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FTC launches sweeping privacy study of top tech platforms

The Federal Trade Commission will announce Monday that it's launching a new inquiry into the privacy and data collection practices of major tech firms including Amazon, TikTok owner ByteDance, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook as well as its subsidiary WhatsApp, Axios has learned.

The big picture: The move comes amid broader scrutiny for the industry and appears to be a wide-reaching inquiry into everything major tech companies know about their users and what they do with that data, as well as their broader business plans.


Details: The FTC is asking for a large trove of information and documents from the above platforms, plus Discord, Reddit and Snap.

  • The agency wants much of the usage and engagement data the platforms collect on their users, the metrics they use for measuring such things and short- and long-term business strategies, among many other areas of inquiry.

Background: In launching the study, the FTC is using its authority to do wide-ranging studies for no specific law enforcement purpose.

  • With this study, the commission particularly wants to look into how tech's privacy and data practices affect children and teens, according to a release seen by Axios.
  • Republican Commissioner Christine Wilson had pushed for such a study last fall.

The intrigue: The agency's five commissioners voted 4-1 to issue the orders, with Republican commissioner Noah Phillips dissenting, saying the probe was too expansive.

Between the lines: The FTC uses these types of studies to gather data that can later lead to enforcement actions, should they encounter any wrongdoing.

Democrats to take up immigration reform next week

The House will vote on two immigration bills next week, including one to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday on a call with the Democratic caucus.

Why it matters: This is likely the only realistic shot the Biden administration has at this point to pass immigration reform.

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Biden to be briefed on need for 20,000 child migrant beds to cope with border surge

A briefing scheduled for President Biden this afternoon outlines the need for 20,000 beds to shelter an expected crush of child migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The rapid influx of unaccompanied children is building into the administration's first new crisis. A presentation created by the Domestic Policy Council spells out the dimensions with nearly 40 slides full of charts and details.

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FBI director: Jan. 6 Capitol attack was domestic terrorism

The FBI views the Jan. 6 Capitol siege as an act of domestic terrorism, director Christopher Wray testified in his opening statement Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Why it matters: The FBI's designation of the attack as domestic terrorism puts the perpetrators "on the same level with ISIS and homegrown violent extremists," Wray said.

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Sen. Martin Heinrich to introduce plan to grant Puerto Rico statehood

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.) announced Tuesday they would introduce legislation to start the motions for Puerto Rico statehood.

Why it matters: More than 52% ofPuerto Ricans voted last November in favor of statehood, three years after Hurricane Maria struck the island and caused one of the worst natural disasters in recorded history. It exposed the island's vulnerable position as a U.S. territory and its lack of resources to battle poverty.

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J&J and Merck to partner for COVID vaccine production to boost supply

President Biden will announce Tuesday that pharmaceutical giant Merck will help Johnson & Johnson manufacture its newly authorized coronavirus vaccine to boost supply, a senior administration official tells Axios.

The big picture: The development has the potential to vastly increase supply, possibly doubling what the J&J could make on its own, the official said. The company has run into challenges while trying to expand its vaccine production to a global scale.

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Casinos are throwing cash at sports betting media

Casinos are investing millions on sports betting content to lure bettors to their online and in-person sportsbooks.

Why it matters: It’s a mini gold rush for some sports media companies that were struggling in the pandemic.

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Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels

Newly released data show that global CO2 emissions had returned to pre-pandemic levels by the end of last year and surpassed them in some major economies.

Why it matters: The International Energy Agency warned that clean energy efforts are falling short.

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Civil rights leader and Bill Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan dies at 85

Vernon Jordan, the Civil Rights Movement pioneer who served as a close adviser to former President Clinton, died on Monday evening, CNN reports. He was 85.

Why it matters: The former National Urban League president was influential in American politics — from his service in President Lyndon B. Johnson’s civil rights conference to his position in leadership at the NAACP.

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