Posts Tagged: Lawmakers

Lawmakers ask Google to stop steering people seeking abortion to anti-abortion sites

A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Rep. Elissa Slotkin is urging Google to "crack down on manipulative search results" that lead people seeking abortions to anti-abortion clinics. In a letter addressed to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, the lawmakers reference a study conducted by US nonprofit group Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH). The organization found that 1 in 10 Google search results for queries such as "abortion clinics near me" and "abortion pill" — specifically in states with trigger laws that would ban the procedure the moment Roe v. Wade is overturned — points to crisis pregnancy centers that oppose abortion instead.

"Directing women towards fake clinics that traffic in misinformation and don't provide comprehensive health services is dangerous to women's health and undermines the integrity of Google's search results," the lawmakers wrote. CCDH also found that 37 percent of results on Google Maps for the same search terms lead people to anti-abortion clinics. The lawmakers argue in the letter that Google should not be displaying those results for users searching for abortion and that if the company's search results must continue showing them, they should at least be properly labeled.

In addition, CCDH found that 28 percent of ads displayed at the top of Google search results are for crisis pregnancy centers. Google added a disclaimer for those ads, "albeit one that appears in small font and is easily missed," the lawmakers note, after getting flak for them a few years ago. "The prevalence of these misleading ads marks what appears to be a concerning reversal from Google’s pledge in 2014 to take down ads from crisis pregnancy centers that engage in overt deception of women seeking out abortion information online," the letter reads.

Warner, Slotkin and the letter's other signees are asking Google what it plans to do to limit the appearance of anti-abortion clinics when users are explicitly searching for abortion services. And, if Google chooses not to take action to prevent them from appearing in results, the group is asking whether Google would add user-friendly disclaimers clarifying whether the clinic is or isn't providing abortion services. You can read the whole letter below:

A Supreme Court draft obtained by Politico in May showed that SCOTUS justices have voted to reverse Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that protected the federal rights to abortion across the country. Senator Ron Wyden and 41 other Democratic lawmakers also previously asked Google to stop collecting and keeping users' location data. They said the information could be used against people who've had or are seeking abortions in states with trigger laws. 

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Congressional lawmakers try again to secure some benefits for gig workers

Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Todd Young (R-IN), along with Rep. Susan DelBene (D-WA) introduced a bill today that would create a $ 20 million pilot program with the Department of Labor to incentivize states and cities to test out portable benefits. The idea that benefits like health insurance and paid vacation should be universal, rather than tied to your job, has gained steam in recent years. Such social insurance programs, normally backed by Democrats, have sparked interest from some Republicans motivated by the rapidly changing workforce and economic climate following the pandemic.

“More Americans than ever are engaging in part-time, contract or other alternative work arrangements. As the workforce changes, it is increasingly important that we provide workers with an ability to access more flexible benefits that can be carried to multiple jobs across a day, a year, and even a career,” said Sen. Warner in a statement.

Under the bill, the Department of Labor would create a $ 20 million grant fund to incentivize states, cities and nonprofits to experiment with portable benefits for independent workers. It’s not the first time Warner and DelBene have introduced such legislation. The duo has been regularly pushing to pass portable benefits bills since 2017 — none of which have gotten very far. One of their measures, to provide states with emergency unemployment benefits for gig workers, was folded into the CARES Act.

The bill gives states and cities a lot of room to figure out what their portable benefits program will look like. This could include unemployment benefits, life and disability insurance, sick leave, worker training and health insurance.

A number of states such as California, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey and Colorado have looked at implementing portable benefits programs of their own. But critics of portable benefits warn that such a system would mean that gig economy companies like Uber, Lyft, Doordash and others would be largely off the hook. Indeed, Uber and other gig companies have backed portable benefits legislation in their fight to continue to classify their workers as independent contractors.

Engadget is a web magazine with obsessive daily coverage of everything new in gadgets and consumer electronics

New York lawmakers agree to pause use of facial recognition in schools

New York lawmakers have passed a moratorium that would ban the use of facial recognition in schools until 2022. Their decision comes a month after the New York Civil Liberties Union sued the State Education Department for approving Lockport City Scho…
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Lawmakers still want details from Amazon on its facial recognition tech

In July, three members of Congress — Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) — sent Amazon and CEO Jeff Bezos a letter requesting information about the company's facial recogni…
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