International humanitarian organizations, poverty law centers, and good government groups have long called on Congress to curb the use of social media and telecom technologies in the context of the global human trafficking epidemic — including the global sex trade.
But those calls have fallen on deaf ears in Congress, where members enjoy the easy patronage and the largess of Big Tech lobbyists. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, who has represented the Silicon Valley region of California since 1995, and serves as Ranking Member of the Science, Technology, and Space Committee, is Big Tech’s top operative in the Congress.
To younger more junior members of Congress, Lofgren acts as a gatekeeper to Silicon Valley’s lucrative tech ecosystem, and she isn’t generous with her contacts unless the junior member submits ceremoniously.
But Zoe Lofgren isn’t merely the Ranking Member of the powerful committee governing technology in the United States — she is also the second most senior member of the all powerful House Judiciary Committee, undoubtedly one of the most covetous perches for any Washington political boss.
In fact, she currently, or in the recent past, has served as the Chairperson of key subcommittees, including those governing immigration, border security, refugees, and citizenship; the internet; the courts; and anti-trust enforcement. The implications of Lofgren’s influence over the House’s interest in anti-trust enforcement cannot be overstated.
That she is Congress’s top regulator of the internet and the person most responsible for border security, makes her starkly culpable for a global sex trafficking epidemic that is enabled by Congress’s failure to fulfill its oversight role on both fronts.
Google donates nearly $90,000 p/year to Lofgren. The company is top contributor. Cisco donates more than $60,000 p/year. Apple donates nearly $40,000 p/year, while Meta donates just under $30,000 p/year. The electronics manufacturing industry and internet industry were her top sources of campaign funds. Large individual contributions make up more than 57% of her total campaign contributions; while PAC contributions make up 27%, and small individual contributions make up barely 4%
Lofgren took more than $167,625 from Big Tech last year, making her the third highest-individual receiver of campaign funds from the internet industry. But that figure alone seriously understates how much she benefits from Big Tech’s kindness. As chair of the California congressional delegation, Lofgren play what she calls a “make or break” role in key house races in California and elsewhere. Big Tech wields its resources at her direction, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars each year, in a myriad of campaign finance vehicles.
In exchange for those election-time resources, Lofgren has earned her reputation as the Puppet of Big Tech by repeatedly voting against regulating technology, internet, and telecom companies at the expense of consumers, children, and the American people.
It’s common for Lofgren to vote to reverse administrative rules on behalf of her sponsors, like when she voted to reverse a Federal Communications Commission rule designed to protect the privacy of customers of broadband and other telecommunications services.
In many ways, Lofgren is the reason that Americans pay the highest prices for cable and internet in the world. She has repeatedly voted against measures that would promote competition among telecom and fiber optics companies, like when she voted against the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act.
Perhaps most concerning is Lofgren’s vote against the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017 (2/27/17).
Lofgren’s daughter – Sheila Collins – is the General Counsel at Google, raising questions about conflicts of interest and kickback schemes similar to Hunter Biden’s pay-for-access racket. Lofgren’s daughter has refused to publicly disclose the full range of her compensation, benefits, and perks that she receives from Google and other Big Tech industry sources that her mother regulates as Ranking Member of the House Science and Technology Committee.
Many good government watchdogs want Sheila Collins’ compensation agreements to be investigated for public corruption. They assert that the matter should be referred to the House Ethics Committee, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Inspector General. Unfortunately, in her role as Chair of the House Administration Subcommittee, Rep. Lofgren would decide her own punishment if she were eventually found to have violated ethics rules.
Raising eyebrows even further is a peculiar vote that Lofgren took in 2011. Depspite being on the floor of the House at the time, Lofgren refused to vote for the Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act. That law passed overwhelmingly, and even received the support of Nancy Pelosi, but Lofgren couldn’t bring herself to vote in favor of it.