Meanwhile, actual tech industry lobby groups are pushing federal legislation along the same lines as that proposed by the tech-funded think tanks. One of the largest lobbying groups for Silicon Valley, NetChoice, has rallied behind Sen. Marco Rubio’s, R-Fla., privacy bill. His bill would roll back state regulation and place enforcement authority largely under the Federal Trade Commission, a notoriously toothless federal agency with no rule-making power, instead of letting consumers directly sue tech companies under the law.
But Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, an online commerce association that represents Facebook, Twitter and other big tech companies, warned that “knee-jerk reactions to perceived problems could harm small businesses and our ability to connect with friends and family.”
Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, a group which represents the tech industry, called Hawley’s bill well-intentioned but overly broad. He said the bulk of “loot-box games” are targeted at adults rather than teens.
“Furthermore, as a parent, it’s my right to choose what games and services are appropriate for my children, not the government’s,” Szabo said in an email.
The spin is already flowing. After Facebook predicted it would face a multibillion fine, the industry group NetChoice, which represents Facebook, said that the “expected fine demonstrates to consumers and European regulators that the FTC is serious about privacy.”
“It sends the wrong message to children not to think before they post and sends the wrong message to parents that they don’t need to worry,” said Carl Szabo of NetChoice, who represents companies like Twitter, Google and PayPal.
Carl Szabo, NetChoice vice president and general counsel, said that the multibillion-dollar fine was already a big enough statement for the FTC. “Despite a potentially record setting fine against Facebook, for anti tech activists nothing short of a total business shutdown or break-up seems to be enough,” Szabo told The Verge. “This is not a slam dunk case for the FTC and if the FTC tries to go beyond just a [financial penalty] they will lose in court.”
Ben Carson, the secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, recently sued Facebook for failing to show certain housing ads to all 218 million Americans who use Facebook. Rather than just prosecuting the advertisers who placed the ads, Carson wants to hold Facebook liable for discrimination in how these advertisers directed their ads to be shown.
Discrimination in housing is against the law. But why would HUD prosecute platforms — rather than the landlords and realtors who discriminated when placing their ads? That’s a legally tenuous tactic that just distracts from that actual problems of discrimination. If upheld, HUD’s prosecution of Facebook would let the actual discriminators off the hook, while penalizing an innovative American company and its users.