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Myth-Busting Silicon Valley

American Compass’s Wells King argues that Silicon Valley’s founder myth has things backward, misunderstanding the source of the regime’s power and flattering its worst instincts.

An Early Conservative Victory in the War on Big Tech

American Compass research director Wells King discusses a promising conservative bill to rein in Big Tech’s monopoly power.

Policy in Brief: Online Age Verification

On this episode of Policy in Brief, Oren Cass is joined by Chris Griswold to discuss a proposal to create an online age-verification system to keep kids safe online.

Policy Brief: An Online Age-Verification System

Congress should create a publicly provided online age verification system that would allow any person to privately and securely demonstrate their age online.

It’s Time to Protect Children from Big Tech

Big Tech’s social media platforms are similarly exploiting children today. And just as policymakers needed to act to protect children then, they must do the same now.

Pass the CHIPS, Please

Restrictions on investment in China are a good idea, to be sure. The taller and stronger the guardrails, the better. But holding incentives for domestic investment hostage to tougher restrictions on foreign investment may not be wise or necessary, for two reasons.

Saving Kids from Big Tech with Chris Griswold

American Compass policy director Chris Griswold discusses the historical parallels between child labor in the 19th century and kids’ use of social media today, and suggests steps that policymakers can take to protect them from its harms.

Brave New Regulation

Silicon Valley’s techno-optimists insist loudly on two contradictory points. On one hand, they celebrate the Internet and its associated innovations with phrases like “paradigm shift” and “creative destruction,” and celebrate themselves as the visionaries leading humanity into (unironically) a Brave New World. On the other, they reject the need for new public regulation, insisting that the legal frameworks of past eras are perfectly adequate to the task. Both cannot be true.

We Peasants of the Metaverse

As we are belatedly coming to realize, online territory must be regulated—by people, not merely by economic laws or algorithms—but we have no idea how or by whom.

Protecting Children from Social Media

American Compass policy director explores policy options to protect children online with the same vigor that we protect them in the real world.

A Collective Cure to Privacy Threats

Privacy is another major casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments instituted expansive surveillance programs to enable contact tracing and corral the disease. Many of these programs are here to stay, as citizens get used to them or welcome them to avoid future quarantine and lockdowns.

Don’t Leave Social Media Regulation to the Platforms, Bring in the FCC

Coming to terms with the importance of free speech means coming to terms with the reality that free speech will sometimes be used for abhorrent purposes. We protect bad speech on the grounds that the alternative—censorship—is even worse.

The Problem of Tech Is Bigger Than Big Tech

The early years of a technological revolution are not, generally speaking, happy ones.

Five Principles of Tech Governance

The time has come to take stock of the Information Era and to govern it.

The Costs of Tech Policy Inaction

Regulatory skeptics make a fundamental mistake in assuming that the United States can freely choose between greater state intervention in digital markets and a continued laissez-faire approach.

How Technology Has Changed Our Jobs, Our Privacy, and Our Brains

American Compass research director Wells King discusses the wide-ranging effects of the digital revolution in an adaptation of Lost in the Super Market: Navigating the Digital Age.

Want More Humane Technology? Look to the Supermarket

Are we the passive victims of rapacious technology? Or fully knowledgeable about how technology works and in control of its role in our lives?

Reflections on the Digital Revolution

The problems and challenges posed by what is often referred to as “Big Tech” should primarily be understood as novel instantiations of age-old issues.

Privacy, Tech Policy, And Two Sorts Of Libertarian

Micah Meadowcroft discusses the questions raised about privacy and freedom by our collection, Lost in the Super Market: Navigating the Digital Age.

Conservatives Must Tackle the Problems of the Digital Revolution

Rachel Bovard highlights American Compass’s Lost in the Super Market collection in a discussion of how public policy must be rethought in light of the digital revolution.

Oren Cass: Big Tech’s Life Changing Transformation

American Compass executive director Oren Cass joins Rising to discuss the digital era’s effects on the market and our collection Lost in the Super Market: Navigating the Digital Age

The ‘Uber Economy’ Needs Guardrails

If you are a freelancer like a lawyer or a doctor with a private practice, your experience is very different from a freelancer or contractor accessing work through online labor platforms like Upwork, Clickworker, Uber, or Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

All-Knowing Algorithms: Author Discussion

Alec Stapp (Progressive Policy Institute) and Wells King (American Compass) discuss the implications of “All-Knowing Algorithms” with Oren Cass.

Attention Economy: Author Discussion

Matthew Crawford (UVA’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture) and Peter Suderman (Reason) discuss the ramifications of the “Attention Economy” with Wells King (American Compass).

