Biden to activate FEMA and National Guard to vaccinate Americans – CNET

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 President-elect Joe Biden announces his plan to administer COVID-19 vaccines to Americans.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

President-elect Joe Biden said Friday that he'll activate the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Guard to help get COVID-19 vaccines to millions Americans. 

While outlining his administration's plan at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden said his top priority when he takes office next week is to vaccinate Americans against the virus, as the pandemic continues to rage throughout the country. Previously, he pledged his administration would administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office. With current vaccines requiring two shots, that would cover 50 million Americans.  

"You have my word, we will manage the hell out of this operation," Biden said during the press briefing Friday. 

The President-elect said 100 federally funded vaccine clinics will be launched within the first month of his term, which begins Wednesday. The plan also calls for mobile clinics to be deployed in urban and rural areas that are hard to reach. Pharmacies across the country will also be used to distribute the vaccine as the number of Americans eligible to get it expands, Biden said. This will let people get vaccinated just miles from their homes and will allow them to schedule those appointments at their convenience. 

Biden also said he'll invoke the Defense Production Act to "maximize the manufacture of vaccines and vaccine supplies for the country." The Biden team had previously hinted at using this wartime production law, which lets presidents compel companies to prioritize manufacturing for national security purposes. 

Activating the Defense Production Act will increase the supply of the necessary equipment used to manufacture and deliver the vaccine, Biden said. Companies will be directed to make everything from more personal protective gear to vials to hold the vaccines to syringes used in injecting the vaccines. Biden said during his speech that his administration has already worked with manufacturers and has them lined up to start production. 

The Biden administration has criticized the outgoing Trump administration for its current vaccination efforts, which have been slow to roll out the vaccines since they were approved last month by the Food and Drug Administration. Biden said his plan is meant to jump-start those efforts. But he said it'll require significant funding from Congress.

On Thursday, Biden detailed a $1.9 trillion emergency legislative package that included funding for vaccinations as well as direct economic relief to Americans struggling amid the pandemic. Roughly $400 billion will be used specifically for the vaccine efforts. 

More than 390,600 people have died in the US from the virus as of Friday afternoon, according to Johns Hopkins University. Biden has received both doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Both doses were given to Biden live on camera in an effort to reassure the American public of the vaccine's safety. He received the second dose earlier this week.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has received the first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. She also appeared before cameras for her first dose. 

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As House moves on impeaching Trump, some push an alternative – CNET

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Members of the National Guard walk outside of the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC as the House of Representatives prepares to vote on a second impeachment of Donald Trump.

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As members of the House of Representatives begin the process to impeach President Donald Trump for a second time, some lawmakers are calling for a less divisive punishment in the wake of the violent attack last week on the US Capitol: censure. 

On Tuesday, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy indicated he is open to censure of the president, according to news reports citing an unnamed aide familiar with McCarthy's thinking. He has indicated that he opposes impeachment. 

Some Democrats have also supported that idea, arguing that it would be less divisive than a second impeachment. Still, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said that censure simply isn't a heavy enough punishment for President Trump's role in last week's insurrection and attack, which resulted in the death of 5 people.

A group of six House Republicans, led by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, introduced a resolution Tuesday night to censure Trump over his role in disputing the results of the 2020 presidential election and stoking the violent riots that aimed to overturn the results of the election. 

These Republicans argued that censure would be a more effective way to punish Trump, since many believe that the Republican-controlled Senate will not convict him even though Democrats' impeachment efforts are expected to pass. 

"President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government," the resolution reads.

To help break down what this means, we've put together this FAQ.

What is censure?

Censure is a formal statement of disapproval. It's considered nonbinding, which means there is no legal consequence. A censure doesn't remove an official from office, nor does it deny them any of the rights and privileges of their position.

But it is a formal mode of disciplining a public official, such as a US president. It can also be used to discipline senators and members of the House. In essence, it's a public shaming for officials by lawmakers and peers. 

The process for censure is outlined in Article I, section 5, of the US Constitution

How does censure differ from impeachment?  

To be clear, censure is a much lighter punishment than impeachment. There is no real action taken against an individual who has been censured. It's simply a formal statement of disapproval. 

The process to censure also differs from impeaching. A resolution to censure can be introduced in either the House or the Senate or both. And an affirmative vote only requires a simple majority. This differs from impeachment, which must be voted on in the House and requires a two-thirds vote affirming in the US Senate to convict.

Also, unlike with impeachment, the House of Representatives and the Senate can censure their own members. (The equivalent to impeachment for members of Congress is a vote to expel, which requires a two-thirds majority vote.)

Has a US President ever been censured? 

Yes. In fact, movements to censure have been brought against 14 presidents, with four of those efforts passing, according to a 2019 report by the Congressional Research Service.

The most famous censure is that of President Andrew Jackson, who was censured in 1834 for refusing to provide documents related to the removal of deposits from the Second Bank of the United States. William Howard Taft in 1912 was the last US president to be censured, in his case for trying to influence a disputed Senate election.

Since then, movements have been brought against several presidents, including Richard Nixon, who had several resolutions of censure brought against him, as well as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Each of these efforts failed. Trump has had two censures brought against him during his term. If this censure were to occur, he'd be the first US president to be censured in more than 100 years. 

Given that Congress is moving forward on Trump's impeachment, how likely is it that he will also be censured?

Democrats and now at least five Republican members of the House of Representatives have said they'd vote for impeachment. The measure is assured to pass the House by the end of today. It's still unclear whether the Senate would convict him. There would need to be two-thirds of the Senate, or 67 votes, to convict. 

That is why there's been a push toward censure, since it's more likely to be accepted by Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. But the reality is that now that the impeachment process has begun, censure for the president is likely off the table. 

What about members of Congress? Is censure being considered for any of them?

Yes, censure may be considered for members of Congress who supported Trump's false claim that he had won the election. Members of Congress who also attended the rally at the White House that preceded the attack on the Capitol may face censure, and some critics have suggested Congress may also consider expulsion for their role in inciting the crowd. 

