Editor’s Note: Guest columnists Kate Jones and Emily Taylor are filling in for Candace Rondeaux this week.
It’s been an astounding start to 2021 for Big Tech. Not only does the power of companies like Twitter and Facebook now extend to denying a platform to a sitting American president, but the market value of the top 30 U.S. tech companies is now the same as the annual GDP of Europe’s five largest economies. It all raises a familiar question: How long will tech giants be allowed to grow like this, seemingly unchecked and unaccountable?
Fortunately, moves are already afoot on both sides of the Atlantic to rein them in through regulation. The European Commission published its draft Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act in December, for debate and discussion in the coming months. The British government is expected to publish its Online Safety Bill this year, following what is known as its online harms consultation. In the United States, the Biden administration is taking office amid a slew of calls to regulate Big Tech from all points of the political spectrum. Fundamentally, there’s a shared concern at the specter of unelected, unaccountable individuals like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and the advertising platforms they have built having the power to control public debate.