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Tech Crackdown Collides With Old Rules

In Washington, the calls to rein in large technology platforms are louder than ever—and coming from all sides. Fueled by a consumer backlash, Republicans, usually loath to regulate private companies, are complaining about the size and privacy practices of Google and Facebook. Democrats are pointing to the influence of “Big Tech” as evidence that the U.S. economy is not working for everyone.

The broad-based desire to make an issue of Silicon Valley means that the Federal Trade Commision, the agency charged with protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices, might finally be handed the additional resources it has long sought to oversee the industry. Yet for all the recent clamor in Washington, D.C., it appears unlikely that Congress is ready to dramatically expand the FTC's powers, something that would need to happen in order to make substantial changes to how tech companies are regulated, said attorneys and policy analysts.

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