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Why the First Amendment can’t protect Trump on Twitter or save Parler – CNET

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Conservatives are crying First Amendment foul as social media companies, including Twitter and Facebook, ban social media accounts by President Donald Trump and others who they say have fomented violence in the wake of the attack on the US Capitol last week — and after Apple, Google and Amazon have shut down conservative social media service Parler.

Twitter on Friday permanently shutdown Trump's personal account as well as other accounts he has used. Twitter said it was banning the president for his inflammatory tweets after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol as Congress met in a joint session to finalize the electoral votes for Joe Biden as president. Twitter also suspended the accounts of other prominent Trump supporters, including retired Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump lawyer Sidney Powell and supporters of the bogus QAnon conspiracy theory, which has been embraced by many of Trump's most avid fans. 

The move came after Facebook and Instagram suspended Trump indefinitely from their platforms. Twitch and Snapchat also disabled Trump's accounts. 

Meanwhile, tech companies Apple and Google have banned the alternative social media platform Parler from their app stores. And Amazon cut off its web hosting services to Parler. 

The actions mark a dramatic turnaround for companies that have largely been hands-off when it comes to speech on their platforms over the last several years. But the violence in Washington, DC last week served as a turning point, with companies moving to silence both individual voices and places seen as inciting violence.   

Conservatives say these actions are nothing more than censorship and a violation of their First Amendment rights to free speech. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Friday: "Free Speech Is Under Attack! Censorship is happening like NEVER before! Don't let them silence us. Sign up at http://DONJR.COM to stay connected!" 

But is this really a violation of the First Amendment? The short answer is no. This FAQ breaks it down. 

Is it legal for social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to ban Trump and others from their platform? 

Yes. 

Free speech protections under the First Amendment to the US Constitution applies only to the government censoring speech. It doesn't mean private companies can't decide what types of speech it allows on its platform. Companies can and do have their own standards and policies that users must follow. 

And they can remove users who violate those standards.

"It's a common mistake people make in understanding First Amendment protections," said Clay Calvert, a law professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. "There is no constitutional right to tweet or post on Facebook."

Calvert said private companies, like a publisher of a newspaper, are able to determine what can be posted on their platforms and what can't. They offer terms of service, which consumers agree to abide by. 

It's this violation of terms of service, which Twitter, Facebook and others have said is the reason they blocked Trump using their platforms. 

In fact, Calvert points out that it's the First Amendment that gives these private companies the right to moderate their platforms. 

What was Twitter's reasoning for banning Trump?  

The social media company run by CEO Jack Dorsey said it was concerned about two tweets that Trump sent on Friday that could incite further violence. 

"The 75,000,000 great American Patriots who voted for me, AMERICA FIRST, and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, will have a GIANT VOICE long into the future. They will not be disrespected or treated unfairly in any way, shape or form!!!"

"To all of those who have asked, I will not be going to the Inauguration on January 20th."

Twitter said the first tweet, which refers to Trump's false claims that he won the November presidential election, could be viewed as spurring his followers to further violence by urging them to overturn the election based on his baseless claims of fraud. 

The company said the second tweet could encourage those considering violent acts that the inauguration ceremonies on Jan. 20 would be a "safe" target since Trump will not be attending.

"Our determination is that the two Tweets above are likely to inspire others to replicate the violent acts that took place on January 6, 2021, and that there are multiple indicators that they are being received and understood as encouragement to do so," Twitter said in a blog post

Twitter, along with Facebook and Instagram, pointed to their terms of service, which prohibit inciting violence on its platform. Snapchat also issued an indefinite ban. All of them say Trump violated their terms of service. 

Twitter has been flagging some of Trump's previous tweets for posting false information about the 2020 election and for perpetuating false claims that there was widespread fraud in the election. The Department of Justice and other US agencies have said there is not evidence of massive voter fraud, with numerous US election agencies describing the November elections as "the most secure in American history."

Before the Capitol was stormed by violent pro-Trump supporters, the president had spoken to the crowd in front of the White House and encouraged his followers to walk down to the Capitol and continue to fight for an election win on his behalf. Meanwhile, inside the Capitol, Congress was meeting to certify the Electoral College votes for President-elect Biden. Biden won the presidential race with 81.28 million votes and 306 electoral votes.

What about Simon & Schuster canceling the publication of Sen. Josh Hawley's forthcoming book? Is that a First Amendment violation?

No. Again, First Amendment claims only pertain to censorship from the US government. Simon & Schuster, owned by ViacomCBS, is a private company. It can decide what to publish and what not to publish. No one has a constitutional right to have their book published. 

Any lawsuit that arises from the publisher canceling the publication of Hawley's book would likely be based on a breach of the contract between Hawley and the publisher. But it wouldn't be based on any First Amendment claims. 

What about Apple and Google removing the social media platform Parler from the app store, and Amazon announcing it will no longer host Parler's service? Does this limit free speech under the First Amendment?

No. Just like social media platforms and book publishers, the First Amendment doesn't compel Amazon, Apple or Google to offer all apps or to provide web services to any company. The First Amendment and the free speech guarantee is limited only to preventing the government from censoring speech.  

But this isn't to say that there aren't other concerns. RonNell Andersen Jones, a professor of law at the University of Utah and an affiliated fellow at Yale Law School, said there is a difference between First Amendment protections and what we consider as limitations on free speech. 

"We might want to think more carefully about our free speech and expression values when a company is unable to operate because another company controls a piece of infrastructure," she said. "That's a worthy debate to be having. But it's not a First Amendment issue."

Isn't Parler suing Amazon? What is the lawsuit about then?

Parler's lawsuit against Amazon alleges that the company suspended it from its hosting service for violating antitrust law and for breaching the companies' contractual arrangement. 

Parler alleges in the 18-page complaint, filed in US District Court in Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered, that Amazon Web Services (AWS) applied a politically motivated double standard when it stopped offering service to Parler.  The company argues that this is in contrast to the treatment of Twitter. 

