US State AGs Mull Tech Regulation

U.S. state attorneys general are working together to figure out the best way to regulate internet powerhouses such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the state officials are working on a legal strategy to deal with alleged antitrust violations and data-privacy abuses, as well as what some claim is a suppression of conservative speech.

“I think the companies are too big, and they need to be broken up,” Republican Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is the current president of the National Association of Attorneys General, said last week in a radio interview.

Adding to the concerns for these companies is the news that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to meet with several state attorneys general later this month to discuss whether these firms are hurting competition and “stifling the free exchange of ideas” on their platforms.

And last week, Washington lawmakers held yet another hearing over tech issues including alleged Russian hacking, privacy and user data and criminal activity. The Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, has also been holding workshops to explore competition issues, while the FTC will begin a series of hearings this week to talk about the same concerns.

But Landry believes the competition issues will probably have to be solved through antitrust litigation.

“In my opinion, you’re not going to fix this legislatively,” said Landry. “You’re going to have to fix this like we’ve always fixed monopolies in this country; you’re going to have to take an antitrust suit.”

And Republicans aren’t the only ones with concerns: Some Democratic attorneys general have also raised antitrust worries. “Maybe it’s a century ago with the trust busters, where abuses were taken by the railroads and the barons of industry,” Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said in June. “Maybe we’re waiting for a Teddy Roosevelt to come in.”


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