House Judiciary GOP, Pick a Side: The Big Tech Left or Your Constituents | Opinion

The Obama-Biden administration was particularly cozy with Big Tech. So cozy, in fact, that we have gone for more than a decade without real law enforcement of our nation's century-old antitrust laws by our two federal antitrust law enforcement agencies: the Justice Department's Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

This decade-long antitrust amnesty, along with Communications Decency Act Section 230 immunity from 1996, fueled the Frankenstein-like transformation of the promising tech infants of 1996 to today's trillion-dollar Big Tech monopolies, with their limousine-liberal billionaire bosses. And these Big Tech monopolists and bullies use their market power to crush small businesses, conservatives and competition generally in the online marketplace. Yes, we've created a monster. Many of them, in fact: Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Apple.

Fortunately, Attorney General William Barr and a bipartisan group of state attorneys general appear poised to hold Google—the biggest and worst Big Tech actor—accountable for its clear antitrust violations in the digital marketplace, including search and online advertising. And even the FTC, long captured by Big Tech, has apparently been shamed into at least pretending that it is going to look into Facebook's clear antitrust abuses. (At least until after the election, when the FTC may hope for a President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris's resumption of the Obama-Biden coddling of the Big Tech Left.)

This is where Congress—particularly the U.S. House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, the key oversight committee for our two federal antitrust law enforcement agencies—must step up and exercise its critical oversight responsibilities. We've had our antitrust laws on the books for a century. Regardless of whether the Antitrust Division or the FTC likes our antitrust laws, they nonetheless must faithfully execute them. That's their constitutional duty. And they have failed to do this for more than a decade, while pocketing their annual appropriation from hard-working Americans. Why is this happening? And why hasn't Congress held them accountable?

To House Democrat David Cicilline's credit, he was willing to take on the Big Tech Left and hold a key oversight hearing on August 29. Indeed, the House Antitrust Subcommittee—in a bipartisan manner—confronted the CEOs of tech giants Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. At the hearing, despite clear evidence of antitrust violations, the four CEOs refused to take any responsibility. They also gaslighted Americans by denying the clear targeting of conservative social media users with silencing or other forms of censorship.

Fortunately, Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) has been a rare conservative champion, both publicly and behind the scenes, in the fight to hold Big Tech accountable for clear antitrust abuses and other bad acts. Indeed, according to news reports, Congressman Buck has put his constituents before The Swamp, writing that the evidence compiled in the draft subcommittee majority report "offers a chilling look into how Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook have used their power to control how we see and understand the world." Buck later said in a statement on Monday: "I agree with Chairman Cicilline that Big Tech has acted in an anticompetitive manner. The next phase is to start working on solutions."

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO)
Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Taking a sensible, conservative approach, Buck lays out where he finds agreement and disagreement with the subcommittee majority report. The bottom lines are these: The majority report finds clear evidence of Big Tech's antitrust violations. Conservatives support law enforcement. Conservatives should not support amnesty, whether it's for immigration enforcement or antitrust enforcement. Conservatives understand that big is not bad—in fact, conservatives celebrate success. Conservatives support free markets. But a free market requires a functioning market. And when monopolists use their power to harm the competitive market, we no longer have a free market. They also violate our federal antitrust laws in the process. If Google, for example, isn't the case study in a monopolist violating our century-old antitrust laws and harming small businesses, conservatives and the digital market, we might as well close down the Antitrust Division and FTC, along with our relevant congressional oversight committees. Big Tech would certainly approve.

There's no need for Congress to rewrite antitrust statutes. There's no need for new theories for courts to entertain. There's no need for new regulations. In fact, with antitrust law enforcement, we target monopolists—the tumors in the marketplace—so we don't need industry-wide regulations. We simply need to end Big Tech's antitrust amnesty by ensuring our two federal antitrust agencies have the resources—and the congressional kick in the behind—they need to enforce our century-old antitrust law and prosecute Big Tech's clear antitrust violations.

If our elected Republican members of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee cannot agree with these most basic of conservative principles and join Congressman Buck's report this week, they have clearly decided to side with The Swamp instead of their own constituents.

Mike Davis is president and founder of the Internet Accountability Project. He is a former top attorney for the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary and previously served in the United States Department of Justice. Davis also clerked for Justice Neil Gorsuch, both on the Tenth Circuit and on the Supreme Court.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.