tv The Communicators Rep. Ro Khanna D-CA CSPAN July 17, 2020 10:30pm-11:00pm EDT
daily "washington journal program, or through our social media feeds. she, created by america's cable television companies as a public service and brought to you today by your television provider. ♪ our guest this week on the communicators is representative ro khanna. he is a democrat from california and represents much of silicon valley. our guest reporter is emily birnbaum of protocol. iq both, for being on "the communicators" this week. representative khanna: thank you for having us. peter: as a representative of silicon valley, how would you describe the representation of some member companies in washington right now. -- right now? there isative khanna: a lot of positive sentiment. check companies --
polled about 60% to 70% approval. there is a sense that some of these companies are working on vaccines, working on antivirals and such. for are allowing for zoom remote work, for remote calls, they are engaged in allowing us to have communication in the time of a pandemic, allowing us ,o get groceries, that said there are other ethical issues. there is a central essential workers being paid appropriately . are these platforms doing enough to combat a speech? are they doing enough to pay workers a living wage? so it is complex. peter: there has been talk on capitol hill of regulating tech companies, communications companies, more than they are now. are you in favor of that?
i am, asative khanna: long as it is well-crafted legislation. we came up with legislation to protect privacy, such as being able to move your data. if you have friends on facebook, you should be able to take them to a different platform so it can encourage competition. if it is regulation, to make beinghat we have wages paid properly for independent contractors. but i don't think it should be a sledgehammer that hurts innovation or consumers or job creation. host: -- peter: let's bring in emily call" for thisll conversation. peter: we arconic -- anly: we are coming up on
unprecedented hearing, jeff bezos, mark zuckerberg, tim cook are going to appear before the house judiciary committee, which you are not on. thei wanted to ask, committee is going to be interrogating them about market dominance and their power. do you hope lawmakers will ask during that hearing, and what are you looking for from the companies? representative khanna: what i am looking for is to see what they are going to do to make sure they don't have anti-competitive lot form privileges. they should be allowed to use their platforms to suppress competition. we need to have a nuanced conversation about this that is not just, let's break up the company, break up apple and google, but what can we do to mixer other companies can compete? that they are charging too much for their platforms, that they are hurting competition, and how
we have a nuanced conversation about that framework. do favor and update the current antitrust laws? representative khanna: yes. emily: what would that update look like, what is that nuanced regulation? representative khanna: they have to look at more than consumer welfare. they have to look at the effect on jobs, the effect on suppressing competition, the effect on communities. if there are large mergers, those have to be looked at with great scrutiny. shouldn'trospect, we have approved the facebook-instagram merger or the facebook-whatsapp verdure -- merger, and that is going to have an impact on future mergers being approved. on tech, we have to look at what the companies are doing in terms of getting access to their platforms for competitors, are they prioritizing their own
products in their own searches, and making sure they are doing that. arey: do you think mergers top of mind in a pandemic in which we have watched top tech companies thrive as others falter. uber announced they're going to acquire post mates, and antitrust hawks have said this raises concerns about monopoly and the food-delivery business. do you share that concern? representative khanna: i do. for similar reasons, i had a concern about amazon merging with whole foods. these companies are so powerful, having them expand their footprint is problematic. it puts pressure on the labor markets where workers don't have as many employers to go to, so you can see a decline in wages. it puts pressure companies in those fields, those sectors, and
it is very hard for them to come eat. companies should limit themselves to more or less organic rope it -- organic growth, and should not be trying to expand their footprint. emily: facebook is currently facing this historic advertiser boycott, in which hundreds of countries have -- hundreds of companies have said, i am not advertising on facebook and instagram, and twitter has become part of this. have you spoken to executives at facebook since the boycott began? if so, what advice are you giving them, giving you said you are concerned? representative khanna: i speak with facebook executives quite often. i don't remember if i last communicated before or after the boycott, but these issues have been salient, and would have to have a very thoughtful view of speech. and even under the united states
