Former Google executive launches left-leaning tech coalition

Former Google executive launches left-leaning tech coalition
© Getty Images

A former Google executive is launching a new tech coalition that brings together some of the nation’s top companies amid increased regulatory scrutiny in Washington.

Adam Kovacevich, Google’s former public policy head who most recently held a similar position at electric scooter company Lime, said the industry group called Chamber of Progress includes tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Uber, Grubhub, Lime, Doordash, Instacart, Waymo and Zillow.

“It's pretty clear that the tech industry's political honeymoon is over — and there are some big questions for policymakers about how do you make sure that all Americans benefit from high tech advancements and how do we make sure the tech industry operates fairly and responsibly,” Kovacevich told The Hill. “Another way of putting that is, will tech's future be as progressive as its past? That's the big question that our organization will be focused on.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Kovacevich described the industry coalition as “center-left.”

“What it means is that we care about progressive goals, and we're not reflexively anti-business,” he said.

No partner companies have a seat on Chamber of Progress’s board of directors and they cannot vote on its policies, the coalition said in Monday's announcement.

The group will advocate for public policies that fall under economic progress, social progress and consumer progress, Kovacevich said.

The launch comes as lawmakers take a closer look at regulating the biggest players in Silicon Valley. Tech giants are facing intense scrutiny from both sides of the aisle over their market power, as well as content moderation policies.

One hotly debated bipartisan issue is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides tech companies legal protections from content posted by third parties.

Kovacevich said the Chamber of Progress will be defending Section 230, a 1996 law he says is “deeply misunderstood” by policymakers.

“It incentivizes platforms to moderate their platforms in a way that creates a healthier experience for their users,” he said.

The market power of top tech companies is also in the spotlight, with lawmakers considering whether to pursue further competition laws to address allegations of monopolies in the industry.

Kovacevich said his group will be “defenders” of “safe and secure win-win marketplaces online.”

“Almost every online service is a marketplace of some kind. You've got the company that runs the marketplace, you've got the sellers and participants in the marketplace, and then you've got consumers who the marketplace manager is trying to ultimately please,” he said. “So we're going to be defenders of that kind of win-win aspect of marketplaces and that will probably be involved in competition policy, as well.”

In its first action, the Chamber of Progress called on Congress to pass federal voting rights legislation, and encouraged state legislatures to reject bills that would make it harder for people to vote.

“The reason why we wanted to do that was because in some ways the tech industry has been all about creating products that democratize commerce and information, but we also need a healthy participatory democracy underlying our economy,” Kovacevich said. “And so we felt the voting rights was a natural fit for an industry that’s been focused on democratizing goods and services.”