Silicon Valley congressman says ‘EU is not a model’ for US tech regulation

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said Wednesday on CNBC that the United States should not follow the European Union’s aggressive lead on tech regulation, saying the EU “has been a disaster when it comes to tech innovation.”

“There’s no doubt we need stronger antitrust enforcement. We shouldn’t allow Amazon to privilege its own products on its platform, and we should make sure they’re not using sellers’ data, but the EU is not a model for America to copy, ” the congressman from Silicon Valley said on “Closing Bell.”

The EU announced Wednesday that it is opening a formal antitrust investigation into Amazon to see if the online marketplace uses merchant data in a way that violates its rules about competition. Europe has taken a more adversarial stance toward tech companies than the U.S., including implementing the General Data Protection Regulation in 2018.

The investigation into Amazon is accompanied by an increased political interest in tech regulation domestically. Representatives from Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday for a hearing about antitrust concerns. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., introduced a bill in June aimed at making tech platforms responsible for content their users post.

The Washington Post reported last month that the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice were dividing some of the major tech companies between them to look at potential regulatory enforcement.

Khanna said he supports some amount of enforcement, citing strict oversight on horizontal mergers as one example, but not critics’ calls to split up the tech giants.

“What I oppose is a reflexive call to break up companies, or a call to fine companies without going through the due diligence of a process and looking at our law, which is about consumer welfare,” Khanna said.

Regulation regarding privacy and data control are two areas that could receive bipartisan support, Khanna said.

“We should have companies required to get the consent of individuals before collecting their data, and we should have as individuals the right to know what’s happening to our data and whether it’s being transferred,” Khanna said.

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