One of the planks of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s emerging campaign is a radical proposal to break up the tech giants. She did a robust defence the other day of her proposal.
I’m with her all the way on that, as is Dave Winer. But, Dave writes,
we need to do more, and do it very soon. They [the tech giants] are destroying natural resources the way oil giants did before the government stepped in. However our political leaders, like most users, don’t understand.
The natural resource they are destroying is the World Wide Web, an open, unowned resource that has fostered the innovative environment that gave birth to Google and Facebook.
Google is acting as if it were the government, without any checks and balances, no oversight, no redress of grievances. They say they’re doing it for the good of the net, but we know they’re a huge corporation, and that’s not how it works.
Facebook is sucking the life out of the web, along with Medium (where Warren published her manifesto!). Some simple rules, if followed, would restore balance to the web ecosystem. But there are no rules here, so they run wild, and take whatever isn’t nailed down.
They’ve had a fantastic run, but it’s long past time for some rules, and consequences for not respecting that we all have ownership of the resource they are foreclosing on.
This morning’s Observer column:
The dominant company in the market at the moment is Huawei, a $100bn giant which is the world’s largest supplier of telecoms equipment and its second largest smartphone maker. In the normal course of events, therefore, we would expect that the core networks of western mobile operators would have a lot of its kit in them. And initially, that’s what looked like happening. But in recent months someone has pressed the pause button.
The prime mover in this is the US, which has banned government agencies from using Huawei (and ZTE) equipment and called on its allies to do the same. The grounds for this are national security concerns about hidden “backdoors”: it would be risky to have a company so close to the Chinese government building key parts of American critical infrastructure. Last week Huawei filed a lawsuit against the US government over the ban. New Zealand and Australia have obligingly complied with the ban, blocking the use of Huawei’s equipment in 5G networks. And last December BT announced that it was even removing Huawei kit from parts of its 4G network.
Other countries – notably Japan and Germany – have proved less compliant; the German Data Commissioner was even tactless enough to point out that “the US itself once made sure that backdoor doors were built into Cisco hardware”.
The UK’s position is interestingly enigmatic…