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tv   Washington Journal Patrick Hedger  CSPAN  November 28, 2019 3:32pm-4:18pm EST

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constitutional grounds for constitutional impeachment. president has also been invited to attend and have his legal counsel participate by asking questions. we will have live coverage next wednesday at 10:00 eastern. you can watch online at or listen live on our radio app. >> we are going to talk about regulates -- efforts to regulate big tech. joining us is patrick hedger with the competitive enterprise institute center for technology and innovation. glad to have you with us. i want to ask about a proposal andrew yang put out this week, regulating technology firms in the 21st century. that is the headline on the piece. it was released a week ago or so.
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what is he proposing, and what do you think? patrick: a lot of the principles of this regulatory policy come from the 20th century and even the 19th century. we are talking about overly prescriptive government regulation managing the minutia of the policies of technology companies. he is talking about very prescriptive regulations in terms of how these companies use data. there are good things about the policy, i would say, things like re-empowering congress through the office of technology analysis. so there are good parts of the proposal in terms of wanting to create more education, more knowledge, out of the company's work and how the digital economies work. but there are also things in this plan that resemble what we see in a lot of plans coming from both sides of the aisle.
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i would say this plan shares a lot of similarities with things proposed by senator josh hawley and other senators in terms of regulating how you interact with platforms, the amount of time you spend on the platform, particular to josh's bill, autoplay and things like that. host: what are the challenges federal regulators have, congress has, the administration has, in regulating, not just technology companies that are different, the challenges that are different from regulating other sorts of businesses? patrick: i think that the challenges aren't so different. i challenge the premise of that a little bit. what we see in trying to regulate these companies, pretend as if these companies are so different because we are on a frontier of a new type of technology. the principles of regulation are still the same.
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you want to set up a competitive dynamic where these companies are competing with one another, and you are allowing customers to decide which platforms work best for them, which privacy settings work best for them. and when you try to assign a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme in these areas, which we have seen in the past in other areas of the economy, looking although it backed airlines and things like that, you tend to see competitive effects diminish because of the issues of regulatory capture, and the barriers regulation can create to competition. so the challenge policymakers really have is making sure that
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whatever regulatory structure is put in place doesn't diminish competitive effects within the sector. host: part of what he says is this, big tech companies are winners of that when he first century economy. they have amassed too much power largely profiting from personal data and unaccountable responsibility. we have reached a point where the government needs to step in. digital giants such as facebook, google, apple, renders them more like quasi-sovereign states than companies, rendering decisions on things the government usually makes like speech and safety. their business models are driven by algorithms that are supercharged by technology to predict behavior, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, and that feed off our data, creating and increasing asymmetry of power without any accountability. what are your thoughts about terms of use of personal data, and what big tech companies do with that data?
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patrick: that is why we want to have as many companies in this space as possible, so consumers can ultimately make that decision. the problem i have with plans like this, whether they are coming from the left or the right, is that they tend to assign the politicians' personal preferences for how their data is used, to public policy. by having as many companies as possible in the sector, you allow consumers to make the choice. right now we are seeing facebook and apple trading barbs publicly over who has the better approach of protecting your privacy. and apple offers services where you can pay a little extra, and pay for the service instead of having the service compensated by advertising that funds the service, and is reliant on the data. i would point out a couple of challenges to that particular quote from mr. yang. you mentioned facebook, apple, amazon and google. not long ago it used to be facebook, apple, amazon, netflix and google. and now netflix faces almost unlimited competition. within the last two weeks we saw the launch of disney plus, and that is because government has kept a light-touch regulatory framework to the streaming sector, the streaming part of the big tech economy. and now we have seen a lot of new market entrants.
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to the extent they have outside power in these companies have grown too large, the companies of grown large because they provide services consumers find valuable. nobody's putting a gun to anybody's head saying you have to use facebook, apple products, and another part i would like to challenge mr. yang on is this idea of rights. these companies have rights as well. and these companies, government doesn't assign or create rights. government is limited. we have inalienable rights and the government power to regulate those is limited. so when you talk about these companies regulating speech are things like that, what they are doing is exercising their own speech rights and their own association rights.
