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tv   The Communicators Rep. Jerry Mc Nerney D-CA Media Technology  CSPAN  March 22, 2021 8:00am-8:30am EDT

8:00 am >> book tv is television for serious readers allweekend every weekend . join us again next saturday at 8 am eastern for the best in nonfiction books. >> c-span2 is created by america's cable television companies and today brought to you by these television companies who provide c-span2 to viewers as a public service . >> was on february 24 of this year the energy and commerce committee held a hearing on this information. one of the members of that committee representative jerry mcnerney of california is our guest on the communicators this week but we wanted to show you before we introduce him a little bit
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of what he had to say at that hearing. >> .. and effort to undermine and dismantle our democracy, we should all be concerned about any source that help spread disinformation conspiracy theories and laws. that's why sent a letter with others to ask providers the questions to understand how disinformation spread and the role of various companies and enabling its spread. while social media undoubtedly played a major role in enabling disinformation ecosystems, traditional media outlets should not escape scrutiny or accountability. >> host: so congressman
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mcnerney, what profit you to send that letter? >> guest: well, as i said in hearing, traditional media accounts for at least 50% of the news that people get on day-to-day activities in this country. so there's a widespread of disinformation or lies or hate talk or conspiracy theories or extremist views that reach people and cause them to act in ways that bring harm upon this country that hurts people, that causes an insurrection, that causes people not to take steps to protect themselves from the virus. it's our responsibility in congress to conduct oversight, and that was the intent of the letter. let's look at these providers, satellite, cable and streaming providers and ask them if they think that any responsibility for the spread of disinformation
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that's causing real harm to people. if they do then what is he going to do to lower the volume a little bit, turn down the temperature? if they're not prepared to do that then we need to look at what remedies are available here in congress. >> host: did you target conservative leaning media such as fox and oan in your letter to the cable operators? >> guest: it wasn't our intent to target conservative media. i think the same issue applies to any spread of disinformation that causes real harm. if you're spreading ally or disinformation that causes real harm, that hurts people, that hurts the repetition, hurts the finances or causes them bodily harm, then you need to be held accountable. if you're helping spread that disinformation as a streaming or cable tv provider, then you need to be able to be accountable for that. >> host: well, one of the
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other members of the committee is represented cathy mcmorris rodgers. here is what she had to say about that letter and the media. want to get your response to that. >> and all my time on this committee there's never been a more obvious direct attack on the first amendment despite what is been set. i want to be very clear. considering the january six attack and upholding truth as that, it's a shared bipartisan goal. unfortunately that's not what this hearing is about. if the majority was with interest in the meaningful dialogue he would schedule a hyper partisan hearing to shame and blame. you wouldn't be sending letters pressuring private companies to block conservative media outlets. not only disappointed in this hearing, i am deeply troubled by it. every journalist from msnbc and cnn to the newark times should be concerned by the majority action. and anyone who values free
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speech and a free press should be worried. elected officials using their platform to pressure private companies to censor media outlets they disagree with? that sounds like action from the chinese communist party, not duly elected representatives of the united states congress. >> host: representative mcnerney, what's your response? >> guest: well, my response is that we have a responsibility to conduct oversight in this country, and we're going to do that. i'm going to do that to the best of my ability. if an outlet is causing real harm to people, especially if it's a threat to our democracy, then i feel a strong responsibility to conduct oversight. what are the limits to this sort of behavior and is there some way to turn down the volume so that we don't see extremist behavior as a result of this
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kind of disinformation? >> host: let's bring in cat zakrzewski from the "washington post" in this conversation. she covers technology, the congress and related issues. >> thank you so much, peter. congressman, on this information i can issue of disinformation there's a big hearing coming up next with the ceos of facebook, twitter and google and its the first since the attack on the capital. what are your goals for the hearing and what he hoping to learn from these ceos? >> guest: cat, i think that's a great question. i had been calling out for a long time now about these companies, come about the spred of disinformation. we have asked them in hearings before what you plan to do about it. they'd make promises they haven't kept. it's time for us to look at holding them accountable in a way that makes them responsible for the information that's generated and spread on their