"AWS's decision to effectively terminate Parler's account is apparently motivated by political animus," the lawsuit reads. "It is also apparently designed to reduce competition in the microblogging services market to the benefit of Twitter."

It also claims that Amazon violated its service contract by not honoring a 30-day grace period before terminating service.

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Trump signs stimulus bill ahead of government shutdown, releasing checks and aid – CNET

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The stimulus bill that has eluded negotiators since May has now become law, authorizing a second stimulus check and more federal unemployment benefits.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

A $900 billion bipartisan stimulus package is finally on its way after President Donald Trump signed the COVID-19 relief bill Sunday evening, Trump's press secretary confirmed on Twitter. Trump's approval comes after days of the president withholding his signature despite the looming expiration of unemployment benefits and a government shutdown. 

Trump also spent the week publicly denouncing the size of the second stimulus check his administration helped negotiate. 

"I am asking Congress to amend this bill and increase the ridiculously low $600 to $2,000. Or $4,000 for a couple," Trump said in a video posted Tuesday. On Saturday and Christmas Day, he also tweeted about the "measly $600," while continuing to press for a $2,000 per-person maximum in a second stimulus check.

The package allocates a second stimulus check for a maximum of $600 for qualifying adults and their child dependents. As with the CARES Act from March, the second stimulus check has a sliding scale based on your adjusted gross income, and not everyone will qualify for the $600 direct payment. The stimulus package also includes an additional $300 per week in federal unemployment insurance, a tax credit to help businesses pay employees and funding for distribution of the coronavirus vaccine.

The IRS is expected to start sending the second stimulus checks, which the agency calls economic impact payments, in about a week, through a mix of physical checks in the maildirect deposits, and EIP cards, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Dec. 21. 

The US House of Representatives passed the bill Monday, with the Senate passing it later that evening. Trump's signature was the final step needed to pass the bill, which is now considered law.

This second stimulus check that millions of Americans will receive is a fraction of the $1,200 check allocated in March as part of the relief package in the CARES Act. It comes at a time when coronavirus infections are surging in many parts of the country. The package also comes as the US jobs market continues to suffer.  Last week, more than 885,000 Americans filed for first time unemployment benefits, according to the US Labor Department

With the health and economic crisis deepening, Congress was under pressure to pass a relief measure before the end of the year. This deal was the result of months of negotiations among the leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties, most notably the four top congressional leaders: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky; Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York; and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California.

What's in the bill?

In addition to the individual stimulus checks, the $900 billion package also includes an additional $300 a week in jobless benefits, which will run for 11 weeks starting Dec. 27, 2020, and ending March 14, 2021. The bill also provides critically needed funds for small businesses, schools, broadband subsidies and vaccine distribution throughout the country.

Specifically, the legislation provides $325 billion for small-business loans and grants. There's $69 billion for COVID-19 vaccine procurement and distribution and $82 billion for K-12 schools, colleges and universities to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic. 

In addition to these programs, the bill also provides $3.2 billion in broadband subsidies for low-income Americans and those financially impacted by COVID-19, to cover monthly service fees. The legislation also provides $1 billion for tribal land connectivity. 

This money lets broadband providers offer a $50 subsidy ($75 on tribal lands) to help those who are already eligible for the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program. This program also makes the $50 subsidy available to families eligible for free school lunches or college Pell Grants, as well as to those who've lost jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recipients can also use up to $100 of the subsidy to pay for a laptop, desktop or tablet. In addition, the legislation provides funding to improve FCC mapping and telehealth services.

Consumer advocacy groups applauded Congress for acknowledging how vital broadband connectivity is, especially at a time when Americans continue working and learning from home. 

"These subsidies will directly support those experiencing financial loss during the crisis, as affordability remains the key barrier to connectivity," said Greg Guice, government affairs director at Public Knowledge. "No American should be forced to go without food, water, electricity or essential communications over broadband."

But the two most controversial sticking points between Democrats and Republicans in the negotiations are missing from the bill. These are the COVID-19 liability protections for corporations and businesses that Republicans wanted and the direct aid to state and local governments that Democrats pushed for to help those governments struggling to make up for lost tax and fee revenue resulting from this year's closures. 

These issues have been largely set aside and will likely come up again in negotiations for more relief in 2021 after President-elect Joe Biden takes office

Biden previously said he sees the current relief package as a "down payment" and that Congress would need to pass another bill in the early part of 2021.

CNET's Jessica Dolcourt contributed to this report.

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Big Tech in 2021: Washington is ready to lay down the law – CNET

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Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to rein in the unchecked power of Big Tech. 

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For more than a decade, lawmakers and regulators have taken a hands-off approach to Silicon Valley. But that's all likely to change for Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter as the folks in charge in Washington look to rein in their power and influence. 

Politicians and policymakers on both sides of the aisle have grown increasingly alarmed by the power these companies wield -- how it might harm consumers by enabling the firms to choke off competition from smaller players, exploit personal data for profit, and distort what media is shared and consumed online. 

Some on Capitol Hill are calling for a full-scale reset. In October, the House Judiciary Committee published a scathing, 449-page report that concluded Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have transformed into monopoly powerhouses

"Companies that were once scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons," the report reads.

Many Democrats in Congress support legislation to break up tech monopolies. And over the past two months, Google and Facebook have been hit with lawsuits from dozens of states all over the country. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump's Department of Justice is going after Google, and a Republican-led Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against Facebook. 

As President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office in January and a new Congress gets to work, the days of unchecked power for Big Tech look like they're numbered. 

"Everyone agrees there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed," Rep. David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and the chairman of the House antitrust subcommittee (which wrote the October report), said during a New York Times panel discussion earlier this month. The "era of self-regulation is over, and congressional action is required," he said. 

Here's a look at the three big issues facing Big Tech in the coming year. 

Antitrust

The antitrust target on the backs of some of the biggest tech companies in the world is growing larger. Google and Facebook are already facing multiple lawsuits from federal and state law enforcement as well as regulatory agencies.

