- Conservatives are wrestling with how to process the sudden bipartisan push to conduct antitrust probes against Google and other big tech firms.
- Conservatives like Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri are in full support of such investigations, while others are worried dinging big tech could clobber the economy.
- Some legal experts believe the bipartisan support for such probes could speed up the process.
A bipartisan approach toward clamping down on big tech companies is receiving a mixed reception inside conservative circles, especially among those who believe clamping down on Google and Amazon could hurt the American economy.
Some conservative groups are expressing concern with a new bipartisan push to open an antitrust investigation into the tech industry. Others are more than willing to take on Silicon Valley as conservatives haggle over what to do about the growing influence of social media.
“This is very big news, and overdue,” Hawley noted in a May 31 tweet responding to a report showing that the Department of Justice is preparing an antitrust investigation against the likes of Google, among other big tech companies. He is a fierce critic of Silicon Valley, noting in a May 22 oped recently that the world would be better off if monster social media companies didn’t exist.
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell made similar comments on Monday. He thanked the Trump administration for taking active measures to address what he considers tech companies’ “unprecedented” power to shape public opinion.
“I applaud the DOJ for heeding our call. Online giants Google, Facebook and Twitter wield unprecedented power to shape public opinion and even directly influence elections,” Bozell noted in a press statement following reports of DOJ’s actions.
He added: “Left unchecked, these tech companies represent the greatest threat to liberty in our lifetimes, and Google’s search engine is perhaps the most dangerous of all.” Bozell is not the only one pushing and prodding for more scrutiny of Google and others. President Donald Trumphimself often expresses a desire to target social media companies for supposedly censoring conservative voices.
Not every conservative is consumed with the idea of blasting Silicon Valley. Competitive Enterprise Institute Vice President for Policy Wayne Crews, for one, is upset about that Democrats and Republicans are ganging up on Amazon and believes the economy will take a major hit if both parties manage to split apart the biggest companies.
“Today’s report shows House Democrats are poised to exploit a critical weakness in the Trump agenda, the president’s antitrust impulses,” he said in a statement Monday, referring to House Democrats’s decision to move forward on an antitrust investigation into the tech industry. Crews also issued a warning to the president.
“If the Trump Administration doesn’t reverse course, it will sacrifice two years of deregulatory gains that have put Americans back to work and money in consumers’ pockets,” he said. Other conservatives and analysts are expressing similar concerns.
Thomas Struble, a tech policy analyst at R-Street, for one, believes much of the recent push against Google and Amazon is a political ploy. “I wonder whether the other three are just kind of a smokescreen,” he told The Daily Caller News Foundation, noting that the strongest antitrust case is against Facebook and its side features.
The bipartisan fervor could help speed up the investigative process, according to some experts. Silicon Valley antitrust lawyer Gary Reback, who spearheaded efforts that led to the government’s antitrust case against Microsoft, believes any Google investigation will move faster than the Microsoft case.
“I’ve been taking companies to Washington where they’ve complained about Google for a long time and there were politicians blocking it once, but the blockers aren’t there anymore,” Reback told reporters on June 3. “I don’t know if it’s the Trump administration that triggered it exactly but it could have been what broke the dam.”
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