Sending big government after big tech is a big mistake
The New York Senate has passed legislation that would make it easier for individuals to sue big tech companies for behaving like monopolies.
It’s part of a larger, bipartisan, national effort to curb tech companies perceived power over commerce, speech, and a host of other matters.
But there’s fundamental problem with the bipartisan political class and its rush to bust the tech “trusts.” As Reason’s Katherine Mangu-Ward writes, antitrust solutions are usually way too late to the fight, and end up doing more harm than the alleged monopolists ever could.
The real problem isn’t Big Tech. It’s using Big Government to fight it:
There is one clear monopoly in this ecosystem, however: the state. Any legislative or regulatory restriction on Big Tech will not be a triumph of the oppressed over the powerful. It will be yet another instance of the already powerful wielding the state’s machinery to compel private companies to do what they want, likely at the expense of their market competitors or political enemies. Such reforms are far more likely to be censorship than to reduce censorship, in the strictest sense.
It has become fashionable on both the left and the right to argue that Big Tech is now more powerful than a government or perhaps indistinguishable from one. Here is a list of things governments sometimes do if they dislike what you say or how you say it: lock you up, take your property, take your children, send you to die in a war. Here is a list of things tech companies sometimes do: delete your account.
Rather than hand government more power over commerce, speech, and a host of other matters – power that once surrendered can never be retrieved – let the marketplace decide what to do with Big Tech. The solutions may not satisfy the luddites in the political class. But they will be more effective, happen faster, and last longer, than any wannabe trust buster.