Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and John Thune (R-SD) introduced the Drone Evaluation to Eliminate Cyber Threats Act of 2024 (DETECT Act), legislation directing the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop cybersecurity guidelines for the federal government’s use of drones.

Drones have the ability to collect sensitive information, and as they become more common, the security of this technology is of increasing importance. The DETECT Act would address cybersecurity concerns by directing the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop a set of guidelines. Following an implementation period, these guidelines would be binding on the federal government’s use of civilian drones, the private sector may voluntarily use these guidelines in their own operations.

“Drones and unmanned systems have the capability to transform the way we do business, manage our infrastructure, and deliver life-saving medicine, and as drones become a larger part of our society, it’s crucial that we ensure their safety and security,” said Sen. Warner. “This legislation will establish sensible cybersecurity guidelines for drones used by the federal government to ensure that sensitive information is protected while we continue to invest in this new technology.” 

“As the capabilities of drones continue to evolve and be utilized by both the federal government and the private sector, it’s critically important that they operate securely,” said Sen. Thune. “This common-sense legislation would require the federal government to follow stringent cybersecurity guidelines and protocols for drones and unmanned systems.”

Specifically, The DETECT Act:

  •  Directs NIST to develop guidelines covering cybersecurity for civilian drones;
  • Directs OMB to test the guidelines by requiring one federal agency to implement them on a pilot basis;
  • Directs OMB, after the conclusion of the test period described above, to require every agency with civilian drones to implement politics and principles based on the NIST guidelines;
  • Directs OMB to issue guidance to agencies governing the reporting of security vulnerabilities discovered in drones used by the agencies;
  • Requires contactors who supply civilian drones or drone-related services to the federal government to report any security vulnerabilities discovered;
  • Directs the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to promulgate any necessary regulation to carry the forgoing contractor requirements into effect;
  • Forbids agencies from acquiring drones that do not meet the guidelines referenced above, subject to a waiver process under certain circumstances.

Sens. Warner and Thune have been strong supporters of the domestic production of unmanned systems, including driverless cars, drones, and unmanned maritime vehicles, and have taken steps to ensure that domestic production of drones is both safe and keeping up with global competitors. Last year, the senators introduced the Increasing Competitiveness for American Drones Act, legislation that would clear the way for drones to be used for commercial transport of goods across the country. Sen. Warner also championed legislation to prohibit federal dollars from being used to procure or operate drones from countries or companies identified as posing a national security threat, which was ultimately included in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2024.

"As the use of drones for multiple types of important operations –critical infrastructure inspection, public safety, agriculture, drone delivery, and more– has grown significantly in recent years, the need for cybersecurity standards for these critical mission tools has become evident,” said Michael Robbins, Chief Advocacy Officer of the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International. “To ensure safety and security, the U.S. must lead in this area. AUVSI thanks Senators Warner and Thune for their leadership in protecting our nation from cyber risks and supporting American leadership in advanced aviation.”

Full text of the legislation is available here.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs National Security and International Trade and Finance Subcomittee, wrote to Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury, questioning the Department’s failure to implement appropriate sanctions enforcement as major technology firms such as Alphabet and Meta repeatedly flout U.S. sanctions rules through provision of digital advertising services. In his letter, Sen. Warner highlighted reports that tech companies continue to provide adtech services to sanctioned companies that have deep ties to our foreign adversaries, including Russia and Iran.

“[P]ublic reports in November 2023 indicated that Google served ads – and provided publisher monetization and search solutions – to a range of sanctioned Iranian and Russian companies,” Sen. Warner wrote. “Even if, as Google has claimed, these relationships did not result in ad payments to sanctioned entities, Google’s provision of web services to these sanctioned companies suggests a troubling inattention to compliance, particularly given the company’s long track record of ignoring fraud within the online ad ecosystem and of accusations of skirting U.S. sanctions laws.”

As Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Sen. Warner outlined the negative impact that these transactions have on U.S. national security and foreign policy interests, and the need for the Treasury Department to enforce the sanctions in place.

“[R]eports suggest that Meta (parent of Facebook) flaunts U.S. sanctions rules, with recent reporting suggesting that the sanctioned Russian oligarch, Ilan Shor, has continued to use Facebook advertising for malign influence activity targeting Moldovan elections,” Sen. Warner continued. “My staff first inquired of the Department about apparent violations by Facebook in February 2023, when prior reports of Shor’s Facebook activity surfaced. This example is especially concerning  given the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s extensive efforts to publicize the ways in which Russian influence actors exploited social media platforms like Facebook to target U.S. elections. Nearly one year later, Facebook has continued to ignore U.S. sanctions laws – reportedly running hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertisements that, on their face (and in the recorded payment information), clearly indicated connection to the sanctioned oligarch.”

 As the 2024 elections ramp up, Sen. Warner stressed the need to combat efforts of foreign malign actors to influence and subvert elections.

He concluded, “This year, the world’s democracies will hold an unprecedented number of elections. In the wake of Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections in 2016, malign actors worldwide have increasingly embraced social media and online advertising tools as vectors for election influence. Given the centrality of U.S. firms to online advertising and social media markets worldwide, it is vital that the Department enforce American technology company compliance with U.S. sanctions.”  

A copy of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Secretary Yellen,

I write with concern over the Department of Treasury’s (the Department) failure to ensure sanctions compliance in digital advertising markets. In multiple instances in the previous two years, my staff has alerted the Department of instances of apparent sanctions violations by U.S. technology firms. Despite these repeated notifications, United States firms such as Alphabet and Meta continue to flout U.S. sanctions rules.

Various sanctions issued by the U.S. government bar corporations from certain transactions with sanctioned entities. Treasury already gives significant latitude to U.S. technology firms through the issuance of general licenses exempting “internet-based communications.” These exemptions ensure that internet users in foreign countries can continue to access certain basic communications services, particularly in the context of repressive regimes under U.S. sanction. However, these exemptions are not meant to continue facilitation of sanctioned activity, or financially benefit sanctioned entities, and in response to inquiries from my staff the Department acknowledged that online advertising services are not covered by these general licenses. Notwithstanding this acknowledgement, however, the Department has continued to ignore repeated instances of non-compliance by U.S. technology firms.

For instance, public reports in November 2023 indicated that Google served ads – and provided publisher monetization and search solutions – to a range of sanctioned Iranian and Russian companies.  Even if, as Google has claimed, these relationships did not result in ad payments to sanctioned entities, Google’s provision of web services to these sanctioned companies suggests a troubling inattention to compliance, particularly given the company’s long track-record of ignoring fraud within the online ad ecosystem and of accusations of skirting U.S. sanctions laws.  Notably, Google’s facilitation of ad delivery in countries under U.S. sanctions regimes has been a longstanding concern. In 2019, Wired reported that Google appeared to be exposing advertising clients to ad waste and potential sanctions violations.  Similarly, ProPublica has reported on instances of Google ostensibly ignoring U.S. sanctions by monetizing a Serbian media outlet that has sought to promote separatist violence.  ProPublica has also noted that Google’s provision of ad services to sanctioned companies has enabled them to harvest user data  – potentially enabling Russian surveillance and influence activity.

Even more recently, reports suggest that Meta (parent of Facebook) flaunts U.S. sanctions rules, with recent reporting suggesting that the sanctioned Russian oligarch, Ilan Shor, has continued to use Facebook advertising for malign influence activity targeting Moldovan elections.  My staff first inquired of the Department about apparent violations by Facebook in February 2023, when prior reports of Shor’s Facebook activity surfaced. This example is especially concerning given the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s extensive efforts to publicize the ways in which Russian influence actors exploited social media platforms like Facebook to target U.S. elections. Nearly one year later, Facebook has continued to ignore U.S. sanctions laws – reportedly running hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertisements that, on their face (and in the recorded payment information), clearly indicated connection to the sanctioned oligarch. And, notably, this is not the only instance in which Facebook has been accused of profiting from sanctions non-compliance. A pair of whistleblower complaints in 2022 similarly accused the company of enabling influence activity by Russian-linked, sanctioned separatist leaders. 

This year, the world’s democracies will hold an unprecedented number of elections. In the wake of Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections in 2016, malign actors worldwide have increasingly embraced social media and online advertising tools as vectors for election influence. Given the centrality of U.S. firms to online advertising and social media markets worldwide, it is vital that the Department enforce compliance with U.S. sanctions.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) selected two projects in Virginia as part of the first phase of EDA’s Regional Tech Hubs Program.

The Tech Hubs Program, made possible by the CHIPS and Science Act, bipartisan legislation strongly supported by both senators, aims to strengthen U.S. economic and national security by investing in regions across the country that have the assets, resources, and potential to become globally competitive innovation centers focused on the technologies and industries of the future. Specifically, this U.S. Department of Commerce program brings together diverse public, private, and academic partners into collaborative consortia focused on driving inclusive regional growth. With their existing innovation assets as a foundation, these Tech Hubs are envisioned to build the workforce of the future, enable businesses to start and scale, and deploy and deliver critical and emerging technologies.

