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Mark Warner Welcomes Amazon, But Warns Big Tech

Top Democrat on Senate Intelligence wants to see more data transparency from Facebook, others

Sen. Mark Warner's, D-Va., mantra for graduation speeches is “Be Concise. And be seated.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Mark Warner's, D-Va., mantra for graduation speeches is “Be Concise. And be seated.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One of the Senate’s most tech-savvy members is applauding Amazon’s decision to locate half of HQ2 in Crystal City, but he had some strong language for the technology industry at large when it comes to data privacy.

Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who resides not far from the part of Northern Virginia that is now slated for investment and redevelopment as an Amazon campus with 25,000 jobs, said he hoped the move would further catalyze a regional technology industry boom.

“It’s not just these immediate jobs, but the enormous amount of spinoffs,” Warner said at an event hosted by Yahoo Finance.

“This process is probably the most unique kind of economic development, where the whole county is chasing it,” Warner said. “It really is a win for the whole region. While the physical location is going to be in Virginia, the District is going to benefit. There’s going to be benefits to Maryland.”

Warner outlined an effort to form a regional housing authority around the national capital to attempt to deal with the housing cost challenges that may come with the Amazon facilities.

But the vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee also had some words of caution for social media businesses such as Facebook. The Virginia Democrat was talking up the idea of making data more portable between social media platforms — like the way consumers can now move telephone numbers from one carrier to another.

He also called for more pricing transparency when it comes to the value of data collected and then used by companies like Facebook.

“I think that might actually create a market incentive for new enterprises to come in,” Warner said.

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