Congress begins discussions ‘to crack down on Big Tech’

Representative David Cicilline has raised the prospect of more stringent antitrust measures.

What you need to know

  • Congress has reportedly begun talks on ways to “crack down on Big Tech”.
  • It includes measures to limit the spread of disinformation and abuse of market power.

A new report says Congressional Democrats have begun talks over ways to “crack down on Big Tech” companies like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

From Reuters:

Congressional Democrats have begun discussions with the White House on ways to crack down on Big Tech including making social media companies accountable for the spread of disinformation on matters such as the U.S. Capitol riot and addressing the abuse of market power to harm corporate rivals.

The conversations, described by a lawmaker and congressional aides, have included the contentious topic of what to do with a measure called Section 230, part of a 1996 law called the Communications Decency Act, that shields social media platforms from lawsuits over much of the content posted by users.

The report notes growing pressure for laws to limit the power of big firms like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter. Along with disinformation and the promotion of violence on social media, a focus will inevitably be antitrust legislation and enforcement, something that has already been raised by chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee David Cicilline:

Democratic Representative David Cicilline, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, has raised with the White House the topic of more stringent antitrust enforcement against Big Tech, a source familiar with the matter said. A Cicilline spokesman declined comment.

Cicilline has previously stated that an investigation into Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon revealed “deeply disturbing” behavior that required Congress to take action. In comments made in August Cicilline stated that a common theme was “the abuse” of market power to maintain market dominance and crush competitors, as well as excluding companies from their platforms and earning “monopoly rents”.

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