Seattle’s U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal has become the most prominent face of the effort to rein in the country’s tech giants.
On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee approved Jayapal’s ambitious proposal to make it easier to break up industry-dominating companies like Facebook, Apple and Google. Also on the target list is the biggest employer in Jayapal’s home district: Amazon.
There have been mounting concerns that these behemoths have so much control over the way Americans communicate, shop and handle personal information, and so much power to stifle competition, that the time has come to cut them down to size, just as AT&T was dismantled in an antitrust action that opened the way for the telecommunications revolution.
It is not just Jayapal and other progressive Democrats who are in favor of this. Several Republicans have joined the push, as well, motivated, in part, by Facebook and Twitter banning former President Donald Trump from their platforms. If support for the bill is bipartisan, so is the opposition. Many Republicans are perennially averse to government regulation of industry, and a number of Democrats are not keen about possibly killing the big fat geese that have laid so many golden eggs.
However it goes, Jayapal’s star is likely to continue rising. She has already eclipsed New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the rate of appearances on MSNBC, and she is skilled at explaining fairly radical proposals in ways that make them sound perfectly reasonable.
Given the political complexion of her district, Jayapal will likely be assured of re-election for as long as she wants to keep her job. That does not mean her antitrust fight is risk free. She is taking on giants, and even the Biblical David did not try to fight four Goliaths at the same time.
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