Taking down Big Tech: a cross-party issue

Both+political+partiese+have+expressed+disdain+towards+the.+%22Big+Tech%22+companies%2C+yet+not+much+has+been+done+in+regulation.

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Both political partiese have expressed disdain towards the. “Big Tech” companies, yet not much has been done in regulation.

COLIN HORNING, Sports Editor

One of the very few issues that garners bipartisan support in today’s hyper-polarized climate is the issue of Big Tech and how powerful many Silicon Valley giants have become. According to a recent poll from Vox.com and Data for Progress, nearly two-thirds of Americans say the economic power of companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon are a “problem to the U.S. economy.” Approximately 61% of Republicans and 55% of Democrats surveyed in the study are in favor of breaking up Big Tech companies, which is near identical to the level of agreement. One would be hard pressed to find another contemporary issue that garners enough even support from both sides, suggesting that the issue of Big Tech companies and how powerful they’ve become is one that needs to be addressed immediately.

Now of course, the left and the right both have very different reasons for wanting to reform the Silicon Valley Titans. Most Republicans will argue that free speech on the internet is left into the hands of just a few tech giants – like Facebook, Google and Twitter – and that these companies can censor and ban those who don’t say the right thing or go along with the narratives. After all, the sitting president of the United States was simultaneously banned from basically every tech platform. Most on the right say that this is a drastic overreach of power and an infringement on the First Amendment, while also pointing to numerous other examples of posts being censored, YouTube videos being demonetized, etc. of right-leaning accounts.

The left will say that these Big Tech companies have simply grown too large and control too much of the space online. During Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign, she said, “Big tech companies have bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit and tilted the playing field against everyone else.” There seems to be a general consensus on both sides that something needs to be done.

Over the past few years there have been several Congressional hearings and investigations into Facebook, Google, Twitter and Amazon over whether they have engaged in anti-competitive acts against their competition. Yet each time there seems to be one of these hearings, nothing ever really comes out of it; Congress goes back to sitting on their hands and the tech giants keep growing in size and power. One would think that an issue that has such high amounts of bipartisan support would lead to a compromise from both sides of the aisle on some sort of legislation or regulation, but the issue hasn’t seemed to be at the top of anyone’s radar in the last several years.

What can be done? Looking back to last year, there is one example of how Big Tech can be broken up, and that was through the Trump administration and their handling of TikTok. In an oversimplified summary, the Trump White House believed that TikTok was a national security threat in terms of selling their user data to China (TikTok is owned by a Chinese-based company). After multiple lawsuits and court filings, a deal was made to sell the app to U.S.-based companies Oracle and Walmart. The deal has since been shelved indefinitely as the Biden administration has been reviewing the case. However, this is one example of how Big Tech can be broken up.

Normally, I am against most forms of government intervention in the private sector. But every now and then, it does have a place to make sure companies don’t abuse their power and grow too large, because the ramifications of that are much greater than just an anti-competitive marketplace.