Sen. Warner eyes options for crackdown on tech giants: report

Sen. Warner eyes options for crackdown on tech giants: report
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks DOJ plans to show Senate Intel less-redacted Mueller report, filing shows Bipartisan House bill calls for strategy to protect 5G networks from foreign threats MORE (D-Va.), the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is circulating a policy paper with 20 options for cracking down on technology giants, Axios reported.

The paper addresses the most pressing concerns critics have raised about tech companies in recent months: the spread of disinformation, protecting users' privacy and competition among tech companies, according to Axios. 

"The size and reach of these platforms demand that we ensure proper oversight, transparency and effective management of technologies that in large measure undergird our social lives, our economy, and our politics," the paper says. "The hope is that the ideas enclosed here stir the pot and spark a wider discussion — among policymakers, stakeholders, and civil society groups — on the appropriate trajectory of technology policy in the coming years."  

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Companies like Facebook and Twitter have attracted scrutiny over their policies after their platforms were heavily used to sow discord on U.S. soil while allowing many of those who spread disinformation to profit from the surge in "fake news" during the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook has tweaked its algorithms to discourage the spreading of false information, but its policies generally prevent the platform from taking many disinformation campaigns down. 

Warner's paper recommends several ways to combat disinformation, including policies that would force tech companies to label "bots," discourage anonymous posting and root out inauthentic accounts.

Cambridge Analytica, which worked on President Trump's campaign, closed in May after it was revealed it had improperly obtained the data of about 87 million Facebook users.

Warner's policy paper says tech companies should assume greater responsibility for their users' personal data.

It is unlikely that lawmakers could push any of the 20 policy proposals through Congress with the Republicans in control in both chambers, but Democrats could have a better shot at pressing these policies if they ride a blue wave in the 2018 midterm elections to a majority in the House or the Senate, according to Axios.