Facebook, Alphabet Find Few Friends in Washington

It’s getting lonelier in Washington, D.C., for Facebook and Alphabet. Lobbyists, lawyers, investors and others who straddle tech and political worlds point to an under-appreciated dynamic heightening political pressure for Facebook and Alphabet in recent weeks: The internet companies’ tech and media brethren are looking to twist the knife into the internet giants.

In the debate-du-jour in the U.S. Senate, Oracle, Disney, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and 21st Century Fox recently voiced support for an anti-sex trafficking bill that would change the bedrock internet platform law, the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230, to put more legal liability on web companies like Facebook and Alphabet. Co-sponsored by Republican senator Rob Portman of Ohio, it is aimed mainly at Backpage.com, a classifieds site that ran ads connected with sex trafficking. But it is written broadly enough that most big consumer internet companies have voiced concerns.

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Still, that argument might not be enough to stop the momentum. Alphabet has been looking to work with senators to amend the bill, Politico reported, but it could still head to a floor vote later this fall.

“I just think there’s something in the air,” as a tech policy insider put it.

Michealene Risley and George Gilder commented on this article.
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“I just think there’s something in the air.”