US Senators propose federal commission to oversee digital platforms

United States Senate

Two United States senators have reintroduced an act of legislation that would create a federal commission to “oversee digital platforms”.

Dubbed the Digital Platform Commission Act, the bill proposes the creation of a governmental body which would have oversight over digital platforms. In this case a digital platform is described as:

An online service that serves as an intermediary facilitating interactions between consumers, or between consumers and entities offering goods and services, including content primarily generated by algorithmic processes.

At a glance, the bill appears to be targeting sites that offer goods and services. A summary of the bill provided by Senators Bennet (D-Colorado) and Welch (D-Vermont) seems to argue that larger organizations like the FTC lack the specialization to adequately oversee digital platforms like Amazon, and as more and more retailers begin growing their online storefronts such a commission is likely needed.

Some citizens however, are skeptical that such a commission could have a chilling effect on free speech, in part due to the broad definition of a Digital Platform offered by the drafters of the bill.

The language used when summarizing the bill appears to maintain respect for the speech of internet users and instead focuses on consumer safety. The commissions avowed goal is to promote:

1. Access to digital platforms for civic engagement and economic and
educational opportunities.

2. Access to government services and public safety.

3. Competition and consumer welfare, such as lower prices and better
quality of service.

4. Prevention of harmful levels of concentration of private power over
critical digital infrastructure.

5. A robust and competitive marketplace of ideas.

6. Protection for consumers from deceptive, unfair, unjust, unreasonable,
or abusive practices committed by digital platforms.

7. Assurance that the algorithmic processes of digital platforms are fair,
transparent, and safe.

The full language of the Digital Platform Commission Act can be found here. A summary can be found on Senator Bennet’s official site.



A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

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