December 2, 2022

For Republicans running for the Senate this year, “Big Tech” has become an all-encompassing target, a term used to condemn censorship of conservative voices on social media, the invasion of privacy and the corruption of America’s youth — or all of the above.

But the condemnation of three candidates in some of the hottest competitions in 2022 — Black Masters, JD Vance and Mehmet Oz — comes with a complication: They have deep ties to the industry, both as Investors, promoters or employees. What’s more, their work involves some questionable uses of consumer data that they now criticize.

Mr. Masters and Mr. Vance embraced the contradiction with the enthusiasm of the converts.

“Fundamentally, it’s my expertise working in Silicon Valley and working with these companies that gives me that perspective,” said Mr. Masters, who was running against the wind in Arizona on Tuesday in the Republican Senate primary. OK, he said on Wednesday. “As they grow, they become too common and too powerful.”

Mr Vance, On the website of his campaign for Ohio’s open Senate seatcalling for breaking up big tech companies, declaring: “I know the tech industry well. I’ve worked in it and invested in it, and I’m sick of politicians who talk about big tech but do nothing. The tech industry promises us all a better life. and faster communication; instead, it steals our private information, sells it to the Chinese, and censors conservatives and others.”

But some tech activists don’t buy it at all, especially two political freshmen whose Senate races are being funded by Peter Thiel, Facebook’s first outside investor, Also a longtime board member of the tech giant. Mr. Thiel’s own company, Palantir, works closely with federal military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies eager to acquire its secret data analysis technology.

“Tracking what you do online is a huge and lucrative industry,” said Sasha Haworth, executive director of the Technology Oversight Project, a new liberal interest group calling for stricter regulations on tech companies. Supervision. “Regardless of the prospects of these candidates in the Senate, I think if Peter Thiel invests in them, he is investing in his future.”

Mr. Masters, a protégé of Mr. Thiel and the former COO of Mr. Thiel Ventures, oversaw the investment in Palantir and urged the rollout of its technology, which analyzes vast amounts of raw data to detect patterns that clients can use.

Dr. Oz, the Republican candidate for the open seat in the Pennsylvania Senate, was part of the consortium of investors that created Sharecare, a site that provides users with the opportunity to ask health and wellness questions and allows marketers in the healthcare industry the opportunity to answer them.

A feature of Sharecare, real age testquizzed tens of millions of users on health attributes, ostensibly to help them age, and then released the test results to paying customers in the pharmaceutical industry.

Mr. Vance, the Republican candidate for Ohio and another student of Thiel, used Mr. Thiel’s money to start his venture capital firm Narya Capital, which helped fund Hallow, a Catholic prayer and meditation app program, which Privacy policy allows it to share some user data For targeted advertising.

The Vance campaign said the candidate’s stake in Hallow did not give him or him firm decision-making power, and Hallow’s chief executive, Alex Jones, said private sensitive data such as diary entries or reflections had been compromised. Encrypted and will not be sold, rented or otherwise shared with others. data broker. He said “private sensitive personal data” was not shared “with any advertising partners”.

All three Senate candidates have campaigned against the tech industry against data harvesting from unsuspecting users and privacy violations by greedy companies.

in a Tulle video released in July 2021Mr Masters said, “the internet that was supposed to give us a better future is being used to shut us up.”

Mr Vance, on the campaign trail facebook videorecommends that Congress make data collection illegal — or at least mandate disclosure — before tech companies “collect our data and then sell it back to us in the form of targeted advertising.”

in a december Video emerged shortly after he announced his campaignDr. Oz declared, “I’ve fought Big Pharma, I’ve fought Big Tech, I’ve fought agrichemicals, Big companies, and I’ve got scars to prove it.”

Michael Rosen, an adjunct fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said it’s not surprising that a growing number of candidates for senior positions have deep ties to the tech industry, and he has written extensively Articles about the industry. That’s where the money is now, he said, and the reach of technology extends to industries like healthcare, social media, hardware and software, and consumer electronics.

“The novelty in this cycle is to have candidates ostensibly on the right who advocate for the government to step in and regulate these companies because, in their view, they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves,” Mr Rosen said.

He expressed surprise that “a free-market, conservative candidate thinks the government will do a fairer and more reliable job of regulating and moderating speech than the private sector”.

Left-wing technologists say candidates like Mr. Masters and Mr. Vance are Trojan horses, taking popular positions to win federal jobs with no intention of holding them in the Senate.

Ms. Haworth, whose team has targeted platforms such as Facebook and Amazon, said states such as California are already advancing regulations to prevent online marketers from directing consumers to certain products or unduly influencing behavior.

She said she believed Republicans, if they took control of Congress, would implement weak federal rules in place of state regulations.

“Democrats should be calling out hypocrisy here,” she said.

Mr Masters said he was sympathetic that authorizing government regulation of technology would only lead to another kind of abuse, but added, “In this age of online monopolies, the answer is not to raise your hand and yell ‘Leave it alone — fair.'”

Masters said multinational tech companies such as Google and Facebook have surpassed national governments.

As for the “Trojan horse” claim, he said, “When I’m in the U.S. Senate, I’m going to deliver on everything I say.”

It’s unclear whether these complex issues will have an impact on fall events. Jim Lamon, Arizona’s Republican senator rival for Mr. Masters, advertisements on air Call him the ‘fake’ track horse of California’s tech industry — but to limited effect.In a debate this month, Mr Ramon said Mr Masters to be “owned” By his payer at Big Tech.

But Mr. Masters, who is backed by former President Donald J. Trump, is clearly a favorite for the nomination.

Vance’s Democratic opponent in Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan, made a rough reference to “Tech Giants Tasting in Silicon Valley” And fund the Republican campaign.

Dr. Oz’s Democratic opponent, John Feltman, of Pennsylvania, did not raise the issue.

Vance’s spokesman, Taylor Van Kirk, said he was serious about his commitment to limiting the influence of tech companies.

“JD has been outspoken for a long time that he wants to break up big tech companies and hold them accountable for their overreach,” she said. “He firmly believes in the need to reduce their influence on our politics and our economy in order to protect the constitutional rights of Americans.”

Representatives for the Oz campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

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