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so when you have the government challenging doubts, essentially the government is challenging, is at risk of breaching the first amendment, when it is talking about regulating speech and association rights of these private companies. host: patrick hedger is our guest, talking about proposals to regulate big tech by andrew yang and others. we want your calls and comments. we have already made the decision as users to use these. what responsibility is there of government to assure a safe
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environment for that? ist invdividual privacy not compromised. patrick: we already have frameworks in place. any new emerging technology, you want to have a regulatory framework that encourages competition and new market entry. we tend to have this knee-jerk reaction when we have a technological economic frontier like this, where we want regulations that control outcomes, but government is bad at predicting outcomes, it is bad at predicting where the economy is going. so we want to have a type of regulation that encourages permissionless innovation, instead of a mother may i approach. the economy moves faster than the regulatory process of government. we have seen areas of our economy work, businesses have to ask for permission before they engage in business practice. and in those areas you see less competition, higher prices, not something we want in the tech sector when we have services offered at zero price for a lot of consumers.
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so it is about balancing the precautionary principle versus permissionless innovation, and we don't want to be so cautious with innovation that we smother technologies and may not be able to predict, that have been founded in a basement or garage or dorm room somewhere. host: andrew yang's plan, for reference, would establish data as a property right. he would create a department of attention economy, focusing on smartphones and apps and establishing guidelines and age restrictions and there would be a new tax on digital ads and require disclosure of all political ads and to regulate
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algorithms. this past week, google made a policy change in terms of political ads. what is your thought? patrick: google, facebook and twitter, they are all taking different approaches to political ads. that is the competitive effect of competitive regulation and market regulation that we are seeing, and that is all happening without any sort of significant or formal government intervention. you are seeing these companies respond in different ways to social and market pressures, and that is the dynamic we want to keep encouraging. when you set down a set of overly prescriptive regulations, you get rid of those options, you get rid of that experimentation, which i think is really valuable. so time will tell.
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we will see whether google, twitter or facebook, we will see which of these companies has the best approach to political ads. the ultimate issue with these regulatory proposals is that they assume they are going to create the best outcome, and the problem is that we only have one option when government creates something like an overly prescriptive regulatory proposal that applies to all companies. we want as many options as possible and see which one works best. and the other issue is, we can't assume the government regulatory solution is going to solve all problems are be the perfect solution. we tend to come up when we approach regulation in any sector, but particularly tech, we assume the government regulatory solution is going to be some sort of perfect solution. and in this kind of approach, you make the perfect the enemy of the good. host: patrick hedger with the competitive enterprise institute.
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republicans have been raising this issue of search results and a bias against conservative views. is there a role for government in regulating that arena? patrick: absolutely not. the first amendment is clear about that. again, these companies have their own speech and association rights. and i would caution conservatives about taking that approach, because, trying to regulate speech on these platforms, you are making the government the arbiter of truth. that is counterproductive to some things most americans don't want to see, but particularly conservatives. you are talking about empowering government bureaucrats to decide what is and is not truthful in what is and is not biased. i would rather have a market-based approach to that. if conservatives are upset with the results of the access they are getting on these platforms come i would encourage them to find other options. that is going to be a much
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better option than assigning a one-size-fits-all approach from government that may be actually works for conservatives in the long run. host: do you think companies like facebook, twitter, etc., are reacting to that criticism and types of -- in terms of the type of content they deliver and views they express on those platforms? patrick: yes, i do see that. a good example of that was the recent new approach to speech on facebook outlined by mark zuckerberg at his speech at georgetown. he is striking a good balance for his platform, but that is ultimately up to facebook users to decide. twitter is taking a different approach. i'm just happy to see these companies taking different approaches. it shows two things. one, they are still accountable to users, and two, they are facing competition from one another. that is a sign of a healthy, functioning market sector.
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host: mark zuckerberg was on capitol hill testifying before a house committee, and congresswoman alexandria ocasio -cortez questioning the facebook approach on political ads? here is a look. >> could i run advertisements on facebook targeting republicans in primaries, saying they voted for the green new deal? >> i'm sorry, could you repeat that? >> could i run advertisements on facebook targeting republicans in primaries, saying they voted for the green new deal? if you are not fact checking political advertisements, i just here.tand the boundaries
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>> i don't know the answer off the top of my head. >> so you don't know if i would be able to do that. do you see a potential problem with a complete lack of fact checking on political advertisements? >> lying is bad. if you ran an ad that had a lie, that would be bad. that is different from it being, in our position, the right thing to do to prevent your constituents from seeing that you had lied. >> so you won't take down lies, or you will take down lies? it is a simple yes or no? i'm not talking about spin i'm talking about disinformation. >> in a democracy, i believe people should see for themselves what politicians they may or may not vote for -- >> so you won't take it down?
