How Is Washington Planning on Regulating Big Tech?

There are lot of tech sectors that are dominated by either single players or a very small number of players, meaning either monopolies or oligopolies. For example, Google can claim more than 90 percent of the market share for search engines. Likewise, something like 99 percent of people use a smartphone with either an Android or an iOS operating system, meaning either Google or Apple. As such, it is no wonder that a wide range of parties have become concerned about the current state of affairs for one reason or another.

For some, they see the current state of affairs as being unacceptable because these big tech companies are stifling competition. In short, people are still innovating. However, whenever someone comes up with something that could shake up the status quo, it isn’t uncommon for one of the big tech companies to snap it up, thus making itself that much stronger in the process. Meanwhile, there are others who see the current state of affairs as being unacceptable because the big tech companies are very, very difficult to wrangle by national governments, not least because the tech sector is changing so fast that the relevant rules and regulations haven’t managed to catch up. On top of this, there are those who are less than enthusiastic about big tech companies because of the sheer amount of information that is being collected as well as the various ways that said information is being used. Something that has not been particularly reassuring for privacy advocates to say the least.

What Does the Federal Government Have in Mind When It Comes to Regulating Big Tech?

Unsurprisingly, this means that there are sections of the federal government that are interested in bring big tech companies under control through various means. Moreover, there are some indications that this sentiment seems to exist among both Democrats and Republicans, which is rather remarkable considering how polarizing U.S. politics has become in recent decades. With that said, bringing big tech companies under control is much easier said than done.

For starters, the federal government would have to push for a new way of looking at monopolies and oligopolies, which is going to be rather difficult even under the best of circumstances. Traditionally, the federal government has regulated that kind of market dominance by looking at the negative effects on the consumers. However, that approach won’t work when it comes to big tech companies, both because a lot of the relevant services are offered free of charge and because a lot of the relevant services are offered at lower prices than otherwise possible. As a result, the federal government is going to face something of an uphill struggle in this regard.

Second, it is difficult to imagine any modern administration being capable of passing a comprehensive package of reforms for how big tech companies are regulated. In part, this is because it is difficult to imagine any modern administration being capable of mustering that much momentum. However, it should also be noted that the interactions of the US Congress with various tech executives doesn’t exactly instill interested individuals with a great deal of confidence in their abilities to produce something sensible. After all, it wasn’t that long ago since U.S. senators asked Google CEO Sundar Pichai a number of strange and sometimes outright stupid questions. One example was the senator who asked Pichai about an ad that was critical of him for a game on an iPhone. Another example was the senator who asked Pichai about Google never having sanctioned anyone for manipulating its search results before refusing to believe Pichai’s response that its search results can’t be manipulated in that manner. Under these circumstances, it is no wonder that a lot of people are expecting a more piecemeal process, which could start with new laws that strengthen protection for the privacy of consumers.

How Do the Big Tech Companies Plan to Fight Back?

Of course, it should be mentioned that the big tech companies will be fighting back against these efforts as well. Currently, their strategies seem to be very wide-ranging in nature, with examples ranging from Apple’s claim that it offers better protection for consumer data than its competitors to Facebook’s claim that there should be some regulation but not in the wrong places. However, as pressure increases, it isn’t impossible that these corporations will start to come up with a more coherent and more cooperative strategy in response.


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