Silicon Valley on the Defensive

Susan Molinari Vice President of Public Policy, Google
Joel Kaplan Vice President for U.S. Public Policy, Facebook
Corie Wright Director of Global Public Policy, Netflix
Fred Humphries, Corporate Vice President of U.S. Government Affairs, Microsoft Corporation

These executives are at the forefront of the online industry’s push-back against the Congress and administration’s determined drive to regulate them, not to mention other challenges related to major issues of privacy, transparency in advertising, anti-trust charges and more. Molinari is a former Republican congresswoman from New York, Kaplan was a deputy chief- of-staff in the George W. Bush White House, Wright came from the non-profit public sector and Humphries was once a policy advisor for former-Sen. Dick Gephardt as well as a political director at the Democratic National Committee. In February, they joined forces in an attempt to lobby Congress to restore the Obama era’s net neutrality rule, repealed in 2017 by the Trump administration. Earlier, Facebook lost a battle to turn over to Congress more than 3,000 ads planted by Russians in Moscow’s campaign to influence the 2016 election. In April, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg answered a summons to appear before Congress following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British research firm working for the Trump campaign, had plundered the profiles of millions of Facebook users. Even as they say they are committing themselves to greater transparency, the companies are pushing back against law enforcement and intelligence communities’ refusal to alert clients if agencies request information from their accounts. The atmosphere is toxic and vindictive because almost all of the U.S. social media and social networking community backed the Democrats in 2016. In their lobbying they have the advantage of deep pockets. For example, Fox Business claimed recently that “Cumulatively, over the past five years, only Google has spent more than Boeing on lobbying Washington.”

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