Politics

What GOP Trustbuster Josh Hawley Will Bring to Congress

Josh Hawley was one of the Republican victories that expanded the party’s slim majority in the U.S. Senate over the past mid-term election. Formerly Missouri’s state attorney general, Hawley’s win was an important one for Republicans as it solidified GOP representation from an important swing state. At 39, he will be one of the youngest members of the upper house of congress.

From the perspective of congress as a whole, Hawley’s victory was a small representation of a bigger phenomenon that took place during the recent elections. The Democratic Party’s representation in the legislature shifted noticeably to the left. This was largely a result of the groundswell of support that gave Democrats the majority in the House, but also of moderates in the party being defeated—as was the case in Hawley’s race against incumbent Claire McCaskill, one of the party’s veteran senators. The loss of McCaskill and other moderate Democrats, like Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, makes it all but certain that Senate Democrats shift considerably leftward over the next two years.

But Hawley’s ascent to the senate may be fortelling another, equally important trend among lawmakers over the coming period.

Hawley is one of a select group of Republicans extremely outspoken on the issues pertaining to concentrations of economic power. It could be said that Hawley is the most active in this band of GOP politicians. Last year in his capacity as attorney general, Hawley opened an investigation into tech giant Google to determine whether the company violated the state’s consumer protection and antitrust laws. The claims leveled by Hawley echoed mounting concerns about the growing societal and market influence of big tech: concerns over the accuracy of the company’s privacy policy, allegations it misappropriated content from rivals, and claims it demoted competitors’ websites in search results. Hawley is part of a wave of state attorneys to target Google in recent years. Attorneys general of 37 states reached a $7 million settlement in 2013 over the company’s unauthorized collection of Wi-Fi data through its Street View digital-mapping cars. In fact, this is a pattern that is present outside the borders of the United States as well. More recently, in June of last year, the European Union fined Google $2.7 billion for unfairly favoring links to its own shopping service.

Hawley’s activities extended beyond just Google. His office began a similar investigation into social media juggernaut Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Hawley and like-minded others are giving voice to a real concern, one that exists not just among Americans but around the world. It is a unique problem, one that was created by our fast developing technology on which we are growing increasingly dependent. “When a company has access to as much consumer information as Google does, it’s my duty to ensure they are using it appropriately. I will not let Missouri consumers and businesses be exploited by industry giants,” Hawley said exactly a year ago in a November interview.

Dealing with the issue of digital information dominance, how it affects society and how to balance it with the principles of free enterprise, will be an unavoidable challenge for U.S. policymakers in the coming period. Now that the GOP trustbuster is in congress, this is an agenda that will almost certainly be quick to gain traction on the Hill.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Samuel Siskind

Samuel Siskind studied intelligence research at the American Military University in West Virginia. He served as a squad commander in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) Corp of Combat Engineers, in the Corps' ground battalions and later in its Intelligence Wing at regional and divisional stations. For the past five years, Samuel has worked as a consultant and researcher on physical and information security issues for private and governmental institutions, in the US, Africa, India, and Israel. He currently lives in Jerusalem.

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