Tech Policy Outlook with Chris Lewis (Ep. 198)
Chris Lewis joined Joe Miller on the WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast for Chris’ tech policy outlook as Congress gets set to return to Washington.
Christopher Lewis is President and CEO at Public Knowledge. Prior to being elevated to President and CEO, Chris served for as PK’s Vice President from 2012 to 2019 where he led the organization’s day-to-day advocacy and political strategy on Capitol Hill and at government agencies. During that time he also served as a local elected official, serving two terms on the Alexandria City Public School Board. Chris serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute for Local Self Reliance and represents Public Knowledge on the Board of the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG).
Before joining Public Knowledge, Chris worked in the Federal Communications Commission Office of Legislative Affairs, including as its Deputy Director. He is a former U.S. Senate staffer for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and has over 18 years of political organizing and advocacy experience, including serving as Virginia State Director at GenerationEngage, and working as the North Carolina Field Director for Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Campaign and other roles throughout the campaign. Chris graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelors degree in Government and lives in Alexandria, VA where he continues to volunteer and advocate on local civic issues.
Google updated its internal community guidelines for all employees last week in which the company urged workers to avoid “raging discussions about politics”. The key tenets of the new policy are to be responsible, helpful, and thoughtful. The policy change came in the wake of several instances in which Googlers called out the company publicly to protest Google’s alleged suppression of conservative voices and its controversial payout to Andy Rubin who was accused of sexual harassment, but left the company with a hefty severance package anyway.
Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon announced in a press release last week that he would soon release a new film that’s critical of Huawei, the Chinese tech company the Trump administration has accused of collusion with the Chinese government to spy on and steal trade secrets from U.S. firms. “Run by a radical cadre of the Chinese Community Party,” the press release states, “China’s Communism today is the greatest existential threat the West has ever faced.” The Trump administration has banned Huawei from doing business with the federal government. Trump extended by 90 days a similar deadline for U.S. companies to stop doing business with Huawei. Bannon’s announcement comes as Trump has been under fire for undermining the U.S. economy via its trade war with China, signals from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that point to slowing job growth, and an investor exodus away from long-term treasury bonds.
Republican Representative John Ratcliffe and Democratic Representative Adam Schiff both praised and called attention to the threat of Chinese interference with the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Ratcliffe urged Google and Facebook to view China’s removal of content posted by pro-Democracy Hong Kong protesters as a trial run of what could happen in 2020 if China targets the U.S. Schiff applauded Twitter and Facebook for acting quickly to remove hundreds of accounts linked to the Chinese government that garnered over a hundred thousand followers.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has renewed its surveillance contract with Palantir-the software company founded by Peter Thiel, a vociferous tech sector conservative who also serves as an advisor to President Trump. Tech companies and immigration groups have blasted the administration for working with Palantir, which helps ICE track immigrants. The Hill values the contract at around $49 million.
Finally, A new study by the American Psychological Association found that voters may form false memories from fake news stories, especially if the stories conform to their existing beliefs. The research was performed in Ireland, but researchers expect that there would be similar results in the U.S.