Need Smart Govts For Checking Big Tech

Synopsis: This article is based on ideas from a book on how governments can check the power of big techs.


The book System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot, has been written by Stanford University professors Rob Reich, Mehran Sahami, and Jeremy M Weinstein. This book talks about the issues created y Big techs and ideas to check them.

Today, the world’s five biggest companies by market cap are Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook.

These companies just focus on profit and are not concerned about the problems they are creating. But when they face backlash, they spend enormous resources on lobbying, public relations, and influencing legislators.

Many tech CEOs see themselves as philosopher-kings or display a libertarian streak and a disdain for government intervention.

How to check the powers of big Techs?

Governments can limit the power of Big Tech in three ways.

First, address the power gulf between companies and consumers when it comes to personal data. Aggressive commitment to data protection and government agencies capable of enforcing that right would be the first check on corporate power.

Second, give greater voice within companies to those who are likely to be hurt by technological change – limit the powers of directors.

Third, a crackdown on monopolistic behavior and anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions. Recall how Facebook snapped up WhatsApp and Instagram to control 85% of the social networking market.

Fourth, To keep an effective check on these companies, lawmakers have to be more tech-literate too, so that they are not spun by lobbyists.

Source: This post is based on the article “Need Smart Govts For Checking Big Tech” published in Times of India on 8th Oct 2021.

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