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Forget about our money, Big Tech has a monopoly on our thoughts



The Wall Street Journal reported on May 31 that the Department of Justice is preparing an antitrust investigation against Google. And The Washington Post reported June 1 that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will also scrutinize Amazon.

Whatever One Thinks of President Donald Trump, Superlatives In terms of these investigations, size is appropriate – so if one or both actually leads to litigation. And if only one person progresses, this will probably mean the end of the Big Tech hegemony. (Or maybe, we should say, the end of the current era of technology hegemony.) After all, technology is a permanent force, as is the human will to power ̵

1; and so somewhere in the future the big wheel is spinning again.) [19659007] We may pause to note that the relationship between the White House and the Department of Justice is as close as the relationship between the 45th President and the 85th Attorney General . . In contrast, the FTC is an independent regulator, though it is noteworthy that Trump has appointed all five seated commissioners (two of whom are Democrats).

Some will, of course, say that these investigations are the result of Trump's personal incentive to Big Tech – he has regularly attacked Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos – possibly linked to conservative concerns about censorship in Silicon Valley. In fact, the argument that Trump's grave hand improperly influenced DOJ's decision-making was crucial to the defense in another antitrust case regarding AT & T's acquisition of Time Warner in 2016, including CNN Subsidiary, and for the loss of the authorities. (Interestingly, Trump still targeted AT & T and CNN on June 3.

However, these times have an increasingly progressive tenor – Senator Elizabeth Warren just to name a few. One of the leading Democrats has called for antitrust lawsuits against Google, Amazon, and other companies, and House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi is definitely not a fan of Facebook. So it's likely that the next democratic presidential government, whenever it comes, keeps the torch of antitrust high, maybe even higher. In other words, the fate of big tech is likely to depend on whether the cross-party support for antitrust law replaces anti-Trump's anti-Trump party sentiment. In a headline in Bloomberg News it says about one of the companies in the crosshairs: "Google should be afraid. Very anxious. Meanwhile, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, an aspiring leader of the new generation populist Republican immediately tweeted about his support for the upcoming antitrust lawsuit against Google.

Called it "very big news, long overdue". In fact, in 2017, when Hawley was attorney general, he initiated an investigation regarding Google. At that time he said, " If a company has access to as much consumer information as Google, it is my duty to ensure it is used appropriately, and I will not let Missouri's consumers and businesses exploit industry giants." [19659029] On June 1, Hawley continued in a interview with NBC News: " We Should Discuss It The business model of social media platforms has evolved into an ad-supported business model that promotes addiction and rewards addiction. "Addiction, as we've learned, is not just a matter of controlled substances entering our bloodstreams, it's also about computer-controlled images flickering in front of our eyes.

Here we could take a break to see that Google (technically alphabet ) seems less of a social media company, but YouTube, which is a exclusively concerned with viral videos. And if we look at this from the from the of the New York Times of June 3 "On the digital playground of YouTube, an open gate for pedophiles", we are reminded that " viral "as in" virus "is a bad thing, not a good thing. As for Amazon, it's now almost everywhere, including its product Alexa, the all-knowing and ever-hearing digital deity.

So, Hawley seemed to be watching all companies when he wondered aloud whether antitrust law is a sufficient remedy for social ills caused by social media: " If we divide Facebook into 50 Facebook's, all the same business operate model, would our life, our economy, our society measurably improved? I do not know that.

This is an interesting argument, aside from party-political and ideological concerns about bias, censorship and electoral manipulation, which are heartfelt on both sides of the aisle, perhaps the main concern should be the impact of social media on our minds and ours Common good.

In fact, if the ultimate concern was to be the screen-redirected brain, especially as a fuel for reflexive political correctness to displace reality – as this author has argued ] here and here – then each quantitative change in the size of Big Tech seems to be much less important than any qualitative [19659002] change of operation

In fact, Hawley's skepticism over antitrust law repeats the views n one of his heroes Theodore Roosevelt. At the time, TR was fully aware of the misuse of the Trusts and the potential appeal of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. Although he was not against antitrust, he believed that abuse was found to be preferable to litigation. That is, if it was determined that a company was against the public interest, it was better to simply issue a rule to stop it than to file a lawsuit in the hope of smashing the offender.

In this sense, TR set up a regulatory Bureau of Corporations in the then Ministry of Trade and Labor. (As we may notice, this corporate office should soon be outsourced to the Federal Trade Commission.) In 1907, Roosevelt explained his considerations to the regulation: " The draft was intended to prevent abuses leading to its origins unhealthy and inappropriate combinations, rather than waiting for them to exist, and then trying to destroy them through civil or criminal proceedings. "

TR focused on the social harm of companies he considered robbery both an injustice and a political detonation that can have catastrophic consequences. In fact, he had warned as early as 1883 :

There is a strong and growing sense of indignation among the people over the actions of these large corporations. It is up to us to see that this feeling takes a legitimate form. … In order to protect honest capital, if we are legally able to do so, we should punish the deeds of the dishonest rich, for fear that one day an uprising might come, overwhelming the innocent and guilty alike.

and political concerns remain valid. For example, every stationary retailer and every major street has an opinion on Amazon. But now it's also about the psychological impact of social media. Concern has been voiced over the past century about the effects of previous media innovations, including radio, television and even comics – sometimes even . And society has taken various legal and regulatory measures, albeit with varying degrees of success.

But now we face perhaps the biggest challenge: the influence of contemporary technology on human perception. And if we need a perspective for this challenge, all we have to do is remember the original corporate mission statement from Google that can still be read today on the website : " From the beginning, our mission was to do that To organize the world information and make it widely accessible and useful. "

For many, such ambition from Prometheus seemed and seems to be pretty cool, not to mention what's damned practical. This admiration explains why Google gained so much political mercy that in just two decades it has grown into a giant of nearly $ 800 billion .

Nevertheless, all things have to pass. And so will Google's golden age of growth, which is being driven by Uncle Sam, go down the pages of history alongside the heyday of Standard Oil and the good years of Microsoft – or at least the PDF files.

Of course, these complaints will not be slam dunk, and any solution could be a long way off in the future. The successful breakup of the Reagan Department of Justice from the original incarnation of AT & T in 1984 was the result of a decade of litigation.

In the meantime, however, Google's most famous company motto is at stake: "Do not be angry" was retired in 2018. The back story for the deletion decision may not be a legal issue. However, uncovering the answer would say a lot about the company's heart.

James P. Pinkerton is author and co-editor of The American Conservative . He served President Ronald Reagan and George H.W. as a consultant in the White House. Bush.


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