For a long time, the Internet giants have been targeted because of the enormous amount of information they manage and the way they protect the data of millions of users around the world.
For that reason, in Washington, politicians of all spaces, allied to give a new battle against the big four, Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon. Last Monday the House of Representatives announced the opening of an investigation into possible monopolistic behavior of these technological giants.
The debate about the limits to the power of these companies went from theory to reality. The state knows that it has to start regulating these firms something that was even proposed by Mark Zuckerberg, and, in turn, it is a chess movement. “Hitting Silicon Valley is a good way of doing politics”, states this Vox article.
The initiative, which unites Republicans and Democrats, would lead to the first review of the competition laws in decades. And will once again put the technological controversies at the center of the controversy. Which until a few years ago seemed the best companies in the world and are for these days object of critics by its immense power, its management of the information of the users. And, perhaps most serious in contexts of elections, the propagation of fake news, false news, or that take to the misinformation.
All against the technological
From the executive power the first offensive arose. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice distributed the four companies to investigate them. Apple and Google for the Department of Justice, Amazon and Facebook for the FTC. The announcement caused a stock market crash of the four companies. In the case of the social network of Zuckerberg they fell by 7, 51%. Alphabet (Google) lost 6.12%, Amazon 4.64% and Apple 1.01%.
The initiative of the Congress, in the current context of the current government, would be historic. “It’s rare that there is such a consensus, but when it happens, extraordinary things happen,” said Barry Lynn, founder of the Open Markets Institute and anti-concentration activist.
“We talked about 18 months of public hearings. Republicans and democrats working together in true harmony. These hearings educate legislators, the public, the Executive, the media. The key is the use of the authority of the United States Congress to investigate and shed light on these corporations that are a danger to our democracy. They are the biggest threat to our democracy since the Second World War. We must act now and with force. And Congress has all the tools to do it, “explained Lynn.
According to several experts, the US offensive against the technology companies could lead to dismemberment, something that was proposed a couple of months ago by the Democrat Elizabeth Warren, presidential candidate.
Warren’s proposal is to shrink the big technology companies in the United States because it considers that they have “too much power”. It is believed that this offensive against the big four could be one of the main campaign axes in the 2020 elections.
In Europe, things are not different. The European Commission imposed on March 20 for the third time in less than two years a heavy fine to Google for practices that went against competition laws in the European Union.
Chronicle of a war announced
A little over a year ago, the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal hit Facebook. It was the starting point for a crisis that affected, first the company of Mark Zuckerberg, and later the rest of the tech giants.
The problems with the use of social network information continued, despite the company’s attempts to change the perception of governments and users. The other companies also began to suffer the same fate.
Google was accused of favoring its search products and abusing its influence in the advertising market. In France, for that reason, measures were imposed to control it. Facebook, in addition to not taking care of user data, is treated as a monopoly after buying Instagram and WhatsApp. Amazon controls half of online commerce and would use that advantage to pressure sellers to use their platform. Apple is accused of monopoly position in the apps market.
Companies have noticed the paradigm shift and are already acting accordingly. In 2017, the big four spent $ 55 million on lobbying practices, twice as much as in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which posts this type of contribution.
Also published on Medium.