Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Call for Big Tech Regulation

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Well, the gloves are coming off.

In a report this morning from The New York Times, Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren has announced a regulatory plan aimed at breaking up some of America’s biggest Tech firms, including Amazon, Google and Facebook.

Specifically, the Proposal calls for the appointment of regulators who would unwind tech mergers that illegally undermine competition and legislation that would prohibit platforms from both offering a marketplace for commerce and participating in that marketplace.

Excerpts from her blog post announcing the proposal:

Today’s big tech companies have too much power — too much power over our economy, our society, and our democracy. They’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field against everyone else. And in the process, they have hurt small businesses and stifled innovation. I want a government that makes sure everybody — even the biggest and most powerful companies in America — plays by the rules. And I want to make sure that the next generation of great American tech companies can flourish. To do that, we need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor.

That’s why my Administration will make big, structural changes to the tech sector to promote more competition — including breaking up Amazon, Facebook, and Google.

Warren argues that America’s big tech companies have used mergers and proprietary marketplaces to limit competition, and that “weak antitrust enforcement has led to a dramatic reduction in competition and innovation in the tech sector.”

Some specific remedies Warren calls for: Unwinding Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram, Amazon’s acquisitions of Whole Foods and Zappos, and Google’s acquisitions of Waze, Nest, and DoubleClick (an acquisition that occurred, FYI, back in 2007 before the iPhone had even been introduced).

My own free market tendencies would generally disapprove of any such unwindings, but never mind the larger point I think that needs to be made, which is that Warren seems to be fighting the tech war of yesterday.

While she seems concerned about existing scale and domination, there doesn’t seem to be any focus on going on offense and preparing the workforce for the tsunami of robotic assistance and automation that is yet to come, a wave some would argue is already here and which could make this Big Tech trustbusting play look like, well, child’s play.

Written by turbotodd

March 8, 2019 at 11:01 am

Posted in 2019, AI, politics

Tagged with , ,

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