Why We Should Stop Fetishizing Big Tech


They create jobs and encourage innovation for free. What’s wrong with that?

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An op-ed at the New York Times argues that we should stop fetishizing privacy because “Big tech companies create jobs, encourage innovation and provide valuable services free. Why would we want to break them up? Regulating tech companies could create problems worse than the ones we seek to solve.”

Most of the arguments in that piece seem… pretty weak to me. They are shown in Italic below, followed by my own comments.

“The biggest companies… have all become both hugely profitable and vital to the global economy.”

So are, in January 2019: bootlegging, trafficking of cultural property, wildlife, human organs, illegal weapons, illicit crude oil trade.

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Money laundering, illegal mining, logging, trafficking of drugs and human beings are even more profitable, and in certain areas equally “vital”, according to the same sources. Even the completely legal tobacco industry, or the completely legal oil industry that saw climate change coming 37 years ago, are still highly profitable. So what?

Nothing against profit here, really. The more you donate to support all my work, the happier I am. And of course I am not equating what Big Tech does to, say, human trafficking. I’m just saying that “profitable and vital” never was a sufficient reason to not disturb some industry.

“If safety is the actual goal of protecting privacy, consider this: Large tech companies may be our best line of defense against hackers, state surveillance and terrorists”

Could never having all data piled together in very few, huge silos be a much, much better way to prevent bad guys of any sort to steal so much data with just one attack?

“Consumers, on the other hand, potentially can… stop visiting the sites, causing them to lose revenue.”

Reality: “If you can’t afford to opt out, what does it mean to consent?”

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“Regulation also assumes that lawmakers understand how the internet operates.”

OK, this is 100% right. So true, both in the US and EU. It is definitely time to only elect lawmakers who DO get how the internet operates. So they can deal with it properly, instead of blindly accepting whatever Big Tech executives and their lobbyists say. Or proposing “break-ups” which, I also agree, would accomplish nothing meaningful. When do we start?

Images source: image search for biggest illegal businesses, and meme from Free Thought Project

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