The Republican primary race for the Arizona Senate seat up for grabs in next year’s midterms has recently spotlighted extensive tech regulation by the federal government. Mark Brnovich and Blake Masters are two of five candidates fighting for the GOP nomination to take on incumbent Democrat Mike Kelly.
Brnovich and Masters have steered their primary campaigns toward significant-tech regulation, which has become a hot-button issue in Arizona. The state’s recent moves to regulate Apple have put the case at the forefront of conservative policy discussions.
Brnovich is the Arizona attorney general and touts his record of suing Facebook as proof of his experience “on the front lines” against the tech companies. He says that those who haven’t “walked the walk” against big tech as he has should not be considered for the nomination.
He cites his experience to lob criticism at Masters, who has called for Facebook to be broken up as a monopolistic platform. Masters has not previously held public office but has extensive experience in the tech industry as an acolyte of Peter Thiel, which he says gives him a natural advantage in battling against tech giants.
Brnovich is a foreign policy hawk who has hammered the Biden administration for the messed up withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan and has said that China is the greatest threat facing America. He has rebuked American tech companies that have argued that heavier federal regulation would lead to a competitive disadvantage to China. He has said that Amazon has already “bent over backward” to China to allow internet censorship.
Unlike Masters, Brnovich has not yet called for the breaking up of any big tech giants. He has stated that he would prefer using new legislation to reduce the marketplace’s companies’ power.
He has specifically suggested targeting Section 230, the federal law that provides tech companies with immunity from private lawsuits over the content they allow or censor. He has expressed support for classifying social media platforms as “common carriers,” which would require that they allow publication of all legal speech.
Brnovich brought legal action against Google on behalf of Arizona last year, alleging that the provider was misleadingly tracking user information. As that matter continues to make its way through the legal system, Republican voters in the state can expect increasing debate among the candidates about how to handle tech regulation best. The state is likely to be at the center of national attention during the midterm election season as the GOP seeks to retake control of the Senate.