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The “laptop from hell” and the next twelve days | #predators | #childpredators | #kids | #parenting | #parenting | #kids


With help from Cristiano Lima, Leah Nylen and John Hendel

Editor’s Note: Morning Tech is a free version of POLITICO Pro Technology’s morning newsletter, which is delivered to our subscribers each morning at 6 a.m. The POLITICO Pro platform combines the news you need with tools you can use to take action on the day’s biggest stories.Act on the news with POLITICO Pro.

— Debate highlights: The final presidential debate focused heavily on election interference — the topic that will remain front-and-center for Silicon Valley in the lead-up to Nov. 3.

— MT scoop: A new bipartisan bill set to be unveiled today aims to make it easier to detect predators on social media and on popular mobile apps.

— Social media and civil unrest: A majority of Americans fear that social media will be used to incite real-world violence in the (likely messy) aftermath of Election Day, according to new data from GQR and Accountable Tech — and five states are most at risk.

OVER AND OUT. IT’S FRIDAY; WELCOME TO MORNING TECH! I’m your host, Alexandra Levine.

Got a news tip? Write to Alexandra at [email protected], or follow along @Ali_Lev and @alexandra.levine. An event for our calendar? Send details to [email protected]. Anything else? Full team info below. And don’t forget: Add @MorningTech and @PoliticoPro on Twitter.

THE FINAL DEBATE AND ‘THE LAPTOP FROM HELL’ — President Donald Trump’s reference to the notorious laptop from the disputed New York Post story on Joe Biden closed out a debate that hit on election interference by foreign adversaries and the candidates’ entanglements with China, Russia and Iran. (“Nothing was unethical,” Biden said with regards to his son Hunter’s business dealings while he was vice president.)

Both candidates cast themselves as victims of Russian interference: “Russia is wanting to make sure that I do not get elected the next president of the United States, because they know I know them, and they know me,” Biden said. The president then argued that Russia wants Trump to lose because “there has been nobody tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.” Trump accused Biden of taking money from Russia, and Biden accused Trump of taking money from China. Each denied the other’s claims. Now here we are.

— What’s next: Although tech got relatively little play in the final debate, it will figure prominently in the final twelve days of this election cycle — and the aftermath to follow.

MT SCOOP: INCOMING HOUSE BILL TARGETS PREDATORS ON SOCIAL MEDIA — A new bipartisan House bill slated to be introduced today would make it easier to spot predators on social media. Led by Reps. Ann Kuster (D-N.H.) and Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio), the Protecting our KIDS Act would expand the information registered sex offenders must provide the Justice Department to include key personal identifiers used on social networking platforms and mobile apps. It would also widen the pool of platforms covered under those requirements to include ones that don’t primarily cater to kids.

— An evolving threat: “With technology constantly evolving, Congress has an obligation to ensure the law keeps pace and covers all emerging digital platforms that could be exploited by sexual predators,” Kuster, co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to End Sexual Violence, said in a statement to MT. Earlier this year Kuster and Gonzalez called on their House colleagues to move legislation to address the growing prevalence of child exploitative material online during the pandemic, which has also caused kids to shift more of their activities on-screen.

— It’s already drawing industry support: Match Group, the parent of dating apps like Tinder and OKCupid, is an early backer. “This bill provides much-needed tools to further the societal goal of keeping minors away from danger,” said Match Group CEO Shar Dubey. The company made a splash earlier this year by becoming the first major tech firm to support the EARN IT Act, a separate bill aimed at curtailing child abuse online. The new bill is also backed by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, an anti-sexual assault non-profit.

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