5G takes the Senate stage – Politico

Posted By on July 23, 2020

With help from John Hendel and Cristiano Lima

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Airwaves in the air: Senators will dive in today on ways to get the U.S. ready for 5G, a debate coming right as a long-awaited FCC spectrum auction kicks off.

Surveillance fight continues: More Democrats are backing bicameral legislation banning the federal governments use of facial recognition, including former presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

Ten points for Twitter: Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, one of the civil rights leaders spearheading the #StopHateforProfit advertising boycott against Facebook, commended Twitter for doing what he thinks Facebook wont.

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TODAY: 5G AIRWAVES IN THE SPOTLIGHT Wireless spectrum will take center stage across a number of fronts today. At 10 a.m., the Senate Commerce telecom subcommittee will hear from a slate of industry and analyst witnesses about how the FCC and administration have managed the airwaves in the wake of a series of high-profile 5G spats.

If wireless companies dont have enough airwaves, rural areas will fall behind in getting 5G, subcommittee chair John Thune (R-S.D.) plans to warn in opening remarks. Hell call for the federal government to focus on making more efficient use of its own federally held airwaves and to better use the Spectrum Relocation Fund, a federal pot of money that helps cover the cost of agencies moving to new spectrum bands. We need to make sure the interagency process when making these decisions is transparent, the GOP whip will say.

Tom Power, general counsel for wireless trade group CTIA, plans to warn of global implications surrounding limited availability of prime mid-band spectrum. Other nations are beating us to the punch, Power will testify. Hell recommend the lower 3 MHz band, currently held by the Pentagon, as the next best target.

And watch for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who just introduced new spectrum legislation, S. 4234 (116), with fellow GOP Texan Sen. John Cornyn. The Ensuring Public Safetys Access to Airwaves Act would safeguard public safety spectrum known as the T-band while also imposing deadlines on the Commerce Department to identify government-held airwaves to reallocate for the private sector.

One timely hook: The FCC is today kicking off its first auction of this prized mid-band spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. If given my choice, I would have started it three years ago, Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who has long advocated for freeing such mid-band spectrum, said during an event Wednesday. In todays auction, 271 applicants won the right to bid, including big carriers like T-Mobile.

FACIAL RECOGNITION BAN BILL: WHOS IN, AND WHOS OUT? Digital rights group Fight for the Future and members of the Ban Facial Recognition coalition are pressuring members of Congress to come out for or against recent legislation that is one of the most ambitious Capitol Hill crackdowns to date on facial recognition technology. The Facial Recognition and Biometric Technology Moratorium Act would stop the federal governments use of facial recognition in the U.S., but the bill still has no GOP backers.

Even so, support among Democrats is growing: In addition to Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), who jointly introduced the legislation in late June, the bill has picked up about a dozen new co-sponsors across both chambers of Congress, most notably former 2020 hopefuls Warren and Sanders. At a time when Americans are demanding that we address systemic racism in law enforcement, the use of facial recognition technology is a step in the wrong direction, Merkley said Wednesday. The federal government must ban facial recognition until we have confidence that it doesnt exacerbate racism.

An online congressional scorecard launched by the advocacy groups on Wednesday is keeping tabs on who has and has not formally gotten on board.

Jim Jordan. | Kevin Dietsch/Pool via AP

JORDANS LATEST BIG TECH HEARING ASK Top House Judiciary Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio on Wednesday called for the committees Democratic leaders to invite Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to the upcoming blockbuster hearing with the Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon chiefs. Jordan wrote in a letter that he wants to hear from Twitter about its power in the marketplace, its role in moderating content on its platform, and the causes for its recent highly publicized security breaches. Twitter, which is dwarfed by rivals like Facebook, has not been a target of antitrust scrutiny. But Republicans have accused it of stifling conservative viewpoints.

Some big tech critics said adding Twitter would divert from the sessions focus: allegations of anticompetitive behavior by the four tech giants. Republicans concerned by Google & other Big Tech companies (i.e. not Twitter, which is less than 1/20th the size of Facebook) should be alarmed by this strange demand, said Luther Lowe, SVP of public policy at Google competitor Yelp. Its only effect would be diluting the substance of a historic hearing with the 4 CEOs.

