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Big Tech Companies Hear Criticism from Both Sides of the Aisle on Capitol Hill 

07-16-2019
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This week, big tech companies came to Capitol Hill to face criticism over privacy issues and if a breakup could be in its future. Representatives from Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google fielded questions in three different hearings in both the House and Senate on Tuesday.

"Every time Americans trust you they seemed to get burned," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) told Facebook's David Marcus. "You really think people should trust you with their bank accounts and our economy? I just think that's delusional."

Senators were united in highlighting major concerns over privacy protections as Facebook prepares to roll out its own cryptocurrency or digital money called the Libra.

"You violated privacy in the past as a company. You continued to have issues," Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) said. "You continued to change the privacy rules without even informing users."

Sen Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked what confidence can those with center-right views, who might want to buy things like firearms, have that Libra will be available to them on an equal basis.

"So a federally-licensed firearms dealer wants to sell firearms at a gun show or maybe a neighbor wants to sell a shotgun to his neighbor. Or a Christian baker wants to practice his faith when he bakes his cake. Or someone wants to pay a subscription to, say, Breitbart instead of the New York Times — what confidence can people who have center-right views have that Libra is going to be available to them on an equal basis as those who want to shut down gun retailers or shut down oil pipelines or government contractors who are working with immigration and customs enforcement?" Cotton questioned.

"Senator, firearms, for instance, are a regulated product and are already regulated and treated as such on the Facebook platform, and I know it's a complicated issue," responded Marcus. "When it comes to writing this policy, again, I'm committing that we will be very thoughtful." 

"I have to say that as far as I am concerned personally, I believe that we should only get in the way in very exceptional cases and by being thoughtful of getting in the way of letting people do what they want with their money as long as it is lawful. But we also need to be thoughtful in how we write those policies," he continued.

Throughout the hearing, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle echoed concerns Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin pointed out earlier this week.

"The Treasury Department has expressed very serious concerns that Libra could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers," Mnuchin said in a press conference.

And in the Senate Constitution Subcommittee, Chairman Ted Cruz (R-TX) brought Google in for questioning on censorship, particularly of conservative voices and videos.

"If they don't like what you're saying, they just hide what you're saying. that is essentially a fraud on the consumer 4:18 they're deceiving the consumer because they have a political agenda," Cruz told Fox News ahead of the hearing. 

And in the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday, executives from Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google made their case in the bipartisan anti-trust probe investigating their enormous market power.

"If you don't want to use Google, there are many other info providers available," argued Adam Cohen, director of economic policy at Google.

Kyle Ander, Apple's vice president for corporate law, said it's the competition that drives his company. 

"For Apple, the competition is fierce," he said. "We compete against some of the largest companies in the world, both foreign and domestic."

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) whose district includes Silicon Valley, tells CBN News he believes big tech needs to be regulated.

"What's so important that we regulate them to protect privacy, to make sure kids are safe online," he explained. "Young people online where they're getting creepy messages and they're being exposed to child pornography and terrorism, and we need to have regulations to ensure that there's competition."

But Khanna doesn't necessarily think they need to be broken up.

"I don't think just breaking them up without a more thought is a good response, because I want to make sure America leads the world, and China has a lot of these big companies," he added.

Democratic presidential candidates are also talking about big tech on the 2020 campaign trail with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) unveiling a regulatory plan to break up America's largest tech companies.

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