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platforms. they have algorithms that amplify hate speech, , that amplify extremist views and conspiracy theories, and they are making profit come huge profits from that. and so the incentives that they are getting from that kind of behavior need to be looked at. how can we curb that sort of violence and provoking speech in this country? and i think it's a difficult question. there's probably not an easy answer, but i know these companies have the resources to curb disinformation and lies, especially disinformation the causes real harm to people. they have the resources to do that. they are just making such big profits that they are not motivated to carry out their promises. >> i think you make a really good point that these companies
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have been making these promises again and again. as you know this would be the fourth time mark zuckerberg is testifying since july, the third time for dorsey. what's going to be different this time? what you think will be different in this hearing versus the ones we've seen before? >> guest: well, we are going to have to call out the specific promises and the lack of action and following through with those promises. we also want to know a little bit more about how their algorithms work, in amplifying fat and the profits that are related to that. that's how we can get at what does it take to turn down the volume of this sort of hate speech that's causing so many problems in our country didn't. >> host: congressman mcnerney, does make a difference that it is a democratic majority in both the house and the senate this time? >> guest: well, i certainly prefer having a democratic majority in the house and the senate and the presidency, but
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really our responsibility is oversight. how can we produce incentives that will cause these companies disincentives if you want to call it that, cause these companies to be more responsible with the kind of content that you let amplify through the platforms? >> host: cat zakrzewski. >> with such a narrow democratic majority particularly in the senate do you think this congress will be able to accomplish meaningful regulation of these companies especially when as we just saw in the last hearing republicans and democrats can't even agree on what disinformation is right now? >> guest: well, that's certainly a challenge, cat, and we can to take this seriously. honestly, i want to work across the aisle. it's the best way to get stuff that in congress. if you were together basically you produce a law. it has more sustainability in
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the long-term and that's really important. but the situation is critical. we have disinformation that has caused people to die unnecessarily because of the pandemic. we have disinformation that has prevented us from taking steps to curb climate change, and now we have disinformation that's causing an insurrection in the capital, and people die, , peope were injured. these were real harms so there's an urgent need for us to take a strong action as possible. now, you could look at it as a legal issue. you can look at as an editors issue but i think we need to look at all these avenues to decide what's the best approach. if we do so in a recent invention what i think we can get some bipartisan support. >> host: would you advocate taking some of these what you call media disinformation channels off the air? >> guest: i wouldn't advocate that necessarily.
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what i advocate for is, for a voted step back and take a look with the responsibility is here. since censoring is not comph free speech, and that's critical to our country's freedoms, but we need to look at how these streaming providers, cable and satellite, how they are handling the disinformation that comes on their platforms, and how that dissemination causes real harm. so no, i don't advocate taking channels off the air. >> host: you are a mathematician. are we to rely on algorithms when it comes to social media feeds? >> guest: that's a good question. algorithms don't have a human hand necessarily that they have biases built into them. another thing that algorithms do
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is use data that could be badly biased, and both of those things i think can cause bias and harm to people. and so i think it's important to look at how these algorithms are run. i think companies like facebook, google, they have the resources to provide the oversight on these algorithms. we just need to provide the incentives or disincentives if you want to call it for them to do that. >> host: you are watching "the communicators" on c-span. representative jerry mcnerney, democrat of california is our guest. is a a member of the energy ad commerce committee. cat zakrzewski is our guest reporter from the "washington post." >> congressman, you mentioned the word responsibility several times in the conversation, and whom we talk about the lot as the conversation is to section 230 which basically means for these tech companies don't have to take legal responsibility for the type of harmful content
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other platforms. based on what you were saying do you think it's time to reform or repeal section 230? >> guest: thank you, cat. section 230 has provided a a tremendous amount of innovation and the internet and it's made a lot of commerce possible. so it's been a great tool. but we see it as being abused by some of these large entities, and so we need to look at ways that will disincentive the use of 230 come to shield them from liability of bad behavior. does that mean repealing it? i don't think so but it means taking a closer look at it. can we use legal avenues or financial avenues? can we use antitrust? how are we going to move forward on this? i don't think it's necessarily a