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you may flag that it is wrong, but you won't take it down? >> it depends on the context it shows up. host: some back and forth on the basic idea of fact checking on these platforms. patrick: again, it is trying to ask these companies to really do the impossible, because particularly in politics, one person's truth is another person's lie. and do we really want to centralize fact checking within one particular company? i would like to see as many voices as possible countering one another with varying arguments, and to essentially have fact checking going on inside a black box, be it at one of these companies or in government, who is deciding what is the truth? the best way to approach this is to make sure we have as many voices as possible, so that if somebody is putting out something that is perhaps misinformation or a lie, that people are able to challenge that openly. that is the approach that they are trying to strike. i don't see how facebook,
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whether it is an employee at facebook or twitter or any other big tech platform, or a bureaucrat at a regulatory agency in washington, is going to ultimately, everybody has their own personal biases, so i don't see how we can essentially have perfect arbiters of truth or what is or isn't a lie in politics at either a company or agency. host: we welcome your comments on to calls first, from yaya in chicago. caller: most people don't know how important it is to keep a digital identity safe. there are a lot of scams. and i take offense at this idea that regulation suppresses competition. regulation is about public safety. nothing is ever really free. data has value, when you load these apps, they want your contacts, they want your location, they want your device id number, they want your isp address. it is not free. they are collecting that data. you can go online and find a website that posts stolen lists
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of usernames, maybe even passwords, there are so many scams. regulation is about safety. it is not about suppressing competition. thank you. patrick: i understand those concerns. the only counter that i would have, and i certainly think americans should be vigilant about using their data and what they agree to in the use these services, and if they don't like terms of these services they should opt out and find another that better suits their data privacy needs or desires, but the counter i would have to that is that regulation is not a perfect solution.
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and when we assume that regulation is a perfect solution to some of the risks that occur in this sector, you tend to create issues of moral hazard, where people may not be as cautious or vigilant as they should be in terms of using their own personal data, if they assume the government has it all covered. and we have seen many examples in the past where the government doesn't has issues of data privacy or security coverage. one of the worst hacks in u.s. history was at the u.s. office of personnel management. something over 20 million files at personally identifiable information of government employees, and eluding people with top-secret clearances, was believed to have been leaked to i believe a source of hackers in china.
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we are trying to balance trade-offs. we want to make sure there is policing of wrongdoing, but we don't want regulation to the extent it is controlling business practices of companies, and therefore limiting competition. competition is what holds these companies more accountable than anything else. host: another take on giving up data, this is frank in council bluffs iowa that texted us, great discussion on big tech. people that use those platforms give up their data freely when they sign up and agree to terms and conditions. if you accept without reading terms and conditions, that isn't the problem of big tech, says frank. from euclid ,ohio on the independent line, good morning. caller: i appreciate the two young ladies that spoke prior to myself and said it is not so much a regulation of big tech as it is just social media in general. you don't necessarily have to regulate in that way. i'm only 35 years old, but what you see on the internet is usually a lot of people younger than myself, what they believe. and if you are not putting up anything that is of any truth, and if people have enough money to go through, they are going to
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be flooded with misinformation and false narratives. because nobody wants to take down the time and go through the individual points. i watched over the past few days myself, different proceedings and everything else, and obviously people aren't going to look at all the fine-tuned things, but what they see on the internet is what people believe. at some point there has to be something that ensures they do.