In the Richmond/Petersburg region, the Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Tech Hub was designated as one of 31 inaugural Tech Hubs in regions across the country that show potential for rapid growth in key technology sectors. Led by the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, this consortium will ensure that critical pharmaceuticals are manufactured here in America by employing regional assets, scientific capacities, and public and private investment to accelerate the growth, innovation, and sustainability of the U.S.-based pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. This comes as increasing overseas manufacturing creates supply chain vulnerabilities and difficulties in pharmaceutical quality regulation and monitoring. The designation of the Richmond/Petersburg region as a Tech Hub builds off last year’s award of $52.9 million from the EDA’s Regional Challenge program to the Virginia Advanced Pharma Manufacturing (APM) Cluster, led by the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority and located in the Richmond/Petersburg region. That award, dedicated to expanding the domestic supply chain for essential medicines and critical active pharmaceutical ingredients, was made possible by the American Rescue Plan that the senators voted for and by the senators’ efforts to advocate directly for the project.

“The CHIPS and Science Act continues to deliver significant wins for Virginia, supporting the creation of an Advanced Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Tech Hub in the Richmond-Petersburg region. I was proud to support this project, which will help make the Richmond-Petersburg region a critical hub for the manufacturing of advanced pharmaceuticals. Today’s announcement will help boost the American pharmaceutical industry while creating 21st century jobs for Virginians,” said Sen. Warner.

“Manufacturing critical medicines, including insulin, in America is good for patients, our workers, our economy, and the stability of our supply chains. That’s why I’ve worked for decades to boost our biotechnology sector in the Richmond region. I helped form and grow the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority, a leader of this project, while I was on Richmond City Council, served on the Authority’s board while I was Richmond’s mayor, and appointed its board members while I was governor. Now as Senator, I worked to secure funding from the American Rescue Plan for the project and pushed to make this competitive Tech Hub designation possible. I’ll keep working to advance this critical economic development project for Central Virginia,” said Sen. Kaine. 

This designation is part of the first phase of the novel Tech Hubs program that will invest directly in high-potential U.S. regions and aim to transform them into globally competitive innovation centers. Designation is an endorsement of the region’s strategy to supercharge their respective technological industry to create jobs and strengthen U.S. economic and national security. Designated Tech Hubs are now eligible to apply for the next phase of the Tech Hubs Program that will invest between $50 and $75 million in each of 5-10 Designated Hubs. The consortium was selected from 198 applications from regional consortia that include industry, academia, state and local governments, economic development organizations, and labor and workforce partners. The Tech Hubs span regions across 32 states and Puerto Rico and represent a cross section of urban and rural regions.

In the New River Valley and Danville, the Virginia Additive Manufacturing and Applied Materials Strategy Development Consortium was awarded a Strategic Development Grant, which will go towards advancing a regional strategy based in the New River Valley to develop and deploy additive manufacturing system technologies for heavy industry to re-shore manufacturing and to strengthen domestic supply chain resilience. 

“Today’s selection of Virginia’s Additive Manufacturing and Applied Materials Strategy Development Consortium as a Tech Hubs Strategy Development Grant recipient is great news for the New River Valley, Southside, and for the Commonwealth as a whole.  I am proud to have supported this application and look forward to continuing the growth of the regions’ innovation economy,” said Sen. Warner. “The CHIPS & Science Act, which I was proud to author and lead through Congress, continues to bring high-paying, competitive jobs to Virginia.”

“Last month, I visited MELD manufacturing in Christiansburg and saw up close the strength of Virginia’s Additive Manufacturing and Applied Materials Strategy Development Consortium. Today’s exciting announcement by the U.S. Department of Commerce is a recognition of the incredible work Virginians have already accomplished through this partnership, and their great potential for job creation in the future. As Seapower Chair on the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am particularly impressed with how these innovations will enhance our national security. I will continue to do all that I can to support economic development in the New River Valley and applaud the innovators there that keep Virginia at the cutting-edge,” said Sen. Kaine.

Led by the New River Valley Regional Commission, this consortium will leverage the grant to increase local coordination and planning activities to strengthen the region’s capacity to manufacture, commercialize, and deploy technologies critical to U.S. economic and national security. This consortium was selected for a grant from a competitive pool of 181 applications.

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), wrote to Chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Lina Khan urging the Commission to take action against Google and Meta over their failure to remove graphic videos depicting the murders of Alison Parker and Adam Ward from YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. In August 2015, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, employees at CBS affiliate WDBJ, were murdered by a former co-worker while reporting live on WDBJ’s morning broadcast. The live footage as well as the killer’s own recorded video have circulated online since. For years, Andy Parker, Alison’s father, has been vocal about the damaging impact that this footage has had on his family, including during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.   

“I am deeply troubled by this response, as the burden of finding and removing harmful content should not fall to victims’ families who are grieving their loved ones,” Sen. Warner wrote. “This approach only serves to retraumatize them and inflict additional pain. Instead, I firmly believe that the responsibility lies solely with the platform to ensure that any content violating its own Terms of Service is removed expeditiously.”

In March 2020 and October 2021, Mr. Parker submitted complaints to the FTC and requested a Section 5 investigation of deceptive practices in connection with YouTube and Meta (then Facebook).The complaints argue that YouTube and Meta have failed to enforce their terms of service by neglecting to remove videos of the murders of Alison Parker and Adam Ward from their platforms. Section 5 of the FTC Act prohibits ''unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce,” with a deceptive act defined as one that misleads or is likely to mislead a consumer acting reasonably.

Sen. Warner continued, “It has been over three years since Mr. Parker and the Georgetown University Law Clinic filed their first complaint regarding this case, and Mr. Parker continues to endure harassment as a result of the videos remaining on these platforms. Given the practices outlined above, I ask that your agency consider all possible avenues to ensure that companies like Google and Meta uphold their Terms of Service, not only in Mr. Parker’s case but also in other instances where their platforms may host violent and harmful content.”

Sen. Warner is one of Congress’ leading voices in demanding accountability and user protections from social media companies and has previously pressed Meta on Facebook's role in inciting violence around the world.

Text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Chairwoman Khan,

I write today in support of my constituent, Mr. Andy Parker, and his urgent requests for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take action against Google and Meta over their failure to remove videos depicting the tragic murders of Alison Parker and Adam Ward from YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. In light of this behavior, we ask that your agency engage closely with Mr. Parker regarding his complaints and explore all possible avenues to ensure that Google and Meta uphold their Terms of Service in relation to violent and harmful content.

In August 2015, journalist Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward were shot and killed during a live television interview in Moneta, Virginia. Following this horrifying event, footage captured by the assailant, as well as video from the live news broadcast, were uploaded to several online platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Despite the platforms having policies banning violent content and repeated requests from Mr. Parker and volunteers acting on his behalf to remove this distressing footage, these videos continue to exist on all three platforms to this day. Even more troubling, the footage has been circulated widely by conspiracy theorists who subject the victims’ families to further harm and harassment by falsely claiming the attack was a hoax.

While both Google and Meta purport to have robust content moderation protocols, Mr. Parker's experience demonstrates that the responsibility of removing harmful content often falls upon the victims’ families. It is my understanding that Google responded to Mr. Parker’s complaints by directing him to flag and report each individual video of the attack on YouTube. Further, Instagram’s policy states, “If you see a video or picture on Instagram that depicts the violent death of a family member, you can ask us to remove it. Once we've been notified, we will remove that specific piece of content.” I am deeply troubled by this response, as the burden of finding and removing harmful content should not fall to victims’ families who are grieving their loved ones. This approach only serves to retraumatize them and inflict additional pain. Instead, I firmly believe that the responsibility lies solely with the platform to ensure that any content violating its own Terms of Service is removed expeditiously.

For years, volunteers from the Coalition For A Safer Web have reported videos of Alison’s murder and requested repeatedly for the videos to be taken down on Mr. Parker’s behalf. Disturbingly, only some of the flagged videos have been removed, with many still viewable on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. While Meta has responded that it removed certain videos from Facebook and Instagram, there are still clear violations of their Terms of Service present on their platforms, with videos of Alison Parker’s murder, filmed by the perpetrator, still accessible on Instagram. While YouTube appears to have more thoroughly removed content of Alison Parker’s murder filmed by the perpetrator, content containing disturbing footage of the moment of attack is widespread. Through the continued hosting of videos showing the heinous attack on Alison Parker and Adam Ward and other violence, these platforms fail to provide users with an experience free of harmful content despite claiming to do so.

It has been over three years since Mr. Parker and the Georgetown University Law Clinic filed their first complaint regarding this case, and Mr. Parker continues to endure harassment as a result of the videos remaining on these platforms. Given the practices outlined above, I ask that your agency consider all possible avenues to ensure that companies like Google and Meta uphold their Terms of Service, not only in Mr. Parker’s case but also in other instances where their platforms may host violent and harmful content. Further, I ask that you engage closely with Mr. Parker as you consider this request and provide him with a prompt response to his complaints.

I look forward to further engagement with you regarding Mr. Parker’s complaints. Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter. 

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote to President Biden, urging the Administration to boost the federal government’s tech workforce in order to address the challenges of rapidly advancing AI, building on previous government initiatives to draw in engineers, product managers, and other digital policy experts to revamp the government’s approach to technology. In his letter, Sen. Warner stressed the need for a similar arrangement specifically targeting AI.

“It is clear to me that we will not be able to meet the need in this rapidly advancing field without a diverse and representative group of talented minds,” Sen. Warner wrote. “These individuals should possess technical knowledge, but also a keen understanding of the social impact of AI.”

He continued, “Your administration has taken a number of practical and important steps to advance the safe deployment of AI technologies. To supplement these efforts, I urge you to use your existing authority to bring the best and brightest minds to the table to help our nation grapple with the wide-ranging impact that AI will have on our society. I look forward to working with you on this endeavor.”

