The long-awaited assembly between the Justice Department and state attorneys common about just what to do about social media companies centered much less on the alleged political bias of these companies, as President Trump has harped on, and extra on potential antitrust and privateness points.
The Justice Department had initially framed the assembly as discussing the concept that Facebook, Google, and Twitter have monopolies and the longstanding allegation — introduced with out proof — that they intentionally stifle conservative concepts. The assembly would tackle “a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms,” the division mentioned in its preliminary announcement.
But political bias obtained little consideration on the assembly, which lasted a little bit over an hour on the Department of Justice in Washington on Tuesday. “The discussion centered on ways the Department and state governments can most effectively safeguard consumers using online digital platforms,” learn a Justice Department abstract of the assembly. “The discussion principally focused on consumer protection and data privacy issues, and the bipartisan group of attendees sought to identify areas of consensus.”
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, reviewing notes he took within the assembly, mentioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions “talked specifically about political bias that the Justice Department is concerned about” in his remarks in addition to social media companies’ financial energy and their potential to violate customers’ privateness.
But whereas the state attorneys common usually agreed that financial energy and privateness considerations had been points to pursue, “at least a few others strongly disagree that the government — the Justice Department — should be attempting to stifle political speech in any way whatsoever,” he mentioned.
“I don’t think the state Republican attorneys general think that’s an appropriate direction to go, but [Attorney] General Sessions did bring the conversation back to that several different times,” Frosh mentioned.
The 13 states represented — Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington, in addition to Washington, DC — joined prime Justice Department employees, including Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The matter the state attorneys common discovered attention-grabbing, mentioned California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, was what applicable privateness legal guidelines would appear to be, what would represent a monopoly on main US tech platforms, and whether or not there was an intersection of these concepts, such as whether or not tech companies’ capacity to hoard troves of person information was significantly dangerous to Americans.
“The conversation really zeroed in on privacy. It became pretty clear the matters that were most on the mind of the attorneys general that were there dealt with privacy and its different nuances, whether the definition, interpretation of privacy, and antitrust,” Becerra mentioned.
“It was framed as an open discussion. There was no agenda, and from the beginning, the conversation zeroed in on the sector and more specifically about whether as enforcers, regulators, federal and state agencies had some basis to do a closer look at what’s going on.”
Becerra mentioned that whereas the dialogue touched on newer information privateness legal guidelines like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and California’s personal Consumer Privacy Law, and checked out antitrust investigations like these into Standard Oil and Microsoft, there wasn’t something within the assembly to counsel such actions had been imminent.
The de facto chief of the group gave the impression to be Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson, in accordance with Becerra, who mentioned that he and others would look to Peterson in deciding easy methods to proceed. Peterson, like multiple of the Republican attorneys common who attended, was not keen to remark for this story.