Senators Pitch New Agency for Tech Regulation to Address FTC Shortcomings

Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Peter Welch of Vermont urging the creation of a new tech regulatory agency.

Senators Pitch New Agency for Tech Regulation to Address FTC Shortcomings
Sen. Michael Bennet, taken 2019 permission.

WASHINGTON, November 2, 2023 – Sen. Michael Bennet D-Colorado, and Sen. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, reiterated at a Brookings event Tuesday the need for the United States to form a new agency to oversee tech regulation.

The senators, alongside former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, argued that the government’s approach to regulating AI, social media and big tech does not match the speed at which those industries are changing.

Bennet and Welch both outlined how the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, two entities that are heavily involved in regulating large tech companies, govern so broadly that they are unable to properly deal with specific cases.

The two added that those respective agencies lack the specific expertise in tech fields to be able to address key issues.

“Despite their work to enforce existing antitrust and consumer protection laws, they lack the expert staff and resources necessary for robust oversight,” Bennet said previously. “Moreover, both bodies are limited by existing statutes to react to case-specific challenges raised by digital platforms, when proactive, long-term rules for the sector are required,” explained Bennet in an earlier press release.

The conversation comes after the two senators introduced a digital technology regulatory bill in May of 2023 outlining how a new proposed agency would regulate the tech industry in consultation with the FTC and the DOJ.

Their proposed bill would require the establishment of a five-person agency to address tech regulation and antitrust cases, as well as establish some kind of protection against things like harmful algorithms.

“For far too long, these companies have largely escaped regulatory scrutiny, but that can’t continue. It’s time to establish an independent agency to provide comprehensive oversight of social media companies,” said Welch in the same press release.

Wheeler, who moderated the event, echoed their concerts after having written his book Techlash, which argues innovators drive tech development and that the government follows their lead in regulation.

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