State and federal attorney generals met at the Justice Department on Tuesday to talk about possibly intervening into tech giants’ practices concerning privacy and anti-competitive policies, following backlash over these issues.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions met with nine other state attorney generals to discuss questions about social media platforms “hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.” However, the conversation focused more on developing an infrastructure to understand how big tech companies, including Facebook and Google, handle large amounts of consumer data and protect it from being misused, CNN reports.
“Ninety-nine percent of it dealt with what we attorneys general were unanimous for (and) was within our authority. That was antitrust and privacy issues,” said Jim Hood, the Democratic Mississippi attorney general. “One percent of the conversation, bias was discussed.”
Embattled Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was also present at the meeting along with Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, who heads the Justice Department’s antitrust division. Senior deputies from five other state attorneys general offices were also part of the group looking into “ways the Department and state governments can most effectively safeguard consumers using online digital platforms,” the department said.
The officials, however, didn’t discuss the idea of breaking up tech giants, which had previously been proposed by former Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon. Instead, officials talked about how these companies could be regulated by applying antitrust laws on the books, as has been done in cases including Standard Oil and IBM.
“State AGs have grappled with these issues for years,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “Having a federal perspective was welcome. We agreed that at the federal and state level, we are both seeking robust protection of consumers and markets through responsible regulation and disciplined enforcement.”