And things are likely to get worse. Here's a quick rundown: 

Google
In October, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit alleging that Google has used anticompetitive tactics to preserve its search engine business. On Dec. 17, 38 states filed an antitrust suit against the company, accusing it of running an illegal digital advertising monopoly and enlisting Facebook to rig ad auctions. These states also allege that Google manipulated digital advertising markets in violation of antitrust laws. And another group of state attorneys general, led by Colorado's, is also expected to file an antitrust case against Google.

Facebook
The social media giant is facing a lawsuit from the FTC and a coalition of more than 40 states and territories. The suit accuses the company of illegally stifling innovation and choking competition by buying and squashing smaller startups. The suit demands that Facebook unwind its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram.  

Apple and Amazon
So far neither Apple nor Amazon is being sued by the US government or the states, but the House Judiciary report also singled them out for their behaviors. The report accuses Amazon of holding monopoly power over third-party sellers on its site. And it accuses Apple of having a monopoly through its App Store. 

While the lawsuits get litigated, there's growing appetite among lawmakers in both parties to take legislative action on antitrust that could go far beyond the tech industry and affect all concentrated industries. 

"It's not just the big tech companies that will be affected by these reforms," said Gigi Sohn, who served as an adviser to former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler and is a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy. "It would also have big implications for other industries where there's concentrated power, like pharmaceuticals and airlines."

Sohn added that the centrality of the internet in our economy "has left gaping holes in our laws" and that it's up to Congress to fill those holes. How far the reforms could go will largely depend on who's in Congress and whether Democrats and Republicans can resolve their differences on these issues. 

Some key areas where Democrats and Republicans may agree include more funding for antitrust enforcers, such as the FTC, and changing the burden of proof for proposed mergers so that companies whose market share passes a certain threshold are assumed to be monopolies and must prove their deal doesn't do harm. Other areas where agreement may be found is in data portability requirements for platforms, which allow consumers to move their information with them when they go to competing services and which institute prohibitions on platform bias, or the preference platforms give themselves when displaying their own listings above those of a competitor.

These were all ideas that came out of the House Judiciary subcommittee report.

Section 230 and free speech online

Calls for changes to Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act got louder in 2020. Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill agree changes are needed to the law, which shields large social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from lawsuits over the content their users post on their platforms.

But their views differ greatly when it comes to exactly what they see as the law's problems. 

Democrats are troubled by the rampant flow of hate speech and disinformation on social media, including interference by foreign countries in the 2020 US presidential election. Biden has called for the law to be revoked

Republicans, led by Trump, allege that their speech is being censored by social media sites. Earlier this year, Trump issued an executive order to get the FCC to examine how the agency could ensure that social media companies aren't censoring content on their sites. To bring more attention to the issue, Trump vetoed a critical defense funding bill because it didn't include a repeal of the protections. 

Meanwhile, tech companies say Section 230 protections have been the key to allowing their services to flourish. The liability shield has let them choose what content they restrict and how. 

After years of resisting any changes to Section 230, some companies, like Facebook and Twitter, say they're open to tweaks to the law. At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that social media platforms "have responsibilities, and it may make sense for there to be liability for some of the content that is on the platform." 

At the same hearing, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey suggested regulations that would require companies to make their moderation processes more transparent. He also said companies could develop clear ways for users to appeal their decisions on content moderation and give users more choices in how algorithms sort their content. 

Still, he cautioned lawmakers not to go too far in their reforms. And he warned that a heavy-handed approach could especially stifle smaller startups. 

"What we're most concerned with is making sure that we continue to enable new companies to contribute to the internet and to contribute to conversation," Dorsey said. 

Privacy

Who owns your personal data, and how should companies be protecting the information they gather about you? That's the big question that many people hope Congress will answer in 2021. 

The year 2020 was supposed to be the one in which Congress passed federal privacy legislation. There'd been much talk in Washington about comprehensive privacy legislation following the European Union's 2018 General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, which significantly increased requirements for how consumer data is stored and shared. As the feds dragged their feet and debated what the US should do, California followed the GDPR with its own Consumer Privacy Act, the CCPA, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Other states have taken similar steps. Though some advocates would say the CCPA doesn't go far enough, it's still the most comprehensive privacy law in the US. And it could serve as the foundation for federal protections. 

But in spite of more than 20 privacy bills or drafts of bills being introduced and discussed in Congress, there's still no law in place. 

Experts agree that a piecemeal approach by states isn't enough to adequately address consumer privacy. And they agree it could create costly and complicated compliance requirements for individual companies. Sohn said there's already alignment on many privacy issues, so she's hopeful something can be hammered out in 2021.

In December, there were signs that Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee had begun to find common ground for legislation. Earlier this month the committee held a hearing that featured testimony from a bipartisan group of former FTC commissioners, including three former chairs. Key differences remain among Democrats and Republicans on proposed legislation, but it seems a federal privacy law will likely be a top agenda item for the next Congress. 

The FTC is also exerting some pressure on companies, asking several, including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter and ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, for information about how they collect and use the personal information of their users. The FTC also wants to know how these companies sell that information to advertisers, and how the practices affect children and teens.

"These digital products may have launched with the simple goal of connecting people or fostering creativity," FTC commissioners Rohit Chopra, Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Christine Wilson wrote in a statement supporting the requests. "But, in the decades since, the industry model has shifted from supporting users' activities to monetizing them."

The statement continues: "Never before has there been an industry capable of surveilling and monetizing so much of our personal lives. Social media and video streaming companies now follow users everywhere through apps on their always-present mobile devices. This constant access allows these firms to monitor where users go, the people with whom they interact, and what they are doing."

What these companies do with the data, the commissioners said, "remains dangerously opaque."

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Piracy and controversial copyright laws tucked inside COVID relief bill – CNET

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The new $2.3 trillion spending bill that just passed by Congress and includes $900 of coronavirus relief also contains a new law that will punish piracy services that stream large amounts of copyrighted content. This new law, along with two other laws dealing with copyright and trademark, are awaiting President Donald Trump's signature. 

