President Donald Trump has used the Internet as a tool to punish technology companies and to pressure journalists, critics say.
The administration is punishing those companies, the groups say, with the threat of boycotts and fines.
In addition, the administration is threatening to block or suspend foreign companies that use the Internet for business.
The crackdown on tech companies is part of a broader effort by Trump to roll back protections for Internet freedom and open the Internet up to private corporations.
Tech companies are under pressure to comply with a variety of new government demands in a bid to avoid liability under the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, a deal that Trump has vowed to rip up if he is elected.
Among the most contentious issues is the administration’s decision to block a key provision of the agreement.
Under the new agreement, companies that are members of the World Trade Organization can only be held liable if they are involved in trade in goods or services with a country that is not a member.
That means that if a tech company is accused of trade violations in a country it does business in, it cannot be held accountable for those claims in the U.S. because of the trade agreements provisions.
“We are very worried that the new administration will use its power to threaten us,” said Matt Blaze, the director of the Internet and Society Program at the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Blaze said he has seen emails and other documents from the White House that have indicated the administration would try to force tech companies to comply.
“This is a way of putting pressure on us,” he said.
Companies have said they have no intention of changing the content or security policies of their products.
As part of the Digital Enforcement Plan, the government has also sought to force Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple, and Microsoft to stop using their services to store user data.
The Digital Enforcement Program has been rolled out to tech companies including Twitter, which said it would begin requiring more data on user activity.
“We have a very strong policy in place that we will never allow our users to be tracked or used for commercial purposes, including advertising, without their express permission,” Twitter said in a statement.
On Monday, White House Chief Technology Officer David Plouffe said he was concerned about the use of the internet as a political tool.
Plouffe told a Senate subcommittee that the Trump Administration is using tech companies as political weapons and that the Internet should not be used to “further the political agendas of the President.”