Amazon Wants a Lot of New Laws

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Amazon is on a roll suggesting massive modifications to U.S. legal guidelines. This might be nice for a lot of Americans and for the nation, or this might be principally discuss.

Amazon has been loudly supporting a federal minimal wage of $15 an hour. The firm talked about (briefly) in a weblog put up in April that it was in favor of growing the federal tax fee for firms. Amazon wrote this week that it might be “actively supporting” a proposed federal invoice to legalize marijuana. Last 12 months, the corporate mentioned that it wished Congress to put in writing guidelines for the moral use of facial recognition expertise, together with Amazon’s Rekognition.

Some of these insurance policies might make a actual distinction in folks’s lives. My concern is that Amazon might want credit score with the general public and the policymakers for supporting these legal guidelines, however that it received’t put within the concerted and sustained work required to have a actual impression — besides when it straight helps Amazon.

We know that corporations foyer onerous for or in opposition to legal guidelines which are good for his or her backside traces. But when corporations say that they help insurance policies they imagine may help everybody, do they dedicate the identical cash and muscle to these efforts? (And ought to they?)

Emily Stewart, writing for Vox’s Recode, not too long ago requested comparable questions of all companies, together with the expertise giants. But maybe we must always maintain the tech superstars to an excellent larger normal as a result of of their energy over our lives and their affect on policymakers and public notion.

Pressure from firms can’t damage to nudge a Congress that’s typically gridlocked or gradual to go legal guidelines. Labor organizations have been urgent for a $15 minimal wage for years. It’s attainable that Amazon’s advocacy may be much more efficient at rallying public help and altering the regulation. Ditto for Facebook’s relentless promotions about its help for revised U.S. web laws.

These corporations deserve credit score for taking up massive points, however what issues is that they observe via to the tip. As Stewart wrote, “Vague gestures from corporations and executives are a way to smooth over real political and social issues, and to deflect deserved scrutiny.”

An episode from Amazon’s previous additionally invitations skepticism of its motivations in coverage battles. For years, the corporate loudly proclaimed help for a nationwide gross sales tax within the United States. Amazon knew that a nationwide gross sales tax was most definitely a non-starter in Congress. But Amazon’s place helped in its struggle in opposition to state legal guidelines to gather gross sales taxes on on-line purchases.

A nationwide gross sales tax by no means occurred. Amazon about a decade in the past started to succeed in compromises with states to use gross sales taxes. By then, the corporate had benefited from years of worth benefits over standard retailers.

This bit of historical past reveals that what Amazon mentioned was a principled coverage place was fairly doubtless little greater than a technique maneuver.

Here are some questions that American taxpayers can pose to tech corporations who’re talking up for coverage modifications: How is the corporate pushing for this regulation? What particular coverage recommendations does it have? How a lot cash will the corporate spend on lobbying for it? Will the corporate decide to standing reviews on its coverage advocacy and the outcomes?

Amazon’s lobbying disclosures do point out, with out many specifics, that minimal wage points are among the many subjects that the corporate has pressed with members of Congress. Jodi Seth, a spokeswoman for Amazon, additionally pointed me to the corporate’s ads and opinion items about growing the minimal wage, and mentioned it’s one of the few points that entails everybody on Amazon’s coverage group.

I’ll add yet one more query to my record: Why? No, the actual reply. Radical candor about corporations’ motivations for proposed coverage modifications may assist win confidence from lawmakers and the general public.

For Amazon, why not be frank that a rise within the minimal wage may be good for a lot of American employees and for Amazon’s enterprise? The firm could have to pay extra to draw sufficient high-quality employees and hold them blissful, and its rivals could not be capable to afford larger wages.

Facebook and another tech corporations which are getting behind a nationwide digital privateness safety regulation within the United States don’t sometimes say out loud that they need extra lenient guidelines from Congress to usurp strict legal guidelines that some states have handed.

I’m making a spreadsheet itemizing choose coverage positions taken by massive tech corporations. I promise to report again right here periodically with what the businesses have finished. (And please e-mail me with recommendations of insurance policies proposed by tech corporations that you simply’d like to trace. Put “policies” within the topic line.)

Before we go …

Facebook fights with itself: Some workers have been difficult the Facebook bosses for actions they believed helped the Indian authorities stifle on-line dissent and for eradicating some pro-Palestinian posts, my colleagues Sheera Frenkel and Mike Isaac report. It’s the most recent instance of divisions between some Facebook employees who need the corporate to face as much as domineering governments and a coverage group that handles difficult worldwide relations.

It’s onerous to make a Silicon Valley from scratch: Rest of World appears at what has gone unsuitable with Kenya’s effort to construct a metropolis that was imagined as a high-tech utopia for residents and a hub for tech corporations. “Smart cities are not cure-alls for socioeconomic problems but rather ways to distract citizens from bigger, structural ones,” the article says.

Meet the brand new king of TikTok: Khabane Lame, a 21-year-old former manufacturing unit employee in Italy, has turn into the fastest-growing video creator on TikTok. My colleagues Jason Horowitz and Taylor Lorenz clarify the attraction of his intelligent and relatable response movies. (For instance, right here he’s horrified by Sour Patch Kid pizza.)

Hugs to this

Birds are so nice. Here is a cockatiel (I believe?) dancing and singing alongside to the piano.

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