Dont expect to see @Jack on the (virtual) dais: Its the third such letter by Jordan calling for changes to the hearing format, and thus far, Judiciary Democrats havent indicated any interest in following through on his demands. He has not been invited, a spokesperson for Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), chair of the antitrust subcommittee hosting the hearing, tweeted Wednesday in response to a post about Republicans call for Dorsey to testify. Twitter declined comment. (More on how groups and lawmakers are jockeying to shape the hearing here.)

Plus: Do tech companies have too much power to shape politics? A majority of Americans think so, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. 72% of U.S. adults say social media companies have too much power and influence in politics today, and just one-fifth feel the tech giants have the right amount of political power, per the study. About half of Americans would like to see more regulation of these companies.

THUMBS UP FOR TWITTER, DOWN FOR FACEBOOK One of the civil rights leaders behind the ongoing Facebook advertising boycott jabbed the social network Wednesday as he praised one of its rivals. Twitter that day announced a clarification on its treatment of Jewish symbols on the platform, characterizing the 'yellow star' or yellow badge symbol [as] being used by those seeking to target Jewish people and as a violation of the Twitter Rules. Twitter declared that the Star of David, on the other hand, should not be classified as a hateful symbol, despite some accounts being incorrectly flagged over those images.

Greenblatt praised Twitter for clarifying the difference between images used to harass and when used to express identity and empathy, adding that the league had reached out to the company to help it understand and fix the issue. Notable that they moved swiftly to correct this problem, Greenblatt said, taking a subtle swing at Facebook: While we can't expect social media platforms to be perfect, we can expect them to correct problems when they learn of them. #StopHateForProfit.

The ADL is also out with a new video this morning accusing Mark Zuckerberg of still giving hate groups the biggest platform theyve ever had, profiting from hate, and keeping intact a business model that rewards division. It continues: Are you finally going to listen to us, Mark? Are you willing to stop profiting from hate?

Julie Elmer, a former trial lawyer with the Justice Departments antitrust division, has joined the law firm Freshfields as a partner. Matthew Haskins, former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for legislative affairs, is now working for the new public policy practice of Amazon Web Services. Jack Wilmer, the Pentagon's top cybersecurity official, is slated to leave his post at the end of July, POLITICO reports.

Lobbying latest, via POLITICO Influence: Twitter has added TwinLogic Strategies to its lineup of outside lobbying firms, which also includes the Integrated Solutions Group and the Joseph Group. And T-Mobile has hired BL Partners Group to lobby on telecommunications, financial services and tax reform issues, according to a disclosure filing. The company also recently brought on Howard Symons of Jenner & Block and retains about 30 other Washington lobbying firms.

Setting a precedent: After Twitter did so first, other Silicon Valley companies, including Facebook and YouTube, said they were also considering crackdowns on QAnon, WaPo reports.

Opinion: Europe must not rush Google-Fitbit deal, a group of academics and antitrust and privacy experts in Europe write in POLITICO.

ICYMI: A Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill to ban federal employees from downloading or using video-sharing app TikTok on government devices, a proposal gaining broad momentum across Washington, Cristiano reports.

Eyeballs watching emoji: A group of U.S. tech investors has launched an ambitious plan to buy TikTok from its Chinese owner, as the popular short-video app tries to escape being banned by the White House, Ars Technica reports.

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View from the West Coast: These California privacy initiative opponents might surprise you, via POLITICOs Katy Murphy in Sacramento.

Reality check: Elon Musks controversial comments about the pandemic had little effect on Teslas bottom line, WaPo reports.

Funny seeing you here: The DoD recently gave a slice of cash from the CARES Act to U.S. drone companies, POLITICO reports, hoping it would juice the domestic market in the Trump administration's latest gambit to try to undercut Chinese dominance in the drone marketplace.

New on the competition scene: Slack is accusing Microsoft, which has long escaped antitrust allegations, of corporate bullying taking the complaint to European regulators, WaPo reports.

Tips, comments, suggestions? Send them along via email to our team: Bob King ([emailprotected], @bkingdc), Heidi Vogt ([emailprotected], @HeidiVogt), Nancy Scola ([emailprotected], @nancyscola), Steven Overly ([emailprotected], @stevenoverly), John Hendel ([emailprotected], @JohnHendel), Cristiano Lima ([emailprotected], @viaCristiano), Alexandra S. Levine ([emailprotected], @Ali_Lev), and Leah Nylen ([emailprotected], @leah_nylen).

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5G takes the Senate stage - Politico

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