with Tonya Riley

Joe Biden pledged on the debate stage last night to “immediately certify” and create a pathway to citizenship for thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children.

In doing so, the former vice president highlighted the stark difference between his immigration policies and those of President Trump. The tech industry has aggressively fought Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program an Obama-era initiative that grants work permits and shields from deportation more than 660,000 qualified young immigrants know as “Dreamers” who are in the U.S. illegally.

Biden last night criticized Trump for wanting to send home the “DACA kids,” noting that many would be returning to countries “ they've never seen before.” He’s previously promised to make the program permanent on the first day of his presidency by sending a bill to Congress. 

They've been here. Many of them are model citizens,” Biden said. “We owe them.”

It’s unclear exactly how many tech workers are DACA recipients, but companies have indicated they make up a significant share of their workforces. Microsoft earlier this year took its fight to protect DACA to the Supreme Court, which ultimately rejected Trump’s attempt to end the program in a 5-4 decision. Apple said last year that nearly 400 of its employees are so-called “Dreamers,” and Microsoft said at the time of the Supreme Court’s ruling that more than five dozen of its employees are covered by the program. 

Immigration has been one of the most contentious issues between the White House and Silicon Valley. 

That would change if Biden were elected. The tech industry could expect far more friendly immigration policies. 

Tech executives have been some of the most vocal critics of the Trump administration’s policies, including the travel ban on foreign nationals from Muslim-majority countries, Trump’s family separation policies and the administration’s crackdown on visas for high-skilled workers. 

Biden’s promises to reverse many of Trump’s policies and dramatically expand immigration would be far more friendly to Silicon Valley, where immigrants have played a critical role in building some of the most successful companies. But the Obama administration failed to follow through on its promises to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and it may be politically challenging for Biden to pass ambitious immigration laws while also addressing the coronavirus pandemic. 

Biden said last night the Obama administration “made a mistake” in not achieving comprehensive immigration reform. He  signaled it would be different if he were elected in November. 

“It took too long to get it right,” he said. I'll be President of the United States, not Vice President of the United States."

Trump meanwhile criticized Biden's inaction, saying he had eight years to change the country's immigration laws and attacked him for having “no understanding” of them. Trump also defended his administration's family separation policies, as the parents of 545 children separated at the border cannot be found. 

Visas for high-skilled immigrants were not mentioned on the debate stage.

Neither candidate mentioned their plans to address immigration regulations around high-skilled workers, one of the most critical issues for tech companies that rely heavily on engineering talent from all over the world. Tech companies have called for an expansion of the H-1B visa program, which allows companies to temporarily bring specialized workers to the United States. 

However, the candidates have starkly distinct positions on the issue. Biden says he would work with Congress to change temporary visa policies to ensure they're not used to disincentivize recruiting workers already in the United States for in-demand jobs. He supports expanding the number of high-skilled visas and eliminating the caps on such visas by country, according to his campaign website. 

The Trump administration, meanwhile, has significantly tightened the rules on the H-1B visa program during the pandemic. Administration officials last week said they would further restrict the program, requiring companies to pay higher salaries to workers, and tighten hiring rules, incresing regulation by the Labor Department the Department of Homeland Security. Tech companies have fiercely opposed the moves. 

Rant and rave

The far-right Proud Boys got another debate-night mention, albeit with a rebranding when Biden referred to them as the “Poor Boys.” The new name stuck on Twitter.

A natural evolution:

This.

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The FTC appears to be nearing the final stages of its antitrust probe targeting Facebook.

Leaders on the Federal Trade Commission met on Thursday to discuss next steps, people familiar with the matter told Tony Romm

The probe has focused on Facebook’s dominance in social media and acquisition of competitors Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook has defended its practices, saying that regulators approved the deal at the time and that it shouldn’t be punished for growing the products. Critics say the acquisitions solidified Facebook’s monopoly over the sector. 

Any actions could deepen tensions between Silicon Valley and Washington. The Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google this week after a year-long investigation into the search engine.

Both companies are also facing scrutiny from House lawmakers, who recently released a report on the findings of their own year-long investigation of competition in Silicon Valley. 

A California appeals court upheld a ruling ordering Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as employees. 
Drivers are fighting Proposition 22, a ballot measure supported by gig companies that would replace a California law requiring drivers be treated as employees. (AP)

The companies have 30 days from when the court finalizes the decision to comply with the order, Faiz Siddiqui reports. But that could change if a ballot initiative supported by the companies, Proposition 22, passes in California on Election Day. 

The ballot initiative would exempt Uber, Lyft and other gig ride-share and delivery companies from the labor law reclassifying some contractors as employees. Gig companies including Uber and Lyft have poured more than $200 million into the ballot initiative.

Lyft said it is weighing legal options, including bringing the case to the California Supreme Court. 

“This ruling makes it more urgent than ever for voters to stand with drivers and vote yes on Prop. 22,” Lyft spokeswoman Julie Wood said.

Uber is also facing a lawsuit by a group of California gig workers, who say the company is violating workers rights by politically coercing them to support Prop 22 with a barrage of in-app messages, Faiz and Reed Albergotti report. The group is asking a San Francisco judge to bring up to $260 million in penalties against the company and an injunction to prevent further messaging. 

The notifications include pop-ups that require drivers to click through pro-22 messaging with “Yes on Prop 22” or “OK” to access the app. The lawsuit also alleges that some of the messaging pushed by Uber, such as a statistic that 72 percent of drivers and delivery workers support the ballot initiative, is false and misleading. 

Uber disputed the allegations.

“This is an absurd lawsuit, without merit, filed solely for press attention and without regard for the facts,” Uber spokesman Noah Edwardsen said. 

Facebook is failing to disclose backers for some political ads, researchers found. 

The social media company failed to label who paid for paid political ads for Biden, the right-wing site the Daily Wire and several advocacy groups, Craig Silverman and Ryan Mac at BuzzFeed News report

Theyre not outliers. Researchers at New York University found that 8.6 percent of election ads in 2020 initially ran without a disclosure. 

One page that ran ads not caught by Facebook was Mitú, a Hispanic media outlet that has run sponsored content in support of the Biden campaign. Facebook previously removed ads from the page that lacked proper disclosures, which violates its policies. 

Facebook introduced its ad library in the wake of the 2016 election to bring more transparency to political ads on the website, but there are no government regulations dictating how it should work.

Researchers say its hard to quantify the full scope of the issue without more data from Facebook.

“I dont think its reasonable to say that Facebook will catch every single last political ad,” said Laura Edelson, a researcher with NYUs Online Political Ads Transparency Project. “But I do think that we should be able to answer the question: How good a job is Facebook doing? And right now, you cant because you dont have transparency of ads that Facebook has not labeled as political.” 

The digital race to 2020

TikTok will make its reasons for removing videos clearer leading up to the election.

The video app will now tell users exactly which policy they violated when a video is removed, Rachel Lerman reports. The change is a part of the platforms broader effort to crack down on misinformation and hate speech. The app was a source for misinformation about Bidens health during the last presidential debate.

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Daybook

  • The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on Section 230 with the CEOs of Twitter, Alphabet and Facebook on Oct. 28 at 10 a.m.
  • New Americas Future Tense will hold an event debating whether the First Amendment needs to be updated for the Internet age on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

Before you log off

Within a week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and the Biden campaign held events in currently popular games. Coincidence, or trend that's here to stay? (The Washington Post)

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