking at if these companies are buying up competitors that could grow to be rivals. there is the concern about facebook acquisitions of instagram and whatsapp. rules limiting unfair methods of competition and -- in some areas the administration has been concerned. if a company looks at what products are doing well, copies them and sells their own. like amazon. that is an area where there might be an unfair method of competition. it takes a long time for agencies to come up with rules and get them on the books. none of these things are going to happen quickly. what i think the effect may be
is this idea of, we are training the federal government to look at these behaviors? that puts the companies on notice? it changes -- that puts the companies on notice. cat: it is going to take some time to enact many of these initiatives that were recommended. if you look at the recommendations made to the fcc around internet service providers and creating more competition for broadband, the commission has a deadlock. while that is still the case, it is going to be difficult to move on some of these recommendations from the biden administration. we also see antitrust in the federal government head of the antitrust vision at the doj is not in place -- we have biden
thinking about these issues. he ran as a moderate candidate, a lot of these are progressive ideas. about tech and addressing competition. it might require some novel vacancies in the federal government. john: the nomination side of this is fascinating. one piece that makes executive order a bit of a paper tiger, it has aggressive record about what he wants to accomplish. you see across the board that the biden administration is not killing -- feeling key slots. that is a big thing in regards to getting this done. that is true. it is true in a certain commerce or apartment grows -- commerce
department roles. there is no nominees for that. that is something is -- that is worth watching. that is going to matter. if you don't have people executing these agendas, that will inherently slow it down. obviously, a lot of different progressives -- progressive rhetoric in this order, they are democrats that are pleased. peter: what is the topic in total communications we have not talked about yet that you want to bring up? john: the debates around broadband are sequential. it is one of the few things on the table that is going to get done. you have the white house and key members of the senate from both parties talking about bipartisan framework. investing six $5 billion to get
internet to rural areas or better internet to cities. that is something that has taken over in a big way. vice president taking a leading role and moving them forward. i point to the infrastructure debate. that is a consequential area. it is hard to know if it will get across the finish line. that is where you are seeing a lot of the momentum, the back and forth across her neck speeds. -- internet speeds. what data you rely on for doing that. i point to the fact that we have also seen a more broadband spending and spending on our energy -- on r and d. the competition with china bill that we have seen, we have tons of money that would be going
tor&d -- going to r&d. cat: broadband is critical. leading to the r and d spending, we have the artificial intelligence and the future role it will play is critical. there was a major facial recognition hearing on the hill where we heard from michelin man who was -- and innocent man who was wrongfully arrested due to a facial scan. there is a lot of bipartisan interest both insuring the u.s. maintains a competitive edge artificial -- building artificial intelligence and building a privacy guard rails around this new type of technology. that is an area that we will be
closely tracking. peter: you see legislation on that issue? cat: there has not been a major bipartisan proposal. i do not think we will see something immediately on that. it is something broader to watch as we look -- especially as we are seeing more concrete proposals and the eu. action in other countries, even on a state level, on a local level we are seeing a ban on those technologies. margaret: i want to go back to broadband. i love writing around the topic. it is going to be an exciting one. when issue i'm try to track is president biden, when he came out with the americans job plan, americans -- he said americans paid too much for broadband.
that is a key statement. that is not think i want to subsidize the cost, it is saying bring the prices down for everybody. that puts the cable and telecom companies on notice. there is a chance this administration might be doing something on prices. that is something companies feared would happen under the obama administration. we have a white house stance that people ate too much to have the internet -- pay too much to have the internet. will there be a requirement that every company has to offer service at a certain price point? in new york, they passed a law saying companies had to offer a basic tier for low income households. that law was put on hold by telecom companies. it is an issue of how much do americans pay for the internet
service, and what can the federal government is something about it? a lot of people care about it. it crosses over into main street -- mainstream. i think that is one area to follow. we have not talked about -- it is worth watching the process of how house judiciary bills that would remake the tech companies business practices. what happens to those out of committee? how will the senate respond? while the do something similar? there are a lot of issues we will be tracking. peter: a lot of these issues have bipartisan support. antitrust -- does in trust have bipartisan support? or the same reasons for backing it? john: it has bipartisan support
and bipartisan opposition. that is the bad thing about the debate when some of the house judiciary bills -- regarding some of the house judiciary bills. people like congressman ken buck who is a sartre republican, very much in line with the different ideas you are seeing republicans -- democrats but forward. -- put forward. those in california are raising concerns. they are worried about moving too fast. maybe hurting the economy because of it. it is much messier and not a partyline issue at all. you have some republicans alike kevin mccarthy at the top of the judiciary committee, trying to discourage movement on these bills.
it is fascinating. you are think divisions in both parties. cat: i do not think we are seeing different motivations. it is interesting. ken buck supporting these bills, connecting these in trust bills that are bipartisan to the broader republican views we talked about earlier. allegations of censorship, the argument is that it would not matter as much what facebook does on content moderation. if there were six face books people have more choice, obviously, those arguments do not have weight. democrats are coming at these issues for different reasons. they are concerned about company power, broader concerns about economic inequality.
