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House Judiciary Republicans Must Oppose Big Tech’s Antitrust Amnesty

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

This Wednesday, the U.S. House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee will hold a very important congressional oversight hearing — on a bipartisan basis — with the CEOs of Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, as part of an ongoing investigation into Big Tech’s clear anticompetitive conduct, antitrust violations, and other abuses in the digital marketplace.

Big Tech’s expansive power to control what Americans see, when we see it, and how we speak makes these online platforms a serious threat to competition, individual privacy, election integrity, and independent thought.

And Big Tech’s enormous — and rapidly growing — power is particularly problematic for conservatives, as Big Tech uses this power to censor, silence, and even outright ban any speakers with whom Big Tech disagrees. Indeed, this includes even the President of the United States. If Big Tech can censor President Trump, just imagine what Big Tech can do to the rest of us.

The two key federal law-enforcement agencies — (1) the Antitrust Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and (2) the Federal Trade Commission — were in bed with Big Tech throughout the Obama-Biden Administration. For far too long, Big Tech has gotten away with profiting from human-sex trafficking, revenge-porn, the opioid epidemic and drug addiction, terrorism, and other forms of human misery, along with engaging in egregious business practices like snooping, spying, political bias against conservatives, employee abuses, and anticompetitive conduct.

Enough is enough.

Fifty state attorneys general, along with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, have taken the bold and courageous steps of investigating Big Tech’s “bad acts.” The Antitrust Division, under Attorney General Bill Barr’s strong leadership, is gearing up for action — yet much work needs done. The FTC — a key federal antitrust law-enforcement agency long captured by Google and other Big Tech lobbyists — has done almost nothing meaningful to rein in Big Tech. The DC Swamp is the only place on the planet where the reptiles lack backbones.

At its hearing on Wednesday, its subsequent report, and other congressional oversight actions down the road, the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee must get to the bottom of why this is happening. And House Judiciary Republicans must step up and do their part. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Colo.) has been a conservative star. The others must follow.

Indeed, our elected conservative leaders in the House must play a more serious role in challenging Big Tech’s dominance — putting their constituents before Big Tech’s DC Swamp lobbyists. One way this must be done is by showing that Big Tech has committed clear antitrust violations, which are harming their constituents, particularly conservatives and small-business owners. And House Judiciary Republicans must demand that our federal law-enforcement agencies step up, do their jobs, and enforce our antitrust laws that we’ve had on our books for nearly a century.

This is law enforcement — not “regulation.” Conservatives must support law enforcement. We don’t support amnesty for illegal immigrants, and we can’t support amnesty for trillion-dollar Big Tech monopolies and their billionaire bosses who violate federal antitrust laws — targeting and bullying conservatives and harming small businesses in the process.

Conservatives support free markets. A free market requires a functioning market. When Big Tech’s bad actors — particularly Google — use their monopoly power to harm the market, we no longer have a free market. House Judiciary Republicans must stand up for free markets by demanding that our antitrust law enforcers do their jobs and enforce our century-old antitrust laws.

It’s not illegal to be big. In fact, success in America should be applauded — not scorned. It’s not even illegal to be too big — even a monopoly. But our century-old antitrust laws make crystal clear that monopolies cannot use their enormous power to harm market competition. Market failures caused by monopolists hurt all of us — unless, of course, you’re a fat-cat CEO of one of these monopolies, like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, the richest man on the planet.

Wednesday’s Big Tech oversight hearing is too important for House Judiciary Republicans to get duped or otherwise allow themselves to get used by Big Tech. We do not need new statutes. We do not need new regulations. Congress must simply perform its critical oversight role to get to the bottom of why our federal law enforcers are not doing their jobs and faithfully executing our century-old antitrust laws. If Google is not the case study in a monopolist using its enormous power to harm digital markets, we may as well just repeal our antitrust laws and close down our federal antitrust law-enforcement agencies. We cannot have antitrust amnesty.

Again, law enforcement; not amnesty. Target bad actors, like Google; not industry-wide regulations that will disproportionately harm small businesses.

The House Judiciary Antitrust hearing on Wednesday, along with the subsequent report, is an important opportunity to see whose side House Judiciary Republicans are really on:

1.   Will House Judiciary Republicans side with liberal Big Tech billionaires running trillion-dollar monopolies, with their fancy DC lobbyists?

2.   Or will House Judiciary Republicans side with everyday Americans — including small-business owners and conservatives — in their districts?

We’ll find out on Wednesday.

Mike Davis is president and founder of the Internet Accountability Project.

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