On 3rd June, the US House Judiciary Committee announced they would be probing a range of tech companies for antitrust violations. The statement declared they would be enacting “a top-to-bottom review of the market power held by giant tech platforms”. This marks the first time Congress has ever taken these steps. Despite its early stage, these actions are reminiscent of the Standard Oil case, the largest anti-trust break up of the past 100 years.
Amazon now captures half of all dollars spent online in the United States, while Facebook and its subsidiaries (Whatsapp and Instagram) have a combined user base of more than half of the global population and Google owns nearly a third of global online ad revenues. The Economist wrote back in 2017 that data has replaced oil as the world’s most valuable resource and so the US Government is now looking to see if they need to redefine antitrust laws the way they did for oil.
After public backlash against tech companies self-regulating themselves, governments are beginning to take action. The antitrust suit would not be an overnight process but how this prob plays out could have series ramifications for how our data is valued, monetized and secured.
How must antitrust laws be redesigned to work in the context of the 21st century?
How would breaking up Big Tech affect the development of technology globally?
Do the benefits of convenience and efficiency for consumers justify monopoly practice?
Is pressing forward on antitrust laws the best way to gain control over citizens data and privacy?