The law states violators could be prosecuted and face up to 10 years in prison for multiple offenses. They could also be fined. 

Before you get too worked about facing prison time for borrowing your friend's Netflix or HBOMax login, know that the "Protecting Lawful Streaming Act" does not target individuals. The law, which was introduced earlier this month by Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, is meant to focus on "commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services" that make money from illegally streaming copyrighted material.

The law states that "individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works" will not face prosecution. 

Tillis said that for-profit streaming pirates cost the US economy nearly $30 billion a year in lost revenue. 

"This commonsense legislation was drafted with the input of creators, user groups, and technology companies and is narrowly targeted so that only criminal organizations are punished and that no individual streamer has to worry about the fear of prosecution," he wrote in a statement

In addition to the piracy law, Congress also included another copyright law in the massive legislation, the CASE Act and a law involving trademark, the Trademark Modernization Act.

The CASE Act would create a panel of "Copyright Claims Officers," who would rule on infringement claims. The bill says that copyright holders could be awarded up to $30,000 in damages if it's found that their creative work has been illegally shared online.

Supporters of the CASE Act say the law will make it easier for smaller independent artists to bring infringement cases without having to file expensive federal lawsuits. 

But critics of the legislation, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fight for the Future, say the CASE Act could make it easier for big media companies to get damages from ordinary internet users, who would face fines for doing things like sharing memes. 

"The CASE Act is a terribly written law that will threaten ordinary Internet users with huge fines for everyday online activity," Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, said in a statement.  "We're facing a massive eviction crisis and millions are unemployed due to the pandemic, but Congressional leaders could only muster $600 stimulus checks for COVID relief, but managed to cram in handouts for content companies like Disney?"

The Trademark Modernization Act targets "trademark trolls" by allowing third parties to request the Patent Office to reject trademark applications. So-called "trademark trolls" make money off of trademarks they never plan to use. 

A group of 18 organizations, which included tech trade groups, such as the Internet Association; advocacy organizations, like the Electronic Foundation; and library associations, such as the American Library Association, urged congressional leaders to decline to include the provisions in the final bill, according to the news site Protocol.

"We respect Congress's intent to improve our intellectual property system and protect the rights of creators and entrepreneurs," the groups said in a letter sent to Congress. "However, certain aspects of this package of bills will have negative impacts on small- and medium-sized businesses, creators, libraries and their patrons, students, teachers, educational institutions, religious institutions, fan communities, internet users, and free expression."

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The net neutrality debate is back – CNET

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Activists gather in Washington DC outside FCC headquarters in December 2017 to protest the repeal of Obama-era net neutrality protections.  

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An old battle over who governs the internet will likely reignite as Democrats take control of the Federal Communications Commission following the inauguration of Joe Biden. Reinstating Obama-era net neutrality rules thrown out under the Trump administration will likely be a top priority for the agency, experts say. 

Earlier this week, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, an appointee of President Donald Trump, announced he'll be stepping down from his post on Jan. 20 -- the day Biden is sworn in. That paves the way for a Democrat to lead the agency and reestablish the FCC's authority to impose rules of the road for the internet. 

At stake in this battle is who, if anyone, will police the internet to ensure that broadband companies aren't abusing their power as gatekeepers. The 2015 rules adopted under FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, prevented broadband providers from blocking or slowing access to the internet or charging for faster access. 

The rules also firmly established the FCC's oversight over broadband, which would give the agency the authority to police broadband abuses, such as weak privacy practices or fraudulent billing. In addition, they would give the agency more authority to promote competition by doing things such as preempting state laws that prohibit municipalities from offering broadband services. 

Reclassifying broadband as a Title II service would also ensure the FCC is on firm legal footing to modernize its Universal Service Fund programs, which help provide subsidies to poor Americans for phone service and broadband and which also provide E-rate funding to schools and libraries to offer broadband service. 

Pai, who was a vocal opponent of the net neutrality order when he was a commissioner on the FCC, led the effort to get rid of the rules once Trump elevated him to head the agency in 2017. As part of the original order, the Obama FCC had classified broadband as a so-called Title II utility-like service, which gave the FCC greater authority and oversight over broadband networks. 

Pai's FCC took what it called a "light regulatory" approach and pushed through the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which not only repealed the rules but also abdicated much of the FCC's authority to the Federal Trade Commission. 

Net neutrality is the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally, regardless of whether you're checking Facebook, posting pictures to Instagram or streaming movies from Netflix or Amazon. It also means companies like AT&T, which bought Time Warner, or Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, can't favor their own content over that of a competitor.

Supporters of net neutrality say rules are necessary to ensure broadband companies aren't abusing their power as gatekeepers. But the FCC and broadband companies say the old rules gave the FCC too much power, stifling broadband investment.

Pai argues that the repeal of the rules has fixed that. In the two and half years since the repeal took effect, he has claimed that investment in broadband has increased. But earnings reports, independent research and statements from broadband company CEOs show no clear evidence that the repeal had any effect on investment in the broadband sector.

There's also no clear evidence that any of the doomsday predictions from net neutrality proponents have come to fruition. Broadband prices haven't skyrocketed, nor have internet providers blocked or slowed access to content. In fact, network speeds across the vast majority of the country have increased. And broadband networks in the US have held up well under the pressures of increased network demands due to everyone working from home and children across the nation attending school virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But this isn't to say that there aren't significant issues. Tens of millions of people are still without access to service at all, and many millions can't afford service. Net neutrality regulations on their own won't fix these issues, but supporters say reinstating the FCC's authority over broadband companies is still essential. 

"This debate has always been about the FCC's authority," said Gigi Sohn, a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and former counselor for the Federal Communications Commission. "The question is really about whether there should be an agency to oversee the broadband market. In order to promote competition and ensure millions of Americans can get online through programs like Lifeline, the answer to that question is yes."

There's almost unanimous agreement among experts that the FCC under Biden will reinstate net neutrality protections. The real questions are how quickly will they do it and how far will they go in terms of the limits they put on broadband providers.  

