Amazon

It’s Time to Break Up Big Tech

(Source)   Introduction Amazon obtained a place in the popular psyche that has far surpassed its principal market function as an online retailer and entertainment provider. The conventional wisdom was that Amazon operated much like the major industrial powerhouses at the turn of the last century—standard oil, railroads, and steel—and thus warranted the same basic sort of legal treatment that its ancestor monopolies received. Perhaps the laws would have to be updated somewhat, but the idea was that Amazon had justly achieved its privileged position in society through free and fair competition in the marketplace. Jeff Bezos was predestined to be next in the line of a venerable lineage of American entrepreneurs whose spiritedness and ingenuity entitled them the rarefied perches they occupy in public life. In short, Bezos’s outsized influence in society today, a consequence of his unprecedented wealth (now upwards of two hundred billion dollars), has enabled him to lobby lawmakers for exceptionally lenient policies—skirting oversight of his company’s adverse working conditions and slyly evading a number of pesky environmental issues—for a handsome return payment deposited in the coffers of both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.  From one point of view, to deny Bezos of his wealth and fame [read more]

Federalizing Privacy Rights: How Tech Giants Went From Protesting Privacy Laws to Supporting Them

In an impassioned speech in Brussels this October, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, threw his weight behind a federal privacy law, denouncing the data collection practices engaged in by his fellow technological giants such as Google and Facebook. While it is not new for tech companies to push for stronger privacy laws, the renewed impetus for the movement comes from the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect on May 25, 2018, and California’s Consumer Privacy Act, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020. On the heels of California’s legislation, other states such as Georgia have also introduced similar bills. This patchwork of legislations across states with different levels of obligations has pushed the tech industries to petition Congress to enact a federal legislation. Earlier in November, Senator Ron Wyden (D–OR) introduced a federal privacy bill, but many news outlets report it as unlikely to be passed into law. While the tech companies’ interest may stem more from the desire to avoid compliance with 50 different laws on privacy, this post analyzes the public policy implications of a federal legislation on privacy for the complicated digital economy. Present federal protections for privacy rights: The current approach at the federal level in regulating [read more]