Big Tech

The Way to Police Big Tech Is Through US States

By Parmy Olson, Bloomberg

California governor Gavin Newsom signed a landmark bill into law last week, forcing large internet companies like Facebook to make their sites safer for children. Aside from sparking irritation in tech circles, it has put a spotlight on an area where states are making greater headway than Congress: passing laws to regulate the free-wheeling dominance of Big Tech firms.

Rallying against Big Tech is that rare issue both Republicans and Democrats can agree on, yet several federal proposals with bipartisan support have stalled in Washington, including a comprehensive privacy bill and an antitrust package that will probably be mothballed next year amid a likely GOP majority in the House. When it comes to policing Big Tech, Congress is essentially gridlocked. The real action is happening at the state level. 

Texas and Florida have been trying to push through new social media laws, currently tangled up in the courts with the possibility now of a Supreme Court ruling. Both seek to stop companies such as Facebook and Twitter Inc. from blocking certain types of political speech — which will likely do more to appeal to their Republican bases than to adequately clean up harmful online content. Even so, like California’s new rules, they underscore the growing importance of state-level firepower in regulating tech. With Congress doing so little, more state legislators should try to pick up the slack and pass sorely needed legislation that addresses infringements of privacy, online harms and market abuse by these firms. 

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