The two top names that have been floated as potential chairs of the agency, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and former commissioner and former interim FCC chair Mignon Clyburn, were staunch supporters of the 2015 protections. Sohn, who served as an adviser to former FCC Chairman Wheeler, has also been floated as a potential candidate for the job. 

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Net neutrality protections have enjoyed strong public support. Millions of Americans protested the Pai FCC's order to dismantle net neutrality. The bipartisan grassroots effort was also enough to persuade a majority of senators to vote to roll back the repeal effort. Organizations like Fight for the Future have vowed to continue their campaign to put pressure on officials to get net neutrality protections back on the books. 

The timing of these efforts is a little harder to pin down. There are five seats in total on the FCC. Three of those seats will go to Democrats, while two are reserved for Republicans. With Pai's departure in January, there will be two seats vacant on the commission. Trump pulled the renomination earlier this year of Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, a Republican, because he expressed concern over Trump's insistence that the FCC clarify rules around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to limit liability protections for social media companies. 

O'Rielly's term expires at the end of the year. Without Pai and O'Rielly, the FCC on Inauguration Day will be 2-1 Democrats to Republican. But Trump has already nominated a replacement for O'Rielly, Nathan Simington.  If the Senate confirms him before the end of the year, the FCC will be deadlocked 2-2. This could delay any FCC action on net neutrality until Democrats can get another commissioner confirmed, which will likely take months. 

Even with the needed Democratic votes on the FCC, the process to write and approve new rules won't be a quick process. And the earliest that rules could be voted on is next summer.

How far will new rules go?

The bigger question is likely whether Democrats will go beyond the restrictions laid out in the 2015 rules and whether they push to expand the FCC's Title II authority beyond what had been called for five years ago. Net neutrality supporters agree that the net neutrality written by the next FCC will go beyond adopting the bright-lines rules of no blocking, no throttling and no paid prioritization that were outlined in the 2015 rules. 

"I'm not advocating for just reinstating the old rules," Sohn said. "We need to push for FCC authority to adopt policy to handle issues like zero-rating and data caps." 

Sohn said that since the 2015 fight, the bar has been raised. The standard isn't the 2015 FCC rules, but instead policy makers will be looking at California's stricter 2018 law, which goes beyond the Obama-era rules. California's net neutrality legislation outlaws some zero-rating offers, such as promotions offered by AT&T, which exempts its own streaming services from its wireless customers' data caps. Zero-rating is the practice of bundling access to certain content or services for free as part of broadband service.

The California law also applies net neutrality rules to so-called "interconnection" deals between network operators, something the FCC's 2015 rules didn't explicitly do.

The FCC could also use the Title II authority to ban or put restrictions on data caps. The 2015 rules didn't explicitly address either of these issues. But it did include a so-called "general conduct" rule that allowed the agency to crack down on companies that tried to abuse their market power. 

"The genius of the successful 2015 Open Internet Order was that it preserved the FCC's authority to examine all kinds of ISP interference and discrimination, not just bad conduct outlined in the bright-line rules," said Matt Wood, vice president of policy and general counsel for Free Press.

He pointed to Comcast's announcement last month that it plans to reintroduce data caps on its cable broadband service as an example of how broadband companies are feeling emboldened without net neutrality protections and FCC oversight. 

"Preserving FCC ability to craft flexible protections against unjust and unreasonable behavior is key, no matter how it chooses to address these other issues in rules or future orders," he added.

What about legal challenges and Congress?

As we've seen with 2015 net neutrality rules and the 2017 repeal of those rules, it's almost certain that any action the FCC takes to reinstate net neutrality protections and to impose Title II classification on broadband will be met with lawsuits. 

Over the past several years, federal appeals courts have twice sided with the FCC on whether the agency can change the classification of broadband to determine if it should be regulated. What this means in practical terms is another several years of litigation and uncertainty. 

The only way to finally put the issue to rest would be for Congress to act. 

"Legislation has always been the only way to resolve this pointless, largely theatrical debate," said Berin Szoka, a senior fellow at TechFreedom, a free-market think tank. 

But whether this will actually happen largely depends on which party gains control of the Senate. That won't be known until Jan. 5, after Georgia holds runoff races for its two US Senate seats. If Republicans maintain control of the Senate, that would make it very difficult for a net neutrality bill to pass both the Democrat-controlled House and the Republican-led Senate. 

If Democrats win in Georgia and take control of the Senate, chances of a net neutrality bill giving the FCC clear authority would be more likely to pass. But one thing is certain: If Congress doesn't act, the net neutrality rules and the FCC's authority to regulate broadband will continue to ping-pong back and forth depending on which party controls the White House. 

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FCC votes to free up 5.9GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi – CNET

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The Federal Communications Commission voted Wednesday to free up more spectrum for Wi-Fi. In a bipartisan effort, the five commissioners voted unanimously to allocate spectrum for Wi-Fi usage in what's known as the 5.9GHz band of spectrum.

The spectrum in this band will be used for unlicensed indoor use to help improve speeds and reduce congestion on 5GHz Wi-Fi networks. For more than two decades the spectrum has been set aside for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications using a technology known as Dedicated Short-Range Communications, or DSRC.

As part of the order, the FCC will allocate the lower 45MHz of the spectrum for Wi-Fi. There will also be a 30MHz sliver of spectrum for another vehicle communication technology called C-V2X, which is supported by chipmaker Qualcomm and some automobile makers.

Although all FCC commissioners were in agreement in reallocating the spectrum for unlicensed broadband use, the vote has not been without controversy. The US Department of Transportation has opposed the reallocation of spectrum.

But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has repeatedly stated that the DSRC technology has been slow to evolve and has never been widely deployed. He has argued that freeing up a good portion of the spectrum for Wi-Fi is necessary, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when more people are using broadband to do remote schooling and virtual work. 

"Today, at long last, we say in a unified, bipartisan voice: Time's up," Pai said.

In April, the agency voted to unlock a massive amount of bandwidth for next-gen Wi-Fi devices, quadrupling the amount of spectrum available for unlicensed use.