Sen. Warner, a former tech entrepreneur, has been a leading voice in the Senate calling for increased efforts into appropriately regulating and addressing the threats of AI, while still harnessing its full potential. Sen. Warner engaged directly with AI companies to push for responsible development and deployment. Last month, he sent a series of letters to major AI companies urging them to take additional action to promote safety and prevent malicious misuse of their products. In April, Sen. Warner  called on AI CEOs to develop practices that would ensure that their products and systems are secure. In July, he also pushed on the Biden administration to keep working with AI companies to expand the scope of the voluntary commitments.

Additionally, Sen. Warner wrote to Google last month to raise concerns about their testing of new AI technology in medical settings. Separately, he urged the CEOs of several AI companies to address a concerning report that generative chatbots were producing instructions on how to exacerbate an eating disorder.

Text of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear President Biden,

I write today regarding the need to bolster our Federal workforce and build capacity within the government to address artificial intelligence (AI). Already, excellent work related to AI is happening across the Federal government – from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to the National Institutes of Health – but given the work that needs to be done, we undoubtedly need more expertise and more capacity. The rapid advancements in AI technologies underscores the need to build a robust knowledge base within the Federal government to grapple with AI applications across various sectors of our economy and society. Given the speed of innovation in this space, I urge you to use the powers of your office to launch a new initiative focused on bringing the best and brightest minds into government service to meet the challenges and harness the benefits of AI.

In recent years, we have seen successful examples of innovative initiatives that bring talented individuals together within the Federal government to serve the public and solve some of our government’s most pressing needs. For example, 18F has brought together a team of designers, software engineers, strategists, and product managers to collaborate with federal agencies in order to improve and modernize government technology. Similarly, the U.S. Digital Service (USDS) has brought together engineers, product managers, and digital policy experts to be paired with leading civil servants in order to impact our government’s approach to technology and address some of the most critical government services. What these initiatives have in common – and what I believe we must focus on in a similar initiative for AI – is bringing together a group of bright minds, with diverse backgrounds and experiences, to lend their expertise to the federal government on issues of national importance.

It is clear to me that we will not be able to meet the need in this rapidly advancing field without a diverse and representative group of talented minds. These individuals should possess technical knowledge but also a keen understanding of the social impact of AI. Furthermore, a dedicated group of individuals focused solely on AI can help the federal government think through the opportunities to harness AI technologies to meet federal objectives while also working collaboratively with agencies to guard against AI-generated risks within their purview.

Your Administration has taken a number of practical and important steps to advance the safe deployment of AI technologies. To supplement these efforts, I urge you to use your existing authority to bring the best and brightest minds to the table to help our nation grapple with the wide-ranging impact that AI will have on our society. I look forward to working with you on this endeavor.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today urged several artificial intelligence (AI) companies to take additional action to promote safety and prevent malicious misuse of their products. In a series of letters, Sen. Warner applauded certain companies for publicly joining voluntary commitments proposed by the Biden administration, but encouraged them to broaden their efforts, and called on companies that have not taken this public step to commit to making their products more secure.

As AI is rolled out more broadly, researchers have repeatedly demonstrated a number of concerning, exploitable weaknesses in prominent products, including abilities to generate credible-seeming misinformation, develop malware, and craft sophisticated phishing techniques. In July, the Biden administration announced that several AI companies had agreed to a series of voluntary commitments that would promote greater security and transparency. However, the commitments were not fully comprehensive in scope or in participation, with many companies not publicly participating and several exploitable aspects of the technology left untouched by the commitments.

In a series of letters sent today, Sen. Warner pushed directly on companies that did not participate, including Apple, Midjourney, Mistral AI, Databricks, Scale AI, and Stability AI, requesting a response detailing the steps they plan to take to increase the security of their products and prioritize transparency. Sen. Warner additionally sent letters to companies that were involved in the Biden administration’s commitments, including Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection AI, Meta, Microsoft, and OpenAI, asking that they extend commitments to less capable models and also develop consumer-facing commitments – such as development and monitoring practices – to prevent the most serious forms of misuse. 

“While representing an important improvement upon the status quo, the voluntary commitments announced in July can be bolstered in key ways through additional commitments,” Sen. Warner wrote.

Sen. Warner also called specific attention to the urgent need for all AI companies to make additional commitments to safeguard against a few highly sensitive potential misuses, including non-consensual intimate image generation (including child sexual abuse material), social-scoring, real-time facial recognition, and proliferation activity in the context of malicious cyber activity or the production of biological or chemical agents.

The letters follow up on Sen. Warner’s previous efforts to engage directly with AI companies to push for responsible development and deployment. In April, Sen. Warner directly called on AI CEOs to develop practices that would ensure that their products and systems are secure. In July, he also pushed on the Biden administration to keep working with AI companies to expand the scope of the voluntary commitments.

Additionally, Sen. Warner wrote to Google last week to raise concerns about their testing of new AI technology in real medical settings. Separately, he urged the CEOs of several AI companies to address a concerning report that generative chatbots were producing instructions on how to exacerbate an eating disorder. Additionally, he has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at making tech safer and more humane, including the RESTRICT Act, which would comprehensively address the ongoing threat posed by technology from foreign adversaries; the SAFE TECH Act, which would reform Section 230 and allow social media companies to be held accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, online harassment, and discrimination on social media platforms; and the Honest Ads Act, which would require online political advertisements to adhere to the same disclaimer requirements as TV, radio, and print ads.

Copies of each of the letters can be found here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and author of the bipartisan law to invest in domestic semiconductor manufacturing, today released a statement on the one-year anniversary of the CHIPS and Science Act: 

“I fought to pass the CHIPS and Science Act because it’s good for our supply chains, our families, and our national security to make semiconductors here at home. In the year since, the law has bolstered innovation, helped America to compete against countries like China for the technology of the future, and created good-paying manufacturing jobs that will grow the middle class.”

Nearly everything that has an “on” switch – from electric toothbrushes and calculators to airplanes and satellites – contains a semiconductor. One year ago, President Biden signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act, a law co-authored by Warner to make a nearly $53 billion investment in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, research and development, and workforce, and create a 25 percent tax credit for capital investments in semiconductor manufacturing. 

Semiconductors were invented in the United States, but today we produce only about 12 percent of global supply – and none of the most advanced chips. Similarly, investments in research and development have fallen to less than 1 percent of GDP from 2 percent in the mid-1960s at the peak of the space race. TheCHIPS and Science Act aims to change this by driving American competitiveness, making American supply chains more resilient, and supporting our national security and access to key technologies. In the one year since it was signed into law, companies have announced over $231 billion in commitments in semiconductor and electronics investments in the United States.

Last month, Sen. Warner co-hosted the CHIPS for Virginia Summit, convening industry, federal and state government, and academic leaders for a series of strategic discussions on how to propel Virginia forward in the booming U.S. semiconductor economy.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark Warner joined Sens. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Edward Markey (D-MA), and others to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enforce its existing regulations regarding consent for receiving telemarketing calls, also known as robocalls. The letter also asks the FCC to issue guidance along the lines of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recent Business Guidance restating the FCC’s long-held requirements for these unwanted telemarketing calls. By issuing guidance similar to the FTC’s, the FCC will assist telemarketers and sellers in complying with these requirements. 

“While the consideration of new regulations may be appropriate in some instances, we believe that the FCC’s current regulations already prohibit many of the activities that lead to the proliferation of unwanted telemarketing calls,” wrote the Senators. “Both the regulations issued in 2003 delineating the rules for telemarketers to obtain consent for calls to lines subscribed to the Do Not Call Registry, and those issued in 2012 governing consent to receive telemarketing calls made with an artificial or prerecorded voice or an automated telephone dialing system, clearly set out the types of protections intended by Congress to eliminate unwanted telemarketing calls.”

The Senators concluded, “As Congress instructed the FCC ‘to maximize consistency with the rule promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission’ relating to the implementation of the Do-Not-Call Registry, we respectfully urge the FCC to issue a guidance along the lines of the FTC’s recent Business Guidance restating its long-held requirements for these unwanted telemarketing calls. As inconsistent rules governing the same activity would be problematic, by issuing guidance similar to the FTC’s, the FCC will assist telemarketers and sellers in complying with these requirements.”

Sen. Warner, a former cell phone entrepreneur, has been active in fighting robocalls for many years. He sponsored the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act to give regulators – including the FCC – more time to find scammers, increase civil forfeiture penalties, require service providers to adopt call authentication and blocking, and bring relevant federal agencies and state attorneys general together to address impediments to criminal prosecution of robocallers. Former President Trump signed the TRACED Act into law in 2019. In July, he applauded new efforts from the FTC to crack down on spam calls.

In addition to Sens. Warner, Lujan, and Markey, the letter is signed by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Peter Welch (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Angus King (I-ME), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Gary Peters (D-MI). This letter is endorsed by Appleseed, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Electronic Privacy Information Center, National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, National Consumers League, Public Citizen, Public Knowledge, and U.S. PIRG.

Full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Chairwoman Rosenworcel:

We are heartened that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering ways to curtail the number of unwanted telemarketing calls—currently over 1.25 billion every month—in a proceeding pending under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). As the Commission recognizes, the continued onslaught of illegal calls threatens the trustworthiness and usefulness of our nation’s telephone system.

