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CEOs sound alarm on the fiscal cliff

PLAYING HARD TO GET: “People in Washington, D.C., often like to portray Silicon Valley as all-powerful. But the nation’s capital is the real powerhouse, tech lobbyist Steve DelBianco asserted Wednesday during POLITICO‘s Tech Summit,” according to our Emily Birnbaum. “DelBianco, the CEO of tech trade group NetChoicesaid Washington ‘has all the power’ — but hasn’t made it clear what it wants the tech industry to do.”

— “‘Silicon Valley just wants to reestablish the fact that what we’re all about is building companies, pleasing customers, growing our audience and making money,’ DelBianco said. Throughout the panel, DelBianco repeated that Silicon Valley is struggling to understand what Washington wants. ‘And the biggest question is, does D.C. want a highly competitive and lightly regulated tech sector, or does D.C. want a very highly concentrated and heavily regulated tech sector?’ he said. ‘Those are the two choices. Right now we’re hearing both sides coming out of Washington.’”

— DelBianco, of course, is likely referring to the vast range of complaints leveled by members of Congress from both parties. Social media platforms in particular have been accused of censorship and political bias by the right, and of failing to properly stem the spread of disinformation and violent rhetoric by the left — all while allegedly hoovering up potential competition and consolidating power. “Charlotte Slaiman, competition director with digital rights group Public Knowledge, said consensus agrees on one major point. ‘There is a clear signal coming from Washington: It is that these companies are too powerful and we are working as quickly as we can to address that problem,’ she said.”