Internet Accountability Project (IAP) Senior Adviser Rachel Bovard told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview Thursday that criticism of big tech should be a core issue for conservatives.
IAP serves to educate the public about technology to preserve free speech, protect online privacy, and strengthen America’s national security through technology. IAP launched in September and hopes to give “coverage to the members who really want to address this issue and also to create some transparency around the impact that big tech is having on society.”
Bovard told Breitbart News that criticism of big tech should be a core issue for conservatives. Bovard said that conservatism is more than just adherence to free-market values; conservatism is about creating and maintaining a moral society.
“Conservative philosophy is focused around how we order ourselves, how do we create a good society, and values that we want to protect and conserve. Big tech threatens that and at least wants to change that input,” she contended.
“Conservatives should want a seat at the table and be concerned about the vast changes that are going on in our ordered society, and that alone should compel them to step up about it. It should be a baseline issue for conservatives, and you’re starting to see younger conservatives speak out about this,” she added.
Bovard noted several Republicans who have led on issues surrounding big tech such as Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Ted Cruz (R-TX).
She said that the conservative base is “concerned about censorship, they’re concerned about privacy,” as well as big tech’s dominance.
Americans, and especially Republicans, have become increasingly critical of big tech. A 2019 Morning Consult survey found that 60 percent of GOP voters believe that big tech has an anti-conservative bias. A 2019 poll found that more than two-thirds of Americans back an antitrust review of America’s largest technology companies.
Further, nearly a majority of Americans back conservative solutions to big tech.
A 2019 poll found that 48 percent of Americans back Hawley’s legislation, the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act, which audits social media companies for bias; if regulators found bias in either big tech companies’ algorithm or content moderation process, those companies would lose their legal immunity granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
She added that her organization hopes to break the conservative orthodoxy on big tech and said that conservatives have “legitimate concerns” over the role of big tech in society.
Bovard explained, “For IAP in particular, for a long time, the right has been described as sort of monolithic in their response to big tech, often asserting that ‘private companies can do whatever they want as long as you use their services.’ We are very focused on demonstrating the right is not monolithic on this question and we are actively facilitating the conversation for those who agree. The [antitech] people who have had trouble making their case because they’re being beat over the head by Koch-funded entities or Google-funded entities, those who simply say you’re a bunch of crazy tinfoil hat people.”
Breitbart News has reported on how Facebook and Google’s influence also extends to conservative and libertarian-leaning organizations. Recent reports have revealed that Google provides “substantial funding” to the Heritage Foundation, R Street Institute, TechFreedom, the Cato Institute, and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Google, as well as Facebook, also donate to the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).
Rob Bluey, vice president of communications at the Heritage Foundation, objects to the “substantial” language on Google’s donation documentation. “Total corporate support amounts to less than 2% of Heritage Foundation contributions and has no bearing on our policy positions,” Bluey said in a statement to Breitbart News. “Our recommendations are NEVER influenced by donations or outside political pressure. Heritage is grateful to have the support of more than 500,000 members, which gives us the financial independence to advance the True North principles of conservatism.”
“We actually have legitimate concerns, and we can help give voice to those concerns whether it be legislators who want to perform oversight roles, or a legislative role in general who wants to do the oversight, or whether it’s just concerned citizens who say, ‘Hey, yeah, we think there’s a problem.’ We can help amplify their concerns and come to good solutions,” she added.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from the Heritage Foundation.
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.