One C-V2X industry group, the 5G Automotive Association, had lobbied against new Wi-Fi use that its members fear will conflict with C-V2X radio communications. It'll now review the FCC's order to try to make the best of the situation. "Our priority remains speeding the availability of C-V2X to American road users under parameters that responsibly guard against interference caused by Wi-Fi," the 5GAA said in a statement.

WifiForward, another industry group whose backers include Google, Comcast and Microsoft, was happier. "Today's vote will create the first usable 160MHz wide Wi-Fi channel that operators can bring online quickly to make our networks even better and faster," WifiForward said in a statement Wednesday.

CNET reporter Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.

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Election Night 2020: Here’s how your vote will actually be counted – CNET

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Voting is already underway throughout the country ahead of the Nov. 3 election. 

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This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET's coverage of the run-up to voting in November.

Early voting was at record levels this year as Americans seek to avoid crowds at polling places because of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than  99 million votes have already been cast, setting the stage for a marathon counting process that could go on for days or weeks after today's election.

Millions more people across the country are expected to show up at polling stations today on election day to cast their votes in person. All of this means there will be a lot of votes to count. 

Though the US has no national criteria for how voting is conducted, counting the ballots is remarkably consistent across the country's roughly 3,200 counties. Except in a handful of unusual cases, vote counting is conducted by machine, speeding the process of tallying the expected 150 million or more ballots that'll be cast in the contest between Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

In some counties, voters fill out a paper ballot, which is then fed into an optical scanner that records the choices. In others, voters use a touchscreen device that records the votes digitally. In most states, but not all, those touchscreen devices create a paper record of the choices. (The devices aren't connected to the internet.) 

All the votes have to be tallied, a process that can become more complex as mail-in, provisional and overseas ballots are added to the count. Here's how it happens:

When does the counting start for in-person voting? Do poll workers wait until the end of the day? Or can they get a head start on the count?

When you vote in person on Election Day, counting the votes doesn't start until the polls have closed.  

Once polling places have closed, the votes for each machine are tabulated -- whether it's an optical scanner, a touchscreen device or a lever-activated machine. A poll worker prints out the vote count, which often is long enough to challenge a CVS receipt

The total from each machine is then reported to county officials, but that happens differently depending on county and state rules. Sometimes the printed record, as well as a smart card or thumb drive containing information from the polling station's machines, is delivered directly to county officials on election night. In other instances, the count from the polling stations is either phoned in or transmitted by a secure internet connection. 

Once the count is transmitted to county officials, a preliminary vote count is generated and shared with state officials and the media. News organizations use these counts to forecast winners. It's important to understand that these are preliminary counts. The election results still have to be verified for the count to be considered official. 

What do you mean verified? What does that involve?

Data from the actual voting machines must be gathered and examined. The votes will be tallied again by election officials. These results will be double- and triple-checked. Mail-in ballots and provisional ballots will also be examined. If verified, they'll be added to the count. 

What about mail-in, absentee and provisional ballots? How are they counted? 

All these ballots are counted pretty much like any paper ballot is counted, though they have to be confirmed before they're fed into the optical scanner. Depending on the state, the process to count mail-in ballots can be started before Election Day. But in some states, the process must start on Election Day. 

Mail-in ballots, which some states offer to all voters, can be sent to officials through the postal service. Some states allow voters to drop off ballots at secure boxes. Because of the pandemic, many states that had previously limited mail-in or absentee voting to voters who'd qualified under certain circumstances have now opened up the option to anyone.

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As a result, the terms absentee voting and mail-in voting are now being used interchangeably. Some election officials have started using the term "mail-in ballots" or "vote by mail" because they're expanding absentee ballot eligibility during the pandemic to include people who aren't actually absent from their precinct at the time of voting. 

To start the process of counting mail-in ballots, election officials match the signatures on the ballot with signatures on record to determine whether a voter is registered. Some states allow officials to start the process of confirming the eligibility of those ballots ahead of Election Day. Other states require officials to wait until Election Day to process those ballots. Nearly 64 million mail-in votes have already been cast this year. 

Once the ballots have been verified, they go into the scanner like any other. 

Provisional ballots are given to voters at polling stations who have difficulty verifying they're registered to vote. This might happen if people show up to the wrong polling place or in some states if they forget their ID. Those ballots are separated from other ballots and aren't counted until the voter's eligibility is confirmed. These ballots are tallied after the polling station closes. 

I voted by mail. How do I know if my mail ballot arrived?

Most states allow you to track your ballot. You can check with your state's secretary of state to find out how or if your mail-in ballot can be tracked. 

Who gives the official results? 

Early results usually come after the polls close, but official results aren't announced until after a certification process called canvassing. This process ensures that every ballot cast is accounted for and that each valid vote is included in the official results of the election. 

The process involves double- and triple-checking tallies for accuracy. It also involves a bit of accounting to make sure the number of ballots that were given out to voters and returned to election officials matches the number of votes recorded. And it entails resolving discrepancies, correcting errors and taking any remedial actions necessary to ensure completeness and accuracy before certifying the election. 

Once all that's been completed, a county board of elections certifies the election and generates an official vote count. 

How long does this take? 

Each state has its own timeline for canvassing following a general election. The process usually concludes later in November, but it can extend to December in some states. 

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Most Americans cast their votes via machines that scan paper ballots, or they input their choices on a touchscreen.

Bill Clark/Getty Images

Early voting and mail-in voting tallies approached nearly three-quarters of the number of votes that were counted during the entire 2016 presidential election. This flood of ballots, many of which need to be handled manually, could make certifying the results take longer this year. 

But the biggest issue that could prolong the vote is the threat of legal challenges in some states that could stop or delay counting. 

"Even with the volume of mail-in votes, the deadlines are quite realistic for any normal election management issues that may arise," said Steven Huefner, a professor at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. "But if there is some kind of court fight, and the courts aren't able to resolve it quickly enough, that could cause some serious problems."

Is there a deadline by which all the states need to certify the election?

Yes. It's Dec. 8.

