Tuesday, March 28Welcome

How the Democrats’ Big Plans for Big Tech Scaled Down to Small Steps

Illustration of a donkey standing on a large donkey hoof print.

Illustrated by Aida Amell/Axios

Democrats have talked big about curbing big tech, but nearly two years Despite controlling the agenda in Washington, they have little to show for it.

Important reasons: Pledges to tackle data surveillance practices, harm to children’s mental health, and the tech giant’s power over broad swaths of the economy have yet to be reflected in the passage of new laws, and the clock is running out.

State of play: The remaining days of legislative action are now ending for Congress With the midterm elections approaching, lawmakers are already packing their schedules for lame duck sessions to fund the government and consider proposals on marriage equality and electoral reform.

  • So even those with bipartisan support such as antitrust and privacy measures have little time to introduce legislation on technology policy.

what happened: A high-profile bill that would bring new regulation to the tech industry has been introduced, but has yet to cross the finish line into law. Here’s where Congress stands on some of the sector’s key issues.

1. Antitrust: The House Judiciary Committee has passed a series of bills that will change how Amazon, Apple, Google and Meta operate after the June 2021 marathon markup, and the Senate Judiciary Committee announced several similar measures earlier this year. passed the measures.

  • But the most ambitious antitrust proposal has stalled despite a campaign of pressure from supporters for a vote on the Senate floor before the summer recess.
  • Meanwhile, in September, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would increase filing fees for large mergers, using the proceeds to fund antitrust enforcement. It also passed another bill to help state attorneys general file antitrust cases wherever they choose.

2. Privacy — Democratic and Republican leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee created a federal privacy bill that passed the committee in a bipartisan vote in July.

  • The US Data and Privacy Protection Act, among other requirements, requires companies to minimize the amount of personal information they collect from consumers.
  • However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) expressed concern that the bill could limit state privacy laws.

3. Children’s online safety — Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen has opened up about the negative impact social media is having on children, prompting congressional hearings and companies to better protect children’s interests online. spurred legislation aimed at enforcing

  • The Kids Online Safety Act by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D, Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn (R, Tennessee) prohibits certain harms, including promoting self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, and substance abuse. We need a platform for prevention and mitigation. .
  • The bill, like the Children’s Privacy Act, was introduced by the Senate Commerce Committee in July, but neither has introduced a related bill in the House.

Line spacing: Even 50-50 bipartisan support in the Senate wasn’t enough to hasten the passage of these bills.

  • Part of the reason is that the bill must clear the filibuster threshold of 60 votes to become law, and it’s a conflict between Democrats who favor stricter rules and Republicans with more business-oriented philosophies. This is because it exacerbates the tension of

Yes, but: Democrats and Republicans have teamed up to pass new legislation that will have a major impact on the tech sector.

  • President Biden signed a $280 billion package aimed at boosting the country’s semiconductor manufacturing industry and scientific research.
  • In fall 2021, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes $65 billion to improve high-speed internet access and affordability.

What they say: Rep. David Cicilin (DR.I.), chairman of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, has regulated app stores, banning companies like Amazon from favoring their products in anti-competitive ways. Antitrust bills intended to

  • “Since the dawn of the internet, no technology competition law has been passed because gatekeeper platforms will go to great lengths to maintain market dominance,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democratic , Democrat) is the lead sponsor of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. She told Axios in her statement.
  • Democrats have been critical in funding broadband, investing in scientific research, and confirming Biden’s technology candidates, including Federal Trade Commission Chairman Lina Khan and FTC spokesman Alvaro Bedoya. , proud of the progress it has made “especially if the Senate is evenly divided.” Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, told her Axios.
  • House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, DN.J., continues to “build momentum” on the data privacy bill and is “hoping to get it into law by the end of the year,” said a spokesperson. told Axios.

What’s next: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) has warned it will be a “very busy” agenda at the lame duck session, and the Senate is also set to take up mandatory defense funding legislation this month.

To the point: Technology regulation has lost out to COVID, the economy and the massive climate, health and tax spending package that now dominates Congress.

What’s next: If Republicans take control of Congress, their natural antipathy to new market restrictions could become an even greater barrier to technology regulation.

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