President Donald Trump’s administration is developing an executive order that targets America’s big technology companies, according to published reports.
Business Insider published parts of what it said was in the draft.
“Whether reading news or looking for local businesses, citizens rely on search, social media, and other online platforms to provide objective and reliable information to shape a host of decisions ranging from consumer purchases to votes in elections. Because of their critical role in American society, it is essential that American citizens are protected from anti-competitive acts by dominant online platforms. Vibrant competition in the online ecosystem is essential to ensuring accountability for the platforms that hold so much sway over our economy and democratic process,” the draft said.
“… Executive departments and agencies with authorities that could be used to enhance competition among online platforms (agencies) shall, where consistent with other laws, use those authorities to promote competition and ensure that no online platform exercises market power in a way that harms consumers, including through the exercise of bias.”
The order requires each federal agency to list action it can “potentially take to protect competition among online platforms and address online platform bias.”
Agencies are also required to “thoroughly investigate whether any online platform has acted in violation of the antitrust laws,” the draft said.
In its reporting about the draft order, Bloomberg News reported that it was told the order was still “in its early stages.”
The Washington Post said that the White House was keeping its distance from the draft.
“Although the White House is concerned about the conduct of online platforms and their impact on society, this document is not the result of an official White House policy making process,” Lindsey Walters, deputy White House press secretary, said in an email to The Post.
The published order is a backdrop to a meeting this week in Washington in which the attorneys general from 24 states will meet with Attorney General Jeff Sessions to discuss the issue of technology companies limiting speech from conservative voices, the Washington Examiner reported.
Texas will be among the states meeting with Sessions. It is sending a representative to address concerns about “conservative voices … being suppressed on several social media platforms,” said Marc Rylander, a spokesman for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to Reuters.
Bloomberg reported that Sessions will use the meeting to determine whether there is any legal avenue that can be pursued against tech companies such as Facebook and Google.
Trump has voiced concern about this bias.
Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices. Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others…….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 18, 2018
“Social Media is totally discriminating against Republican/Conservative voices,” Trump tweeted in August. “Speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump Administration, we won’t let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the RIGHT, while at the same time doing nothing to others.”
Trump elaborated on this in other comments he made in August, according to the Washington Examiner.
“I think Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people. And I think that’s a very serious thing and that’s a very serious charge,” Trump said.
“I think what Google and what others are doing, if you look at what is going on at Twitter, if you look at what is going on in Facebook, they better be careful because you can’t do that to people. You can’t do it,” he added.
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