While the consideration of new regulations may be appropriate in some instances, we believe that the FCC’s current regulations already prohibit many of the activities that lead to the proliferation of unwanted telemarketing calls. Both the regulations issued in 2003 delineating the rules for telemarketers to obtain consent for calls to lines subscribed to the Do Not Call Registry, and those issued in 2012 governing consent to receive telemarketing calls made with an artificial or prerecorded voice or an automated telephone dialing system, clearly set out the types of protections intended by Congress to eliminate unwanted telemarketing calls. Both of these regulations allow robocalls calls only if the call recipients sign a written agreement relating to calls from a single seller. 

Additionally, the FCC’s 2003 regulation for telemarketing calls to lines registered on the Do Not Call Registry requires that the “signed, written agreement” must be “between the consumer and the seller.” This requirement provides two protections. First, it means that the seller, not a telemarketer or a lead generator, or anyone other than the seller, or the agent of the seller, must be party to the agreement with the consumer. Second, it limits the calls that are covered by the agreement to calls related only to the seller that was the party to the agreement. Enforcement of the current limitations applicable to agreements providing consent for telemarketing calls under the existing regulations would eliminate the sale and trading of these consents which have led to the proliferation of unwanted telemarketing robocalls.

Moreover, as many of these agreements are entered into online, current federal law requires specific protections for consumers receiving writings through electronic records in the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (the E-Sign Act). One example of these protections in the E-Sign Act is the prohibition of oral communication as a substitute for a writing. Although telemarketers routinely ignore the requirements of the E-Sign Act, the legislation’s mandate for E-Sign consent before writings can be provided in electronic records in 15 U.S.C. § 7001(c) is fully applicable.

Finally, as Congress instructed the FCC “to maximize consistency with the rule promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission” relating to the implementation of the Do-Not-Call Registry, we respectfully urge the FCC to issue a guidance along the lines of the FTC’s recent Business Guidance restating its long-held requirements for these unwanted telemarketing calls. As inconsistent rules governing the same activity would be problematic, by issuing guidance similar to the FTC’s, the FCC will assist telemarketers and sellers in complying with these requirements. This guidance should also emphasize that the obligations imposed by the E-Sign Act apply when these agreements are entered into online.

We appreciate your work to curb unwanted and illegal robocalls. Issuing guidance that emphasizes the meaningful requirements of current regulations as well as the requirements of the federal E-Sign Act will go a long way to reduce the number of unwanted robocalls. Thank you for your consideration of this request.

 
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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today urged Google CEO Sundar Pichai to provide more clarity into his company’s deployment of Med-PaLM 2, an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot currently being tested in health care settings. In a letter, Sen. Warner expressed concerns about reports of inaccuracies in the technology, and called on Google to increase transparency, protect patient privacy, and ensure ethical guardrails.

In April, Google began testing Med-PaLM2 with customers, including the Mayo Clinic. Med-PaLM 2 can answer medical questions, summarize documents, and organize health data. While the technology has shown some promising results, there are also concerning reports of repeated inaccuracies and of Google’s own senior researchers expressing reservations about the readiness of the technology. Additionally, much remains unknown about where Med-PaLM 2 is being tested, what data sources it learns from, to what extent patients are aware of and can object to the use of AI in their treatment, and what steps Google has taken to protect against bias.

“While artificial intelligence (AI) undoubtedly holds tremendous potential to improve patient care and health outcomes, I worry that premature deployment of unproven technology could lead to the erosion of trust in our medical professionals and institutions, the exacerbation of existing racial disparities in health outcomes, and an increased risk of diagnostic and care-delivery errors,” Sen. Warner wrote. 

The letter raises concerns over AI companies prioritizing the race to establish market share over patient well-being. Sen. Warner also emphasizes his previous efforts to raise the alarm about Google skirting health privacy as it trained diagnostic models on sensitive health data without patients’ knowledge or consent.

“It is clear more work is needed to improve this technology as well as to ensure the health care community develops appropriate standards governing the deployment and use of AI,” Sen. Warner continued.

The letter poses a broad range of questions for Google to answer, requesting more transparency into exactly how Med-PaLM 2 is being rolled out, what data sources Med-PaLM 2 learns from, how much information and agency patients have over how AI is involved in their care, and more.

Sen. Warner, a former tech entrepreneur, has been a vocal advocate for Big Tech accountability and a stronger national posture against cyberattacks and misinformation online. In April, Sen. Warner directly expressed concerns to several AI CEOs – including Sundar Pichai – about the potential risks posed by AI, and called on companies to ensure that their products and systems are secure. Last month, he called on the Biden administration to work with AI companies to develop additional guardrails around the responsible deployment of AI. He has also introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at making tech more secure, including the RESTRICT Act, which would comprehensively address the ongoing threat posed by technology from foreign adversaries; the SAFE TECH Act, which would reform Section 230 and allow social media companies to be held accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, online harassment, and discrimination on social media platforms; and the Honest Ads Act, which would require online political advertisements to adhere to the same disclaimer requirements as TV, radio, and print ads.

A copy of the letter can be found here are below. 

Dear Mr. Pichai,

I write to express my concern regarding reports that Google began providing Med-PaLM 2 to hospitals to test early this year. While artificial intelligence (AI) undoubtedly holds tremendous potential to improve patient care and health outcomes, I worry that premature deployment of unproven technology could lead to the erosion of trust in our medical professionals and institutions, the exacerbation of existing racial disparities in health outcomes, and an increased risk of diagnostic and care-delivery errors.

Over the past year, large technology companies, including Google, have been rushing to develop and deploy AI models and capture market share as the technology has received increased attention following OpenAI’s launch of ChatGPT. Numerous media outlets have reported that companies like Google and Microsoft have been willing to take bigger risks and release more nascent technology in an effort to gain a first mover advantage. In 2019, I raised concerns that Google was skirting health privacy laws through secretive partnerships with leading hospital systems, under which it trained diagnostic models on sensitive health data without patients’ knowledge or consent. This race to establish market share is readily apparent and especially concerning in the health care industry, given the life-and-death consequences of mistakes in the clinical setting, declines of trust in health care institutions in recent years, and the sensitivity of health information. One need look no further than AI pioneer Joseph Weizenbaum’s experiments involving chatbots in psychotherapy to see how users can put premature faith in even basic AI solutions.

According to Google, Med-PaLM 2 can answer medical questions, summarize documents, and organize health data. While AI models have previously been used in medical settings, the use of generative AI tools presents complex new questions and risks. According to the Wall Street Journal, a senior research director at Google who worked on Med-PaLM 2 said, “I don’t feel that this kind of technology is yet at a place where I would want it in my family’s healthcare journey.” Indeed, Google’s own research, released in May, showed that Med-PaLM 2’s answers contained more inaccurate or irrelevant information than answers provided by physicians. It is clear more work is needed to improve this technology as well as to ensure the health care community develops appropriate standards governing the deployment and use of AI

Given these serious concerns and the fact that VHC Health, based in Arlington, Virginia, is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, I request that you provide answers to the following questions. 

  1. Researchers have found large language models to display a phenomenon described as “sycophany,” wherein the model generates responses that confirm or cater to a user’s (tacit or explicit) preferred answers, which could produce risks of misdiagnosis in the medical context. Have you tested Med-PaLM 2 for this failure mode?
  2. Large language models frequently demonstrate the tendency to memorize contents of their training data, which can risk patient privacy in the context of models trained on sensitive health information. How has Google evaluated Med-PaLM 2 for this risk and what steps has Google taken to mitigate inadvertent privacy leaks of sensitive health information?
  3. What documentation did Google provide hospitals, such as Mayo Clinic, about Med-PaLM 2? Did it share model or system cards, datasheets, data-statements, and/or test and evaluation results?
  4. Google’s own research acknowledges that its clinical models reflect scientific knowledge only as of the time the model is trained, necessitating “continual learning.” What is the frequency with which Google fully or partially re-trains Med-PaLM 2? Does Google ensure that licensees use only the most up-to-date model version?
  5. Google has not publicly provided documentation on Med-PaLM 2, including refraining from disclosing the contents of the model’s training data. Does Med-PaLM 2’s training corpus include protected health information?
  6. Does Google ensure that patients are informed when Med-PaLM 2, or other AI models offered or licensed by, are used in their care by health care licensees? If so, how is the disclosure presented? Is it part of a longer disclosure or more clearly presented?
  7. Do patients have the option to opt-out of having AI used to facilitate their care? If so, how is this option communicated to patients?
  8. Does Google retain prompt information from health care licensees, including protected health information contained therein? Please list each purpose Google has for retaining that information.
  9. What license terms exist in any product license to use Med-PaLM 2 to protect patients, ensure ethical guardrails, and prevent misuse or inappropriate use of Med-PaLM 2? How does Google ensure compliance with those terms in the post-deployment context? 
  10. How many hospitals is Med-PaLM 2 currently being used at? Please provide a list of all hospitals and health care systems Google has licensed or otherwise shared Med-Palm 2 with.
  11. Does Google use protected health information from hospitals using Med-PaLM 2 to retrain or finetune Med-PaLM 2 or any other models? If so, does Google require that hospitals inform patients that their protected health information may be used in this manner?
  12. In Google’s own research publication announcing Med-PaLM 2, researchers cautioned about the need to adopt “guardrails to mitigate against over-reliance on the output of a medical assistant.” What guardrails has Google adopted to mitigate over-reliance on the output of Med-PaLM 2 as well as when it particularly should and should not be used? What guardrails has Google incorporated through product license terms to prevent over-reliance on the output?

 

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WASHINGTON –  Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, led a bipartisan group of colleagues in reintroducing the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act, legislation that would encourage market-based competition with major social media platforms by requiring the largest companies make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and to allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings. Sen. Warner was joined in introduction by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

“Consumers are currently locked in to the social media platforms that they use, unable to move to a different platform for fear of losing years’ worth of data and interactions,” said the senators. “Interoperability and portability are powerful tools to promote innovative new companies and limit anti-competitive behaviors. By making it easier for social media users to easily move their data or to continue to communicate with their friends after switching platforms, startups will be able to compete on equal terms with the biggest social media companies. This bill will create long-overdue requirements that will boost competition and give consumers more power.”

Online communications platforms have become vital to the economic and social fabric of the nation, but network effects and consumer lock-in have solidified a select number of companies’ dominance in the digital market and enhanced their control over consumer data, even as the social media landscape changes by the day and platforms’ user experiences become more and more unpredictable.

The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act would increase market competition, encourage innovation, and increase consumer choice by requiring large communications platforms (products or services with over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.) to:

·         Make their services interoperable with competing communications platforms;

·         Permit users to easily port their personal data in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format;

·         Allow users to delegate trusted custodial services, which are required to act in a user’s best interests through a strong duty of care, with the task of managing their account settings, content, and online interactions. 

“Markets work only when consumers know what they give up and get in any transaction with a seller and have the option to take their business elsewhere. By supporting organizations that can uncover what tech firms are actually doing and by mandating portability, the ACCESS Act will restore the conditions needed for the market in tech services to work,” Paul Romer, Boston College University Professor and Nobel Prize winner in Economics, said.

“The ACCESS Act is a critical, bipartisan first step in requiring large technology platforms to incorporate interoperability into their products, which is fundamental to a dynamic and competitive technology industry. Innovators, consumers, and society as a whole all benefit when people have the right to move their data if they choose to switch platforms. Without interoperability, innovation is held captive by the market power of large platforms. Our economy needs innovation to thrive -- and innovation is stifled if our most promising startups must compete in a world where consumers are locked into the largest platforms because they can't move their own data. That is in no one's interest,” Garry Tan, president and CEO of Y Combinator, said. 

“Interoperability is a key tool for promoting competition on and against dominant digital platforms. For social networks in particular, interoperability is needed to make it easy for users to switch to a new social network. Until we have clear and effective interoperability requirements, it will be hard for users to leave a social network that fails to reflect their values, protect their privacy, or offer the best experience. Whatever our reasons for switching to a new social network, the ACCESS Act can make it easier by requiring the largest platforms to offer interoperability with competitors. We all stand to benefit from the greater competition that an interoperable world can create,” Charlotte Slaiman, Competition Policy Director at Public Knowledge, said.

“The reintroduction of the ACCESS Act in the Senate is a critically important step forward for empowering consumers with the freedom to control their own data and enable consumers to leave the various walled gardens of the today’s social media platforms. The ACCESS Act literally does what it says—it would give consumers the option to choose better services without having to balance the unfair choice of abandoning their personal network of family and friends in order to seek better products in the market.  The Senate needs to move forward as soon as possible to vote on the ACCESS Act,” Eric Migicovsky, Founder and CEO of Beeper, said.

“Consumers must have control of their own personal data. You should be able to easily access it, share it, revoke access, and interact with is how you see fit. Putting individuals in charge of what is best for them is vital to balance out the ongoing wave of technological innovation. This has broad implications beyond just social media - Congress must pass the ACCESS Act,” David Pickerell, Co-founder and CEO of Para, said.

Sen. Warner first introduced the ACCESS Act in 2019 and, as a former tech entrepreneur, has been on of Congress’s leading voices calling for accountability in Big Tech. He has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at addressing these issues, including the RESTRICT Act, which would comprehensively address the ongoing threat posed by technology from foreign adversaries; the SAFE TECH Act, which would reform Section 230 and allow social media companies to be held accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, online harassment, and discrimination on social media platforms; and the Kids Online Safety Act,which would protect children online by providing young people and parents with the tools, safeguards, and transparency they need to protect against online harms. 

Full text of the bill is available here. One-pager of the legislation is available here.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement after the Department of Commerce released the first Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for CHIPS Act incentives, welcoming the announcement:

“The projects that will be made possible by the CHIPS Act will strengthen our national security and create good-paying manufacturing jobs here in the United States. With limited funding available, I urge the Department of Commerce to be strategic in selecting projects in order to ensure that funding advances U.S. economic and national security objectives.”

Nearly everything that has an “on” switch – from cars to phones to washing machines to ATMs to electric toothbrushes – contains a semiconductor, but just 12 percent of these ‘chips’ are currently made in America. The CHIPS and Science Act includes $52 billion in funding championed by Sen. Warner to manufacture chips here on American soil – a move that will increase economic and national security and help America compete against countries like China for the technology of the future.

Sen. Warner, co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus and former technology entrepreneur, has long sounded the alarm about the importance of investing in domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Sen. Warner first introduced the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act in June 2020 along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), along with U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL-14) and Mike Levin (D-CA-49), reintroduced the Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism and Consumer Harms (SAFE TECH) Act to reform Section 230 and allow social media companies to be held accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, online harassment, and discrimination on social media platforms.

“For too long, Section 230 has given cover to social media companies as they turn a blind eye to the harmful scams, harassment, and violent extremism that run rampant across their platforms,” said Sen. Warner, a former technology entrepreneur and the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “When Section 230 was enacted over 25 years ago, the internet we use today was not even fathomable. This legislation takes strides to update a law that was meant to encourage service providers to develop tools and policies to support effective moderation and allows them to finally be held accountable for the harmful, often criminal behavior that exists on their platforms.” 

“Social media platforms allow people to connect all across the world—but they also cause great pain and suffering, being used as a tool for cyberbullying, stalking, spreading hate, and more. The way we communicate as a society has changed drastically over the last 25 years, it’s time for our laws to catch up,” said Sen. Hirono, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “The SAFE TECH Act targets the worst abuses perpetrated on internet platforms to better protect our children and our communities from the very real harms of social media.”  

“We need to be asking more from big tech companies, not less. How they operate has a real-life effect on the safety and civil rights of Americans and people around the world, as well as our democracy. Our legislation will hold these platforms accountable for ads and content that can lead to real-world harm,” said Sen. Klobuchar.

“Congress has acted in the past to ensure that social media companies don’t get blanket immunity after hosting information on their websites aimed at facilitating human or sex trafficking,” said Sen. Kaine. “I’m fully supportive of using that precedent as a roadmap to require social media companies to moderate dangerous content linked to other crimes—like cyber-stalking, discrimination, and harassment—in a responsible way. This is critical to keep our communities safe.”

“Section 230’s blanket immunity has prioritized Big Tech over Americans’ civil rights and safety. Platforms’ refusal to be held accountable for the dangerous and harmful content they host has real-life implications for users – leaving many vulnerable to threats like stalking, intimidation, and harassment, as well as discrimination,” said Sen. Blumenthal. “Our legislation is needed to safeguard consumers and ensure social media giants aren’t shielded from the legal consequences of failing to act. These common sense protections are essential in today’s online world.”

“For too long, big tech companies have treated the internet like the wild west while users on their platforms violate civil and human rights, defraud consumers and harass others. These companies have shown over and over again that they are unwilling to make their platforms safe for Americans. It is long past time for consumers to have legal recourse when big tech companies harm them or their families. Our bill will ensure they are held accountable,” said Rep. Castor.

“Social media companies continue to allow malicious users to go unchecked, harm other users, and violate laws. This cannot go on and it is clear federal reform is necessary,” said Rep. Levin. “Our bicameral legislation makes much needed updates to Section 230 to ensure Americans can safely use online platforms and have legal recourse when they are harmed. It’s long past time that these legislative fixes are made and I look forward to this bill moving through the Congress.”

Specifically the SAFE TECH Act would force online service providers to address misuse on their platforms or face civil liability. The legislation would make clear that Section 230:

  • Doesn’t apply to ads or other paid content – ensuring that platforms cannot continue to profit as their services are used to target vulnerable consumers with ads enabling frauds and scams;
  • Doesn’t bar injunctive relief – allowing victims to seek court orders where misuse of a provider’s services is likely to cause irreparable harm;
  • Doesn’t impair enforcement of civil rights laws – maintaining the vital and hard-fought protections from discrimination even when activities or services are mediated by internet platforms;
  • Doesn’t interfere with laws that address stalking/cyber-stalking or harassment and intimidation on the basis of protected classes – ensuring that victims of abuse and targeted harassment can hold platforms accountable when they directly enable harmful activity;
  • Doesn’t bar wrongful death actions – allowing the family of a decedent to bring suit against platforms where they may have directly contributed to a loss of life;
  • Doesn’t bar suits under the Alien Tort Claims Act – potentially allowing victims of platform-enabled human rights violations abroad to seek redress in U.S. courts against U.S.-based platforms.

Sen. Warner first introduced the SAFE TECH Act in 2021 and is one of Congress’ leading voices in demanding accountability and user protections from social media companies. Last week, Sen. Warner pressed Meta on Facebook's role in inciting violence around the world. In addition to the SAFE TECH Act, Sen. Warner has introduced and written numerous bills aimed at improving transparency, privacy, and accountability on social media. These include the Deceptive Experiences to Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act  – legislation to prohibit large online platforms from using deceptive user interfaces, known as “dark patterns,” to trick consumers into handing over their personal data and the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act, legislation that would encourage market-based competition to dominant social media platforms by requiring the largest companies to make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and to allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings.

