attendee, Republican Attorney General Doug Peterson of Nebraska,
said officials would look at the possibility of a formal
multistate investigation of major tech platforms, focusing on
both consumer-protection issues such as privacy and potential
certainly enough interest expressed by the attorneys general
who were there today, and I think [we] will continue to move
forward,” Mr. Peterson said in an interview.
and Facebook declined to comment.
giants have faced growing calls for oversight amid bipartisan
worries about the companies’ size and influence. Any moves by
the states would open another regulatory battlefront.
the meeting, much of the focus from officials was on the
massive amounts of personal data tech companies collect from
their users, and the adequacy and transparency of their terms
of use. Some officials also wanted to take a closer look
at the market power of firms such as Facebook and Google, a
unit of Alphabet Inc.
third issue, potential
political bias by major platforms
, got relatively little
attention in the meeting, participants said.
Justice Department said the discussion focused on consumer
protection and data privacy issues, and that many of the
participants “shared the view that it is essential for federal
and state law enforcement authorities to work together to
ensure that these challenges are addressed responsibly and
Justice Department said it would review the information shared
by the state attorneys general and “expects this dialogue will
continue in the near future,” although no future federal-state
meetings were announced. In all, nine states’ attorneys
general attended the meeting in person or by phone, along with
representatives of five other states.
participants stopped short of saying a joint federal-state
investigation would commence, but several state attorneys
general said the issues deserve more attention.
are growing concerns that the [tech] sector is moving in
spaces that most people couldn’t have thought of or imagined,”
particularly in use of personal data, Xavier Becerra,
California’s Democratic attorney general, said in a meeting
with reporters afterward. “I walked out of that meeting
believing there’s reason to continue the conversation.”
Racine, the Democratic attorney general of the District of
Columbia, said the officials likely will focus on data
concerns “with an increasing degree of interest.” He also
predicted that the dialogue represents “the early stages of
Racine has previously supported a reopening of a closed
antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into
general aren’t the only ones concerned about strengthening
online consumer protections. On Tuesday, the Trump
administration released a framework for improving data-privacy
practices of the tech giants. It called for more transparency
in how firms collect and use data, and more control for users
over their personal information.
Wednesday, lawmakers on Capitol Hill will hold a high-profile
hearing to examine privacy practices among big companies
including Google and Twitter Inc.,
well as telecommunications companies such as AT&T Inc.
Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has agreed to
meet with top GOP lawmakers
responding to new scrutiny of the company’s work with China,
its market power and alleged bias against conservative voices
in its search results.
meeting of attorneys general had been expected to also focus
on the political-bias allegations, which have been a concern
among some Republican officials, including state attorneys
general as well as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R.,
Calif.). President Trump also has recently accused
Google of skewing online search results
highlight negative news stories about him.
tech platforms deny allowing any political bias to affect
their news, search or other functions.
said the bias issue got less attention than expected, however.
Sessions “was really the only one who was talking about
political speech,” said Brian Frosh, the Democratic attorney
general of Maryland.