FIRST ON FOX — Former Trump advisers warn that Republican efforts to bust up Big Tech companies over censorship could be playing right into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Former national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien, as well as former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe — both of whom held their positions at the end of the Trump administration — were among those who penned a letter to Republican leaders Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy pleading with them to withhold support for legislation that will rein in big tech companies. The letter cites the benefit it would give to foreign competitors as too great of a risk to U.S. national security.
The bill says the Open App Markets Act and the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) — both of which boast bipartisan support — threaten to place U.S. companies at a "structural disadvantage" with regard to China.
"We cannot afford to cede this important ground to Beijing," the letter stated. "Government mandates will lead to more malign activity by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea not to mention cyber mercenaries or non-state criminal actors."
The authors reference the war of "truth in the information space" that became evident as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 23 played out on the world stage, saying the role technology has played in the ongoing conflict highlights the ways in which the tech industry can be "deployed as an instrument of national power" by the United States.
Disinformation expert Graham Shellenberger told Fox News Digital that social media was a key tool used by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to provide morale to his country’s citizen army, as well as to share information within the borders of Russia that would have otherwise been censored by state-controlled media outlets.
The letter also points out the $1.4 trillion of funding the Chinese government has poured into its "Made in China 2025" policy initiative, warning that this level of economic investment can give China the upper hand in the tech space.
They insist that only the "innovation and ingenuity" of the American private sector can stop President Xi Jinping and the CCP from achieving their goal of "global dominance" over the West.
Stephen Moore, former Trump economic adviser and Committee to Unleash Prosperity economist, was not among the signers of the letter but takes a similar position to antitrust laws that target Big Tech.
"Breaking up our tech companies will only benefit China — which has no antitrust laws. The high-tech sector has added trillions of dollars to consumer welfare and has reduced costs of tech services. While no one likes the speech restrictions against conservatives, breaking up these companies won’t solve that problem," Moore told Fox News Digital.
The authors of the letter acknowledge the "legitimate and sincere concerns" of Americans who believe social media giants are censoring conservative voices on their platforms, as well as those who have called for Big Tech to "exert a tighter grip" on misinformation shared on their platforms. However, they claim that the market itself (most notably Elon Musk's impending purchase of Twitter), along with some "targeted government action" have been effective at ameliorating some of these issues.
"We agree with you and your caucuses that big tech must correct its problems and reform or there will be a very small constituency supporting them even on the critical national security issues that prompt our letter. Without reform, big tech will face backlash legislation and regulation antitrust law and other grounds," the letter said.
As an alternative to antitrust laws, the authors outline a series of measures that can be taken to shore up national security while maintaining a competitive advantage in the international space. The suggestions include tightening up security measures that protect U.S. intellectual property and research, facilitating investment in the tech space through tax relief and allocated spending and scrutinizing Chinese companies in direct competition with American enterprise.
Both the Open App Markets Act and the American Innovation and AICOA have been introduced in the Senate and are awaiting committee approval.
Larry Kudlow, former director of the National Economic Council during the Trump administration and current host of ‘Kudlow’ on Fox Business Network, was among the signers of the letter.