In a memo titled “Big Tech Accountability Platform” addressed to Republican members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, the group’s Republican leader, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, outlined a new third pillar of the program that focuses on China.
“Earlier this year, I shared with you our ‘Big Tech Accountability Platform’ as a framework to bring much-needed reform and oversight to Big Tech. Our Platform currently focuses on two pillars: (1) Big Tech Responsibility and (2) Big Tech Power. Today, we are adding a third pillar: Big Tech and China,” wrote McNorris Rodgers in the memo.
McNorris Rodgers then described four areas of policy solutions and conduct oversight.
- American Information Flowing to China: McNorris Rodgers claimed that “Companies with deep ties to China raise significant concerns about China’s access to American information.” With this in mind, McNorris Rodgers presented potential “transparency obligations,” such as “Requiring companies to notify American users if those companies send, maintain, or store their personal information in China,” and “Requiring companies to notify American users if those companies are owned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a Chinese state-owned entity, or a non-state-owned entity located in China.”
- App Store Vetting: McNorris Rodgers argued that “Big Tech companies must do more to vet mobile applications available on their app stores for ties” to the Chinese government. “To address this concern,” McNorris Rodgers explained, “we will explore how Big Tech companies oversee apps on their platforms, including how they ensure apps meet their privacy and data security standards, how they review apps for direct or indirect ties to the CCP, and related matters.”
- Uighur Muslim Labor Concerns: Noting that “Over 1 million Uighurs have been reportedly interned by the Chinese government,” McNorris Rodgers said that it has been suggested that “some Big Tech companies may use suppliers linked to forced labor of Uighur Muslims.” McNorris Rodgers called for an exploration of the “processes Big Tech companies put in place to ensure Uighur Muslims and forced labor are not used to manufacture American products in China.”
- Counterfeit Goods: “Big Tech companies must do more to address the sale of counterfeit goods coming from China,” McNorris Rodgers posited, adding that “we will explore online marketplaces’ policies and practices for addressing counterfeit goods, including any additional scrutiny applied to sellers based in China.”
“We must ensure Americans’ information is protected from the CCP, and we expect American tech companies to do more to address the significant threat China poses to the U.S. Under this pillar, we will continue our work to ensure America leads the way,” McNorris Rodgers concluded.
As CNBC noted, the expansion of the “Big Tech Accountability Platform” indicates the growing concern regarding Big Tech and its reported links and interactions with the communist state.
“The focus on China could also yield bipartisan support given that Democrats have similarly expressed concerns about American data getting into the wrong hands,” CNBC explained. “The Senate recently passed a $250 billion bill with bipartisan support that aims at strengthening U.S. technology to counter competition from China, showing that message can be a rallying cry for both sides.”