HomePoliticsGOP-er's crusade against Big Tech hits a wall

GOP-er’s crusade against Big Tech hits a wall

The House Republican, who led last year’s bipartisan crusade to rein in the market power of big tech companies, said the GOP leadership has no intention of taking his bills β€” but he insists the battle is not dead. is.

“Big Tech’s antitrust issues will not progress in this Congress,” said Colorado Rep. Ken Buck in an interview on the POLITICO Tech podcast. “And while I’m a champion, it’s behind the scenes.”

β€œIt is in talks with new members. It really lays the groundwork for the future,” he continued. “The best way to lead on this issue is to raise awareness, make members aware of what’s going on and step back and let them draw their own conclusions.”

Buck formed an unlikely alliance with former Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, then chair of the House antitrust subcommittee, to pass a series of bills through the Judiciary Committee in 2021 that would have curtailed the control Amazon, Meta, Apple and Google have over online marketplaces.

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But political bickering in the full house doomed their biggest bills. While a few bills were eventually signed into law by the president, including one that increased the cost of filing mergers, the bills that would have forced the biggest changes to technology companies’ business models did not become law.

Buck’s effort suffered another blow after Republicans seized control of the House this year and he was passed over as chairman of the House antitrust subcommittee in favor of Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie. Then Cicilline left office in May to lead the Rhode Island Foundation.

The House Judiciary Committee under Chairman Jim Jordan has turned its attention instead to an investigation into allegations that Meta, Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon colluded with the Biden administration to censor conservatives.

Buck said Jordan’s investigation only reinforces the need for antitrust law β€” he just can’t convince Jordan to take that position.

“The more Jim Jordan criticizes the speech, content moderation or censorship by these big companies, the more I feel like he’s making my case that we need competition to address the problem,” Buck said.

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“I want to be champion, but I have to be realistic,” said Buck. “There are a lot of issues I can focus on right now, and I’m focused on those issues where I can develop bipartisan support.”

In June, Buck introduced legislation with California Democratic Representatives Ted Lieu and Anna Eshoo to create a committee to make recommendations for steps the government should take to regulate artificial intelligence, including the possible creation of a new federal agency.

Buck insists the proposal is not an attempt to delay more meaningful action on AI. But, he said, appointing a committee to focus on the issue will help it get more attention from lawmakers who would otherwise be juggling more pressing policy issues and partisan battles over investigations into former President Donald Trump and Hunter Biden.

“It’s important that we get people together who have the time and focus to tackle the issues in a thoughtful way,” he said.

Annie Rees contributed to this report.

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To listen to the interview with Buck and other technical leaders, subscribe to our new daily POLITICO Tech podcast.

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