with Aaron Schaffer

Rep. Ken Buck wants to dismantle the giants of Silicon Valley's power. But first he'll have to win over members of his own party. 

In interviews and on Twitter, the top Republican on the House antitrust panel has been trying to convince fellow conservatives to back a sweeping package of bills that would strengthen regulators, make it harder for tech companies to buy up rivals, and in the most severe instances, even break them up. The bills cleared their first major hurdle in Congress last week, but a marathon 29-hour markup session highlighted the rifts with Republicans over the legislation.

“There are a lot of Republicans that are more concerned about Big Government than they are Big Tech, and I think that the key is to find that sweet spot in the middle where we can convince Republicans that we're not empowering the Biden administration, we're not empowering Big Government and bureaucrats and all the buzzwords that Republicans like to use, but rather we are making sure that we hold Big Tech accountable,” the Colorado Republican said at a Washington Post Live event on Friday.  

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) joins Washington Post Live on Friday, June 25 at 11:00am ET (The Washington Post)

The legislation's success could hinge on more Republicans getting on board.

Democrats have a narrow majority in the House, and already some members of their party — particularly from the California delegation — have voiced skepticism about the antitrust bills. The bills, which each have bipartisan co-sponsors, passed the House Judiciary Committee with only a handful of Republican supporters, and they've been criticized by prominent Republicans including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). 

The debate over the bills has highlighted deep fault lines in the Republican Party. Conservatives have grown increasingly wary of the tech giants' power, especially in the months since major tech companies suspended former president Donald Trump's accounts. At a rally over the weekend, Trump called for a breakup of the companies — which Buck promptly highlighted on Twitter. 

But some Republicans have raised concerns about giving federal regulators more money or the government taking on too big of a role in regulating businesses. The bills are strongly opposed by industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and tech companies are using their extensive lobbying resources in Washington to fight them.

Buck links the antitrust overhaul to long-running conservative accusations that the tech giants are censoring conservatives. 

Buck contends the legislation will address Republicans' long-running accusations, which the companies have denied. He argued onstage that if there were more competition in the tech industry, people would be able to pick tech platforms they trust. 

“What we have with Google is they determine what the algorithm is and who is going to benefit and who is going to lose, and by doing that, they are controlling information,” he said during the Post Live event. “If we have five Googles, people will have a choice where they want to go and get their information from and how they want to search.”

Buck also raised concerns about the influence tech giants wield over his colleagues.

Buck appeared onstage as the companies are engaged in a lobbying blitz to block the legislation's package. Buck said he personally has engaged very little with corporate lobbyists on this issue, and several months ago, he called on his colleagues to sign a pledge saying they would not accept donations from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post). 

“They do their best to influence conservative policy by having their tentacles in all areas of Washington, D.C.,” Buck said at Post Live. 

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The United Kingdom’s antitrust regulator launched an investigation into Amazon and Google’s handling of fake reviews.

The probe by the Competition and Markets Authority follows concerns that the tech giants weren’t doing enough to detect, take down and deter fake reviews from popping up on their sites, the Wall Street Journal’s Adria Calatayud and Joe Hoppe report. It adds to the companies' growing regulatory troubles around the world. 

Fake reviews have long been an issue on major tech platforms, but it's becoming more critical as more people are shopping online during the pandemic. The probe follows an initial investigation that began in May 2020. U.S. lawmakers have also questioned Amazon's efforts to address the inauthentic reviews. 

The companies said they would work with the CMA amid the probe. An Amazon spokesman noted the CMA said “that no findings have been made against our business. 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.

Google takes action when it finds violations of company policies, a company representative said.

Russian hackers used a Microsoft customer service agent’s account to launch cyberattacks.

The hackers used information held by the account to try to hack Microsoft customers, the company said.  

Microsoft discovered the operation while investigating an earlier breach by the group that the U.S. government says hacked cybersecurity firm SolarWinds and is affiliated with Russia’s foreign intelligence service. The company publicly released information about the operation after a warning to customers was seen by Reuters’s Joseph Menn. 

Hackers also launched a broad phishing campaign that breached three Microsoft customers, the company said. The incidents appear to be “largely unsuccessful, run-of-the-mill espionage,” according to a White House official.

YouTube blocked a channel that hosted testimonies about the plights of relatives in Xinjiang, a human rights group said.

The platform blocked Atajurt Kazakh Human Rights, a group whose videos garnered more than 120 million views, after 12 of its 11,000 videos were reported for violating the video giant’s cyberbullying and harassment policies, Reuters’s Victoria Waldersee and Paresh Dave report. The company eventually restored the account, saying that some videos, which featured people holding up ID cards, violated the company’s policies on posting personal information.

The human rights group began moving its videos to another platform after YouTube asked it to blur the cards, the group said. As the group migrated the videos, YouTube told it that the videos were no longer publicly viewable because of concerns about promoting criminal groups. YouTube said the messages were sent automatically and the videos were kept private to allow the group to edit them.

“We welcome responsible efforts to document important human rights cases around the world,” YouTube said. “We recognize that the intention of these videos was not to maliciously reveal [personally identifiable information] … and are working with Atajurt Kazakh to explain our policies.”

Atajurt co-founder Serikzhan Bilash slammed the company. There is another excuse every day,” he said. “I never trusted YouTube.

Rant and rave

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi delivered food via Uber Eats, and Twitter naturally accused him of participating in a publicity stunt. Karen Geier:

Jathan Sadowski, a research fellow at the Emerging Technologies Research Lab at Monash University:

The Financial Times's Dave Lee:

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Daybook

  • Acting Federal Communications Commission chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel discusses the Emergency Broadband Benefit program at a New America event on Tuesday at noon.
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on securing U.S. networks on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.
  • The Federal Trade Commission holds an open meeting on Thursday at noon.

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