concerns about the lack of response ability from the tech companies for content posted on their platforms? people who are -- platforms. people from different political systems -- spectrum coming together for different reasons. margaret: one thing i would add to that. congressman buck, when the committee back in january 2020, they held a field hearing in colorado. they brought in small businesses including some from that state. can buck is from colorado -- can buck -- ken buck is from colorado. they were talking about competing against these larger companies. i think that resonated with him.
we just want a fair shake. we are not getting it. that was leading to some of his motivation in supporting this legislation as a republican 22 help small businesses -- wanting to help small businesses. peter: one thing that may see legislation is privacy. john: privacy is an interesting one. i think there was a lot of momentum a year ago -- a year or two back. the senate committee, the house committee had been coming together, talking about what proposals might look like. there might have been a sideline this year. there has been a loss of trust in the tech companies. a common interest in putting safeguards in place. what not aside the efforts, those still exist.
you have seen the house talking about convening roundtables. some talk about trying to get back to it. we have not had hearings in a big white like we had before. it seems tossed aside -- hearings like we had before. it seems tossed aside. there were privacy rules go into place. that is the accepted state of play now. states are still moving, people want privacy safeguards. it is something to watch. lawmakers will need to be rolling up their sleeves and jumping back. when they are 20 struggle -- juggle infrastructure and covert relief bills, they have not been looking at this the same way. margaret: the states are the place to watch on this issue.
the actions that virginia and colorado have reached on the privacy front. 1.i would make is i agree that these privacy issues -- one point oh would make is i agree with these privacy issues are an intersection with the privacy debate with proposition issues. if you look at the biden executive order, targeting the tech giants. he did call for greater scrutiny in the agency of data collection and surveillance. i would have privacy -- moving forward. margaret: on the state front, what happens if you hear from companies, we cannot have these patchwork of state laws we need a federal standard. from the consumer advocacy point of view come in state losses a new floor for what a federal of
the law should look like. they are getting -- that is setting higher standards for what a federal law should be. there's not much motivation to be a federal law. each state law becomes the de facto national privacy law. john: there might be other ways these issues pop up. we were talking about facial recognition and the privacy issues there. looking at rules around data and surveillance, what that would mean. that will be interesting to watch. if you're thinking globally, the biden demonstration has been focused on the trans atlantic data flows. trying to reach a deal with europe. that is one area where that could drive some of the discussions on privacy and great motivation among u.s. privacy makers. there are going to be arenas like that to keep the debate
moving. it is interesting. if there was any time for a federal privacy law, it would have been a year or two ago. we are still here, there is no law. peter: a year ago we started talking about 5g. we have not heard much about it. where are we on 5g? john: 5g is an interesting one. the debate has focused on security concerns. -- operating out of china. the u.s. is long accused them of having different vulnerabilities and connections to the chinese government. the companies have denied that. that has made 5g a much important -- much more important to political issue. the u.s. is trying to have some sort of alternative to that. you have europe's nokia, that
has graded a debate known as 5g open ram -- created a debate known as 5g open ram. that is going to be an interesting debate. lawmakers talking about wanting to invest in r and d. this would involve more u.s. companies. grading -- putting together networks there. that is one thing to watch. there is industrial policy popping up, people are thinking, how do we compete with china? here is one answer they have. it may be years off before this is a viable data composition. some say it would be far off, some think it could be this year. companies that have huawei may
be able to use open ram technologies as in a replacement -- as a replacement for that. margaret: -- 5g, whenever we need to do to speed that technology along. on the infrastructure of peace, you do not hear as much about 5g in the infrastructure side. a seems like they are more focused on deploying fiber -- it seems like they are more focused on deploying fiber. there is skepticism on their part that 5g could be a true replacement for in-home broadband. verizon has been talking about their 5g fixed wireless service. you do not hear a lot from the administration in terms of what technology funds. that they think fixed wireless is going to be an alternative to what fiber can offer.
where talking about broadband and the digital divide. i'm hearing about wired connections and less about 5g. cat: i am watching how the pandemic -- and companies are talking about this. they were talking about the role the 5g could play in health care as we grapple with this new normal and the way the pandemic changed how we work and go to school. it could have an effect on how these companies are thinking about their 5g deployment. peter: catherine with the washington post, margaret with axios, john with politico. we appreciate you being on the communicators. cat: thank you peter. john: two i peter -- thank you peter >> we are funded by these
companies and more. >> the world has changed, fast reliable internet is something you cannot live without. wow is there. now more than never, it all starts with great internet. >>wow supports the spent as a public service along with these other television providers. given you a front row seat to democracy. sunday, c-span's series january 6 continues. three more members of congress share stories of what they saw that they, including representative rodney davis of illinois. >> there were a lot of freshmen there that i got to know during orientation, that this was their first real experience as a member of congress. we were watching them, talking
to my fellow colleagues, about what we can do and stop this. >> what were those conversations like? >> i had a conversation with marjorie taylor greene. she was a freshman, very active. she was very upset about what was going on. hair and i chatted, she said what can i do, i said how about you go back and film a video and put it on social media, and if you have any influence, tell them to stop. she did that. >> this week you will year from adeline been of pennsylvania. january 6. these from the house, sunday at 10:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, c-span.org, or listen on the radio app. >> next, they look into expanding broadband in rural african-american unities. james