UK Markets closed
  • NIKKEI 225

    27,935.62
    +113.86 (+0.41%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    23,658.92
    +183.66 (+0.78%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    66.26
    +0.69 (+1.05%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,780.90
    -0.70 (-0.04%)
     
  • DOW

    34,022.04
    -461.68 (-1.34%)
     
  • BTC-GBP

    43,098.16
    -246.50 (-0.57%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,442.71
    -26.37 (-1.79%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    15,254.05
    -283.64 (-1.83%)
     
  • ^FTAS

    4,089.19
    +63.32 (+1.57%)
     
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Lack of tech smarts in Washington allows companies to 'run circles around regulations': Congressman

·Senior Producer and Writer
·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Big Tech has never faced as much intense scrutiny from lawmakers as it does today. And Congress seems poised for fresh action.

The “Facebook Files” – leaked internal documents that put the company in a damaging light – continue to spur bipartisan outrage, with around 50 stories (and counting) documenting not just the myriad harms caused by Facebook’s (FB) platform, but that the company themselves knew about it.

This week executives from YouTube, Snapchat (SNAP), and TikTok were questioned by lawmakers about their platforms' impact on children. Notably, a YouTube executive refused to commit to release the company's internal research as parent company, Alphabet (GOOG) remains in the crosshairs of regulators like the Federal Trade Commission.

But new laws alone aren’t enough if regulators and lawmakers aren’t savvy enough to enforce what's on the books. 

That’s the warning from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Regulation "isn't sufficient if we don't have people who are tech savvy actually implementing the legislation,” said Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley and previously taught economics at Stanford while working as an intellectual property lawyer.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Rep. Ro Khanna speaks at Go Bigger on Climate, Care, and Justice! on July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network)
WRep. Ro Khanna speaks at Go Bigger on Climate, Care, and Justice! on July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network)

Tech companies in Khanna's district, like Sunnyvale and Cupertino (where Apple's headquarters is), "have run circles around the [European Union’s data protection laws] because Europe has no clue on the enforcement of a lot of these regulations that they have,” he said.

He warns that expertise is also lacking in the U.S. and more staffing is needed at places like the FTC and the Securities and Exchange Commission, “with people who actually understand technology, so that tech companies don't run circles around regulations that are passed.”

Khanna is currently pushing a bill called the Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act that would allow people with certain tech expertises to join the government ranks for a set period of time and allow regulators to rotate between federal agencies.

Supporters say it would allow more tech expertise to come in and out of government. The bill passed the House of Representatives last month and currently awaits action in the Senate.

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 26: Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security hearing on Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube on October 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. Social media companies have come under increased scrutiny after a whistleblower exposed controversial issues with Facebook and how they utilized algorithms to increase user engagement. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security hearing on Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube on October 26, 2021 in Washington, DC. Social media companies have come under increased scrutiny after a whistleblower exposed controversial issues with Facebook and how they utilized algorithms to increase user engagement. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Khanna has bemoaned the lack of technological literacy in Washington in the past and partly as a result has been skeptical of attempts to break up big tech companies simply because the task is so complex, preferring to move “with surgical precision and not with a sledgehammer.”

Khanna noted he's currently working on another bill to enforce regulations on advertising and on products sold to minors that “I believe that could have very bipartisan support.”

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

If Section 230 is going to be dismantled, some say health misinformation is a way to start

How the White House is trying to shake off the loss of a key climate provision

Democrats want $273 billion in tax credits to achieve Biden’s climate goals

Read the latest financial and business news from Yahoo Finance

Follow Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, LinkedIn, YouTube, and reddit.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting