Writing at The American Conservative, Bill Nitze (not a conservative), urges conservatives to join his battle against big tech companies, which he describes as “a greater threat to individual liberty and autonomy than the one posed by big government.” He writes:
Editor’s Note: Bill Nitze, though a friend of TAC, is no conservative. Here, the lawyer and technology entrepreneur implores conservatives to join liberals and others who believe the emergence of huge tech “platform” companies poses a threat to individual liberty and must therefore be curtailed. But he goes further, describing the onslaught of technology that almost surely will transform the human experience. Many conservatives will recoil at some of his solutions, but the challenge is real and must be confronted by all of mankind.
Conservatives constantly combat “big government.” They oppose regulations and other governmental initiatives that erode individual liberty and undermine the “American way of life” through bureaucratic intrusion. This conservative resistance to the growing power of governmental departments and agencies is understandable. But there is a greater threat to individual liberty and autonomy than the one posed by big government. Conservatives should take note and join the fight.
The threat comes from the growing power of leading technology companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. These companies destroy jobs through automation. They manipulate people by using data about their purchasing patterns and other aspects of their lives to maximize sales and profits. They produce social media and virtual reality products that are addictive and adversely affect child development and individual autonomy. They also seem bent on building a virtual economy whose intelligence and other capabilities exceed our own.These companies already dominate their markets. Google controls nearly 90 percent of search advertising, Facebook almost 80 percent of mobile social traffic, and Amazon about 75 percent of e-book sales. This spectacular success has created unprecedented wealth and established U.S. leadership in the technologies of the future. But recent misuse of their platforms to influence the 2016 U.S. elections and broader concerns over data privacy, control, and revenue sharing have led some to take a more critical view of these big tech companies.
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