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Ohio Legislators Plan Field Hearings On Facebook And Google

Smarthphone with social media icons
Tero Vesalainen
State senators are gathering information on the impact of tech giants on Ohioans.

A panel of state senators is hitting the road to gather input on how the broad reach of Facebook and Google impacts average Ohioans.

Republican Senate President Larry Obhof said Wednesday that two October hearings are planned. One will be in Cleveland and the other in Cincinnati.

Ohio Senate Judiciary chair John Ecklund, also a Republican, said feedback gathered will guide lawmakers as they review Ohio's antitrust laws.

Republican Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is among a group of bipartisan attorneys general who have opened antitrust investigationsagainst the companies. He said testimony from the hearings will help that effort.

Yost says stifling competition usually happens when companies get so big they drive up costs. In this case the service is free, he says, but users are paying by giving up valuable data that Facebook and Google then sell.

"The consumers, Bill and Betty Buckeye, I would suggest to you are not the consumers," Yost says. "They are the product."

The move comes as scrutiny of big tech companies deepens and widens across the federal government and U.S. states and abroad. Congress, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission also are investigating.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.