This story is part of , CNET’s coverage of the run-up to voting in November.
Towards the top of an April 2018 listening to within the nation’s capital, Sen. Kamala Harris leaned into her microphone and supplied Fb CEO Mark Zuckerberg a frank and unflattering evaluation of his firm.
“I’ve to inform you, I am involved about how a lot Fb values belief and transparency,” the California Democrat told Zuckerberg. The CEO was being , a knowledge consultancy that scraped consumer info from the social community to assist Donald’s Trump’s 2016 candidacy.
Then Harris, who’s nowafter , zeroed in on a very troubling level: Fb’s failure to inform customers that Cambridge Analytica had . “Have been you a part of a dialogue that resulted in a call to not inform your customers?” the senator requested Zuckerberg.
Wanting uncomfortable, the CEO responded, “I do not bear in mind a dialog like that.”
Congressional hearings are at all times political theater, however the encounter supplied a glimpse into the adversarial stance Harris might take with Huge Tech, regardless of her being a fan favourite within the business for years. Throughout her campaigns for California lawyer common, US senator for California and president, Harris received donations from major tech leaders, together with Fb COO Sheryl Sandberg, former Apple design guru Jony Ive and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. She’s made speeches at Google and Fb, and her brother-in-law, Tony West, is Uber’s prime lawyer. However, as Silicon Valley in Washington, her historical past with the business would not essentially imply she’ll let these firms off the hook, some specialists say.
“She’s a former prosecutor,” stated David Balto, beforehand a lawyer within the Justice Division’s antitrust division and whose purchasers now embrace tech firms. “She has a savvy understanding of the form of stability that must be drawn in tech.”
In contrast to different senators, who’ve been known as out of contact with the world of expertise, Silicon Valley is her residence turf. Harris was born and raised within the San Francisco Bay Space and spent greater than twenty years working there, and he or she’s additionally near a number of tech bigwigs.
Whereas Harris has supported legal guidelines on digital privacy, online harassment and app-based gig worker protections, it is probably she will not take a hardline stance on Silicon Valley if elected vice chairman, analysts say. Fairly, she’ll push to strike a stability between corralling Huge Tech firms and concurrently sustaining these relationships.
“I consider that the tech firms have gotten to be regulated,” Harris stated in an interview with The New York Times final yr, although she stopped wanting saying the main firms needs to be damaged up. “My first precedence goes to be that we make sure that privateness is one thing that’s intact and that buyers have the facility to make choices about what occurs with their private info.”
The Biden-Harris marketing campaign, Fb and Amazon did not reply to requests for remark. Apple, Google and Uber declined to remark.
Silicon Valley ties
Harris started forging relationships with the tech industry years in the past, lengthy earlier than Silicon Valley executives have been making common appearances earlier than Congress. Whereas she was operating for California state lawyer common in 2010, she made a pit stop at Google to talk to the corporate’s workers.
She spoke of her “pleasure of being in California.” Harris was in marketing campaign mode, and took a comfortable tone with the tech large in her “yard.”
“It is a brief drive to return right here,” she advised the group. “We’re household.”
5 years later, Harris stopped by Fb’s headquarters shortly after she introduced her bid for the US Senate. Alongside Sandberg, Harris spoke about online harassment and cyberbullying to a gaggle of youngsters.
The vice presidential candidate’s ties to Silicon Valley insiders do not finish there. She’s pleasant with Laurene Powell Jobs, the billionaire philanthropist and widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, and attended the marriage of Sean Parker, Napster co-founder and Fb’s first president. LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and enterprise capitalist John Doerr raised money for her presidential bid. And a handful of Harris’ former aides now work at tech firms, together with Google, Amazon and Airbnb.
“Tech firms appear to love Harris’ coverage instincts, that are much less regulatory than socialist Democrats and fewer tech-hostile than populist Republicans,” stated Dean Lacy, authorities professor at Dartmouth School. “Marketing campaign contributions are about entry. Contributors need entry to a politician who will win and take their cellphone name.”
Harris’ connections have garnered a great deal of marketing campaign cash from the business. Among the many prime 20 donors to her presidential marketing campaign have been workers from Google’s mum or dad firm, Alphabet, together with workers from Microsoft, Apple and Amazon, based on OpenSecrets. In all, Harris raised $40 million earlier than dropping out of the race in December.
When Biden The New York Times. It is unclear what share of the donations got here from Silicon Valley.in August, marketing campaign donations poured in. Practically $11 million was raised on donation-processing platform ActBlue within the 4 hours after Biden’s announcement — making it the largest fundraising day within the historical past of his marketing campaign at the moment, based on
Since then, the Biden-Harris ticket has raked in tech cash. Final month, workers from Amazon, Google, Fb and Apple donated greater than $1.5 million to the marketing campaign, according to a CNN analysis revealed final week. That is greater than triple the $450,000 Biden raised from these firms’ workers in July. By comparability, Trump’s marketing campaign has raised a complete of simply $106,000 from that very same group since January.
In the meantime, Silicon Valley faces antitrust threats from lawmakers and regulators on a number of fronts. Apple, Amazon, Google and Fb are all beneath investigation by the Home Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee. The leaders of these firms attended a listening to earlier than the subcommittee in July. All 4 firms are additionally being probed by the Division of Justice or Federal Commerce Fee. The DOJ has filed a landmark antitrust lawsuit towards Google.
“Regardless of who wins in November, this combat towards Google, Fb and Amazon, this anti-monopoly motion, has reached a stage of maturity,” stated Barry Lynn, director of the Open Markets Institute, a vocal proponent on antitrust enforcement within the tech world. “There’s nearly nothing the parents in Washington might do to cease it.”