standard, the view is that you can have speech as long as it is not promoting unlawful conduct. that is similar to international 19,n rights law in covenant that you can't have speech that is an incitement to violence, and incitement to hostility and discrimination. so what i would say to facebook is, you can't just have a view that any speech goes. that is actually not the first amendment doctrine, and we have at, is speech leading to violence? others noteading to having equality on the platform? and regulating that speech or at least de-amplifying that speech in terms of motion of it. it seems thatow, only on the conservative side
that speech is being limited. is that a fair statement? representative khanna: no. i don't think that is true at all. if you look at facebook or twitter, they have taken down things on the left as well if they found that that speech was harassing or it was inciting violence, or if it was unlawful. i do think that there is a balance when you have somebody like donald trump to totally disagree with. i don't think it makes sense to say, we are going to and donald trump from the social media platforms. he is still president of the united states and to me, that would be further inciting his supporters and his base. trump, ifhink donald promoting tweet violence, do i think that tweet should be amplified? no. so there are ways that we can
promote speech without trafficking in ways that amplify violence and hate and make others uncomfortable in participating in it these are very complex issues, and we have been grappling with them for generations. the bigger issue is, we can't trust zuckerberg or dorsey to come up with the right formulation of what is truth in what is proper deliberation in a democracy. hope they really consult a broad range of experts, and think through what their obligation should look like. these at the same time, are private companies. and they don't have to put any speech on their if they don't want to, right? representative khanna: they don't, you are right. technically, they don't have to be governed by first amendment
principles and could be making their own decisions. don't believe in citizens united and don't believe corporations should have that kind of power, do you want facebook with 2.6 billion users to have the power to determine free speech and a democracy? my sensei's that you don't want that. so my hope is that these companies -- my sense is that you don't want that. so my hope is that these companies would take that responsibility seriously. on covid, if you look at facebook on top, they have, here are the facts of the day that you need to know. and you have context where you have fox, msnbc, "the wall street journal," you have 30 minutes of the news of the day, i mean, that is just one idea. i do think that they have to grapple with their responsibilities, especially that isif they don't,
usually an argument for competition. oneine if you just had walter cronkite doing all of the news. i know walter cronkite was the most trusted, but in my view it is better that we have a multiplicity of channels. so then, the question is how we includetandards to everybody's perspective. facebook ceded some of what you are saying and brought in experts to review things like hate speech. and what they said today in a very long report, if donald trump is inciting or other people are inciting violence, they shouldn't be allowed to do so on facebook. in particular, facebook. a lot of criticism over the past couple of weeks for having a
took a lot- facebook of criticism over the past few works for having a string of comments by donald trump that twitter suppressed. do you think facebook mishandled donald trump's posts in a pivotal moment? representative khanna: i would have handled it differently. i think jack dorsey handled it, but i don't think that is the main issue. jack dorsey is saying that misleading when talking about voter mail-in ballots, but it probably didn't lead to less people reading the tweet, it probably lead to more people reading the tweet. do i think jack dorsey took the right approach? broad than is more donald trump's speech.
how are they handling speech giving people false information? how are they handling speech that intentionally targets young african-american voters to suppress their vote? how are they handling speech that is harassing or intimidating or making women in particular uncomfortable? the u.n. had a report that said women face 20 times to 30 times the harassment. there is an excellent book that talks about the harassment face. so the donald trump stuff get the headlines, but there are far or systemic issues with social media in how you balance the right to free expression with the right to equal participation. and these are very difficult questions. i would say, i don't think i'm qualified to make that decision. i certainly don't think mark zuckerberg should be making that decision. and the more that he can get people like professor citroen and people who spent their life studying this on some board, the
better. emily: you are talking about these issues as systemic, and most issues -- and most industries right now are going through some form of reckoning,'s specifically as their workforce, the black lives matter movement, and tech is no exception in doing soul-searching about workforce, which is predominately white male still coming years after they pledged to make change. are there legislative pathways to dealing with that? representative khanna: there has to be legislative pathways. it is a huge issue. black americans are mostly underrepresented in venture 1% black,ewer than women and latina entrepreneurs.
