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Ken Buck. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

In a key sign conservatives are gunning for a Big Tech antitrust battle in the upcoming Biden administration, a number of prominent conservative groups are backing Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) to be the next ranking Republican on the House's antitrust panel, according to a letter shared with Axios.

Why it matters: The Colorado Republican has been a key voice in tech antitrust debates, recently finding common ground with committee chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) on ideas to tamper the power and reach of Big Tech firms, which they have accused of anticompetitive behavior.

  • The House Judiciary Committee conducted a year-long investigation into Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon, culminating in reports from Buck and the Democratic majority that outlined a vision for legislation.

What they're saying: Buck "has shown his dedication to standing up against Big Tech's censorship of conservative viewpoints," the conservative groups write.

  • "As these corporations have ventured to crush consumers and small business under their economic ambitions, Rep. Buck has immersed himself in Congressional efforts to promote meaningful policy reforms that support conservative principles."

Zoom in ... Among the three dozen signees: The Internet Accountability Project, a conservative-backed anti-big tech group; Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute; L. Brent Bozell III, chairman of For America; and Charlie Kirk, president of Turning Point USA.

What to watch: If Buck wins the ranking post, he'll have a prominent role to play in turning the antitrust subcommittee's ideas into legislation.

Go deeper

Jan 16, 2021 - Technology

Biden's tech hunger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Biden will preside over a split tech policy — a return to Obama-era normalcy when it comes to getting more people online and a newfound hunger to rein in Silicon Valley giants.

The intrigue: The party has broadly moved left on antitrust — and is angry at tech, besides. Major tech-minded antitrust legislation that could actually pass and get enacted is still a long shot but likelier than it's ever been.

What to watch: Biden, angry at the unchecked online spread of misinformation, has called for an end to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online platforms from lawsuits over content.

  • Full repeal is unlikely. But Democrats on the Hill are already talking about curbing Section 230's reach to impose legal consequences on platforms that fail to block or delete content that incites violence.

Who to watch: Bruce Reed, Biden's deputy chief of staff.

  • Reed, a vocal and enthusiastic critic of Section 230, wants the law to be overhauled or wiped from the books entirely so Congress can start over with a totally different legal regime for online content.
Ina Fried, author of Login
1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."