Warner: 'overwhelming majority' of Republicans would back social media regulations

Warner: 'overwhelming majority' of Republicans would back social media regulations
© Greg Nash

The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Year Ahead: Tech braces for new scrutiny from Washington Senate Intel leaders ask judge not to jail former aide amid leak investigation The Year Ahead: Pressure mounts on election security as 2020 approaches MORE (Va.), said that he believes many Republicans would be willing to help pass digital privacy regulations for consumers.

"Depending on how we framed it, I think we’d have an overwhelming majority [of Republicans]," Warner said on Thursday during a discussion on internet privacy at an event sponsored by The Atlantic.

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“I think there is a high chance that people realize that the days of the wild, wild west are over that there needs to be some guardrails. We need to do this in a thoughtful forward-leaning way,” he continued.

Warner cautioned on taking the regulations as far as Europe, which is known for having some of most stringent in the world in terms of consumer protection, but said American legislation could take the best aspects of European rules.

Warner also said it would be possible to regulate such companies while keeping Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1996 largely intact. The section, which grants technology companies immunity from what users post on their platform, has been touted as a key building block of the internet, but more and more lawmakers have said that as tech platforms grow, they’re interested in amending it.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers have criticized technology companies’ efforts to police and maintain their own platforms. Democrats and Republicans have voiced concerns about foreign manipulation of U.S. politics via social media and have aired concerns over the companies’ data privacy practices.

Republicans have also complained about technology companies allegedly being biased against conservatives.

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook hosts 'pop up' privacy tutorial in New York City Merkel named Harvard commencement speaker The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by T-Mobile — Congress to act soon to avoid shutdown MORE testified before Congress in April, as did Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in September.

Lawmakers are now pushing for Google, who snubbed its invitation from the Senate Intelligence Committee, to send one of its top executives as well.

Warner, along with Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharBiden, Sanders lead field in Iowa poll Gillibrand says she's worried about top options in Dem 2020 poll being white men Biden team discussed 2020 run with O'Rourke as VP: report MORE (D-Minn.), has already introduced the Honest Ads Act to regulate political ads on tech platforms, in a manner more similar to print, radio and TV. He has acknowledged that tech companies are now self-imposing most of what the bill would entail, and it has yet to gain momentum in Congress.