ipresentative clyburn and announced a partnership with zoom where they will partner school in south out ofa to hire people their program. but we can't just leave it to private initiatives. we have to take action. look at the california law in requiring a percentage of women on the board. that's make that national endeavor requirement for underrepresented group and black and latinx as well. let's tie contracts to software companies to having more diversity on their team. let's provide hiring tax credits like they did in quebec if folks are hiring people from rural america or underrepresented groups. there are concrete policy steps we can take to deal with the inequities. show, in thetudies long-term, having more diversity leads to increased profitability
, having more women and more brack and -- and more black and brown people. the problem is that startup culture is focused with making it an surviving and they don't take a long-term you. so we need to help people take that longer-term view. and since manufacturing has left our country in many ways, we still need to fight for manufacturing, but it has led to the increase in the racial wealth gap. the racial wealth gap in this country has increased over the past three decades. one of the reasons it the is they -- reasons inequity of the innovation sector, and the black community hasn't benefited. we need to fix that. andr: when you say fix that emily mentioned the legislative response, what would you do with this point? representative khanna: those
discussions requiring board representation and diversity, federal contracts, tax incentives to hire underrepresented folks, like it did in quebec. one other idea is to have a foundation for our universe is -- for our universities to have a tax incentive to invest pension funds or their endowments to invest in funds for latinx entrepreneurs or women entrepreneurs and getting 1% of venture capital into black communities and latinx communities, but i think it needs legislative structural change. we have seen this in other countries where they have those kinds of laws. it leads to more equity. peter: i apologize, i should have asked this a different way. would you see this as standard on bills, would you include it in an infrastructure bill that funds more broadband?
i would you do that -- how would you do that? representative khanna: jim clyburn has a bill that is so powerful and getting everybody hooked up to the high speed internet. i don't know why it is controversial. $80 billion, and it would help urban americans and rural americans. jobs it urban,f exclusionunities, the of jobs in the white, rural working class, that has led to greater disparity. there should be a broad coalition, republicans and democrats, and say, can't we get universal broadband there? can't we get incentives to get venture capital there? think about this. in manufacturing in this country in the 1960's and 1970's, we were only in five cities. we only had big manufacturing
francisco,san detroit, cleveland, manufacturing was spread out. and that is the situation where we have in the innovation economy. it has been concentrated and has excluded large groups geographically, gender wise. could you see social media companies and broadband companies, telecom companies, being considered as utilities, and regulated as such? representative khanna: that is a step too far. i would encourage federal regulators to understand the innovation that is required to make the next iphone. probably rollld over in his grave if he thought people i was going to a point would be in charge of the next iphone or what the next innovation should be. but i think we need smart resin galatian -- we need smart regulation. and the other thing with
utilities is a guaranteed rate of profit. there may be some entrepreneur out there who has a better social media network that is coming up. i amam for competition, for innovation and entrepreneurship, but not in an unregulated way. and right now we have let the tech companies and technology in this country develop with the invisible hand and not really thinking about issues of equity and the impact that is having on our democracy. there isght now, regulation coming down the pike that tech companies pretty unanimously said they are not comfortable with, they think it goes too far. it is moving through the senate judiciary committee and was just theyd in altered form, altered the language to make it similar to a law you have long opposed.
do you have concerns about the act? representative khanna: i do. i would have to look at it in more detail, i think we have to look at unintended consequences when you start to regulate types of activity and speech. one case went after conduct that was sex work, but the consequence of that was that they could no longer active safely what they were doing online, they were forced on the streets and that led to increased violence. so we have to be careful these solutions don't end up hurting vulnerable individuals. peter: the mission of the -- emily: the mission of the earn act is to make sure there is less child pornography circulating online. below are being traumatized all the time. is there any smart legislative
fix to that problem? representative khanna: yes, i think so. child pornography is not protected by the first amendment. it should not be protected under if there is a knowing awareness of child pornography. and if it is narrowly crafted legislation, then i would before it. but as long as it is not removeg these sites to all conversations about sex or sexuality off their platforms. let me give you an example. one of the most common forms of litigation companies face is the #metooe movement, that individuals would bring legitimate complaints
against someone for sexual harassment or sexual violence, and men end up suing them for libel and sewing the platforms for libel. these are complex issues and i don't want to create a framework that would make it harder to have me too stories online. at the same time, we don't want to have child pornography, obviously. we just need to think about the whole complexity of the issue. emily: at the center of those theussions is section 230, law that many lawmakers are taking aim at right now, saying that that is the problem with speech online. have there been any section 230 bills introduced, or that you would get behind? representative khanna: so far, i haven't seen one that i would get behind, because a lot of the conversation is becomin -- is coming from people like josh hawley and other people that want to do away with it.