“The onslaught of misinformation and discriminatory attacks across social media platforms continues unabated. It is essential that the tech companies that run these platforms protect their users and end the rampant civil rights violations of Black users and other users of color. Social media remains a virtually unchecked home for hateful content discrimination, especially through the manipulation of algorithms that lead to both the targeting and limiting of which users see certain types of advertisements and opportunities. Congress can take a step in the right direction by strengthening Section 230 and ensuring that online communities are not safe harbors for discrimination and civil rights violations. LDF supports Senator Warner and Senator Hirono’s bill to address these critical concerns,” said Lisa Cylar Barrett, Director of Policy, Legal Defense Fund (LDF).

“There needs to be real clarity on Section 230. The hate that festers online: antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, misogyny and disinformation – leads to real violence, real lives targeted, real people put at risk. ADL supports the ability for people affected by violence to hold perpetrators accountable – and that includes social media companies. ADL appreciates the efforts of Senators Warner, Hirono, Klobuchar, and Kaine to tackle this complex challenge. We look forward to working with them to refine this legislation to ensure a safer and less hate-filled internet for all users.” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of ADL (Anti-Defamation League).

“Platforms should not profit from targeting employment ads toward White users, or from targeting voter suppression ads toward Black users. The SAFE TECH Act makes it clear that Section 230 does not give platforms a free pass to violate civil rights laws, while also preserving the power of platforms to remove harmful disinformation,” said Spencer Overton, President, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

“I applaud the SAFE TECH Act introduced by Sens. Warner and Hirono which provides useful modifications to section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to limit the potential negative impacts of commercial advertising interests while continuing to protect anti-harassment and civil and human rights interests of those who may be wrongfully harmed through wrongful online activity,” Ramesh Srinivasan, Professor at the UCLA Department of Information Studies and Director of UC Digital Cultures Lab, said.

“It is glaringly apparent that we cannot rely on the tech companies to implement common sense policies that reflect common decency on their own. We thank and commend Senators Warner, Hirona, Klobuchar, and Kaine for their foresight and for showing their commitment to the safety of our citizens by putting forth the SAFE TECH Act. The SAFE TECH Act will continue to protect free speech and further protect our civil rights while sensibly amending section 230, an outdated law that the tech companies hide behind in their refusal to take responsibility for real-life consequences” said Wendy Via, Cofounder, Global Project Against Hate and Extremism.

“The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative welcomes this effort to protect civil rights in the digital age and to hold online intermediaries accountable for their role in the silencing and exploitation of vulnerable communities. This bill addresses the urgent need to limit and correct the overzealous interpretation of Section 230 that has granted a multibillion dollar industry immunity and impunity for profiting from irreparable injury,” said Mary Anne Franks, President, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and Danielle K. Citron, Vice President, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

“Social media companies have enabled hate, threats and even genocide against Muslims with virtual impunity. The SAFE TECH Act would bring needed and long-overdue accountability to these companies,” said Muslim Advocates Senior Policy Counsel Sumayyah Waheed. “We thank Sens. Warner, Hirono, Klobuchar, Kaine and Blumenthal for leading on this important bill. Every day, Muslims are profiled, discriminated against, attacked and worse just for engaging in public life. Passing this bill would bring us one step closer to ensuring that Muslims and other marginalized communities can hold social media companies accountable for the reckless way they violate people’s rights and threaten their safety on and offline.”

“The SAFE TECH Act is an important step forward for platform accountability and for the protection of privacy online. Providing an opportunity for victims of harassment, privacy invasions, and other violations to remove unlawful content is critical to stopping its spread and limiting harm,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, Deputy Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

“The SAFE TECH Act is a Section 230 reform America needs now. Troubling readings of Section 230 have encouraged reckless and negligent shirking by platforms of basic duties toward their users. Few if any of the drafters of Section 230 could have imagined that it would be opportunistically used to, for example, allow dating sites to ignore campaigns of harassment and worse against their users. The SAFE TECH Act reins in the cyberlibertarian ethos of over-expansive interpretations of Section 230, permitting courts to carefully weigh and assess evidence in cases where impunity is now preemptively assumed,” said Frank Pasquale, Author of The Black Box Society and Professor at Brooklyn Law School.

“It is unacceptable that courts have interpreted Section 230 to provide Big Tech platforms with blanket immunity from wrongdoing. Congress never intended Section 230 to shield companies from all civil and criminal liability. Reforms proposed by Sens. Warner and Hirono are an important step in the right direction. It is time to hold Big Tech accountable for the harms they cause children and families and other vulnerable populations," said James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO, Common Sense.

“The SAFE TECH Act aims to hold social media giants accountable for spreading harmful misinformation and hateful language that affects Black communities and limits our voting power," said Brandon Tucker, Sr. Director of Policy & Government Affairs at Color Of Change. “Social media companies have used Section 230 as a shield against legal repercussions for their continued civil rights violations across their platforms. When we released our Black Tech Agenda and Scorecard last year, we made sure that the SAFE TECH Act was a key criteria in marking legislators’ progress toward advancing tech policy solutions with a racial justice framework. We call on members of Congress to support this critical legislation to protect Black people’s rights and safety online.”

“It has become abundantly clear that disinformation and hate on social media can create real-world harms.  - whether it's anti-vaxx misinformation, election-related lies or hate, it is now clear that there is a significant threat to human life, civil rights and national security. The problem is crazy incentives, where bad actors can freely spread hate and misinformation, platforms profit from traffic regardless of whether it is productive or damaging, but the costs are borne by the public and society at large. This timely bill forensically delineates the harms and ensures perpetrators and enablers pay a price for the harms they create. In doing so, it reflects our desire for better communication technologies, which enhance our right to speak and be heard, and that also respect our fundamental rights to life and safety,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO, Center for Countering Digital Hate. 

“Senator Mark Warner is a leader in ensuring that technology supports democracy even as it advances innovation. This legislation removes obstacles to enforcement against online discrimination, cyber-stalking, and targeted harassment and incentivizes platforms to move past the current, ineffective whack-a-mole approach to harms,” said Karen Kornbluh, Former US Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Full text of legislation is available here

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Epic Games, Inc. – the creator of the popular video game Fortnite – would pay $520 million over allegations the company violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and deployed design tricks, known as dark patterns, to dupe millions of players into making unintentional purchases:

“I’m glad to see the FTC cracking down on the use of manipulative dark patterns against children. Companies and platforms that cater to young people have a responsibility to protect their users — not to target them with deceptive interfaces that manipulate them into ceding their personal information or making unwanted purchases. I will continue working to pass my DETOUR Act in order to establish greater safeguards for users of all ages.”

Sen. Warner has been a leader in Congress pushing for increased transparency and protections surrounding user data and privacy. His legislation, the DETOUR Act, would prohibit companies from using deceptive dark patterns to manipulate users into handing over their data. 

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WASHINGTON – As the Biden administration works to establish two crucial semiconductor initiatives authorized by CHIPS and Science Act, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) are leading eight of their colleagues in urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to take full advantage of the contributions, assets, and expertise available in states nationwide.

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, the Senators advocate for a decentralized “hub-and-spoke” model for the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) and the National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP). This model would establish various centers of excellence around the country, as opposed to a single centralized facility that is limited to the resources and strengths of a single state or region.

“Allowing the NSTC and NAPMP to draw upon experts, institutions, entrepreneurs, and private-sector partners spread across the country would best position these programs to fulfill their missions of driving semiconductor and advanced packaging research forward, coordinating and scaling up the ongoing workforce development efforts, promoting geographic diversity, and ensuring long-term U.S. competitiveness in this critical technology sector,” wrote the lawmakers.

They continued, “Such a model would allow them to draw upon the strengths of experts, research facilities, and private-sector partnerships and consortia from across the country. This model would consist of central research facilities with centers of excellence in various locations across the country where there is particular expertise in memory, logic, packaging, testing, or other elements of the semiconductor ecosystem.”

In their letter, the Senators also note that this approach was recommended by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in a report to President Biden. This report stated, “the Secretary of Commerce should ensure the NSTC founding charter includes establishing prototyping capabilities in a geographically distributed model encompassing up to six centers of excellence (COEs) aligned around major technical thrusts.” 

The NSTC and NAPMP – designed to accelerate U.S. semiconductor production and advance research and development – were championed by Sens. Warner, Cornyn, and Kelly, who authored the CHIPS law signed by President Biden in August. In addition to Sens. Warner, Cornyn and Kelly, the letter was signed by Sens. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

October 14, 2022

Dear Secretary Raimondo,

As the Department of Commerce begins implementing the CHIPS and Science Act, we respectfully urge your department to consider using a decentralized, so-called “hub-and-spoke” model as the basis for the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) and the National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP). Allowing the NSTC and NAPMP to draw upon experts, institutions, entrepreneurs, and private-sector partners spread across the country would best position these programs to fulfill their missions of driving semiconductor and advanced packaging research forward, coordinating and scaling up the ongoing workforce development efforts, promoting geographic diversity, and ensuring long-term U.S. competitiveness in this critical technology sector.

