WASHINGTON (SBG) – Big tech companies are set to face a grilling on Capitol Hill Wednesday about censorship and Russian interference in U.S. elections.
The hearings come after President Donald Trump warned he will go after Google, Facebook and Twitter for alleged bias against conservatives.
But can the president regulate Google and its search engine? And what role will Congress play?
“I think that Google, Facebook, Twitter territory are really treading on very, very troubled territory,” Trump said.
Last week, the president was upset about his negative Google search results and wants to end what he sees as bias against conservatives.
He’s not alone. Some Republicans are also voicing the same concern.
President Trump’s options are limited. He could ask the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the Silicon Valley giants, but he really needs Congress to pass laws for any change.
“The question is, how do you regulate it?” said Gigi Sohn, a fellow at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law and Policy. “Do you regulate it in a way that allows them to continue to innovate, it doesn’t [impede] on speech rights?”
She says the only way the president could address the perceived bias is to create an agency that pre-approves tech companies’ algorithms.
But Sohn says that’s not viable because there would be push-back from the industry and could be struck down by the courts.
It’s really up to lawmakers on Capitol Hill to come up with a solution — something they’ve been grappling with for years.
“Promoting competition, prompting privacy, making sure companies, that companies are transparent, and also making sure the government has the tools so that they can do all of these things is (more) important than trying to regulate the outcomes of the search engines,” Sohn said.
The reality is it will take time, resources and technical expertise in Washington until you see it online.