Big Tech in 2021: Washington is ready to lay down the law

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TECH: For more than a decade, lawmakers and regulators have taken a hands-off approach to Silicon Valley.

Over time, lawmakers and regulators have taken a hands off approach to silicon valley.

All of these are likely to change for Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter as the folks in charge in Washington look to rein in their power and influence.

Policymakers and politicians on both sides of the aisle have grown increasingly alarmed by the power these companies have, how it might harm consumers by enabling the firms to choke off competition from smaller players, exploit personal data for profit, and distort what media is shared and consumed online.

Some on Capitol Hill are calling for a full-scale reset. In October, the House Judiciary Committee published a scathing, 449-page report that concluded Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have transformed into monopoly powerhouses.

With what is happening, everyone believes and agrees that there’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed, “Rep. David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and the chairman of the House antitrust subcommittee which wrote the report, said during a new tile Times panel discussion earlier this month.

He added that the era of self-regulation is over and congressional action is required.

ANTITRUST

Antitrust has been a thing of concern to society, it is highly targeted on the backs of some of the biggest tech companies in the world is growing larger.

Obviously, Google and Facebook are already facing multiple lawsuits from federal and state law enforcement as well as regulatory agencies.

GOOGLE

Precisely in October, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit alleging that Google has used anticompetitive tactics to preserve its search engine business.

Again on Dec 17, 38 states filed an antitrust suit against the company, accusing it if running an illegal digital advertising Monopoly and enlisting Facebook to rig ad actions.

The state also alleged that Google manipulated digital advertising markets in violation of antitrust laws.

FACEBOOK

A very veritable and useful platform where people leverage on is facing a lawsuit from the FCT and coalition of more than 40 states and territories.

The lawsuits accuse the company of illegally stifling innovation and choking competition by buying and squashing smaller startups.

These lawsuits demand that Facebook unwind its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram.

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APPLE AND AMAZON.

These two have to be amazing, so far neither Apple nor Amazon is being used by the US government or the states, but the House Judiciary report also singled them out for their behaviors.

This report has accused Amazon of holding Monopoly power over third-party sellers on its side. And it accuses Apple of having a monopoly through its App Store.

The lawsuits have also been litigated, there’s a growing appetite among lawmakers in both parties to take legislative action on antitrust that could go far beyond the tech industry and affect all concentrated industries.

PRIVACY

Privacy is something that should keep confined to oneself. But then, who owns your personal data? And how should companies be protecting the information they gather about you? That’s the big question that many people hoped Congress will answer in 2021.

This year was the year that was supposed to be the one in which Congress passed privacy legislation.

There’d been much talk in Washington about comprehensive privacy legislation following the European Union’s 2018 General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, which significantly increased requirements for how consumer data is stored and shared.

As the feds dragged their feet and debated what the US should do, California followed the GDPR with its own Consumer Privacy Act, the CCPA, which went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Other states have taken similar steps.

Though some advocates would say the CCPA doesn’t go far enough, it’s still the most comprehensive privacy law in the US. And it could serve as the foundation for federal protections.

In spite of more than 20 privacy bills or drafts of bills being introduced and discussed in Congress, there’s still no law in place.

Experts totally agree that a piecemeal approach by States isn’t enough to adequately address consumer privacy.

They all agreed that it could create costly and complicated compliance requirements for individual companies.

Sohn also added that there’s already alignment on many privacy issues, so she’s hopeful something can be hammered out in 2021.

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