“Big Tech” has become shorthand for a potpourri of overlapping issues including monopoly power and market concentration; censorship and political influence; and consumer manipulation. Companies with business models as disparate as Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook are treated as a monolithic challenge.
Making sense of that challenge requires dividing it into three separate parts. The first of these, as the “big” in Big Tech suggests, is the market power and anti-competitive behaviour of the companies that control the platforms on which key products and services are offered. Antitrust complaints are pervasive in the digital world because scale tends to be a source of value rather than cost, creating more contexts for natural monopoly.
Fortunately, Americans have considerable experience dealing with market power and monopolies. Google is the same kind of problem as Standard Oil and it has the same solution: it should be broken up. Facebook and Twitter are railroad-like monopolies and require utility-style regulation.
American Compass research director Wells King discusses a promising conservative bill to rein in Big Tech’s monopoly power.
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.
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.