Josh Hawley Versus the Machine

Washington Free Beacon | 6/17/2019 | Charles Fain Lehman
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BY: Charles Fain Lehman

If you were looking for a David to the multi-billion-dollar, big-tech Goliath, you could do worse than Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.).

Senate - January - Hawley - Name - Silicon

Since arriving to the Senate in January, Hawley has made a name for himself as a Silicon Valley skeptic. In March, he attracted attention for his heated cross-examination of Google executives. And in May, he delivered a provocative speech at the Hoover Institution in which he called "the entire social media economy" a "source of peril" for America.

Hawley has also put his legislation where his mouth is. He has floated four separate bills meant to regulate tech: an update to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal Do Not Track right, a limit on how video sites serve content containing children, and a ban on "loot boxes" in video games marketed to kids.

Bill - Attention - Critics - Kind - Craze

This last bill, in particular, has attracted derisive attention from critics, who dismiss it as of a kind with the craze for video-game regulation in the 1990s. Video games, social media—is it really fair to bring so much rhetorical and legislative pressure to bear on toys and sites for chatting with your friends?

But, as he explained in a wide-ranging conversation with the Washington Free Beacon, Hawley views his legislative work as part of a deeper critique of how tech firms, often heralded as the future of America, have designed a profit model driven more by addiction than innovation.

Motivation - Loot - Box - Bill - Children

"One motivation [of the loot box bill] is to protect children from exploitative practices that are targeted directly at them," Hawley said. "And I think it gets to a broader question about what video game companies, social media companies, are doing employing exploitative practices, addictive practices, in their business model, often aimed at kids, in order to make money. Is this really something that we...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Washington Free Beacon
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