When Congress passed the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act in January 2021 and funding of $11 billion in the recently-passed CHIPS and Science Act, it recognized the need for increased investment in research and development (R&D). This R&D will include prototyping of advanced semiconductor tools, technology, and packaging capabilities to advance both U.S. economic competitiveness and the security of our domestic supply chain.

The NSTC was established as a way to drive this research forward, bringing together the Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the private sector in a public-private consortium. Congress created the NAPMP to “strengthen semiconductor advanced test, assembly, and packaging capability in the domestic ecosystem” in coordination with the NSTC.

Incredibly diverse knowledge and expertise will be required to ensure that the NSTC and NAPMP are successful. We believe that it would be in the best interests of the long-term success of these programs if the Department of Commerce was to embrace a “hub-and-spoke” model for these programs. In fact, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology recommended such an approach in their report to President Biden titled, “Revitalizing the U.S. Semiconductor Ecosystem.” The report states, “The Secretary of Commerce should ensure the NSTC founding charter includes establishing prototyping capabilities in a geographically distributed model encompassing up to six centers of excellence (COEs) aligned around major technical thrusts.”  Such a model would allow them to draw upon the strengths of experts, research facilities, and private-sector partnerships and consortia from across the country. This model would consist of central research facilities with centers of excellence in various locations across the country where there is particular expertise in memory, logic, packaging, testing, or other elements of the semiconductor ecosystem. Doing so would ensure that a broader range of expertise is captured by the NSTC and NAPMP and ensure entrepreneurs and researchers across the country can take advantage of these programs to drive America’s semiconductor ecosystem forward.

Thank you for your consideration and for all of the work that you and your team are doing to implement this important legislation.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement in response to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plan to ban new sales of Chinese-based Huawei and ZTE technologies on the bases of national security:

“Several years ago a bipartisan group of senators on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence began raising the alarm about the threat that Huawei and ZTE posed to our national security. I’m proud of the steps that Congress has since taken to confront this challenge, including passing Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act of 2019 – which I co-wrote to incentivize carriers to replace Huawei and ZTE equipment in their networks. I’m glad to see the Federal Communications Commission finally take this step to protect our networks and national security.”

Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications entrepreneur, has long been outspoken about the dangers of allowing the use of Huawei equipment in U.S. telecommunications infrastructure and that of U.S. allies.

Last year, Sen. Warner, joined by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), introduced legislation to prohibit federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act from being used to purchase Chinese telecommunications equipment, including from Huawei and ZTE. In 2020, Sen. Warner and a bipartisan group of leading national security Senators introduced legislation to encourage and support U.S. innovation in the race for 5G, providing over $1 billion to invest in Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement after President Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act into law:

“The Chips and Science Act will lower costs for families, strengthen our national security, and create good-paying manufacturing jobs here in the United States, and I’m proud to have shepherded it into law.”

Nearly everything that has an “on” switch – from cars to phones to washing machines to ATMs to electric toothbrushes – contains a semiconductor, but just 12 percent of these ‘chips’ are currently made in America. The CHIPS and Science Act includes $52 billion in funding championed by Sen. Warner to manufacture chips here on American soil – a move that will increase economic and national security and help America compete against countries like China for the technology of the future.

Sen. Warner, co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus and former technology entrepreneur, has long sounded the alarm about the importance of investing in domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Sen. Warner first introduced the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act in June 2020 along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement after the House of Representatives voted 243-187-1 to approve the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, a historic bill to incentivize domestic manufacturing of semiconductors and improve U.S. technological competitiveness:

“I first began sounding the alarm about the need to reduce our reliance on other nations and safeguard our national security by bringing semiconductor production back to the U.S. more than two years ago. Since then, we’ve seen the consequences of semiconductor shortages all the way up the supply chain and down to consumers, who have faced rising costs on a variety of goods both large and small.

“This bipartisan bill will lower costs for families, strengthen our national security, and create good-paying manufacturing jobs here in the United States. I am glad that after years of unnecessary delay, it is finally being sent to the President’s desk.”

On Tuesday, Sen. Warner spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate, urging his colleagues to pass the chips bill. Video of that speech is available for download here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement after the Senate voted 64-33 to approve legislation to increase domestic semiconductor manufacturing and boost U.S. innovation and scientific investment:

“It’s been more than two years since I first began sounding the alarm about the need to reduce our reliance on other nations and safeguard our national security by bringing semiconductor production back to the U.S. Since then, we’ve seen the consequences of semiconductor shortages all the way up the supply chain and down to consumers, who have faced rising costs across goods – from vehicles to electronics. While we still have a lot of work to do to boost U.S. competitiveness with China, the Senate passage of this legislation represents an important step in bringing back American manufacturing, shoring up U.S. innovation, and reducing costs for families. I urge my House colleagues to act like our economy and national security depends on it, and send this bill to the President’s desk without delay.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) led a bipartisan group of colleagues in reintroducing the Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act, legislation that will encourage market-based competition to dominant social media platforms by requiring the largest companies to make user data portable – and their services interoperable – with other platforms, and to allow users to designate a trusted third-party service to manage their privacy and account settings, if they so choose. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) joined Sen. Warner in introducing the legislation.

“The tremendous dominance of a handful of large social media platforms has major downsides – including few options for consumers who face a marketplace with just a few major players and little in the way of real competition,” the senators said. “As we learned in the Microsoft antitrust case, interoperability and portability are powerful tools to restrain anti-competitive behaviors and promote innovative new companies. By making it easier for social media users to easily move their data or to continue to communicate with their friends after switching platforms, startups will be able to compete on equal terms with the biggest social media companies. Additionally, empowering trusted custodial companies to step in on behalf of users to better manage their accounts across different platforms will help balance the playing field between consumers and companies. In other words – by enabling portability, interoperability, and delegatability, this bill will create long-overdue requirements that will boost competition and give consumers the power to move their data from one service to another.”

Online communications platforms have become vital to the economic and social fabric of the nation, but network effects and consumer lock-in have entrenched a select number of companies’ dominance in the digital market and enhanced their control over consumer data. 

The Augmenting Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act would increase market competition, encourage innovation, and increase consumer choice by requiring large communications platforms (products or services with over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S.) to:

  • Make their services interoperable with competing communications platforms.
  • Permit users to easily port their personal data in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
  • Allow users to delegate trusted custodial services, which are required to act in a user’s best interests through a strong duty of care, with the task of managing their account settings, content, and online interactions.  

“Markets work when consumers have a choice and know what's going on. The ACCESS Act is an important step toward reestablishing this dynamic in the market for tech services. We must get back to the conditions that make markets work: when consumers know what they give a firm and what they get in return; and if they don't like the deal, they can take their business elsewhere. By giving consumers the ability to delegate decisions to organizations working on their behalf, the ACCESS Act gives consumers some hope that they can understand what they are giving up and getting in the opaque world that the tech firms have created. By mandating portability, it also gives them a realistic option of switching to another provider,” Paul Romer, New York University Professor of Economics and Nobel Prize winner in Economics, said.

“Interoperability is a key tool for promoting competition on and against dominant digital platforms. For social networks in particular, interoperability is needed to make it easy for users to switch to a new social network. Until we have clear and effective interoperability requirements, it will be hard for users to leave a social network that fails to reflect their values, protect their privacy, or offer the best experience. Whatever our reasons for switching to a new social network, the ACCESS Act can make it easier by requiring the largest platforms to offer interoperability with competitors. We all stand to benefit from the greater competition that an interoperable world can create,” Charlotte Slaiman, Competition Policy Director at Public Knowledge, said.

"We now understand that the dominant tech platforms' exclusive control over the data we create as we interact with them is the source of extraordinary market power. That power distorts markets, reduces innovation and limits consumer choice. By requiring interoperability, the ACCESS Act empowers consumers, levels the playing field and opens the market to competition. Anyone who believes that markets work best when consumers are able to make informed choices should support this Act,” Brad Burnham, Partner and Co-Founder at Union Square Ventures, said.

“The reintroduction of the ACCESS Act in the Senate is a critically important step forward for empowering consumers with the freedom to control their own data and enable consumers to leave the various walled gardens of the today’s social media platforms. The ACCESS Act literally does what it says—it would give consumers the option to choose better services without having to balance the unfair choice of abandoning their personal network of family and friends in order to seek better products in the market.  The Senate needs to move forward as soon as possible to vote on the ACCESS Act.” Eric Migicovsky, Founder and CEO of Beeper, said.

Sen. Warner first introduced the ACCESS Act in 2019 and has been raising concerns about the implications of the lack of competition in social for years.

Sen. Warner is one of Congress’ leading voices in demanding accountability and user protections from social media companies. In addition to the ACCESS Act, Sen. Warner has introduced and written numerous bills designed to improve transparency, privacy, and accountability on social media. These include the Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism and Consumer Harms (SAFE TECH) Actlegislation that would allow social media companies to be held accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, targeted harassment, and discrimination across platforms; the Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight and Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act, bipartisan legislation that would require data harvesting companies to tell consumers and financial regulators exactly what data they are collecting from consumers and how it is being leveraged by the platform for profit; and the Deceptive Experiences to Online Users Reduction (DETOUR) Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation that would prohibit large online platforms from using deceptive user interfaces, known as “dark patterns,” to trick consumers into handing over their personal data and would prohibit these platforms from using features that result in compulsive usage by children.

