Senator Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) American Innovation and Choice Online bill, ready for a floor vote in the U.S. Senate, targets major U.S. tech companies for deep regulation. Many Republican senators, angry at big social media companies for heavy-handed censorship of conservative content, are poised to vote for the Minnesota Democrat’s bill out of pique, though the bill won’t break up Big Tech companies or change how they moderate content.
When the bill was briefly discussed in the Senate Judiciary Committee, several senators raised questions about the bill’s mandate that Amazon, Apple, Meta/Facebook, Google, and possibly Microsoft be fully “interoperable” with competitor companies. Such a mandate would necessarily entail sharing hardware, software, and operating systems with thousands of domestic and foreign companies. Might some of them export U.S. data to China or Russia
Klobuchar responded to this concern by amending her bill to exclude “clear national security risks” and entities “controlled by the People’s Republic of China or the government of another foreign adversary.” If the bill passes the Senate, and goes to Biden’s desk for signature, the perfunctory assurances of that amendment would prove to be as protective as tissue paper.
The reason why was well articulated by FBI Director Christopher Wray. Speaking in London in a first-of-its kind joint appearance with the head of the UK’s MI5, Wray said: China often disguises its hand in order to obtain influence and access where companies don’t suspect it. Outside of China, their government uses elaborate shell games to disguise its efforts from foreign companies and from government investment-screening programs like CFIUS, America’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. For example, they’re taking advantage of unusual corporate forms like SPACs, or Special Purpose Acquisition Companies, and buying corporate shares with overweight voting rights that let their owners exert control over a company out […]
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