Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer promised Sen. Amy Klobuchar that his “Online Innovation and Choice Act” would soon get a floor vote. If passed, it will subject American businesses to a degree of centralized control that will amount to socialism. There is no mystery as to why progressive Democrats are aligned behind this bill.
The real question is why the Republicans, all stalwart conservatives, might join them in gaining the upper hand.
It’s a real possibility because the senses. Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Chuck Grassley, Josh Hawley and John Kennedy are in a state of burning fury against big social media companies. They have good reason to be mad. Conservative rhetoric, both bland and provocative, is likely to go against content moderators on Facebook, Twitter and other Big Tech platforms. When owners of major national conversation venues take down a post, a curator has been censored. When they get out of shape, a conservative organization has been bankrupted.
So it’s understandable that conservatives want to kick Big Tech in a soft spot. What is not understandable is why some conservatives are considering a measure that, if at all, would provide incentives to make content moderation even more “woke”. That would be just one of many disastrous consequences of Klobuchar’s Pandora’s Box passing of a bill, which these five Republicans voted to advance the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Let me count the disasters.
First, Klobuchar’s legislation would degrade America’s remaining technological advantage by forcing social media companies to be fully interoperable with their competitors. By making it illegal for these companies to deny competitors access to their operating systems, hardware, and software, it would force the surrender of some of America’s most valuable intellectual property to foreign competition.
Second, Klobuchar’s bill would make it illegal to restrict or prevent a business user from accessing data on the platform. It’s about data portability, an idea with considerable superficial appeal. But its practical effect would mean that anything Facebook or Amazon knows about you would have to be shared with other companies. With so many shell companies and corporate alliances, your data could easily be passed on to companies under the thumb of the Chinese Communist Party.
Third, the Klobuchar bill would restrict the ability of tech companies to “self-preference,” requiring them to offer competitors equal access to their markets. The practical effect would be to turn America’s most innovative companies into public utilities, destroying hundreds of billions of dollars of equity in which American retirees and retirement funds are heavily invested. Consumers would also suffer. Amazon could no longer offer discounts on its Prime service. Google Maps would no longer appear at the top of a search. Choices would narrow, likely leading to even more inflation.
Some conservatives would go even further, extending tough antitrust regulation to all businesses. Senator Josh Hawley would ban all mergers and acquisitions for large corporations of any kind, fossilizing capitalism. In the House, Rep. Ken Buck recently promised to consider adding regulations to pharmaceuticals, airlines and banks. Hawley and Buck seem to ignore a recent study by respected economics consultancy NERA, which shows that by widely used economic measures, business concentration has decreaseddoes not increase.
Fourth and worse for conservatives, the Klobuchar bill — which doesn’t even address content moderation — would institutionalize the corporate wake-up call. This would be the natural result of legislation that would subject a growing number of companies – by no means limited to Big Tech alone – to fines of up to 15-30% of their revenues for breaking vague and poorly designed regulations. defined.
As in Putin’s Russia, progressive regulators would have endless excuses to target any company or executive at will. Businesses would only be allowed to operate to the tolerance of the Federal Trade Commission, which Chairwoman Lina Khan is aggressively targeting. The bill creates many new mechanisms for government control of corporations, the hammers of socialism. This is not a way to ensure more space for the Conservatives on social media. This is a way of enforcing C-suite awakening and ideological intolerance.
If conservatives, angered by censorship, allow the Klobuchar bill to become law, the result will be deepening discrimination by Big Tech content moderation — and sometimes outright censorship — of conservative views.
Conservatives in Congress have let their anger blind them to the consequences of going after it. An impeccably conservative Republican in the House, Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, provides a better perspective. Jordan said of similar legislation: “It’s about the power going to the FTC, the collusion of Big Tech and Big Government to, I think, further censor conservatives, further limit our freedom rights of expression.”
Will Republicans in the Senate wake up? Or will their blind anger push us over the edge?