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not even so much regulation of big tech, but we do look out for reasons of being internal, as you would say, from our country, that are shooting up schools and churches and everything else. all of this stuff has to be looked at and needs to be regulated to some degree. how we look at it is going to depend and everybody's going to look at it on a different way. host: what are your thoughts on government responsibility in terms of regulating the internet for children, or big tech platforms for children. patrick: there's certainly a role. we want to make sure kids are protected online, but i raise the issue again of moral hazard. create regulatory frameworks that are overly prescript event claim to solve these problems, number one, you take responsibility away from
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parents, which needs to remain there, we want to make sure parents are still vigilant because they are the first line of defense for the kids. so if we are out there saying, don't worry, this regulation is going to protect your children no matter what, we don't want to parents taking a backseat because they think that there is some sort of perfect regulatory framework out there. there is going to be flaws with any sort of system. what we are trying to do is create a system that, all public policy can do is balance regulatory trade-offs and we don't wanted to throw out more of the good when it takes care of the bad. we have seen a lot of regulations narrowly targeted at protecting children online which are very well intended, and we have seen unintended consequences come from those regulations, where you see a chilling effect on new types of businesses, new voices coming online. there has been an issue recently with compliances -- with compliance with one of these
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laws designed to protect children online, where you have content creators on youtube specifically right now, because of a recent agreement that occurred between the fcc and google, the parent company, alphabet, the parent company of youtube, that a lot of content creators that are creating very benign, innocent content on youtube are simply taking a step back and saying, i am now hesitant to publish this content, publish this speech. host: what drove the agreement between the fcc and alphabet? patrick: there was a lot of content on youtube being viewed by children and it was found to
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be out of compliance with the law passed earlier in this decade. that is a good example of a really well-intended law that is having unintended consequences because it casts such a wide net of preemptive regulation, that you are throwing out a lot of good in order to target a very narrow bad. host: here is a snapshot of where americans are according to gallup in their most recent polling of regulation of big tech. they say americans are split. 48% of adults favor more government regulation of big tech firms. 40% say regulation of tech companies should not change and 10% prefer a decrease. we are talking with patrick hedger of the competitive enterprise institute. we go to bay city, michigan, joe on the democrats' line. go ahead. >> i do a facebook live show every day and i think it is not right, when we have the right to freely speak in america, for somebody to go on facebook and do a live show and a speech and to have someone to report you, and they take that off the air. i think that is crazy. i don't feel like they are allowing people to freely speak
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their mind on there. and i feel like they are regulating what is being said, the content. they will say things about community standards. i'm a diesel mechanic, and things like that, so i'm kind of a rough neck. my community might want to hear something a little bit more rough than the next. host: what is your show about? >> i basically talk about politics, religion, my thoughts toward life. sometimes there is vulgarity on there, things like that. i live in michigan, where marijuana is legal, so i smoke marijuana on there. anytime anybody gets a problem, i get reported over something and they just go ahead, you know. i feel like it is regulated but only regulated by facebook, by the big tech companies.
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host: they haven't shut down your show yet, have they? they haven't asked you to take it off, have they? >> they have once or twice, but i go to what they refer to as facebook jail and maybe seven days later, i go back on and do my show again. host: patrick hedger, any thoughts? >> i loved hearing that story because it reminds me, we take for granted a lot of the good that has come from big tech. i think it is fantastic that you have your own show. just 10 years ago, that wasn't really possible for any american to get on facebook or the internet and have their own show and challenge big media companies and provide their own views to a wide audience, and people can subscribe if they want to or if they don't want to.
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i think that is great. i want that to continue to happen. but we have to remember that facebook may not get it right, or any of these companies may not get it right from an individual's perspective in terms of regulating content on that platform. what they are trying to do is regulate the platform to the extent that it works for the most people. that is ultimately the business. the business is having a platform that is safe for as many people as possible. if they allowed just about any type of protected speech under the first amendment on their platform, there would be a lot of things on facebook where, most people wouldn't want to use it.
