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Calif. rep: Time for Silicon Valley to 'advance the common good'

October 17, 2017
In The News

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) is calling for the tech industry to "advance the common good" by expanding opportunities beyond Silicon Valley and pushing for greater political transparency online.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post on Monday, Khanna laid out a broad plan for tech companies to invest in middle America and expand recruiting operations to state colleges and historically black colleges and universities.

"Tech companies must offer an aspirational vision of how all Americans, regardless of geography, can benefit from a tech-driven economy," he wrote.

"This means making investments not just in California, Massachusetts and New York, but also in start-ups and entrepreneurs in cities and rural communities across the nation. It means offering apprenticeships to help build tech capability in the heartland."

Khanna, whose district includes much of Silicon Valley, said that President Trump's election also puts an onus on the tech industry to combat the spread of false news and misleading information online.

That call to action follows revelations that social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, were used to spread false news and socially and politically divisive advertisements during the 2016 presidential race. Khanna said that tech companies must offer readers "some way of distinguishing fact from opinion."

The industry, he said, also has a responsibility to do more to combat gender inequality and discrimination in the workplace and should aim to pay contract workers, like janitors and cafeteria workers, higher wages and offer them "some prospect for upward mobility."

"Technology offers us hope for a new prosperity and understanding for this century," Khanna wrote. "But it will take enlightened leadership. More than stock prices or product launches, Silicon Valley’s legacy will be defined by whether tech leaders step up to contribute to the larger American experiment."