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