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Break Up Big Techno Firms? Voters Say No

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Some — especially politicians — want to break up the larger technology companies. These are firms like Apple, Amazon and Google. That push isn’t in line with what the people are thinking.

A survey from RealClear Opinion Research said the majority of us don’t think that’s a good idea:

   55% say it isn’t necessary to break up Amazon

   55% fell the same about Apple

   Google’s protectors number 53%

   Facebook is under 50% at 48%

The question asked to get that response had to do with whether we think these powerful Silicon Valley companies are too big and too powerful. It came about when 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats said these firms have too much power.

Older voters don’t agree but younger voters do.

   37% of teens, 20s and 30s say it’s necessary to break up Google

   Just 29% of baby boomers feel that way

   29% is the number from the silent generation — those in their mid-70s to mid-90s

   35% is the number from teens, 20s and 30s people when it comes to breaking up Amazon

   Just a quarter — 25% — of older voters feel that way

John Della Volpe is RealClear’s research director. He said, “This is just another example of younger voters seeking a more progressive and more active government compared to older voters. I think that’s an important lens as we think about the upcoming Democratic primary and the role that young people played in the 2018 midterms.”

Technology is also on the minds of many in Congress. In the Senate, Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham said he wants to limit the liability exemptions given to Google, Facebook and others.

This — he said — should happen if they don’t comply with industry best practices.

Or to put it in more definite terms, these companies are shielded from suits that could be generated by content posted by third-parties. This would be online hate speech, misinformation and election interference.

“Things would change tomorrow if you could get sued,” Graham said. He made the comment on a hearing about damages some posts might do to children.

His plan is to get input from the industry, from the private sector and from the government to define best practices. The changes he wants will protect children from online exploitation. “You can have these liability protections, because we’d like to save the industry and protect it for competition, but you have to earn it,” Graham said and he went on to say, “As long as you keep up-to-date with what is expected in terms of best business practices you can’t be sued.”

Michael Beckerman is the CEO of the Internet Association. He says this push will do more harm than good. “It’s the law that enables platforms of all sizes to moderate harmful content and host users’ posts, photos, videos, ratings, reviews, and more,” Beckerman said. “Changes to this law could have real, negative effects on the apps and services that millions of Americans rely upon every day.”

Graham disagrees. So does Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal. He said he’s willing to work with Graham to come up with something that works. “The immunity, which is so broad and uniquely encompassing by many of the tech companies, is part of the reason that they are failing to do more,” he said.

Whatever changes happen, one U.S. Senator wants to make sure the current weeding out of content considered hate speech or negative is politically neutral.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley — a Republican — has introduced a bill to make sure neutrality is the name of the game and said, “This legislation simply states that if the tech giants want to keep their government-granted immunity, they must bring transparency and accountability to their editorial processes and prove that they don’t discriminate.”

Companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter say Hawley’s worries — and that of other conservatives — are without foundation. Beckerman said the tech companies are not biased in the weeding out of content.

“This bill forces platforms to make an impossible choice: either host reprehensible, but First Amendment protected speech, or lose legal protections that allow them to moderate illegal content like human trafficking and violent extremism,” he said. “That shouldn’t be a tradeoff.”

Source links: Insurance Journal — link 1, link 2, The Hill

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