Sen. Josh Hawley: Big Tech Thrives on Taking and Selling Private Data Without Permission


Sen. Josh Hawley said big tech has “developed a business model that is premised on taking stuff from us” during a Friday interview on Fox News’ “Special Report.”

Tech giants, according to the Missouri Republican, are taking “our information, our private data without telling us, then selling it without permission.”

“And then trying to get us addicted to their platforms so they can direct more ads toward us and also extract more information from us, all of that without our consent,” Hawley added.


Hawley made the comments over a week after he proposed the Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act to ban addictive social media features and limit the time people spend on social media every day.

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The SMART Act would prohibit social media companies from using an infinite scroll, applying autoplay on videos and rewarding users for engaging on the platform.

The bill also “automatically limits the amount of time that a user may spend on these platforms across all devices to 30 minutes a day unless the user elects to adjust or remove the time limit.”

As The Federalist reported, this is just another step Hawley has taken against big tech companies and their contribution to society.

In a speech at the Hoover Institution in May, the senator said that “social media shareholders are investing in the addiction of users.”

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“Users’ attention is bought by tech giants and then immediately sold to advertisers for the highest price,” Hawley said.

Although he is not the only one to criticize big tech companies, some experts say Hawley is jumping a step in pushing for the legislation.

“I think it’s a little too early to take [legislative] action like this,” Dr. Dar Meshi, an assistant professor in the Neuroscience Program at Michigan State University, told Bustle.

“There’s currently a lack of government funding for research on the topic. I’d prefer to see an act funding research instead of limiting the features that social media companies can implement.”

But many people on both sides of the aisle think something must be done to limit the power of big tech companies, political analyst Juan Williams pointed out in an Op-Ed for The Hill.

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“Most Americans are unaware of just how much personal data is collected and transmitted by the services and devices we depend on daily,” Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said at the Senate Judiciary Committee’s “tech taskforce” in July.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said, “the power being amassed by a handful of tech media companies … is a level of power unprecedented in our political discourse,” at a Washington Post event in June.

Williams reiterated a point he made in a December column: “An honest 2020 election is not possible without Congress getting its hands dirty by confronting Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith