How To Fix Big Tech Without Big Government

The American Conservative

Interoperability and open protocols can solve many of the problems of centralized cyber power without a heavy regulatory hand.

Partisanship is at an all time high in Washington. But one issue policymakers on both sides seem to agree on is that something should be done to rein in the power of Big Tech. The American people also seem to agree, with a recent Gallup poll revealing a majority of both Republicans and Democrats favor increased regulation of the tech sector. Prominent conservatives are even abandoning their traditional rhetoric about limited government to join forces with progressives in calling for structural separation and expansive new regulations. 

The current debate over Big Tech is stuck in second gear. The most salient proposals on the table, such as revoking Section 230, or radically changing antitrust law, are unlikely to produce good results for speech or competition (even if they’re popular with activists and pundits). This is because they don’t address the underlying problem: the architectural shift to centralized platforms, rather than the particular companies or the people running them. As long as the current governance model remains, these platforms will always be an attractive target for states and activists to exert pressure and control. Even if you break them up into smaller companies. And the structure of closed systems will tend to be less favorable to innovation and competition, leading to more concentration and less choice.

Promoting a more open digital ecosystem—through interoperability and open protocols—is a smarter approach than trying to punish or control particular platforms…

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