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FCC chairman Ajit Pai calls for ‘transparency’ from tech giants

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The head of a key US regulatory agency called Tuesday for Silicon Valley firms to provide more transparency about how they operate, raising the possibility of tougher regulations for technology firms.

“We need to seriously think about whether the time has come for these companies to abide by new transparency obligations,” Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said in a blog post a day ahead of congressional hearings with executives from Twitter and Facebook.

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Pai offered no specific proposals, but appeared to echo concerns raised by President Donald Trump, who claimed tech firms may be biased against conservatives.

“Consumers interact with these digital platforms on a daily basis. We get our news from them. We interact with our family and friends on them,” Pai wrote.

“But how do these companies make decisions about what we see and what we don’t? And who makes those decisions? We still don’t know.”

The FCC chief repeated complaints made in recent months over the blocking or removal of content by conservative politicians and activists.

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Tech firms have contended their algorithms are not designed with political aims, and analysts have pointed out that many conservatives, including Trump himself, have a considerable online following.

Pai said the FCC imposes “strict transparency requirements” on companies that operate broadband networks,  but that the public has “virtually no insight” into tech firms’ business practices.

“Are these tech giants running impartial digital platforms over which they don’t exercise editorial judgment when it comes to content?” he asked.

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“Or do they in fact decide what speech is allowed and what is not and discriminate based on ideology and/or political affiliation? And again, going back to the first point: where is the transparency?”

The government  “ shouldn’t regulate these entities like a water company,” Pai said, while maintaining that “it’s important to have a serious conversation about these issues… because these tech giants have come to have much greater influence over our economy and society.”

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg were set to appear at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday of foreign influence operations on social media.

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Lawmakers were seeking a top executive from Google or its parent Alphabet, but it remained unclear if the search giant would be represented.

Dorsey is due to testify at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on online “transparency and accountability.”


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Justin Amash rips Trump for taking ‘orders’ from Saudi Arabia

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Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) blasted President Donald Trump for taking "orders" from Saudi Arabia as he threatened a military strike against Iran.

The Republican-turned-independent lawmaker called on Congress to determine what response was necessary to an alleged attack on oil production facilities in the Saudi Arabia, after the president warned the U.S. military was "locked and loaded" and awaiting further instruction from the kingdom.

"Under our Constitution, the power to commence war lies with Congress, not the president and certainly not Saudi Arabia," Amash tweeted. "We don’t take orders from foreign powers."

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Trump is all for preventing unintentional suicides — but not intentional homicides of Americans

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How revealing that just six deaths from vaping prompted Donald Trump to move Wednesday against e-cigarettes, while at least 276 deaths in massacres since he took office haven’t prompted any presidential move against assault rifles and other guns.

Even applying the twisted logic of the Second Amendment absolutists, Trump’s action is surprising since e-cigarettes don’t kill, people who vape kill.

Vapers kill only themselves, while people firing military-style assault rifles and other guns massacre innocents—school children, people at prayer in houses of worship, shoppers in malls and concert-goers.

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Most of the world hates Trump — but these 3 countries love him

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President Donald Trump is one of the most controversial world leaders in modern times, igniting the ire of America’s staunchest allies.

Whether it’s the proposed Muslim ban, the U.S. border wall and immigration, or his praise of authoritarian leaders, Trump is deft at inciting deep divisions among the public.

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