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good idea to focus solely on 230. we have a lot of other tools at our disposal, but 230 was one of the things we need to take a careful look at. we need to listen to experts. if we make changes on 230 there's going to be significant ramifications and when you'd understand what the ramifications are before we take drastic steps. >> there's been some interesting bills introduced on this front and democrats recently. you have mark warner aiming to make it easier to bring lawsuits against the companies when there's criminal activity. you have the to pack act whl bring greater transparency to these content moderation effort. is it any particular bill that you think seems like a good model? >> guest: i haven't cosponsored any of those bills yet. i think it's important to take a close look at them. there's already some carveouts on 230. it hasn't destroyed the internet but every single one is going a significant ramifications so we
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need to really understand what the ramifications are before we do those. i know senator warner is a great individual and i've tremendous respect. i would love to take a look at his proposal and understand is that something i can support, but right now i have given my support any of these effort yet. >> you mentioned antitrust could also potentially be a way to address this. what do you think of the recent hires the biden administration has made, very fierce antitrust crusaders like lina khan and tim wu? >> guest: well, i mean, the editors issue is called looking for different reasons. basically the trust law counts on some sort of harm to the customer. that doesn't really apply here necessarily in a direct way because the internet is giving people for information. it's getting things out, but it's also taking something
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that's not very visible. it's taking a privacy, taking your data and using that data in a way that some people think it's a very big invasion of the privacy. i think antitrust laws need to be looked at. is that a good approach? i think privacy, a good privacy will go a long way that antitrust law may not be able to reach. >> host: if you were looking ahead to this year and energy and commerce committee and the congress as a whole, do you think there will be out to legislation on data privacy or on section 230 or on social media regulation? >> guest: i think there's a good chance, peter. the american people feel like they're privacy has been invaded and they are not wrong about that. not just the big tech companies
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but a lot of people have access to your data, and that means they know what sort of activities you do when you're not working, where you might frequent, what sort of things you buy at the stores. that's a lot of very private information that shouldn't be in the hands of whoever wants to buy it. and i think that's the reason we need to look at privacy. i am particularly folkestone uncoupled aspects in privacy that you think are important. one of those is data minimization. organization should not be electing data that they don't need for the essential function of that business. and also data security. if someone does have your data in in the ought to be taking real good care to make sure it's secure with encryption and other means. i think that's where we need to go on this issue. there are other aspects of data and privacy. the united states i think does need a good strong privacy bill.
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i think we have an opportunity to move forward on that. i think there's an opportunity for bipartisan consensus. so yeah, i think we can get some things done this year. >> congressman, just to follow up on that. i mean, members of congress have been saying that there's momentum for this for the better part of a decade now. what's different in 2021? why is this the year we will finally crossed the finish line, in your mind? >> guest: well, i think the public is getting more and more anxious about this. california had a really good privacy bill it passed for just a week or so. virginia passed a privacy bill, so there's going to be more and more pressure on congress to do something on a national scale so we don't have 50 different privacy bills out there. i think that's an important driver right now. >> host: congressman mcnerney, are we to the point
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where social media companies and traditional broadcast channels need to be looked at, regulated, monitored in the same way? >> guest: him that's a good question, peter at an unexpected but what i'd like to see rsns and was sort of regulation would be most effective, if any -- this incentivize the use of algorithms and methods to amplify bad messages. i mean, that's really the core of what we need to go. what's it going to take, what sort of approach? escap mentioned, is a kind antitrust, privacy? this is something we need to work on. argument has the expertise to do that and that's what i am pretty optimistic about it working
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together on a bipartisan basis to accomplish that. >> host: what else is the committee working on that you want to bring up? >> guest: well, i mean, i would like to -- electronic a policy goals every important. i'm also engage in artificial intelligence and that's a very bipartisan issue. i am chair of the congressional ai caucus. my cochair is anthony gonzalez, a republican from ohio, and we are looking forward to a very busy year in developing artificial intelligence expertise in congress, and moving forward with whatever legislation is appropriate. >> host: cat zakrzewski. >> what specific steps are you taking to improve ai knowledge in congress? because i think the american public after watching some of the tech earrings over the past few years is kind of concerned about the tech expertise that we sometimes see from lawmakers. what steps are you taking to change that in your work on ai?
