Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sent a letter on Monday to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting it take action on Facebook and Google’s potential anticompetitive behavior and violations of American privacy.
Blackburn, a freshman Republican senator who was critical of big tech’s censorship and privacy practices in the House, joined with Sen. Klobuchar to ask the FTC to take action as well as disclose any investigations into Silicon Valley’s anticompetitive behavior and violations of privacy rights.
Klobuchar and Blackburn’s letter carries political weight because both lawmakers sit on the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees, which have jurisdiction over social media companies such as Google and Facebook.
Blackburn said in a statement Monday:
Tennesseans are rightly concerned about who owns their Virtual You. They want to be certain that their privacy is protected in both the physical and virtual space. The FTC has a responsibility to hold technology companies accountable for securing their platforms. My hope is that through this bipartisan effort we will shed light on the need to protect competition and online privacy to keep up with the fast pace of changes in technology. Companies like Facebook and Google have transformed society in revolutionary ways and need to recognize that with that power comes the responsibility to secure their online platforms.
Sen. Klobuchar, a 2020 presidential candidate and advocate for greater privacy regulations, said that Silicon Valley’s dominance raises greater concerns over how these large tech firms may harm consumers and small businesses. Klobuchar’s call for an investigation into Google and Facebook’s anticompetitive practices as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), another 2020 Democrat presidential candidate, has called on the federal government to break up Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
Klobuchar said in a statement Monday:
In the past few years, rapid changes in technology have reshaped our economy and transformed the daily lives of millions of Americans—in many ways for the better. But during that same time, a small number of firms have grown to dominate key digital markets. This type of market dominance has amplified concerns about how those companies protect consumers’ online information and about possible anticompetitive conduct that could harm consumers, innovation, and small business growth.
Sen. Klobuchar introduced a bill in January with Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) that would require social media companies to explain in “plain language” how they use Americans’ private data.
In the letter to the FTC, the senators note how a small number of tech companies have come to dominate the Internet. The senators note how Google has approximately 90 percent of web search traffic, whereas in digital advertising, Google and Facebook amount to nearly two-thirds of American digital ad spending, with Amazon at a “distant third” at under nine percent.
Today, @SenAmyKlobuchar and I urged the @FTC to hold tech companies like @Google and @Facebook accountable for securing their platforms. Tennesseans are rightly concerned about who owns their #VirtualYou. pic.twitter.com/rQvvY0ZPce
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) April 8, 2019
“This type of market dominance has amplified concerns about how those companies protect consumers’ online information and about possible anticompetitive conduct that could harm consumers, innovation, and small business growth,” the two senators wrote.
The two lawmakers also cited how Facebook’s integration of its WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger platforms may lead to Facebook sharing greater user data between its platforms.
“As Congress considers legislation to enact stronger safeguards for consumers’ online privacy, we urge the FTC to use its existing authority to protect the privacy and security of consumers’ online data,” the lawmakers added.
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.