that doesn't mean i wouldn't be open to modifications that would be necessary, and of course i would consider them. emily: but none of them have come across your desk? representative khanna: no. we haven't seen anything. who is anna eshoo, leader on the subcommittee of energy and commerce, if something came from her, i would consider it seriously. california's privacy law has just taken effect. have you seen any changes? representative khanna: i have seen some changes in companies trying to comply. for some of them, it wasn't a heavy lift. but it is to early to say how much an impact it is going to have, but i think it is a step in the right direction. there is nothing very strong enforcement mechanism. it provides for private causes of action limited $750. in itthere enough teeth
from a state perspective, that's the question. that is why i think we need a national standard. peter: you see the possibility of a national standard in this congress being passed and signed into law? representative khanna: i would hope so, but no, not this congress because we are running into an election year. tell not barda and i came up with a framework for the internet bill of rights -- tim alberta and i came up with a framework for the internet bill of rights. at that should be bipartisan. i don't understand why hit that's why it has been so hard to get consensus on it. peter: emily, time for one more question. emily: can you talk about how covid has changed discussions on capitol hill about broadband? comingthink new momentum from the pandemic could accelerate efforts to close the digital divide?
is there movement, or are we getting stuck on the same problems? representative khanna: there should be movement. clyburn's bill has had a lot of support. tech jobs12 million right now, comparable to manufacturing. microsoft estimated there are going to be 149 million global tech jobs over the next 10 years. and it is going to matter who has access to those jobs, who has the credentials for those jobs, and that tech companies are fair in engaging in recruiting broadly and retaining people and having greater equity. we have a systemic problem in this country, where access to the innovation economy has been limited. it is just the table stakes. the fact is, we should have done this in the 1990's. if 2016 wasn't a wake-up call for our country and the world,
-industrialization left people behind and left them with your left them with fewer prospects. in one of the questions is, what comes next? we have to bring manufacturing back, but given that we have this extraordinary new sector, which in gdp is already creating value in manufacturing that is only going to continue to increase, we can't as a nation be unified and stitch our country back together and have equity if we don't expand access. and broadband is the first step. peter: you alluded to this a couple of times during the half hour we have been talking, do members of congress over all understand the issues involved with technology? representative khanna: i think there is a long way to go. theyndor, i don't think understand how consequential technology is.
if you look at the stock market, although it is an indication, it has been carried by technology. of thelook at four companies that are $1 trillion plus, they are technology companies. and they are the future, most of the jobs that are automated -- that are not automated, those are going to be technology jobs. ofhink there is recognition how transformational technology is going to be in our economy, and how unequal it is. and our challenge really is to figure out how to address the distribution of technology opportunity. i think that is a challenge for the country. it doesn't get enough attention in the media and congress. peter: currently in his second term, congressman ro khanna represents much of the silicon valley. here is a democrat -- he is a
democrat. emily birnbaum is with "protocol." what is "protocol"? we focus on the tech industry. you can find a set protocol.com. peter: thanks for being on "the communicators." >> c-span has unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events. c-span'satch all of public affairs programming on television, online, or listen on our free radio app read and be part of the national conversation through c-span's daily "washington journal" program or through our social media feeds. america'seated by cable television companies as a public service, and brought you today by your television provider. >> vice president mike pence spoke about the economy and