The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) warned in a statement to Congress that today’s internet is simply not sustainable thanks to the unsavory practices of internet bigwigs Facebook and Google. These two tech firms have so much power over the flow of information, they say, that internet users’ privacy is essentially “under assault.”
After all, their entire business model depends on them obtaining vast amounts of data about people to feed their algorithms. Their behavioral advertising targets consumers directly, using deep profiles of them and algorithms that look at race, religion, age, nationality, and other aspects of a person. They say that while ads should give people information about products, Facebook and Google are now giving advertisers information about consumers; these days, the consumers are the product.
MIT Technology Review points out that the combined market capitalization of the two firms was approximately equivalent to the GDP of Italy at $2 trillion. Three of every four dollars that are spent on digital advertising in the U.S. go to one of the two companies. Their constant refinement of their services and products attracts more users, which gives them even more data, fueling a never-ending cycle. Other businesses that start to look like a threat are quickly snapped up by the firms – for example, Facebook bought WhatsApp and Instagram.
President Trump needs to pursue prosecution of Facebook and Google under the United States antitrust law regarding monopolies
The United States antitrust law is a collection of federal and state government laws that regulates the conduct and organization of business corporations, generally to promote fair competition for the benefit of consumers. (The concept is called competition law in other English-speaking countries.) The main statutes are the Sherman Act of 1890, the Clayton Act of 1914 and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914.
These acts, first, restrict the formation of cartels and prohibit other collusive practices regarded as being in restraint of trade. Second, they restrict the mergers and acquisitions of organizations that could substantially lessen competition. Third, they prohibit the creation of a monopoly and the abuse of monopoly power.
The Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, state governments and private parties who are sufficiently affected may all bring actions in the courts to enforce the antitrust laws. The scope of antitrust laws, and the degree to which they should interfere in an enterprise’s freedom to conduct business, or to protect smaller businesses, communities and consumers, are strongly debated. One view, mostly closely associated with the “Chicago School of economics” suggests that antitrust laws should focus solely on the benefits to consumers and overall efficiency, while a broad range of legal and economic theory sees the role of antitrust laws as also controlling economic power in the public interest.
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