Curtailing Big Tech Requires Much More Than Breaking It Up

American Compass executive director Oren Cass makes the case for disaggregating the Big Tech debate and giving greater focus to the digital age’s novel challenges.

Frictionless Exchange: Author Discussion

Wingham Rowan (Modern Markets for All) and Neil Chilson (Charles Koch Institute) discuss the advent of frictionless exchange with Wells King (American Compass).

Lost in the Super Market

Navigating the Digital Age

New Collection Calls on Policymakers to Rethink Governing in the Digital Age

PRESS RELEASE—Modern technology has reshaped markets fundamentally, requiring new policy responses to protect our values, institutions, and relationships.

Digital Is No Different

Digital media’s critics echo the same arguments and attitudes of paternalists past.

Reclaiming Self-Rule in the Digital Dystopia

Attention-harvesting technologies jeopardize our capacity to govern concentrated power—and ourselves.

The Attention Economy: A Primer

What happens to media as the digital age enhances their ability to engage consumers?

Making Data Work for Us

A pragmatic view of privacy should encourage data collection that benefits users and innovators alike.

Selling the Digital Soul

The use and abuse of personal data pose a collective challenge that cannot be solved by individuals.

All-Knowing Algorithms: A Primer

What happens to personal data as the digital age deepens their quality, widens their availability, and creates new uses for them?

Freedom from Market Frictions

Digital platforms are but the latest innovation to empower workers and unburden consumers.

Remaking the Modern Market

Gig workers deserve fair labor markets that private platforms cannot provide.

Frictionless Exchange: A Primer

What happens to markets as the digital age improves their efficiency and introduces them to new domains?

Foreword: Governing After a Revolution

The biggest tech challenges for policymakers go far beyond “Big Tech.”

The Bully Platform

While it falls short as an analysis of present-day American monopoly policy, Senator Hawley’s latest book constitutes a spirited, even landmark, political statement and call-to-arms for a deeper shift towards vigorous republicanism in the American conservative movement.

Justice Thomas, Countervailing Power, and Big Tech

Justice Thomas has entered a hot debate about the best means of regulating social media.  His approach to regulation tends to be more function-centric as opposed size-centric.

Should President Biden Revoke Section 230?

The beautiful dream of an open and free internet, serving as a global agora of unlimited free speech to provide for more democratic participation, has crashed and burned one more time.

Reclaim Democracy From Technocracy

Our present predicament, characterized as it by an emboldened and rapacious post-U.S. Capitol siege Big Tech edifice all too eager to dutifully serve as a repressive ruling class appendage, was perfectly encapsulated on Friday by two of my Commons co-bloggers.

Asymptotic Freedom

Far from being on a censorship slipper-slope, Big Tech will soon lose their ability to confine our interactions altogether.

Corporate-Sponsored Censorship

Parler, the alternative to Twitter, is being strangled by the tech giants. Apple and Google removed the app from their app stores. Amazon removed the company from its web-hosting service. These companies claim these actions serve the public interest.

The Ramifications of a Regime-Level Politics

The quite clearly collusive actions of the Big Tech giants, in recent days, accelerate even further the national reckoning that has been overdue at least since Big Tech’s coordinated “Pearl Harbor attack” against the nation’s fourth-largest newspaper on the precipice of the monumental recent presidential election.

Let’s Stop Scaring People About Technological Change

If you’re an average working person, going about your life, trying to put the next meal on your table, and happen to listen to the media and pundits talk about technology, your natural response is probably to vote a straight Luddite ticket in the next election.

What To Do After Big Tech’s Pearl Harbor Attack on the New York Post

As of this writing, the New York Post, the nation’s fourth-largest newspaper, has been locked out of its own Twitter account for almost two weeks.

Justice Department Sues Google (But have they focused on the right target?)

As widely expected, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and 11 states have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, accusing the company of using anticompetitive tactics to illegally monopolize the Read more…

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Social Media Is an Engineering Disaster Waiting to Happen

Fake news pales in its power to real news presented with misleading frequency.

Can the Left Overcome Its Technopessimism?

In his excellent American Compass essay “The Five Deadly Sins of the Left”, Ruy Teixeira calls out the left for what he terms their “technopessimism”. He writes: “the Left has Read more…

The Flattering Alarmism of The Social Dilemma

The new and popular documentary, The Social Dilemma, probably could have been an article published in 2018. That’s not to dismiss what it has to say. Framed as the social media equivalent of Food Inc., the movie interviews academics and former tech company execs, all of whom make now-popular arguments about the hidden costs of social media.

How Should We Handle Monopolies?

