Warren, Graham partner in proposing new agency to regulate tech giants

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are teaming up on legislation to create a new agency that would have the power to regulate tech giants.

The bipartisan Digital Consumer Protection Commission Act, unveiled Thursday, would create an agency charged with oversight of Meta, Google, Amazon and other large tech companies and seek to promote industry competition and consumer privacy online.

The commission would work alongside the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ), the agencies that currently operate as antitrust enforcers, according to the bill.

The legislation would also set regulations in place requiring “dominant platforms” to be licensed and allow for licenses to be removed for repeated anticompetitive and anti-consumer conduct violations.

The bill is the latest effort from Congress to rein in the power of tech giants.

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Last year, two bipartisan antitrust reform bills advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee — the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and the Open App Markets Act — but failed to make it to the floor for a vote. Companion bills that advanced out of the House Judiciary Committee also failed to advance to a full floor vote. 

Warren and Graham’s proposal seeks to target tech regulation more broadly by creating a commission specifically tasked with oversight of the booming industry.

The legislation would also grant the new commission with oversight over how to respond to emerging risks, including from artificial intelligence (AI) — an area where lawmakers and regulators have been scrambling to understand and put rules in place.

“Enough is enough. It’s time to rein in Big Tech. And we can’t do it with a law that only nibbles around the edges of the problem,” the senators wrote in a joint op-ed published in The New York Times on Thursday. 

“Piecemeal efforts to stop abusive and dangerous practices have failed. Congress is too slow, it lacks the tech expertise, and the army of Big Tech lobbyists can pick off individual efforts easier than shooting fish in a barrel. Meaningful change — the change worth engaging every member of Congress to fight for — is structural,” they added. 

Lawmakers have long faced an uphill climb when pursuing tech reforms, with the industry launching massive lobbying campaigns targeting congressional legislation.

At the same time, Republicans leading the House have focused their tech agenda on content moderation battles rather than advancing bills aimed at reining in the market power of Big Tech.

For Warren, her proposal with Graham is the second time the progressive firebrand has recently joined forces with a colleague across the aisle. Last month, Warren joined Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) to put forward a bill that targets failed bank executives with harsher penalties.

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