Why the Next Big-Tech Fights Are in State Capitals – The Wall Street Journal

Tech companies are turning their attention to statehouses across the country as a wave of local bills opens a new frontier in the push to limit Silicon Valley’s power.

Arizona, Maryland and Virginia are among states where lawmakers are seeking to limit the power of tech companies like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Apple Inc. on a range of issues, from online privacy and digital advertisements to app-store fees. State policy proposals have bipartisan support from lawmakers who want to temper companies’ influence and financial clout, which have grown during the pandemic.

Google, Apple and others are hiring local lobbyists and immersing themselves in the minutiae of proposed legislation, according to state representatives. Tech companies face potential rules that would curb the reach of their platforms, crimp revenues with taxes or force them to facilitate additional privacy disclosures.

While federal lawmakers have held hearings and are in discussions about policies to regulate tech companies, debates and votes could occur in states first. If passed, state laws matter because they can become de facto national standards in the absence of federal action, as with California’s 2018 privacy law, which gave consumers both the right to access personal information that businesses collect from them and the right to request that data be deleted and not sold.

Facebook Inc. initially opposed the California measures, but supported them after they took effect. Companies such as Microsoft Corp. have opted to honor the new rules across the country.

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