UPDATED 9:55 AM PT — Tuesday, November 19, 2019
As Big Tech continues to boom, the lack of regulations on the industry is becoming a primary concern. On Monday, a handful of senators unveiled their multi-page outline on how Congress can rein in tech giants. The legislators listed three major Big Tech issues: privacy, competition and sanctions.
“Particularly, within the context of privacy and data security legislation it would be helpful if Congress would repeal the common carrier exemption because competition works best when all players who are competing for the same kinds of business and the same eyeballs are engaging in competition on a level playing field,” explained Federal Trade Commissioner Christine Wilson.
On the issue of privacy, the lawmakers say they want to restrict the ways companies share consumer data. They say that means limiting the ways tech companies collect a customer’s information and how it doles it out to other major players for profit.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are also looking to stop companies from undermining competition. The senators say corporate consolidation is crushing innovation and prevents smaller businesses from doing well. When it comes to sanctions, the senators say negligent bosses should be slapped with criminal penalties. The Congress members argue hefty fines aren’t cutting it, and think the best way to get accountability is by throwing CEOs behind bars when they break the law.
On Sunday, Federal Trade Commission chairman Joe Simons also expressed concerns about his office’s limited ability to hold Big Tech accountable.
“But our tools are limited…we don’t have the authority like the Europeans do to enforce something, at least not yet, like GDPR,” he explained. “So, it’s very important to keep that in mind when you think about our enforcement efforts.”
The push to change federal laws arrives as the Department of Justice, Congress, and dozens of states investigate companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google and others over their supposed outsized influence on the tech market. At the same time, Republican regulators at the Federal Trade Commission have signaled that Congress should update and make clear the authorities allotted to the department.
The main goal Monday’s regulations on the digital market is to reportedly give the Federal Trade Commission more resources and authority to adapt to the industry’s endless innovations. In the meantime, GOP Senate Commerce Committee chairman Roger Wicker said he’s also working on legislation that would compliment the most recent proposals. It’s likely Wicker or his colleagues will soon put out their own legislation on Big Tech.