Conservatives must admit that the cure for big tech abuse is bigger government – Dakota Free Press
Presidential candidate Kristi Noem denounces Big Tech in please its base. But is she ready to denigrate her conservative tenets and back the bipartisan legislation proposed by members of Congress to control the power of the internet giants with strong government intervention in their insufficiently regulated market?
Republicans like Noem complain a lot about the alleged censorship of their conservative views online. But most of these complaints are legislative and contentious dead ends, since the government cannot compel any private company to provide a platform for anyone’s messages, especially messages threatening the integrity of democratic government.
Noem’s “conservative beliefs” do not prevent him in one way or another from advocating too great a scope for government on First Amendment issues, so one would think that his “conservative beliefs” would prevent him. not to advocate for more reasonable, unprecedented and appropriate government action against anti-competitive firms. practices. This is the subject of the four bills presented yesterday in Congress and a fifth already in the Senate:
A measure prohibits platforms from owning subsidiaries that operate on their platform if those subsidiaries compete with other companies, potentially forcing large tech companies to sell assets.
… A second measure would make it illegal in most cases for a platform to give preference to its own products on its platform with a hefty fine of 30% of the affected company’s US revenues if they violate the measure. .
The third bill would require a platform to refrain from any merger unless it can demonstrate that the acquiree is not competing with any product or service in which the platform is located.
A fourth would require platforms to allow users to move their data elsewhere if they wish, including to a competing company.
In addition to those four, a fifth bill would increase what the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission charge to assess larger companies to ensure their mergers are legal and increase agency budgets. A companion to this has already passed the Senate [Diane Bartz, “Breaking up Big Tech in Focus as New U.S. Antitrust Bills Introduced,” Reuters, 2021.06.11].
Arguably, antitrust law is rooted in conservative principles: the best economic outcomes come from the free market, from the aggregation of billions of free choices between competing sellers and buyers. Government shouldn’t interfere with those choices, but neither should companies that become so rich and powerful that they can stifle free choice by stifling competition. Taking an absolute stand against government action opens the door for businesses to abuse their wealth and power and hamper the free market we thought we were saving.
In the United States, this has been compounded by efforts dating back to the Reagan years to weaken antitrust law, creating a laissez-faire environment that big tech companies have been able to exploit particularly well. [Enrique Dans, “Congress Rolls Out Some Tough Regulatory Proposals for Big Tech,” Forbes, 2021.06.12].
To prevent the rich and powerful from rigging the free market, the government cannot sit on the sidelines. We must temper our conservative principles and advocate government entry into the market to level the playing field. Since this entry is only required when a player grows too big, the intervening government must necessarily be bigger, a Leviathan referee who can tell even the biggest player to chill him or, if the big galoot isn’t heeling, chew on that Goliath and spit out little Davids who can play nicely and fairly with the others.
The bills also call on Congress to strengthen the enforcement powers of antitrust regulators, such as the Federal Trade Commission.
“They [Big Tech companies] are in a unique position to pick winners and losers, destroy small businesses, raise consumer prices and put people out of work, ”Judicial Chamber Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicillin said, presenting measurements Friday.
The goal, he said, is to “level the playing field” and ensure that powerful tech companies follow the same rules as other companies. [“US Lawmakers Unveil 5 Bills Targeting Big Tech,” Deutsche Welle, 2021.06.12].
The free market is a game with rules. Rules require enforcement and enforcers.
There is the challenge for Noem and other conservatives who profess to oppose Big Tech. To take effective action against the excesses of the corporate Internet giants, they must recognize and execute the appropriate role of a necessarily important government in regulating business for the good of the community. Such pragmatism is too complicated and accommodating for a red meat campaign letter, but this is how we make a market economy work.
One of Joe Biden’s campaign commitments was to regulate big tech, and the president has brought academics and pro-activists into his team; but the idea has also found support among Republicans, as part of a global regulatory trend that includes not only the European Union, which has led the way in recent years, but also China. Combining this trend with the recent G7 agreement that will attempt to put an end to the aggressive tax optimization processes that these companies, as well as many other multinationals in other sectors, have benefited from, the prospects for these new empires could be noticeably bulging.
And frankly, it is quite possible that this is a very good thing, both for users and for competition and innovation. [Dans, 2021.06.12].
Related reading: Vox discusses the five bills in detail here. Sponsors bundle the invoices into a package given the conservative title “A Stronger Online Economy: Opportunity, Innovation and Choice”.