Republican Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) has called out Big Tech for abuses of power, specifically censorship and anti-competitive practices.
Buck took aim at Silicon Valley during an address this week, singling out Google as the “greatest threat to speech in the market.”
The congressman has put forth a bill in the House that would attempt to limit the economic and political sway of several tech giants.
Speaking to the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday, Buck railed against what he sees as unfair business practices.
The congressman recalled the story of Parler, the pro-free speech social media startup that faced numerous hurdles from competitors and pressure from U.S. officials in 2021.
Parler’s popularity skyrocketed in late 2020 and early 2021 as conservatives flocked to the platform in response to the censorship surrounding the Hunter Biden laptop issue and the removal of President Donald Trump from Twitter.
“Overall, the app was the 10th most downloaded social media app in 2020 with 8.1 million new installs,” reported TechCrunch.
Following the Jan.6 Capitol breach, political pressure mounted against the startup.
Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) publicly called for Apple and Google to remove the app from their platforms.
“What are Apple and Google Play doing about this?” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted two days after the riots.
That evening, Google removed Parler from its Google Play Store.
The following day, Apple did the same and pulled Parler from its App Store.
Shortly afterward, Parler’s cloud services were revoked by Amazon as well.
“They were able to take Parler down in a matter of a few days,” Buck said.
“Twitter was being used at the Capitol on January 6th.
“Facebook was being used…
“Parler was a competitor and January 6th provided the perfect excuse to wipe it out.”
Buck also took aim at Google, saying the tech company wields too much power.
He accused the search engine giant, which also owns YouTube, of trying to influence U.S. election outcomes.
Buck stressed the importance of using government regulation sparingly so as not to disrupt market dynamics.
“I’m a free market person,” Buck said.
“I apply that principle to just about everywhere.”
“When Google controls 94 percent of the searches in this country, you don’t have a free market.”
He warned that Google’s market dominance can have devastating effects on our elections.
He noted how the search engine has allegedly altered frontpage results to be more flattering for Democratic candidates.
Searches on Google also show a preference for left-wing information and news sources.
A Search on Google for “Slay News” brings up dozens of links to information about “Fake News websites” while the Slay News homepage is buried on page 8 of the results.
In 2016, SourceFed pointed out that Google search results for Hillary Clinton yielded more favorable auto-complete suggestions, despite many unlisted negative terms receiving greater traffic from users.
Buck, a ranking member of the House Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law Subcommittee, believes that lack of competition is the problem.
“They affect the outcome of elections because there is no free market,” he said.
“Congress needs to step up and update the law.”
The congressman has put forth a bipartisan package of bills—which passed in the House last September—to fight against the tech behemoths.
Additional funding for the Department of Justice to enforce antitrust law, incentives for states to conduct antitrust cases of their own, and mandatory disclosures for companies that receive subsidies from China are some of the ways the package hopes to curb Big Tech’s power.
Assuring the conservative Heritage Foundation audience that he does not wish to undermine capitalistic ideals, Buck praised tech entrepreneurs for their work.
“I give these folks credit. They’re geniuses,” he said. “I’m not sure they are bad; they are just taking advantage of a system.”
Buck said he disagrees with drastic solutions proposed by fellow Republicans like Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), who has considered a country-wide ban for the Chinese video app TikTok.
“We know that competition is what allows innovation,” said Buck, emphasizing that allowing competition strengthens the United States in the long run.
“The one thing we can do better than anyone in the world is innovate,” he said.
However, Buck recognizes the risks posed by foreign apps like TikTok and said the app is “clearly a tool that the Communist Party is using in China to monitor U.S. data.”
In December, President Joe Biden signed a law banning the use of TikTok on government mobile devices.
The proposal originated from legislation previously introduced by Buck and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).
In a November tweet, journalist Glenn Greenwald praised Rep. Buck as “one of the most serious Big Tech opponents in the GOP House.”
Buck concluded his speech by encouraging everyday people to make efforts to disrupt tech monopolies, encouraging consumers to use alternatives to Amazon and Google.
He acknowledged that such decisions might result in a decrease in the quality of service.
“One of the reasons these companies are powerful is because they’re good,” Buck said.
“You actually can have an impact on the market with your personal choices…
“Be part of this solution.”