Lawmakers on Both Sides Call for Antitrust Action Against Big Tech
By Robert McMillan
Democrats and Republicans have an issue they both agree on: tech
companies have too much power and antitrust authorities should move
to curb it.
Where they disagree, however, is how to rein in the companies,
especially when it comes to regulating perceptions of political
bias on the platforms.
Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Republican
Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri both called for stronger antitrust
enforcement and privacy protections for users of technology
products during a panel discussion Monday at the WSJ Tech Live
Sen. Hawley said authorities should bring an antitrust case
against Google-parent Alphabet Inc. and probably Facebook Inc. He
also urged reform of the Federal Trade Commission to strengthen its
enforcement of antitrust rules.
Rep. Cicilline agreed that laws and federal agencies needed to
be modernized to give the government new enforcement capabilities.
"What we really want is antitrust enforcement that brings real
competition back into the marketplace," he said.
Google has said its products increase choice and are designed
only to be most helpful for users. Facebook has been preparing for
an antitrust case with company lawyers arguing a breakup would defy
established law, cost billions of dollars and harm consumers
Even as they agreed on the power tech companies wield, the two
lawmakers disagreed on the question of conservative bias.
Sen. Hawley said that Facebook's actions last week to throttle a
New York Post article based on email messages allegedly taken from
the laptop of Joe Bidens' son, Hunter Biden, amounted to an abuse
of monopoly power. "I believe in a free press and when you have a
monopoly on Facebook that is attempting to stop the distribution of
the news, we have a problem," he said.
Rep Cicilline disputed the idea that Facebook was biased against
conservatives, saying that conservative voices are regularly among
the most dominant on the platform. "If there's a conservative bias
on this platform, they're doing a pretty lousy job," he said.
Write to Robert McMillan at Robert.Mcmillan@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 19, 2020 14:09 ET (18:09 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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