- President Trump threatened Wednesday to use executive orders to “bring fairness” to the tech industry, if Congress didn’t do it.
- The tweeted threat came as the House of Representatives prepared to host the CEOs of the biggest companies in the industry for a hearing on antitrust concerns.
- It was unclear what Trump meant when he said “bring fairness” to the industry.
- It’s also unclear what exactly Trump could actually accomplish with an executive order to address “fairness” or antitrust concerns.
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As the House of Representatives prepared to host the CEOs of the biggest technology companies as part of a hearing about antitrust concerns, President Trump threatened to take matters into his own hands if Congress didn’t “bring fairness” to the industry.
In a tweet Wednesday afternoon, Trump criticized Congress for not taking action against the tech giants “years ago.” He pledged to use executive orders to address the situation, if the body didn’t act itself.
“In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!” he said in the tweet.
If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders. In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2020
It wasn’t immediately clear what the president meant when he said Congress should “bring fairness” to the industry, or how exactly he could address that situation with executive orders.
A White House representative did not immediately respond to an email seeking clarification about Trump’s tweet.
In May, Trump issued an executive order that threatened penalties against social media companies that he accused of banning or limiting speech based on their users’ political views. The move came after many of those companies banned far-right users for violating their terms of service.
The congressional hearing, however, is supposed to focus on issues related to competition, not about how the particular companies treat the speech of their users. While Congress could update the competition and monopoly laws — and some experts have called on it to do just that — enforcement of those laws is generally up to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, both of which are under the control of Trump appointees. Those agencies have drawn criticism for decades of lax enforcement of the antitrust laws and for approving mergers that have reduced competition in particular industries.
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