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Cyber barons face hostility, as Rep. Buck, Trump promise action

The heads of Big Tech are under fire after lawmakers from the Congressional Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law called them “robber barons,” accusing them of a host of misdeeds including cooperating with China’s Communist Party, silencing political opponents and participating in criminal and antitrust activities.

“If Google wants to cozy up to Communist China, Sundar Pichai must answer for the atrocities committed by the Chinese Communist Party,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai testified via video.

“In the 19th century, we had the robber barons. And in the 21st century, we have the cyber barons,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a member of the subcommittee.

Pressure from both sides of the aisle to regulate the small number of companies that make up Big Tech is intensifying, with unlikely allies such as Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren both agreeing the federal government should step in to curb anti-competitive practices.

“This isn’t a partisan effort. This isn’t an anti-business effort. This is an effort at making America stronger and I think both sides are willing to do that,” Buck, a former federal prosecutor and district attorney added. He said that the committee will come up with regulatory solutions before the election so that lawmakers can take action immediately.

The remote testimony robbed the hearing of some of the drama that in-person testimony usually occasions, says the Irish Times.  

“But there were plenty of uncomfortable moments for the heads of Amazon, Apple, Alphabet and Facebook, who were often unable to answer questions on a trove of newly unearthed internal documents that showed how the companies chased dominance and then sought to protect it.”

Among the most embarrassing revelations was Mark Zuckerberg’s admission that he acquired Instagram just to stop it from hurting Facebook’s market share, especially among younger users, which is a violation of antitrust laws.

Ohio’s Jim Jordan (R) argued that “Big tech is out to get conservatives,” silencing mainstream conservative views and joining in the liberal “cancel culture” electronically.

“If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders. In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!” tweeted President Trump.

Democrats on the committee seemed more concerned with privacy and the misuse of data, while Republicans seemed more concerned with censorship of opinion.

But both sides agree that Big Tech has an antitrust problem, and that, more than anything else, is what is driving the bipartisan effort to rein in the power of Big Tech.

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