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there is a lot of protected speech a lot of people don't want to see or hear. unfortunately, this is the trade-off that we have, and the alternative we are talking about with regulatory proposals from the left and right is to get government involved in regulating what can and cannot be on these platforms. that becomes problematic for the first amendment. you create tiers of protected speech. i would rather have a system where if you don't like the practices of content moderation on one platform, you are free to switch to another. you see that already. there are types of content you can't see on facebook that you can see on twitter and various platforms, and you see that from google and netflix and other platforms. you are not going to find pornography, for example, on netflix or facebook. but there is that on twitter. so you are seeing, already, different approaches to content moderation, and i think that is the correct balance to strike because that is a balance we can strike within the framework of the first amendment. host: from brewster, new york, richard calling on the
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republican line. welcome. >> thanks to c-span, they are patriots and americans and have cameras in the house and senate. that is great. see who our representatives are and what they are saying. i heard google wants to get 90 million american medical records and then sell them off to five or six other companies. what is happening with that? thank you. patrick: great question. there is a lot of concern about that, and that question gets to the heart of some of the other issues we are seeing in this to eight about big tech, and what is being done with your privacy, and business practices these companies are engaged in. the good news is that those records are already protected by existing law. hippa covers the privacy of your medical records. we weren't having this conversation when we began wiring hospitals with the internet. and we weren't talking about how internet service providers would have access to your health care records, because we understood that these companies, because they are subcontracted by a medical provider, are subject to
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hepa. so google is not empowered to use these records however they want. if there is a violation of hepa, it should be violated as such. host: you mentioned mark zuckerberg at georgetown. you also wrote an opinion piece in "the chicago tribune." you said mark zuckerberg summed up the company predicament, right now we are doing a good job getting everyone mad at us. and you wrote that no matter what it does, facebook will not appease all critics, which include many members of congress, academics and journalists. i want to play you the thoughts of josh hawley, the senator from
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missouri and his call for regulation of big tech. >> the pathologies associated with social media in the last decade, the data that comes to us about the correlation of social media usage and teenage suicide and teenage depression and teenage loneliness. we need more information, but we are seeing so far is very worrisome. we know what the business model is of these giant media companies. the business model is to get us to spend as much time online as possible and to take as much information from us as they can and then sell it. the business model is based on export of consumers, families, individuals, children in many cases. that is something we ought to be concerned about and we ought to stop. host: what do you hear there and
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what do you guys what direction do you think this editor is going in terms of regulation? patrick: i hear reiteration of moral panic from new technology we have heard in the past, from videogames to music to novels. when the printing press was invented, people were scared about mass distribution of novels, and what those stories would do to the public and ideas that they would put in people's heads. this is an echo of moral panics we have heard in the past. i think it is right to be concerned about issues that he has raised, but we don't want to lose sight of the benefits provided by these services. it is not uniquely or exclusively negatives created by big tech platforms. these platforms have connected the world. they have created a lot of good. there is any number of anecdotal evidence is that come to mind,
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crowdfunding, access to information the benefits people's lives. my personal story is that i was having terrible vision problems and i had many doctors tell me nothing could be done, but because google was out there i found a doctor that saved my vision. so when i hear stories about all the bad things big tech is doing, we have to remember that the reason we have become so impatient with these companies and have called for regulation is ultimately because we now live in a world where these companies have created an -- incredible conveniences. companies that can deliver information to you instantly that is narrowly tailored to your needs or even deliver tangible physical products not in just days, but hours. we are never going to live in a perfect world. if we took these type of johs hawley or andrew yang approach to technology, we would not have the automobile.
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forreates economic wealth people. unfortunately, people die on the roads. public policy is about weighing trade-offs. we don't want to throw out all the good because of a few narrow bads. host: on the independent line, in virginia, david. >> good morning, c-span. you are very informed on everything. i agree about 100%, 90% at least with mr. hedger. some regulation is needed, but all you have to do is watch the impeachment hearings and you realize, you don't want congress, the people in those hearings, to control your freedom of speech and your ability to use the internet. the american people love google, they love amazon, they love face book, and they'll deliver good services. the only thing i would say is, andrew yang has proposed a value-added tax on purchases
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through amazon, and maybe profit on the ads of google, etc. so that could be an approach where the government could regulate things through a value-added tax, and the general safety concerns your guest has provided is just about right. i will hang up and listen to the response. thank you. patrick: i appreciate you agreeing with most of what i have to say. that is nice to hear, thank you. as far as the idea of a value-added tax on political ads, that has been floated as something to challenge or target misinformation we are seeing on these platforms. the problem is that we are tracing a lot of this
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misinformation to what are either foreign political actors or political actors in general your dent political actors tend not to be too responsive to economic pressures. so what you have is an unintended consequence with a value-added tax on digital ads, where the people that are actually producing real, genuine advertisements, be it for a product or legitimate political cause and not for disinformation tend to get shot out of the market, whereas a foreign actor, be at the chinese or russian government, a marginal, digital ad tax is not going to dissuade a misinformation campaign from a major power looking to disrupt our elections. so it is a really well intended policy that is going to probably have unintended consequences and actually narrow the market more towards disinformation, rather than having more genuine and legitimate ads. host: we go next to boston and hear from mark on the democrat'' line. >> good morning, thank you
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for taking my call, a very interesting topic. i agree with the guest that these are private companies, they have the right to control their content. however, where i disagree and i do see a difference is that they have a complete monopoly. so that is where it is different, because we do have antitrust laws and they are designed to go into a place, standard oil trust or bell telephone, we broke them up because they had a monopoly. it is the equivalent to the invention of a printing press if only one company had access to it and was allowed access to the printing press, or the telephone, if only one company had the rights to grant access to telephone use. people would see that as a problem, restricting free speech, so i think that is where it gets difficult. they are not allowing competition as google comes in and twitter comes in and crushes their competition, buys them out or spears them like they did with gap, a competitor to twitter, and gap has been maligned as a white supremacist, it is all a smear campaign, and then they buy them out. so they are not allowing competition. and now we see them de-platforming people that do not agree with them. it is scary.
