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Key Republican warns Big Tech: Step up or be regulated

Rep. Greg Walden in front of an Axios logo
Rep. Greg Walden. Photo: Chuck Kennedy / Axios

The chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an attack on the market power of large tech companies Wednesday. "I’m not looking for a lot of regulation, I’m looking for responsibility," Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said at an Axios event. "If responsibility doesn’t flow, then regulation will."

Why it matters: Walden leads the House committee tasked with overseeing technology issues.

Walden raised multiple areas for possible regulation:

  • Liability for online platforms, which the House addressed Tuesday by passing a bill that allows victims of sex trafficking to sue web platforms that knowingly facilitated the crime
  • Digital political advertisements of the sort that Russian operatives bought during the 2016 election
  • Privacy as it related to the massive tranches of data collected by online platforms
  • Net neutrality, which Walden suggested could be applied to platforms as well as telecom companies

Our thought bubble: While Walden was cautious in announcing any specific action, this is striking talk coming from a pro-industry Republican with close ties to House leadership.

Go deeper: An Axios-SurveyMonkey poll out this morning shows Americans are increasingly concerned government won't do enough to regulate tech.