Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said Friday that the only thing Facebook did right in the last year is prove that large technology companies will not “self-regulate.”
Sen. Blackburn, one of Congress’s foremost experts on technology, spoke at the U.S. Chamber’s digital conference about privacy in the digital era. She discussed social media giants’ dominance on the Internet and their rampant censorship of conservative and alternative voices.
The Tennessee senator said that although many tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, began with “humble beginnings,” these companies “have begun solidifying their position as market forces the likes of which we have never seen, and we are going to have to make some adaptions for this.”
Blackburn said that these large tech companies have created a “toxic undercurrent that can no longer be ignored,” adding that they often censor or ban controversial ideas, which speaks to an “attitude of actions of arrogance” that have come to “embody Silicon Valley.”
She then pivoted to Facebook, which has inflamed controversy over several issues during the past year, proving that Silicon Valley will no longer self-regulate.
“The only thing Facebook has done right in the past year is prove to us that tech can no longer self-regulate,” Blackburn said. “Does that mean we need to break up tech companies? Not necessarily, but that’s a discussion that should be had on another day, but there do need to be rules of the road.”
Facebook could face a multi-billion dollar fine from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for its privacy violations. Facebook recently decided to ban conservatives–Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer, and Infowars creator Alex Jones, for example.
Sen. Blackburn then cited that her Browser Act, which she noted was one of the first bipartisan privacy bills, would prevent social media giants from unfairly profiting off Americans’ private data. The Browser Act would require that these tech companies, such as Facebook and Google, seek users’ “informed consent” and that they opt in to share their private data with the company. The legislation would stipulate that these companies cannot deny service to “those who refuse to waive their privacy rights.”
Noting that Congress has to “take action” to tackle the issue of American privacy, Blackburn noted that these tech giants, which profit off of Americans’ data, will not willingly change their policies.
Sen. Blackburn asked rhetorically, “Do you honestly believe these companies are going to voluntarily agree to change the way they handle your data if it’s going to harm their business model? Absolutely not. They won’t agree with that.”