A House of Representatives sub-committee report on large technology platforms has determined that Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are abusive monopolies.  Matt Stoller has summarized the report’s recommended course of Read more…

Time to Incorporate Competitiveness Into Anti-Trust

U.S. antirust doctrine and practice has long failed to consider issues of industrial competitiveness.

To Counter China, Some Republicans Are Abandoning Free-Market Orthodoxy

Jeanne Whalen reports on Republican enthusiasm for industrial policy, citing American Compass’s Moving the Chains report.

Big Tech Reveals the Flaw in Citizens United

Last week, the House Antitrust Subcommittee grilled the CEOs of four large technology platforms – Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook – for five and a half hours, focusing on the market power these corporations have accumulated over the last fifteen to twenty years.

Intel’s Stumble is Very Bad for America

America used to dominate the semiconductor industry, but that leadership position is increasingly fragile. There are two parallel forces at work: the rise of our competitors and the decline of our domestic champions.

Intel’s Troubling Pledge on Outscourcing

Intel has been conspicuous among Silicon Valley high-tech companies, insofar as until now it has resisted the siren song to send much of its manufacturing offshore.

Big Tech, Antitrust and America’s Future

Wednesday’s “must watch” House Judiciary hearing with the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google raised a host of questions, including what the goal of antitrust should be (maximizing economic welfare or other goals, like protecting small business), and how should we think about platform industries.

The GOP’s Embarrassing Big-Tech Performance

The modern-day Titans of Industry testified before Congress Monday ostensibly for a hearing on anti-trust.

The Clash of Communisms

Not without reason do China critics tend to observe a rival across the Pacific strong everywhere the US is weak, especially under the sway of coronavirus. For most on the Right, the focus of such criticism centers around ideology: if only the Chinese weren’t communist, we wouldn’t find ourselves in this mess. Some anti-communists take a more globalist bent (“true capitalistic democratization hasn’t been tried”), others a more nationalist one (“America must once again defeat an evil empire”).

Russell Kirk & Big Tech

The debate about Big Tech often breaks down into one of whether or not a private company should be “regulated.” This is especially true as attention heats up around the use of antitrust enforcement — substantively, definitionally, and applicably different than regulation, though in argument one side attempts to conflate them. 

The Impoverished Debate Over Section 230

It’s more nuanced than you think.

Facing the Woke Hyperpower

Just a few years ago, it was possible for nationalist Americans to warn foreign enemies like North Korea that the US was a “hyperpower.” A few decades ago, however, the label was a term of abuse: French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine used it to describe an America that had gone beyond even the bounds of superpower, to become “a country that is dominant or predominant in all categories.” In fact it was the globalized power of the Clinton-era US, according to Vedrine (and many others at the time), that had become “abusive.” The only antidote, he ventured, was “steady and persevering work in favor of real multilateralism against unilateralism, for balanced multipolarism against unipolarism, for cultural diversity against uniformity. None of that will happen automatically and our influence in the world isn’t going to grow all by itself. A strategy, a tactic, a method, are necessary. It’s possible.”

Social Media Requires Utility Style Regulation

I’ve raised the issue of social media regulation before. This is an issue that won’t be going away anytime soon in the wake of Google’s decision to ban two websites Read more…

A Tale of Two Media

Faced over the past few years with a deepening sense of dread around the increasing irrelevance of academic political theory, I shifted much of my perspective on the accelerating unraveling of the modern order to media theory–specifically, media theory rooted in the work of Marshall McLuhan and his son Eric. While political theory as an endeavor is far from dead, the profound disconnect between the conceptual frameworks dominating the discipline and the reshaping of our inner and outer realities by digital technology has made it difficult to push the political debate around “tech” today in the direction the McLuhans draw us.

How Should We Regulate the Social Media Companies? Hint: More Competition Might not be the Answer

Donald Trump threatened to close Twitter down a day after the social media giant marked his tweets with a fact-check warning label for the first time. The president followed this threat up with an executive order that would encourage federal regulators to allow tech companies to be held liable for the comments, videos, and other content posted by users on their platforms. As is often the case with this president, his impetuous actions were more than a touch self-serving and legally dubious absent a congressionally legislated regulatory framework.

In Praise of Big Internet: the Economic Importance of Internet Companies

It has become bipartisan sport to attack “Big Tech”, but most of the ire is directed at “Big Internet”: consumer-facing Internet companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Uber.

The Compass and the Territory

No particular worldview or ideology is necessary to see the reality of our political situation today. Due to the reshaping of our psychological and social environment by digital technology–a process laid bare by the unfolding coronavirus pandemic–our “map” of America is now out of date.

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