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the antitrust part of this is a problem, because i guarantee those corporations, in the future you won't see them as liberal. they are not liberal at all, they are authoritarian. you have to realize that this could get ugly fast. host: the response from patrick. patrick: very legitimate concerns. i get what you are saying. i find it interesting that you mentioned the bell telephone
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monopoly. the bell telephone monopoly was a government-created monopoly because the government saw the need to step in on emerging technology and regulate it. that is what created the bell telephone monopoly. one of my favorite terms i hear in the debate about big tech, people use the term monopolies. if you have plural monopolies, you don't have a monopoly. we are seeing that these companies, although they offer marginally different services, google offers a search engine service and facebook as a social media platform, these companies are actually competing. they're competing for your attention. that is one point andrew yang and josh hawley are correct about, it is ultimately about keeping your attention. they are huge competitors with one another. i referenced this earlier, facebook and apple, which you wouldn't think are competitive companies, were trading public barbs over how they treat the users' privacy, and taking not-so-subtle shots at each other. i think it was nick clay from facebook and tim cook from apple were having a war of words in press releases and statements. companies that don't compete with one another don't insult one another.
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you don't see coca-cola and goodyear tires insulting each other and questioning each other's business practices. these companies are still ultimately accountable to competition. and we don't know what the new technology that could come online tomorrow will be that could disrupt any of these companies. it wasn't long ago, 2007 or 2009, there was an article in "the guardian" and the headline was something to the effect, it is time to break up the myspace monopoly. i fear that 10 years from now we are going to look just as ridiculous talking about companies that have only had this market share for about a decade. we don't know the next facebook, the next google that supplants these companies, may have already been founded in a dorm room somewhere.
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we want to make sure regulation some call for doesn't smother that company in its infancy. host: we appreciate you, patrick hedger, for helping us understand this. >> here are some feature programs on c-span this weekend. day in thespend a life with three of the 2020 them hopefuls. mayorr michael bennet, pete buttigieg, and senator cory booker. we will look at u.s. relations with iran and security in the gulf region with a panel of
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former u.s. ambassador's to persian gulf countries from different administrations. eastern, at 10:00 house ways and means committee on the difficulties of caring for older americans. then at 8:00 eastern, ted danson testifies on the environmental effects of plastic pollution. former governor deval patrick talks about his background. senator michael bennet on why he decided to run for president, his leadership style, and his stance on various policy issues. watch c-span this weekend.
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congress returns next week. on the agenda for december, the house will work on a prescription drug pricing bill and voting rights legislation. both the house and senate have until december 22 pass all the federal spending bills for the rest of fiscal year 2020 to avert a government shutdown. they also hope to finish work on a defense policy bill. the house returns on tuesday. the senate will vote on the energy secretary nominee to rick perry. the senate will also continue work on judicial nominations. follow live senate coverage on c-span2 and the house on c-span. the impeachment inquiry hearings continue next week.
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house judiciary committee jerrold nadler because the first impeachment inquiry hearing into president trump, focusing on the constitution and the history of impeachment. watch our live coverage wednesday, december 4, at 10:00 a.m. eastern. chairman nadler extended and been -- invitation for the president and his legal counsel to attend the committee. follow the impeachment inquiry live on c-span3, online at, or listen live on our free app. >> former virginia senator john warner talked about his political career at a forum of the future of democracy. at the college of william and mary. there was a panel discussion on civic engagement with congressman bobby scott of virginia, a local scientist larry sabitow, a


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