Bipartisan Bill Seeks New US Tech Regulator

Image credit: US Senate

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democrat Elizabeth Warren, back bill to create new US government tech commission

Two prominent US lawmakers from rival political parties have joined forces to press for a new regulator to clamp down on big name tech firms.

On Thursday Senator Elizabeth Warren (Democrat) and Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican) announced they had “unveiled comprehensive legislation that would rein in Big Tech by establishing a new commission to regulate online platforms.”

It comes after the US political establishment for decades has sought to bring Silicon Valley tech giants to heel, with multiple public hearings and accusations of anti-competitive behaviour.

law, justice, court, doj, trial, gavel, law

Digital Consumer Protection Commission Act

The Bill, provisionally called the “Digital Consumer Protection Commission Act of 2023”, proposes to “amend the Clayton Act to establish a new Federal commission to regulate digital platforms, including with respect to competition, transparency, privacy, and national security.”

According to the announcement, the new commission “would have concurrent jurisdiction with FTC and DoJ, and would be responsible for overseeing and enforcing the new statutory provisions in the bill and implementing rules to promote competition, protect privacy, protect consumers, and strengthen our national security.”

The two Senators said that President Biden called for the passage of bipartisan legislation to rein in Big Tech and strengthen antitrust enforcement to boost competition in the tech industry.

“For too long, giant tech companies have exploited consumers’ data, invaded Americans’ privacy, threatened our national security, and stomped out competition in our economy,” said Senator Warren, a known tech critic who has previously clashed with Elon Musk on multiple occasions.

“This bipartisan bill would create a new tech regulator and makes clear that reining in Big Tech platforms is a top priority on both sides of the aisle,” said Senator Warren.

“For years I have been trying to find ways to empower consumers against Big Tech,” added Senator Graham. “I have heard too many stories from families who feel helpless in the face of Big Tech.”

“Today, we take the first step and provide consumers with the tools they need to begin levelling the playing field,” said Senator Graham. “A regulatory commission will give consumers a voice against Big Tech and the power to punish them when appropriate.

“The creation of a regulatory commission to oversee Big Tech is the first step in a long journey to protect American consumers from the massive power these companies currently wield.”

The ‘Digital Consumer Protection Commission Act’ is endorsed by Accountable Tech, the American Economic Liberties Project, the Center for American Progress, Color of Change, Common Sense Media, the Open Markets Institute, Public Citizen, and Raven.

The new regulator would have broad jurisdiction, covering not just social media platforms or e-commerce but also the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence.

The bill targets tech platforms including Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft, TikTok and Twitter (now known as X).

Tech regulation

The Bill comes amid frustration within US political circles over failed attempts in previous years to impose new rules on large tech companies, coupled with multiple failed efforts to block deals on antitrust grounds.

The new Bill is similar to another proposal by Democrat Senator Michael Bennet from last year, but reportedly the new Bill is more specific in its restrictions on the tech industry.

The inclusion of the Bill to address artificial intelligence (AI) comes after senior leaders in the AI sector have urged the US government and others to introduce suitable regulations for the sector.