Full text of the bill is available here. One-pager of the legislation is available here.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), one of the Senators tasked with negotiating the U.S. jobs and competitiveness package, released the following statement after the Senate moved to begin negotiations between the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, following a series of procedural votes:

“It has taken the Senate far too long to get to this point, but I’m pleased to finally have the green light to start these critical negotiations. This package stands to bring manufacturing back to the U.S., create good-paying jobs, and propel our innovation economy forward. I look forward to a productive series of negotiations and will work to get this bill to President Biden’s desk as soon as possible.”

In April, Sen. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was selected to serve on the conference committee of Senators and House members working to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the jobs and competitiveness bill. This bill has been known variously as the Bipartisan Innovation Act, America COMPETES Act, the United States Innovation and Competition Act, and the Endless Frontier Act.

Once the conference committee comes to an agreement on a final version of the bill, the House and Senate will each vote on whether to send that bill to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.  

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WASHINGTON —U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) today led the Virginia congressional delegation in calling on the U.S. Department of Commerce to consider Virginia for future locations of major semiconductor production and research facilities — as efforts to fund the CHIPS for America Act continue.

In a letter  sent to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Warner, Spanberger and the entire Virginia congressional delegation urged the Department to recognize the role Virginia can play in strengthening the American semiconductor industry and creating new jobs in this key sector. Specifically, they called on Secretary Raimondo to consider Virginia as the site for the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) and National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP) — two initiatives established by the CHIPS for America Act that would be funded by legislation currently under consideration by Congress.

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and U.S. Representatives Don Beyer (D-VA-08), Ben Cline (R-VA-06), Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11), Bob Good (R-VA-05), Morgan Griffith (R-VA-09), Elaine Luria (D-VA-02), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA-04), Bobby Scott, (D-VA-03), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10), and Rob Wittman (R-VA-01).

“Thank you for your work to strengthen American semiconductor manufacturing, and the Department of Commerce’s efforts with Congress to pass the CHIPS for America Act. As Congress works to fully fund the important programs authorized by the law, we write to express our strong support for considering Virginia for sites to establish the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP), and other federal investments in semiconductor research and manufacturing,” said the Virginia Members.

In their letter, the Virginia Members also outlined Virginia’s longstanding leadership in the semiconductor industry, as well as the reasons why Virginia’s economy would be best suited for these new centers.

The Virginia Members continued, “Virginia’s leading technology workforce and semiconductor manufacturing presence make the Commonwealth an ideal location for future federal investments in semiconductor research and manufacturing. Virginia has the second highest concentration of technology workers in the US, and net technology employment in Virginia grew by more than 27,000 jobs between 2010 and 2019. Virginia also has strong education infrastructure, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) degrees and credentials. In 2019-20, Virginia’s public and private nonprofit colleges and universities awarded 122,869 degrees and certificates in areas such as health care, business, education, information technology and other demand fields.”

Virginia is already home to multiple shovel-ready sites that are ready to support new semiconductor manufacturing, research, and development. This preparation was outlined by the Henrico Economic Development Authority and the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors backing this Spanberger-Warner effort to secure these sites.

“We are ready. Thanks to the hard work of Rep. Spanberger and Sen. Warner to move the CHIPS Act forward, Henrico and the Commonwealth of Virginia are poised for semiconductor investment.  We have a long history of innovation in the semiconductor industry, and with our robust infrastructure, shovel ready sites, and talented workforce we are ready to meet the needs of the semiconductor industry,” said Anthony J. Romanello, Executive Director, Henrico Economic Development Authority.

“Securing advanced manufacturing is critical to growing local, regional and state economies, which is why Chesterfield has taken a strategic approach to be ready when opportunities knock. This expands into our prepared and ready workforce and streamlined planning and permitting processes, which make it easy to do business in Chesterfield. We’ve worked with our economic and community development professionals to determine what’s needed and where, and we’re positioning Chesterfield to be a desired and leading location in attracting technology and other advanced manufacturing to the Commonwealth. We appreciate Sen. Warner and Rep. Spanberger for supporting this effort in Virginia,” said Chris Winslow, Chairman, Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors.

Full text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Secretary Raimondo,

Thank you for your work to strengthen American semiconductor manufacturing, and the Department of Commerce’s efforts with Congress to pass the CHIPS for America Act. As Congress works to fully fund the important programs authorized by the law, we write to express our strong support for considering Virginia for sites to establish the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP), and other federal investments in semiconductor research and manufacturing.

We appreciate the Department of Commerce’s leadership in convening business leaders and government officials to address supply chain disruptions and semiconductor chip shortages. These issues are at the heart of rising prices that are impacting Americans’ pocketbooks. Additionally, investing in domestic semiconductor manufacturing is crucial for US global competitiveness and national security. As such, we strongly support robust funding for the CHIPS Act, and believe Virginia is uniquely positioned to effectively leverage federal investments to strengthen domestic manufacturing.

Virginia’s leading technology workforce and semiconductor manufacturing presence make the Commonwealth an ideal location for future federal investments in semiconductor research and manufacturing. Virginia has the second highest concentration of technology workers in the US, and net technology employment in Virginia grew by more than 27,000 jobs between 2010 and 2019. Virginia also has strong education infrastructure, especially in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) degrees and credentials. In 2019-20, Virginia’s public and private nonprofit colleges and universities awarded 122,869 degrees and certificates in areas such as health care, business, education, information technology and other demand fields.

In addition to the Commonwealth’s highly prepared workforce, there are several shovel-ready sites in Virginia that are eager to support new manufacturing, research, and development. Multiple leading semiconductor manufacturing companies, such as Micron Technology and GeneSiC, have already chosen Virginia for large investments, such as for new semiconductor manufacturing plants, or expanding operations. Virginia has been named the “Top State for Business” five times since CNBC began ranking states for doing business in 2007, most recently ranking first in 2021. For these reasons, Virginia is strongly suited to be a responsible steward of federal investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research, and promote U.S. global competitiveness in this key sector.

We continue to strongly support the Department’s work in promoting domestic semiconductor production and research, and we urge you to consider Virginia for the NSTC, NAPMP, and other investments as the Department implements the CHIPS for America Act. Thank you for your full and fair consideration of this request, consistent with applicable agency guidelines. 

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WASHINGTON – Today it was announced that U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, will serve on the conference committee of Senators and House members working to reconcile differences between the House and Senate version of the jobs and competitiveness bill, which has been known variously as the Bipartisan Innovation Act, America COMPETES Act, the United States Innovation and Competition Act, or the Endless Frontier Act, in order to send a final bill to President Biden’s desk for signature.

“For too long, the United States has allowed our global competitors to out-invest and out-hustle us in regard to our innovation economy. This competitiveness bill will make major investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing, create good-paying jobs, and provide the tools our country needs to continue competing in the global economy while addressing some of the major causes of economic inflation,” said Sen. Warner. “I am honored to be a member of the conference committee that will work to get a strong bill to the president’s desk ASAP.”

“The Senate is moving an important step closer to delivering a robust jobs and competitiveness bill that will help fix our supply chains and boost American innovation and technological dominance for generations. Our Democratic conferees will ensure that the Senate-passed bill stays on track to create more good-paying jobs, boost domestic manufacturing, and spark American ingenuity that will be the engine that drives our economy forward for years to come,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

In June, the Senate voted 68-28 to pass the United States Innovation and Competition Act, bipartisan legislation that includes Warner-led provisions to foster U.S. innovation in the race for 5G and shore up American leadership in the semiconductors industry. In February, the House finally acted to pass its own version of the bill, the America COMPETES Act. Now, a small group of House members and Senators will form a conference committee to negotiate differences between the two bills and assemble a final product to send to President Biden.

Earlier today, Sen. Warner joined Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) in leading the Virginia congressional delegation in calling on the U.S. Department of Commerce to consider Virginia for future locations of major semiconductor production and research facilities.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement applauding the Senate for taking an important procedural step to pass an American competitiveness package known as the United States Innovation and Competition Act or America COMPETES Act:

“For too long, the United States has allowed our global competitors to out invest us in regard to our innovation economy. This competitiveness bill makes major investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing, creates good-paying jobs, and provides the tools our country needs to continue competing in the global economy. I am glad the Senate has voted to pass the amended version of this legislation, and I am hopeful that the Senate and House will conference quickly so that we can finally send this legislation to the President’s desk.”

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement today:

“Earlier today, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that manufacturers that rely on semiconductor chips have less than five days’ supply on hand, leaving vital supply chains extremely vulnerable to delays that are increasing prices for consumers on everything from automobiles to home appliances. Months ago, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which would invest $52 billion in domestic semiconductor production, by an overwhelming bipartisan vote. The Senate bill also invests in R&D for 5G technologies and takes other critical steps to secure our supply chains, improve innovation, and ensure that the U.S. can compete with China and the rest of the world. Today’s introduction in the House of Representatives of the America COMPETES Act is an important step in setting up a conference with the Senate so that we can finally get a bill to President Biden’s desk to sign.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the statement below regarding the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) to expand and deepen trade and transatlantic investment ties for the 21st century economy:

“I am pleased to see the announcement of the inaugural U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council Meeting. For several years now, I have been leading calls to update our approach to digital trade, working with like-minded allies to develop rules to reflect and uplift democratic values. For too long, the U.S. position on digital trade has been to promote continued laissez faire, even as we saw the downsides of this approach to technology governance over recent years. I am hopeful that Secretary Blinken, Secretary Raimondo and Ambassador Tai will work with our European allies to update our digital trade policies to promote innovation, privacy, competition, and consumer protection.”

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