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This summer has seen an acceleration of political assaults on big tech with key events and moments including the EU hitting Google with a $3 billion antitrust fine; President Trump’s constant attacks on Amazon; Google’s firing of memo-writing engineer and amateur biologist James Damore; the release of the Democrats’ “Better Deal” agenda; Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods; and Trump adviser Steve Bannon and conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson both calling for Google to be regulated like a public utility.
From issues including privacy, free expression and speech, competition, economic power, and technological unemployment, “criticism over the companies’ size, culture and overall influence in society is getting louder as they infiltrate every part of our lives,” Axios reporter David McCabe writes.
And of course, much of this backlash is ideological, from anti-business leftists who would love to nationalize the internet to Trumpopulists who don’t like the open, globalist values of Silicon Valley.
Despite the increasingly heated rhetoric from pundits, activists, and pols, we should remember these are popular companies. And government action seems terribly premature given the tremendous economic benefits from Big Tech. That said, the big platform companies need to do a better job reassuring the American public on the censorship issue. It’s the Spider-Man rule: With great power comes great responsibility. And as for the economic impact of these increasingly powerful firms and the gobs of data they collect, clearly more research is needed.