Loading...

Cicilline: Congress Must Curb Power of Google and Facebook

April 21, 2021 by Victoria Turner
Cicilline: Congress Must Curb Power of Google and Facebook
Rep. David Cicilline

WASHINGTON – The dominance of Google and Facebook as “gatekeepers” for online information and massive market power, particularly in digital advertising, has left U.S. journalism in a “state of crisis” and “Americans have had enough,”  said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., Tuesday. 

“Republicans and Democrats agree that these companies have too much power and that congress must curb this dominance,” he said as he delivered his keynote address at an Open Markets Institute conference entitled, “After Google and Facebook: The Future of Journalism and Democracy.”

Cicilline emphasized the great decline in news outlets, particularly local publishers and broadcasters. Over the past 15 years, 2100 newspapers have closed across the U.S. and 200 counties in the U.S. today do not have a local newspaper. Digital publishers have not come out unscathed, he added. Despite an “all-time high” for online readership due to the pandemic, he explained, digital publications laid-off “dozens” of reporters last year. 

A lack of local reporting leads to more local corruption and increased local government expenditure, he said. But it has also created “news deserts” that have increased the dissemination of misinformation, with 75% of Americans getting their onlines news from Facebook and Google. After January’s Capitol storming, he noted, “the stakes are really high.” 

These “widespread layoffs” in the journalism field and “mass consolidation” of services that the tech platforms own will only get worse without congressional action, he claimed. 

A step Cicilline has taken is to reintroduce the Journalism Competition Preservations Act to enable news publishers and broadcasters to “collectively negotiate with the dominant platforms to improve the quality, accuracy, attribution and functioning of news online.” He does not view the bill as a “meaningful substitute” for other congressional actions that will come about, he said, but “we must do something in the short-term to save trustworthy journalism.” 

These firms’ market power, he added, is “reinforced by the unprecedented data” they’ve amassed, which has just “tipped the market” further in their favor. 

Other actions, like breaking up the Big Tech companies or spinning off a line of business, are on the table to fully address the market concerns by these tech companies allegedly acting as monopolies or abusing their dominance. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., have also introduced bills in the last couple of months addressing different competition concerns, but stemming from this increasing congressional battle against the Big Tech platforms in the digital marketplace.

“Mark my words: Change is coming, laws are coming both in the U.S. and abroad,” Cicilline said as he noted numerous bills will be coming through the pipeline in the upcoming months. 

“Our country will not survive if we do not operate with a set share of facts,” he urged, claiming a “free and diverse” press is the only way to truly “expose” and “[root] out” corruption at every level of the government.

In The News

Health

Voting

Technology

September 30, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
FCC Shortens Length of Time Satellites Allowed to Remain in Orbit

WASHINGTON — Low-earth satellites must be deorbited after five years, the Federal Communications Commission decided Thursday at its monthly meeting.... Read More

WASHINGTON — Low-earth satellites must be deorbited after five years, the Federal Communications Commission decided Thursday at its monthly meeting. This rule change severely shortens the amount of time satellite operators have to remove their instruments from the skies. They previously had about 25 years, and... Read More

September 28, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
FCC Continues to Crack Down on Robotexts and Calls

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission continues to crack down on pesky scam calls and texts with new proposed rules... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission continues to crack down on pesky scam calls and texts with new proposed rules and international partnerships announced this week. “The American people are fed up with scam texts, and we need to use every tool we have to do... Read More

September 27, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
DC Considers Wide-Ranging Anti-Discrimination Data Law

WASHINGTON — D.C. Councilman Robert White heard nearly seven hours of wide-ranging testimony about the proposed Stop Discrimination by Algorithms... Read More

WASHINGTON — D.C. Councilman Robert White heard nearly seven hours of wide-ranging testimony about the proposed Stop Discrimination by Algorithms Act last week. The proposed law would prohibit a wide range of businesses across the district from using algorithms to make decisions based on protected personal... Read More

September 23, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
Tribal Leaders: Getting Internet to All Needs Greater Coordination

WASHINGTON — The lack of a national plan for getting internet to every native tribe in the country was on... Read More

WASHINGTON — The lack of a national plan for getting internet to every native tribe in the country was on full display Wednesday as the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a roundtable discussion with federal agencies and tribal leaders working on connecting their people to the... Read More

September 15, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
DOJ, DOD Join FCC to Support Internet Routing Security

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice and Department of Defense are joining with the Federal Communications Commission to support the... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice and Department of Defense are joining with the Federal Communications Commission to support the improvement of internet routing security. This comes after the commission launched a Notice of Inquiry in February seeking comment on the vulnerabilities of the Border Gateway... Read More

September 14, 2022
by Madeline Hughes
SpaceX Appeals FCC Denial of Rural Digital Opportunity Money

WASHINGTON — Elon Musk’s SpaceX is appealing the $885 million denial from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund in early August.... Read More

WASHINGTON — Elon Musk’s SpaceX is appealing the $885 million denial from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund in early August. The company had won the grant in 2020, which would have subsidized the deployment of its satellites to bring internet to underserved communities. The company called... Read More

News From The Well