Why Dec. 8?

If you're an American, you may recall from your high school civics class that voters in the US don't vote directly for president and vice president. They vote for electors who will cast votes. This process necessitates a deadline by which states must decide which electors they send to vote in the national election. 

States are supposed to appoint presidential electors to the electoral college by Dec. 8, though that can be extended to Dec. 14, which is when electors meet in state capitals to cast their votes. Those votes and the certificates from the election from each state are counted by Congress on Jan. 6. 

Could the heavy use of mail-in ballots affect when we know the projected winners?

Yes. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, we didn't get official results until weeks after the election. The reliance on mail-in ballots, as well as early voting, will likely complicate the count this year.

This process is laborious and time-consuming. Election officials have to verify that the ballots are from registered voters. Then they must verify that each ballot came from the person it purportedly came from. In cases where ballots are damaged or unreadable by scanners, election officials may need to interpret ballots to ensure all votes are counted. 

Every verified ballot will be counted, regardless of how it was cast. 

"There is often this notion that if it's not a close race that officials stop counting the eligible absentee or provisional ballots," Heufner said. "But that's not true. Election officials always process every single vote that is eligible for counting."

Twenty-seven states require mail-in and absentee ballots to be received on or before Election Day, according to the Associated Press. Depending on the state, mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day can arrive after Nov. 3 and will still be counted. For instance, Washington state's deadline for the receipt of mail-in ballots is Nov. 23.

With that in mind, determining the projected winner could be difficult. An official count could take weeks.

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Trump and Biden prepare to face-off in final debate – CNET

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The first of three planned debates between Joe Biden and Donald Trump was a spectacle.

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President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden are gearing up for their final debate before the Nov. 3 election on Thursday night at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. This debate should be a bit more tame than the previous one thanks to a rule change that will allow microphones to be cut off during portions of the debate.

The Commission on Presidential Debates said Monday it will mute the microphones of Trump and Biden as the other gives two-minute opening statements at the beginning of each of six topics during the debate.

Microphones of both candidates will be turned on during the "open discussion" portion of the 90-minute debate, the commission said. Kristen Welker of NBC News, who is moderating the debate, will return any time that's taken up with interruptions to the other candidate. But Welker won't be able to cut off the microphone during the open discussion if the two candidates talk over one another. 

"During the times dedicated for open discussion, it is the hope of the commission that the candidates will be respectful of each other's time, which will advance civil discourse for the benefit of the viewing public," the commission said in a statement.

The news comes after a chaotic first debate on Sept. 29 in Cleveland in which Trump repeatedly interrupted and talked over Biden and argued with moderator and Fox News journalist Chris Wallace. Immediately following that debate, the commission announced it would be adding "additional tools to maintain order" for future debates. The commission finalized changes on Monday. 

The Trump campaign confirmed that it will take part in the debate following the changes. But Trump told reporters Tuesday that he wasn't happy with the change. 

"I'll participate. I just think it's very unfair," Trump said.

Trump's campaign has also taken issue with topics that will be covered as part of the debate. In a letter to the commission, Bill Stepien, Trump's campaign manager, said the campaign had hoped there would be a focus on foreign policy. Instead, the topics selected by the moderator will be fighting COVID-19, American families, race in America, climate change, national security and leadership.

Thursday's debate is the last major opportunity for Trump, who is trailing in polls in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, to appeal to undecided voters and to make the case for why he should be elected for four more years. The second debate scheduled for Oct. 15 didn't happen after the commission changed it to a virtual one with both candidates appearing from different locations. The decision came after Trump returned to the White House following treatment for the coronavirus at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. 

But Trump said on Fox News shortly after the CPD announcement that he wouldn't participate in the debate. Instead, Trump and Biden participated in dueling town hall events broadcast by NBC and ABC, respectively. 

Trump tested positive for COVID-19 two days after the first debate, prompting the commission to install plexiglass to separate Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris at their Oct. 7 vice presidential debate. There are no plans for plexiglass at Thursday's debate.

In keeping with the unpredictable and unprecedented year we've had, a lot could still happen before the next presidential debate.

Here's a look at what might still happen. 

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The debate could still be canceled

Even though Trump appears to have recovered from the virus, he has yet to announce that he has tested negative for COVID-19. Trump said Monday that he would get tested before the next debate.

But if he doesn't get tested or if the test comes back positive, the debate could still be canceled. Biden told ABC's George Stephanopoulos at a town hall last week that he wouldn't take the debate stage with Trump unless the president tested negative for COVID-19. 

There's also a chance that Trump could still cancel his appearance at the debate. On Tuesday, he told reporters traveling with him on Air Force One that he thought it was "unfair" that the moderator was "totally biased."  While there's no indication he will not follow through on plans to attend the debate, Trump could still cancel his appearance via tweet at any time. 

Representatives of the Biden and Trump campaigns weren't available to comment for this article. 

The debate could be postponed

If Trump refuses to get tested or if the test is still positive, there's a the tiniest of chances the debate could be postponed. But with less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 election, it seems unlikely that the candidates would reschedule. 

The debate could go virtual

There's probably even less of a chance that this would happen, given that Trump balked at a virtual second debate. The second debate, which was to be held in Miami, was supposed to be a town hall style event where audience members were to ask questions of each candidate. According to the plan, Trump and Biden would have been in different locations answering the debate questions. But Trump rejected the idea, calling it "ridiculous." And then he accused the commission, without any evidence, of trying to help Biden's campaign.

"I'm not going to waste my time on a virtual debate, that's not what debating is all about," Trump said during an interview with Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo. "You sit behind a computer and do a debate -- it's ridiculous."

The debate could go on as planned

So far both candidates seem to be on track to show up at Thursday's debate. Trump was out on the campaign trail Tuesday hosting big rallies. Meanwhile, Biden is spending the days before the debate preparing at his home in Wilmington, Deleware.

After weeks of negotiation, campaigns for the two candidates have agreed to the new rules. But of course, that could change in the next 48 hours. 

So stay tuned.

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