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>> guest: thank you, cat. the purpose of the congressional ai caucus is just that. we have briefings where we invite them was of congress and their staff, and i can tell you those are very well attended. we have maybe 20, 30 members of congress, shoulder to shoulder standing only for staff. people are interested. it want to know about artificial intelligence, and we bring in some terrific experts from around the country for that purpose. i think that's probably the primary purpose of the ai caucus is to help inform members of congress and their staffs about artificial intelligence, what are its promises, what are its risks, and how do we move forward in a way that guarantees that the united states is that only a leader in artificial intelligence, but that if we move forward in a way that protects people from come welcome protects people from
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dislocations that protects them from vice applications, of artificial intelligence, and provides the very benefits that artificial intelligence can provide. for example, last year we passed the ai government act into law, and what that does is let our government beef up its artificial intelligence tip abilities because those will be used in helping make efficiencies in the way the government provides its services. but on the other hand, we want to make sure it doesn't create biases that hurt significant sectors of the population. >> who are some of the experts that you been bring in for these briefings? >> guest: well, i'm not the greatest with names, cat, but we've had some folks from stanford, stanford human hai, human centered artificial intelligence, i think that's a great group. we had a meeting of the caucus
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within a few weeks ago. very strong presentation. we had -- i've been involved with the defense artificial intelligence committee. i think that's a very knowledgeable and important aspect of artificial intelligence. i have spoken with artificial intelligence experts across legislative experts across the world, especially from the united kingdom, from chile, from portugal come from italy and sometime one. so we're reaching out to make sure that we have a very good perspective on the subject. >> host: congressman mcnerney, to go up to the hearing that's happening next week that cat zakrzewski mentioned with jack dorsey and mark zuckerberg, what do you specifically want to ask google, facebook and twitter about? what is going to be your area of
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questioning? >> guest: honestly, peter, i haven't really formulated my questions yet, but what i want to know in general terms is how they can reform their thes so that they don't amplify disinformation, on the one hand, and on the other hand, how they're using their algorithms to produce revenues in a way that's harmful to this country. so those are the sort of two areas i would like to focus on. >> host: and i wanted as you also in this year a pandemic, we have been conducting these zoom interviews and other remote interviews. have learned anything about what this country may need when it comes to technology? >> guest: well, , we certainly have a good understanding about the need for broadband access across this country, and broadband adoption across this country. earlier i think last week i
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introduced two bills, the digital equity act which will address the broadband adoption issue, and then addressed the broadband infrastructure. but these are part of a larger bill that was produced by jim clyburn. there's $80 billion for broadband buildout in this country. i think it's very important. if you are a citizen of this country today and you don't have broadband access, you are going to be left behind in a lot of ways, whether it's telehealth or veterans benefits. if your student, access to the classroom. if you're a business, access to the commerce community in your region in the world. rock band is almost -- we need to make sure we can close the digital divide and make sure everybody in this country has fair and equal access to the internet. that will help lift us up.
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basically they can't ms has just shown a bright light on the need for that today. >> host: do you think net neutrality will be an issue again in this congress? >> guest: oh, yes. i'm sure it will. when chairman pai sort of rescinded the net neutrality provisions, i heard from 8000 of my constituents that that which is sort of in arms. we had a town hall meeting with then commissioner clyburn, 150 people show up. people in my district care about this issue, and i care about it. having free and open access to the internet is critical to innovation. it's critical to prosperity, and nobody needs that as much as my district. and also the whole country. it's an important issue. the court just upheld california's law on net
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neutrality, it's in a poor but we need net neutrality protections across the whole country, cat zakrzewski, final question for congressman mcnerney. >> congressman, i guess on that point of nedra chatterley, d think there's every chance conquers will actually be able to push legislation through this year or be think it is more likely to be changed within the democratic-controlled fcc? >> guest: well, i think we should focus on what we can do in congress. ideally the fcc will move forward, and that's good. i think congress can work in parallel to that. i think we should work parallel to that but we need to create something in law that is durable, and that's what our relationship should be and that's what we're going to try to accomplish. >> host: jerry mcnerney, democrat from california has been our guest on "the communicators" along with cat zakrzewski of the "washington post."
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>> should the district of columbia become a state? the house oversight and reform committee is hosting a hearing on the issue. watch live coverage today starting at 11 a.m. eastern on c-span2, i might or listen with the free c-span radio app. >> the set is back today at 3 p.m. eastern to continue work on cabinet nominees. favorable schedule at 5:30 p.m. to confirm boston mayor marty walsh to be labor secretary. other nominees awaiting senate approval include deputy omb director and surgeon general. they may also take up an extension of the paycheck
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protection program which expires at the end of the month. the house is not in session this week but they continue to hold hearings, next week both bodies are out for the easter and passover holidays. watch the house live on c-span, the senate live on c-span2. >> dr. anthony fauci and cdc director dr. rochelle walensky testified on have biden administration was working to increase covid-19's vaccinations. they also gave an update on a number of people have already received at least one dose of the vaccine and when it might be possible to have young teens and children inoculated. this subcommittee hearing is two and a half hours. >> today the subcommittee continues its oversight of the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. since its beginning, we have examined many aspects of this crisis, including vital efforts to develop, distribute, and


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