Midterm Elections 2018: What the Election Results Mean for Big Tech


It might not have been the tsunami some anticipated, however the Democrats’ long-promised blue wave was sufficient to hold the occasion to a majority within the House of Representatives on Tuesday. The Senate, in the meantime, remained firmly in Republican arms.

With management of the House, Democrats will be capable of fulfill their promise to be a verify on the Trump administration these subsequent two years. And but, the ability break up within the two chambers of Congress might make it more durable than it already was to go new laws—even laws with bipartisan backing. For the tech trade, that is each excellent news and unhealthy information.

The excellent news: As House Democrats spar with the Republicans within the Senate, the very last thing both occasion will wish to do is hand the opposite aspect a win. That signifies that till 2020, it is going to be far more troublesome for Big Tech’s critics on Capitol Hill to push via much-threatened laws on the trade’s advertisements or its monopolistic enterprise practices.

The unhealthy information: There are some laws that the trade desperately needs to go, particularly, a federal privateness invoice that might preempt a a lot harder invoice in California, set to enter impact in 2020. Tech giants and trade teams just like the Internet Association have been lobbying laborious for a federal invoice, and senators on each side of the aisle have expressed assist for some federal laws. It’s unclear at this stage whether or not a Democratic House would let President Trump be the one to log out on such a historic legislation.

The tech trade additionally faces a notably much less cozy atmosphere within the Senate after Tuesday night time. Marsha Blackburn, for one, received her race in Tennessee. As a House consultant, Blackburn battled tech giants at practically each flip. Backed by the telecom trade, she opposed web neutrality protections and voted to overturn an Obama-era rule that might have required broadband suppliers to get individuals’s permission earlier than promoting their looking information. On the marketing campaign path, she took each alternative to criticize the tech trade for alleged liberal bias. That’s been a rallying cry within the House that Blackburn might properly amplify within the Senate.

If she does, she’ll have a pal in Senator Ted Cruz. The Texas senator defended his seat towards Democratic rebel Beto O’Rourke, whose marketing campaign was closely financed by the tech trade. Like Blackburn, Cruz has seized on the chance to accuse tech giants of partisan censorship and lately skewered Google over its experiments in constructing a censored search engine for China.

Former Missouri lawyer basic Josh Hawley, in the meantime, will change Democrat Claire McCaskill within the Senate. Hawley, a Republican, took a troublesome stance on tech as lawyer basic, opening separate investigations into Google, Facebook, Uber, and Equifax over anti-trust and information privateness points.

Tuesday’s race might additionally alter the dynamics of the congressional committees tasked with holding these corporations accountable. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida was shedding by a slender margin to governor Rick Scott on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Nelson’s marketing campaign introduced that, with simply .four p.c distinction between the candidates, the race would head to a recount. If Scott manages to carry on, Nelson’s position as rating member of the Senate Commerce Committee would probably fall to somebody like Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar or Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, each of whom have voted to crack down on the tech trade.

But the largest shift will undoubtedly come within the House, the place Democrats will take over management of the House Intelligence Committee, which was tasked with investigating overseas interference in American elections. Current rating member Adam Schiff would probably tackle the position of chair. He’s vowed to select the Russia investigation again up. Given the continued covert actions taken by Russia on social media platforms, such a probe might land Facebook, Google, and Twitter again within the scorching seat.

These new dynamics might not final lengthy. In two years, Democrats should defend the House seats they received yet again. Thanks to a congressional map that is been gerrymandered to favor Republicans in states throughout the nation, that will not be straightforward. On Tuesday, Democrats carved out a win by counting on states like Pennsylvania, the place a badly gerrymandered map was lately changed by a court-ordered one. And but, the midterm elections additionally yielded wins for Democrats that might change the enjoying discipline in 2020 and past. A poll initiative in Florida restored voting rights to greater than 1 million former felons, who will now be eligible to vote in 2020. And anti-gerrymandering proposals handed in Colorado, Michigan, and Missouri, which might take redistricting energy away from a single occasion and scuttle the maps yet again after 2020.

By the early hours of Wednesday morning, each Democrats and Republicans have been claiming a victory. Time will inform if tech’s strongest corporations can do the identical.

1Updated 11/7/2018 11:25 AM ET: This story has been up to date to replicate that the Senate race in Florida is heading to a recount.


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