Washington D.C. – It was a big week on Capitol Hill for Big Tech. Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook went before the House Judiciary Committee for a much anticipated antitrust hearing, in which representatives from each company were pressed on their firms’ potential anti-competitive practices. Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency faced two days of Congressional hearings and questions over how and why Facebook decided to enter the digital currency market. Overseas, Amazon is facing antitrust investigations from the European Union, and some European governments are targeting Big Tech companies with new taxes.
Last week at the White House’s Social Media Summit, Leader McCarthy laid the groundwork for similar conversations on Big Tech and its role in protecting consumers’ data privacy. In the short term, Leader McCarthy argued, Congress should develop a clear privacy framework that sets one federal standard for the country and adheres to three simple principles: you should be able to see, control and delete your data.
In the longterm, we should look to the free market for solutions to Big Tech monopolies. For example, technological innovations like decentralized cryptonetworks have the potential to provide the transparent, secure platforms that respect an individual’s privacy and dignity.
“If there’s anything on the Internet for free, you are not the client, you are the product. Facebook was not created so you could talk to one another, Facebook was created to get your data to sell to a third party […]. The Democrats want to go and break these companies up, but that does nothing for our privacy. They want to regulate [Big Tech companies] so strongly that they create utilities and they protect them; that kills all innovation.
“Our data is our privacy, so we should know, on a national level, what somebody can collect, we should be able to move it, and we should be able to delete it.”
On Sunday, Leader McCarthy wrote an op-ed for The New York Times in which he postulates that the power of Big Tech has outgrown the government’s ability to singularly protect consumer data. Instead, the free market offers innovative and compelling responses to the concerns that Big Tech monopolies have created.
Excerpts from Leader McCarthy’s piece, titled Don’t Count on Government to Protect Your Privacy:
“I don’t think we should feel confident that the bureaucratic leviathan has what it takes to develop or enforce nimble responses to rapid change in the technology industry.
“Technological advancements can meet Americans’ demands for privacy, and perhaps already are, through cryptonetworks. Cryptonetworks are decentralized platforms governed by the community of users rather than by chief executives or small management teams.”
On Monday, Leader McCarthy joined CNBC to discuss his New York Times op-ed as well as the future of blockchain and various cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Facebook’s Libra.
“My concern is the answers that I’m hearing from Washington are really what I heard during Dodd-Frank…It’s simplistic: break the companies up — [which does] nothing to protect my privacy– or create a regulator that will make [Big Tech companies] a utility, taking away all innovation.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of technology, but we should understand it so we can get a greater sense of how we can prepare for tomorrow to be better than today…”
At his weekly press conference on Thursday, Leader McCarthy expressed a healthy dose of skepticism for Facebook’s Libra currency, but maintained that it isn’t Congress’s role to squash innovation. We shouldn’t be afraid of new technologies, we should we explore them and modernize the U.S. government with them where possible, Leader McCarthy argued.
“I support crypto and Bitcoin. I support innovation, but I have real concerns about Libra because it’s not decentralized. I like blockchain, and I think the government should use blockchain. It gives you security…
“I watched Chairwoman [Rep. Maxine Waters] of the Financial Services Committee introduce a bill to deny Libra to go forward before they even had a hearing. That’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans. [Republicans] believe in innovation, but I also believe that we should have a hearing on [Libra], and maybe we need to put a framework around it.
“Privacy to me is like private property, I should know when I go on a site what they’re able to get and know about me. It is my property — I should be able to move it if I want to go to another platform, and I should be able to delete it.
“But the one thing I’m not going to do is what [Rep. Waters] did: she put her head in the sand and made sure we don’t have innovation. You cannot ignore technology and innovation, but what you can do is make sure there’s safeguards around it that protect the privacy of the individuals who are going to use it.”