March 04, 2022

Warren to Secretary Raimondo: Congress and the Public Deserve Answers About Activities Defending Big Tech Companies

Warren urges Secretary Raimondo to Respond to Questions Seeking Clarification of her Comments on EU Regulation of Tech Giants That Appeared to Undermine Biden Admin’s Policies

“Your December statement ran counter to the Administration’s antitrust efforts, and suggested that you would defend U.S. Big Tech firms from competition efforts from European allies even when those efforts are designed to achieve the same goals as the Biden Administration’s policies.”

Text of Letter (PDF)

Washington, D.C. - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging her to respond to the senator’s December 2021 letter seeking clarification about remarks the Secretary made in a statement to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce regarding regulation of big tech companies by the European Union (EU). In the letter, the Senator raised concerns that Secretary Raimondo’s comments appeared to undermine the Biden Administration’s trade and regulatory proposals for big tech. 

“My concerns about your activities and views on competition policy have only increased as reports indicate that the Commerce Department continues to lobby the EU on these policies. Reports indicate that one of your top aides has lobbied a member of the European Parliament leading work on relevant EU legislation, including repeating arguments ‘previously used by Apple in particular.’ I am deeply troubled by this report and your failure to respond to the questions in my December letter, more than two months after it was sent,” said Senator Warren.

In December 2021, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Transatlantic Business Works Summit, Secretary Raimondo spoke in reference to the EU’s Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act, legislative proposals under consideration by the European Commission to protect internet users and “establish a level playing field to foster innovation, growth, and competitiveness.” The policy proposals mirror President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy to “enforce the antitrust laws to meet the challenges posed by new industries and technologies, including the rise of the dominant Internet platforms.” However,  Secretary Raimondo’s comments were inconsistent with President Biden’s trade and regulatory proposals and instead defended monopolists from scrutiny.

“Congress and the public deserve answers about your activities defending Big Tech companies, and the extent to which these activities are hurting American consumers and the economy. I therefore reiterate my request that you provide answers to the questions in my December 14, 2021 letter by no later than March 14, 2022,” continued Senator Warren. 

Questions from Sen. Warren

Response from Sec. Raimondo

1. What specific concerns were you referring to in your December 9 comments when you stated that “these proposals will disproportionately impact U.S.-based tech firms, and their ability to adequately serve EU customers, and uphold security and privacy standards”?

No response

2. Can you explain how your statements are not in conflict with the Biden Administration’s executive order on competition and various policy statements with respect to reining in tech companies?

No response

3. Have you discussed the concerns you cited in your December 9, 2021 comments with executives from or representatives of Google, Facebook, Amazon, or any other large U.S. technology companies?

a. If so, please describe the nature and content of these discussions.

b. Have you had similar discussions with representatives of competitor companies or companies in nearly every sector of the economy experiencing the negative effects of excessive market power deployed by large U.S. technology companies?

c. Have you had similar discussions with representatives of labor, consumer, environmental, or other advocacy organizations?

No response

4. What, specifically, are the goals of U.S. trade policy as you see them with regard to large technology firms? Do they explicitly include promoting robust competition and curbing monopolies, protecting workers’ rights, protecting consumer data privacy, and protecting consumers from disinformation?

No response

5. What specific discussions, if any, have you had with EU authorities regarding the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act?

No response