Josh Hawley’s war against Big Tech could bring down small startups
“The courts were sort of confused about how to treat these new services,” said Tom Struble, technology policy manager at the R Street Institute, a Washington-based think tank that advocates for free market solutions.
“Is it more like telephones? Is it more like newspapers? Congress made the decision that no, they’re not newspapers and don’t treat them that way,” Struble said. “They’ve been treated as communication networks and I think that’s been a generally good thing.”
Struble said the law aided the growth of tech’s current giants, but he argued that changing it would have a disproportionate impact on new startups because it would drive up the cost of liability insurance.
The push to change the law has gained momentum in recent months. President Donald Trump administration’s floated the idea in August after the president claimed Google searched results were biased against him.
Claims that Google has manipulated search results were one reason that Hawley launched an investigation into the company in 2017 in his role as state attorney general.
The investigation was announced four days after prominent Google critic Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, contributed $5,400 to his Senate campaign.
During that campaign, Hawley often touted his efforts to hold the industry accountable. He launched an investigation into Facebook in April.
His official government website has a page promoting the tech investigations— which are ongoing and have yet to result in findings, according to his office.
Hawley’s opponent, McCaskill, was fourth among all candidates with more than $270,000 from the industry compared to Hawley’s $6,700.
Struble, a former aide for Republican Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, said the industry’s campaign contributions to Democrats have helped fuel the narrative within conservative circles that big tech is anti-conservative.