Big Tech, Big Paranoia

As Congress considers regulation of Big Tech, they fail to appreciate the competitive environment that drives the behavior of these companies. I step outside of the box and offer a suggestion.

This is in response to an article about Facebook on CNN.


What is missed here is the degree of paranoia in big tech. All of these companies understand how fragile their control is. All (Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.) are trying to acquire and monetize personal data. This means that they must aggressively pursue every opportunity before them, and attempt to capture attention by their users.

Consider, then, Facebook’s position: Apple and Google collect information through their mobile devices. Facebook has no such platform, which is why Zuckerberg is so aggressively promoting the “Metaverse” concept.

The only way to cool this kind of competition is with regulation. One way to do this is to separate data collection and analytics from the platforms. This is what eventually led to AT&T’s surrender of its monopoly: they established a universal billing system that allowed everyone to connect to everyone else, and then handed the development of the physical infrastructure over to others.


We should also understand, however, that it is not just the social media platforms that we should regulate. Credit rating agencies have similar practices as regards monetization of personal data.

I would recommend that Congress establish regulations regarding data exchange, interoperability, and privacy, then step out of the way and force the corporations to establish the necessary infrastructure. The right enforcement mechanism is to allow consumers to pursue class-action lawsuits when their data is misused.

Notice, however, that a universal data store provides opportunities for new services. You may not want outsiders to analyze your personal history, but that information can be invaluable to counselors that are trusted to act in our interest.

Privacy Parts

Apple CEO Tim Cook presented an address in Brussels attacking industry practices that customize our online experience to maximize opportunities for third parties hoping to sell us goods and services. The major actors are Google and Facebook, of course.

I guess that Apple has the benefit of having indoctrinated an entire generation to prefer its products over others. It doesn’t need to market any longer – the masses wait breathlessly. And how exactly do you know which features will inspire them to throw away functional devices and upgrade? Hopefully not by analyzing iPhone usage patterns, Tim.

But what really galls is that Cook and his executive team manufacture devices in countries and facilities where the right to privacy is violated in far more concrete terms. Workers sleep in large dormitories on the factory site working for corporations that collaborate with dictatorial government to create devices that spy on citizens.

Yes, the road to destruction is broad, Tim. Don’t complain of the mote in your neighbor’s eye.