Vermont Rep. Peter Welch proposes new regulatory agency to oversee Big Tech
“It strikes me as an unqualified good to have more technology advisers supporting our legislative and regulatory processes,” said Chris Riley, a senior fellow of internet governance at the R Street Institute. “Growth in government is rarely an unequivocal good, to the extent that we want to see growth in government as a whole. But right now, we want to see the state grow in technological competence so that we can study the very complex issues with more expertise.”
Riley does note that there is an essential distinction between the OTA and Welch’s proposed agency. The first agency would focus on research and analysis, while the second would have more interest in regulating technology.
Unfortunately, getting such a bill passed in Congress today is unthinkable.
“Right now, members of Congress cannot agree on why or how to regulate social media,” said Shoshana Weissmann, senior manager of digital media at the R Street Institute. “Some complain about conservative censorship, liberal censorship, terrorism, addiction (poorly defined), a desire for less moderation, and a desire for more moderation.”
Riley believes that very few legislators have a complete vision for how the government should regulate technology companies. Submitting bills about controversial topics such as updating Section 230 is relatively easy. Making laws that keep the entire scope of the internet in view is another matter altogether.