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January 1, Big Tech’s Unchecked Reign: The 2023 Tale of Legislative and Regulatory Failure

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In 2023, federal and state government officials faced significant challenges in their efforts to curb the power and growth of Big Tech companies like Meta, Google, and Apple. Despite bipartisan support for breaking up and regulating these companies, particularly concerning teenage users, most attempts encountered legislative or judicial obstacles.

President Joe Biden addressed the issue in his 2023 State of the Union, urging Congress to hold Big Tech accountable and ensure teenagers’ safety on the platforms. He indirectly endorsed the Kids Online Safety Act, which would require social media companies to take steps to prevent specific harms to minors. However, the legislation struggled to find a vote on the Senate floor after moving through the committee.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) reintroduced the American Innovation and Choice Online Act in June, targeting “covered platforms” like Amazon and Google for unfairly preferencing their own products. The bill failed to gain traction or be considered for committee markup.

State lawmakers in Utah, Arkansas, and California passed laws requiring social media platforms to verify users’ ages and implement additional security standards for underage users. However, all three states had their age verification laws blocked in court based on First Amendment allegations.

Over half a dozen states attempted to implement laws requiring websites to verify users’ ages for viewing pornographic content. Texas’s law was blocked in court on First Amendment grounds.

The Lina Khan-led Federal Trade Commission (FTC) tried to crack down on Meta, Microsoft, and Amazon through lawsuits to block proposed mergers and prevent the alleged monopolies. Despite the FTC’s efforts, Meta’s acquisition of AI-fitness developer Within and Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard were both approved. The FTC’s ongoing suit with Amazon over its treatment of sellers is expected to have oral arguments in 2024.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) went to court in September, arguing that Google held an illegal monopoly through agreements with mobile phone-makers and web browser developers to become the default search engine. The judge’s final decision is expected in late spring 2024.

Why It Matters (op-ed)

The failure of lawmakers and regulators to rein in Big Tech in 2023 demonstrates the alarming lack of political will and constitutional understanding in our government. With bipartisan support for regulation, the inability to pass effective legislation is inexcusable.

Teenagers’ safety and privacy are at stake, yet the Kids Online Safety Act languishes in the Senate. Meanwhile, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, which addresses unfair business practices, fails to gain traction.

State-level attempts at age verification laws are repeatedly struck down in court, leaving our youth vulnerable. The FTC’s efforts to combat monopolistic mergers continue to fall short, and the DOJ’s case against Google hangs in the balance.

Our government must prioritize the protection of citizens and fair competition in the marketplace – our future depends on it.

As our loyal readers, we encourage you to share your thoughts and opinions on this issue. Let your voice be heard and join the discussion below.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Dwayne Oxford

    December 30, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Yup, lucifer’s winning.

  2. Tim

    December 30, 2023 at 9:05 pm

    AMERIKA LAST Let’s Go Brandon democracy=MOB rule

  3. Colleen

    January 1, 2024 at 11:01 am

    It’s all about the money. Who is being paid, who has a whole bunch of stocks in these markets. When will this type of criminal behavior be stopped, but then again morals are not a part of the deep state and filling the pockets of elected thieves.

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