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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/11/21

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) on Reining In Big Tech and Why Many House Members Refuse

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From Scheerpost

As House Republicans vocally denounce Big Tech in media appearances, many also use their power to impede legislative reform.

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Last June, the House subcommittee overseeing antitrust law issued a comprehensive 450-page report that concluded that four Silicon Valley companies -- Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple -- are classic monopolies. It was by far the most in-depth and serious governmental attempt in the U.S. to grapple with the unprecedented and increasingly concentrated power of these tech giants.

The report documented the multiple ways that the centralized power and anti-competitive practices of these four tech companies are damaging both consumers and the broader society. It proposed numerous solutions to address those harms from breaking them up to legislative and regulatory changes to enable more competition. The report narrated that these "companies that once were 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." And it concluded that "these firms typically run the marketplace while also competing in it a position that enables them to write one set of rules for others, while they play by another, or to engage in a form of their own private quasi regulation that is unaccountable to anyone but themselves."

The report, which came to be known as the Cicilline Report after subcommittee Chair David Cicilline (D-RI), was widely praised by antitrust activists and scholars. Yet it highlighted a strange political phenomenon. House Republicans have been flamboyantly waving the anti-Big-Tech banner with increasing passion and aggression, often in response to growing online censorship. Virtually every television appearance or in-district rally by a House Republican entails righteous denunciations of Silicon Valley monopoly power. Yet none of the Committee Republicans was willing to sign onto or support the Cicilline report. It was left to Cicilline and House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrod Nadler (D-NY) to echo what their Republican colleagues were expressing with words to Fox News audiences or at town halls: "Our investigation leaves no doubt that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation, and safeguards our democracy."

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The politics of this debate have become fascinating. There are key members in both parties who seem loyally devoted to shielding Facebook, Google and others from any meaningful reform, while an increasingly vocal bipartisan coalition led by Cicilline and Buck is clearly serious about using their legislative power to usher in more competition and reform.

I spoke with Rep. Buck earlier today about his trajectory when it comes to fighting Big Tech, why so many Republicans and conservative think tanks remain so captive to Silicon Valley monopolies, and whether the ideological and partisan scrambling visible on this issue is reflective of a broader realignment or at least ideological scrambling that is changing the nature of coalitions on foreign and economic policy as well.

Buck has become one of the most informed and thoughtful Congressional voices on the dangers posed by Silicon Valley, and, as a result, I found our 30-minute discussion quite illuminating. You can watch it on the player below:

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[Subscribe to Glenn Greenwald] Glenn Greenwald is a journalist,former constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times bestselling books on politics and law. His most recent book, "No Place to Hide," is about the U.S. surveillance state and his experiences reporting on the Snowden documents around the world. His forthcoming book, to be published in April, 2021, is about Brazilian history and current politics, with a focus on his experience in reporting a series of expose's in 2019 and 2020 which exposed high-level corruption by powerful officials in the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, which subsequently attempted to prosecute him for that reporting.

Foreign Policy magazine named Greenwald one of the top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013. He was the debut winner, along with "Democracy Now's" Amy Goodman, of the Park Center I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2008, and also received the 2010 Online Journalism Award for his investigative work breaking the story of the abusive (more...)
 

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