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Big tech is ‘drunk on power’: Sen. Ted Cruz

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz says Google has been abusing its power, and the Justice Department’s lawsuit ‘needed to happen.’ He spoke with Yahoo Finance’s Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi.

Video Transcript

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz has been a vocal critic of Silicon Valley, and he joins us now. Good morning, Senator. Good to have you on the show again. I'd love to get your reaction to that suit brought by-- brought against Google yesterday.

TED CRUZ: Well, I'm very glad the Department of Justice has filed suit against Google. This has been a long time coming, and it needed to happen. Google is a monopoly that is abusing its power. The amount of power that has been drawn into Silicon Valley is unprecedented.

And Google abuses its power, not just in the search market by forcing-- using its monopoly power to make billions, but it also uses it to try to censor the American people, to try to silence views they disagree with, to use and abuse their total control over search and discussions online, to control our elections, and interfere with our elections. And so I'm glad the Department of Justice is acting to hold Google accountable.

BRIAN SOZZI: Senator, what would-- in your view, what would a perfect Google business model be?

TED CRUZ: Well, to be honest, Google was just fine five or 10 years ago. You know, it's interesting, I would actually point to a Google presentation to show the right and wrong way to do this. I chaired-- I've chaired multiple hearings on big tech censorship and political bias.

In one of the hearings, we had an internal Google document-- it was a PowerPoint that they assembled-- and it's called "The Good Censor." And it talked about how the internet arose. And they said, originally, the internet arose with what they described-- these are Google's own words-- as the "laissez-faire free-speech environment." In other words, let people speak, have a free market.

But then they then described how they made a conscious decision-- and this is just in the last few years-- to shift to-- and this is, again, Google's own words-- what they called a "European-style" censorship model. And they identified four companies that had done so-- Google, YouTube-- which Google owns-- Facebook, and Twitter.

That European-style censorship is what they're doing now. And I'll tell you, we saw a major escalation last week, when Facebook and Twitter shifted not just from censoring American citizens, but now they're censoring the media itself. They blocked the "New York Post" from two blockbuster stories alleging evidence of corruption of Joe Biden. And Twitter and Facebook decided the media couldn't write about that, and the American people couldn't see the results of their reporting. That is a dangerous escalation in the violation of free speech.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: So Senator, to your mind, then, should we be reforming Section 230, not allowing this blanket immunity for companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, that have so far been considered neutral platforms? Should they be redefined as publishers making editorial decisions?

TED CRUZ: Absolutely yes. When Congress passed Section 230, it was a different time. The internet was just getting started. These companies were nascent ideas. And what Congress was trying to do-- Section 230 gives a special immunity from liability for big tech. Nobody else gets this immunity from liability. You can think of Section 230 as a corporate subsidy, as essentially corporate welfare from Congress to big tech.

Now when big tech was little tech, maybe that was justified. But at this point, when Google is worth over a trillion dollars, they don't need a subsidy from Congress anymore. And the predicate, the reason, that they were given that immunity from liability was exactly what you just said, which is that they were understood to be neutral public forum. They were the town square, where anyone could go and speak, and you could engage and have a conversation.

Big tech has made a conscious decision. They don't want to be the town square anymore. They don't want to protect your free speech rights, my free speech rights. Instead, big tech is, I believe, drunk on power. They're getting more and more brazen.

When they're shutting down-- you know, the "New York Post" has the fourth highest circulation of any newspaper in America. And yet, big tech says, we will silence you. You're not allowed to report on a topic that would be damaging to Joe Biden because we, Silicon Valley, want to defeat Donald Trump. It is nakedly partisan.

And so of course Congress should not be subsidizing their efforts to monopolize free speech and silence the voices of Americans.

BRIAN SOZZI: Senator, under what scenario would you support Twitter and Facebook banning certain stories?

TED CRUZ: Well, if a story is defamatory, if a story is obscene-- there are all sorts of exceptions-- child pornography, that you can block. But in this instance, this is a story by a major news publication. There has been no evidence refuting the story.

And by the way, so the Democratic talking point in response to these stories. You have two stories based on what is alleged to be Hunter Biden's laptops that show emails-- number one-- showing that Joe Biden personally met with a Ukrainian oligarch, contrary to his repeated denials. Number two, showing that Joe Biden was offered over a million dollars from communist China. Joe Biden personally.

Now, Joe Biden has not denied any of the underlying facts of those stories. The Democratic talking point has been it's Russian disinformation. Well, if it is-- if the emails are fake-- let someone demonstrate that. The Biden campaign has not alleged that the emails are fake.

And the whole point of journalism-- if this story is wrong, fine. Then let's have reporting, and let's actually figure out what happened. But big tech, instead-- who in their right mind would want to have a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires have total control over what stories are allowed to be seen and what stories are not.

If you guys report on a story, and you get it wrong, it shouldn't be Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg deciding we're going to silence your story. Now, if you get it wrong, someone else can come out and say, hey, here are the real facts, here's why it's wrong. That's how free speech and how the media works.

But right now, an awful lot of the media is rolling down quietly and just letting big tech engage in this blatant censorship.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right. Senator Ted Cruz, we're going to leave it there and be watching as this weaves its way through the courts. Thank you so much.

TED CRUZ: Thank you.