Silicon Valley congressman: ‘It is embarrassing how technologically illiterate most members of Congress are’

Jon Swartz for MarketWatch:

As federal regulators sharpen their focus on big tech, expect to see and hear more from Rep. Ro Khanna, a Silicon Valley congressman who is shaping legislation with a Republican counterpart that is tantamount to an internet Bill of Rights.

Khanna, (D., Calif.), is dubious of major overhauls of Facebook Inc., Apple Inc., Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, all of which may be subject to investigations by either the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission, according to multiple reports. Echoing the sentiment of antitrust experts, Khanna said investigations should be executed “with surgical precision and not with a sledgehammer.”

Khanna is working with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), a vocal critic of social-media companies, and others on the framework of legislation that would offer sweeping data-privacy laws in the form of network neutrality, greater transparency in data-collection practices by tech companies, and opt-in consent for data collection. McCarthy and Khanna, who co-sponsored a law in 2017 that established tech apprenticeships for veterans, are looking at measures to keep “foreign bad actors” from abusing tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote early last month, “As always, we’ll get to the goal, bipartisan privacy legislation, eventually, as the U.S. constitutional system works its unparalleled 231-year-old magic.”

Last year, before a global body of privacy regulators, Apple CEO Tim Cook laid out four principles that he believes should guide privacy legislation:

First, the right to have personal data minimized. Companies should challenge themselves to strip identifying information from customer data or avoid collecting it in the first place.

Second, the right to knowledge—to know what data is being collected and why.

Third, the right to access. Companies should make it easy for you to access, correct and delete your personal data.

And fourth, the right to data security, without which trust is impossible.

Here’s hoping that 2019 is the year when the right to privacy to be restored. May our elected officials find the will to resist the lobbyist onslaught from the likes of privacy-trampling Google and Facebook, personal data abusers.


    1. Term limits—because we need more inexperienced legislators who are totally dependent on bureaucrats and lobbyists for basic information, and because American voters can’t be trusted to elect whoever they think is most qualified for office (and de-elect those who are less qualified).

      1. Yes, term limits. 3 terms for a senator would be adequate, no? If in 18 years the senator still doesn’t have a clue, then it’s time for new blood. As for representatives, they basically spend 50% of their time today fundraising and campaigning, if not more. There has to be a better way.

        The separate issue of lobbying can be addressed by separate legislation. Namely, that every dollar given or spent in any reelection campaign be publicly accountable to the PERSON — not the money laundering PAC — that donated or received it. Transparency NOW!

        Frankly, it’s long past time that the resumes, college test scores, IQ tests, and tax returns of all candidates be made public too. It’s not a question of partisanship, it’s a simple matter of proving competence and no foreign business entanglements. Why should that be controversial?

        By the way, I am also for age limits. If commercial airplane pilots are grounded by law when they age out, then why does the American public ever even consider septuagenarians for public office? It is publicly known that the current 70something fan-claimed “hard working” president doesn’t even show up until 11am most days, and is never present on weekends…

        1. If a senator doesn’t know what he is doing after 18 years, he has been re-elected twice by voters who deliberately chose him to represent them. They are entitled to the elected official of their own choice. Outsiders should not be able to overrule their choice. The Constitution entitles us to a republican form of government, not the form that a minority deems best.

          1. If your idea of a better republic is to allow the unwashed masses to choose their representatives, then can we also admit that the pathetic technological crutch called the Electoral College has outlived its purpose? It appears all it has done is allow two corrupt parties to gerrymander districts precisely so the rich minority can rule. As always in history.

    1. Then it’s a sad sampling…I’m 66 and quite comfortable with technology, as are any number of my friends and colleagues. It IS rather irritating, though, to see how many members of Congress don’t even know enough to know that they don’t know. Some samples: “The internet is like a series of tubes.” – Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). “Recently, I received a floppy disk offering me 30 free hours of something called America Online. Is that the same as Facebook?” – Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Alabama). REALLY??? You JUST RECENTLY received a FLOPPY disk????

  1. It’s not just technology. Pick a subject. They have no idea what they’re talking about. And my biggest Area Of Concern, is that it seems to be getting much worse.

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