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Big-Tech Defenders Vastly Underestimate Its Power Relative to Government's

Big-Tech is much more powerful than its defenders assume.

Proposed bipartisan legislation to modernize U.S. antitrust law and enforcement standards for the 21st century digital marketplace calls for a fact-driven comparison of Big-Tech’s unchecked power relative to Big Government’s Constitutionally limited power.

Big-Tech has proven its monopoly and cartel power can be more powerful than Big Government.

Big Government’s Constitutional limits denied two impeachment attempts to remove President Trump from office and to prevent his ability to run again. In mid-January, Big Tech collusively cancelled President Trump, his eighty million online followers, and his right-of-center, competitive social media alternatives – with impunity.

When unchecked by antitrust law, Big-Tech monopoly gatekeepers together are dominant enough to determine what Americans see and say online. This means in 21st century America, there no longer is a real competitive marketplace for ideas, and no longer are public squares open to all political voices.

Why the Internet Is Industrial Policy Not Free Market -- Heartland Op-ed

Big Tech’s defense against any potential governmental accountability is wielding the myth that their success is a result of their free market merit, innovation, and competitiveness.

Myth busted.

Common sense scrutiny proves the Internet and Big Tech are not the mythic result of laissez faire free market capitalism, but the real product of massive U.S. Government (USG) intervention via U.S. Internet industrial policy in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.

The Achilles Heel of Big Tech’s Cancel Power -- Daily Caller Op-ed

Big Tech’s unchecked.

If the four CEOs of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon collectively could cancel online a sitting Republican U.S. president and his political allies with impunity in January, what checks them from collectively cancelling tens of millions of Republicans again?

What checks Big Tech from using their Section 230 impunity in the 2022 midterm elections and collectively canceling many Republican Senate and House candidates, their political allies and online followers that express broadly held Republican views that Big Tech deems objectionable?

It is in the raw political interests of the government’s incumbent party and unchecked Big Tech to collectively cancel the opposition party online to retain control of their levers of power long term.

Do any checks stand in the way of “The Collective Cancel” political precedent becoming practice?

CLELAND: Why Repeal Not Reform Section 230? Daily Caller Op-ed

Repeal of Section 230’s 1996 lawless Wild West Internet policy is inevitable because it is based on an immoral premise and has inflicted severe damage to America’s constitutional liberties, national security and economic prosperity.

Repeal vs. Reform

Repeal of Section 230 would serve America and Americans much better than reforms that perpetuate lawless U.S. Internet policy and guarantee Big Tech remains unaccountable and Americans remain unprotected online.

Repeal would affect a major national policy change, while reform incrementalism would preserve the online status quo.

Repeal would be a comprehensive and constitutional solution, while content moderation reforms are piecemeal solutions that carry constitutional risks.

Cancel Section 230’s Cancel Powers

Section 230 warrants repeal because it created, and empowers, two different types of problematic power-without-accountability to customers, competition, government or the courts.

Section 230’s extraordinary unaccountability advantages for Internet companies are an out-of-control, Big Tech monopoly-making machine.

There is no antitrust fix for Big Tech monopolization without first, or simultaneously, repealing Section 230, the evident root cause of, and superpower behind, Big Tech’s evident monopolistic impunity.

Section 230’s Wild West Internet policy and law empowers Big Tech to cancel and deplatform any competitor or dissenter, even the President of the United States, with impunity.

How US v. Google Antitrust Case Changes Internet Platform Antitrust Outlook

The impending public filing of the expected DOJ antitrust case against Google means big change is afoot for U.S. antitrust enforcement for Internet platforms.

As we look ahead, it’s important to not miss the forest for the trees.

The Senate is having an antitrust hearing on Google. The House is soon releasing a report on Big Tech antitrust. And the DOJ and states are expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google.

Some background on my insights and predictions below.

Thirteen years ago, I testified before the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee in opposition to the proposed Google-DoubleClick acquisition. I accurately warned of “the stakes of lax antitrust enforcement…” and “missing the forest for the trees,” because the merger obviously “would create extreme market concentration horizontally and vertically, and also tip the online advertising market to a bottleneck.” Since then, I have copiously chronicled Google’s antitrust issues on Googleopoly.net.   

America’s Internet Reset Opportunity for a Responsible, Prosperous Internet

Please don’t miss my Daily Caller Op-Ed (PDF here) on America’s Internet Reset Opportunity for a Responsible, Prosperous Internet.

It explains how America can and must do much better than a Wild West, Winner-Take-All, Internet law.

And it spotlights a bipartisan, popular Internet reset opportunity for Congress to restore a legal duty of care online to revitalize America’s civil society, competitive commerce, and productive prosperity.

 

How Section 230 Is Anticompetitive

Our polarized Internet world has generated at least one area of extraordinary bipartisan consensus: 77 percent of Americans agree Google, Facebook, and Amazon have too much power according to a Gallup survey.  

The near unanimous participation of Federal, State and Congressional antitrust authorities in probing  Google, Facebook, and Amazon, indicates extraordinary concern that their unchecked market power threatens competition for the consumer market.

Both political parties agree that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which grants Internet platforms with immunity from liability for good faith moderation of online content, in practice provides Internet platforms unaccountable power that warrants reform.

Section 230’s intermediary impunity loophole provides these dominant consumer gatekeepers with anticompetitive advantages that facilitate the monopolization of access to consumer demand online, thus undermining competition for U.S. consumer spending that comprises 68% of U.S. GDP.

These gatekeepers, which do their best to avoid competing directly with each other, dominate competitive access to the online U.S. consumer market, leaving most potential competitors dependent on them to broadly reach online consumer demand.

How could this happen?

Coronavirus Is No Cure for Techlash

Big Tech tales that the Coronavirus Crisis somehow will mitigate their Techlash problem, totally miss the mark.

They miss that the crisis is not good and not about tech. They miss that to whom much is given, much is expected.

They miss how many other industries and companies have contributed and sacrificed during this crisis without expecting something in return.

Spontaneously this past week, a tech op-ed chorus broke out singing a new tune and tale, that the Coronavirus Crisis could benefit Big Tech and save it from much of the Techlash.

Consider: Coronavirus gives Big Tech an opportunity to shine – Axios 3-18-20; Has the coronavirus killed the Techlash? Wired 3-20-20; Big Tech has the cash to expand after crisis, Regulatory threat also likely to recede for now, FT 3-20-20; and What Techlash? Virus Could Remake Industry Giants Image, The Information 3-23-20.  

Like some catchy new tunes lyrics, these don’t make sense.

Why is the Coronavirus Crisis no cure for the Techlash?

First, Americans strong bipartisan views undergird the Techlash in the U.S.

Consider a recent Gallup poll of Americans published 3-11-20.

Antitrust Pollyannaism: Google Facebook Amazon = New Entrants Not Incumbents

Are Google, Facebook, and Amazon, pro-competitive Internet “new entrants” or anti-competitive enduring monopoly Internet platform incumbents?

Apparently, that critical distinction depends less on evidence, and more on one’s antitrust predilections and prosecutorial presumptions – i.e. does one view the Internet competition glass half-empty (pessimistic) or half-full (optimistic).  

Recent evidence from the Trump DOJ Antitrust Division suggests it’s in the Internet competition optimist camp almost to the point of Internet competition Pollyannaism, despite the evident Internet platform antitrust enforcement drumbeat around the world, in Congress, and the White House, to the contrary over the last 18 months.