Inside the private DOJ meeting that could lead to new investigations of Big Tech

Officials from 14 states' top legal offices and the Justice Department have begun a coordinated conversation about ways to keep tabs — and potentially rein in — the fast-growing tech giants. The gathering had been designed to focus on social media platforms and the ways in which they moderate content online, following complaints from President Donald Trump and other top Republican lawmakers that Silicon Valley companies deliberately seek to silence conservative users and views online. Attorney General Jeff Sessions opened the meeting by raising questions of possible ideological bias among the tech companies and sought to bring the conversation back to that topic at least twice more. But the discussion proved far more wide-ranging, as participants steered the conversation toward the privacy practices of Silicon Valley. Those in the meeting did not zero in on specific business tactics, but they did cover such issues as how companies collect user data and what they do with it once the information is in their hands. “We were unanimous. Our focus is going to be on antitrust and privacy. That’s where our laws are,” said MS attorney general Jim Hood. Most in the meeting agreed that the DOJ would probably play a role in any legal action against the tech industry. Still, much of the group’s momentum now appears to be driven by an emerging multistate inquiry — not the DOJ — with NE attorney general Doug Peterson expected to coordinate the AG’s conversation. “[The] AGs are really focused on understanding more as to what consumers are truly consenting to and what they may not know is going on with their data,” DC attorney general Karl Racine said.

Inside the private DOJ meeting that could lead to new investigations of Big Tech (Washington Post) Attorneys General Zoom In On Tech Privacy And Power (NPR) Law Enforcement Officials Confront Tech Companies’ Power (NYTimes)