In the past few years, some of the largest technology companies have been attacked by US lawmakers for a whole range of problems. Regardless of potential breaches of antitrust legislation or historical data breaches, Google and Facebook are forced to reinforce their lobby arms to avert regulation and to silence members of Congress.
On Friday 2020 presidential candidate senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced a new plan aimed at making legislators less susceptible to these lobbyists and their "disinformation" on sensitive issues such as technology consolidation and climate change: an army of government-mandated technical nerds housed in a restored Office of Technology Assessment (OTA).
"Members of Congress are not only dependent on corporate lobbyist propaganda because they are bought and paid for," Warren said. "It is also because of a successful, decades-long campaign to starve Congress of the resources and expertise needed to independently evaluate complex public policy issues."
Over the years, offices such as the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Research Service have been established to provide legislators with better resources to make policy decisions. They carry out independent reports on government spending and act as a non-partisan check on partisan legislators. Over time, some groups are defunded, including the OTA.
The OTA was established in the 1970s to help the congress understand and prepare complex issues related to science and technology. But in the 1990s, former home speaker Newt Gingrich led a successful attempt to resolve it. Warren wants to restore it.
In its plan proposal, Warren claims that a restored OTA would help lawmakers struggle with policy issues that involve some of the country's largest technology companies, such as Google and Facebook. Under its administration, the OTA would compile short-term requests from members as they prepare for hearings and home experts on specific issues such as climate change and technology consolidation.
Warren specifically mentions how members like Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) behaved in last year's hearing with Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. Blunt bragged about posting his & # 39; Facebook address & # 39; on his business cards, and Hatch questioned the company's business model, resulting in the iconic & # 39; senator, we give ads & # 39 ;, comment from Zuckerberg.
"Even social media senators struggled to ask about difficult concepts such as end-to-end encryption, location tracking, and the Silicon Valley competitive landscape," Warren said. "When Congress decides whether it should break down major technology companies, our representatives should not rely on the Google policy team to understand the effects of technology consolidation."
The Congress is not the only government agency that is struggling to force technology to change. The Federal Trade Commission was only able to raise $ 5 billion from Facebook for its Cambridge Analytica scandal, a meager sum compared to the company's overall profit. In response to these technology companies, the FTC has established its own body, the Technical Task Force, to focus specifically on these issues. The OTA could be that, but for Congress.
It is not only Warren who calls on OTA to make a comeback. In recent months, other members of Congress have made efforts to restore it. Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) have led a dichotomy in the Senate and representatives Bill Foster (D-IL) and Mark Takano (CA) have a corresponding led in the Parliament to introduce the law on improving assessment and improvement of technology assessment.
Warren & # 39; s plan also calls for competitive salaries for conference staff and an increase in funding for conference support agencies such as the Congressional Budget Office and the GAO.