A policy paper from the office of Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., contains 20 options for government to regulate technology companies. The proposals, which were sent to CNBC by Warner's office, are designed to protect consumers and stop the spread of disinformation.
Although Warner, who serves as the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is in the minority, it is possible he could possibly find an ally in President Donald Trump's administration. David Redl, a senior U.S. Commerce Department official who oversees the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said in a speech on Friday that the administration is determining its own data privacy doctrine. Axios first obtained and published Warner's policy paper Monday.
Some of the key points from the memo include:
- GDPR -like legislation, which would require tech companies to obtain individual consent to use consumer data, notify customers of a data breach within 72 hours and allow people to access their personal data and take it with them if they switch digital services. The memo also proposes legislating some of these requirements individually, rather than as a bundle. GDPR, a new EU law, has been rough for Facebook, which saw its number of daily active users fall by 3 million in Europe as the legislation took hold. The decline in active users contributed to the company's recent plunge in the stock market.
- Targeting bots and trolls. The paper proposes rules for tech companies to label bots accounts, which will be increasingly hard to distinguish from people as A.I. technology gets more sophisticated. Warner's paper also includes options for rules that would require tech companies to identify fake accounts and trace the origin of individual posts.
- Radically changing tech companies' legal duties to their customers and the public. One proposal would label major online service providers — such as search engines like Google, social media networks like Facebook and Twitter, internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast and cloud services providers like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft — "information fiduciaries." This new legal definition would require these companies, ubiquitous enough that consumers are dependent on them, to protect consumer data and pledge not to utilize the data for its own benefit, or for the benefit of third-parties. Another proposal, smaller in scope, would hold internet platforms accountable to state tort laws such as defamation and invasion of privacy in the ways a news publication might be.
- Expanding government reach. Warner's paper includes increasing military capabilities in combating cyber attacks from Russia and other adversaries, and responding with sanctions and other punitive measures. The paper also proposes empowering the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) with rule-making authority and increasing its budget.
- Media literacy in schools. One proposal advocates for a public initiative to educate students from a young age about the internet. The program would entail federal funding and metrics, but be administered on a state-by-state basis.
You can read the full memo below: