Photo: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski
Photo: Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Democratic members of Congress don’t have much in common, but when it comes to reigning in internet giants such as Google, they may be in agreement.

Bannon says that tech firms like Google and Facebook should be regulated as utilities, according to sources who have spoken with him on the issue, reports the intercept.

His efforts on this issue came before Congressional Democrats released their “Better Deal” policy planning objectives last week, which included a vague call to crack down on corporate monopolies. The policy platform did not single out Google, Facebook or Amazon, but many see confronting the giants’ monopolistic practices as inevitable.

Google, for its part, is not going to wait idly for regulations to come to materialize. The company has spent almost US$6 million lobbying the US capital over the past three months alone, reports the Guardian. The number puts Google on track to overtake Comcast to become the top corporate lobbying spender in the US.

The search engine also has more weapons up its sleeve than lobbyists, the Guardian writes:

In 2012, when the House of Representatives was considering the Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa), which aimed to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content and specifically targeted search engines such as Google that linked to pirate sites, Google put this image on its search page for 24 hours:

Source: public domain

Note the use of the word “censor”, which was viewed by 1.8 billion people in 24 hours, and the link on the “tell Congress” line, which led users directly to emailing their members of Congress. Needless to say, Congress’s email servers were overwhelmed and two days later, the House judiciary chairman, Lamar Smith, withdrew the bill.