This is exactly what is needed to rein in Big Tech.
Just as we don’t have creepy hall monitors invading privacy and opening letters, blacklisting people from using the Post Office, monitoring and intervening in phone calls to deplatform other Americans from having conversations, applying an arbitrary and politically charged litmus test to determine who can have access to electricity, water or sewer service, we don’t need these people wielding this power over the internet which is critical infrastructure and has become the 21st century public square.
“That’s why 230 repeal is ultimately just a sideshow. The real way forward—bear with me—is making these companies look a bit more like the platforms that 230 envisioned; that is, forcing them to embrace their role as essential infrastructure.
This is the path that the United States has taken in the past when faced with privately owned goods or services that have become indispensable to public life—such as roads and railroads—and the path that has defined its approach to communications infrastructure in particular. State statutes from the mid-18th century required telegraph companies to treat all comers equally. Graham Bell got a telephone patent in the 1870s; when it expired in the 1890s, the telephone industry took off in the U.S. Then in 1910, Congress passed the Mann-Elkins Act, regulating the telephone-service providers as “common carriers” because of their central role in communication. They could still be privately owned, but they took on a public obligation not to discriminate among different users. …
In most American law, infrastructure is subject to different rules than other consumer goods. It is treated as a public utility and regulated in the public interest. Companies that maintain infrastructure are not allowed to charge different prices for different people who want access to it. Communications infrastructure is banned from spying on those who use it. The Postal Service can’t open mail, and it can’t charge one marketer $5, and another $10, to send the same poundage of bulk mail. Telephone companies can charge different rates for different kinds of calls, but they can’t charge different people different rates, or listen in on calls and use what they learn for marketing.
Applying the nondiscrimination principle to Facebook and YouTube could play out in various ways. Congress has broad authority to regulate the business model of public utilities, and it could ban targeted advertising or any form of algorithmic amplification. Another option would be to ban all advertising, targeted or not, meaning that the platforms would be funded either by non-targeted ads or a subscription service. Instead of ads, YouTube might cost $10 a month, roughly as much as Amazon Prime. Instead of picking and choosing what content is likely to appeal to users—or, put more cynically, to addict users—Facebook would serve up content in the order that it was put on the platform. The upshot of public-utility regulation is that citizens would have their choice among a handful of platforms administered by technology companies and, separately, news outlets run by (hopefully) responsible publishers. …
Break up the ad moguls, break up the publishers, reinstate the rule of law, recognize the public-utility role of big, networked social-media companies, and we have a fighting chance. In other words, follow the communications policy that defined American law until the 1970s: Regulate the infrastructure, enforce the common law of libel and defamation, and otherwise maximally disperse power.”
“Data centers, servers and programs for building applications are the internet’s wood, nails and glue. They are the supplies needed to partake in democracy, be involved in community, engage in commerce and support a family. In short, they’re the necessary supplies for existence in the 21st century. Alas, they’re controlled by several powerful corporations bent on denying service to—in essence, exiling—half of the country. …
In the last six months alone, big tech has censored newspapers, deplatformed Parler and stopped the president of the United States from communicating with the American people and the world. These moves nakedly reveal its unchecked power and how far it’s willing to go to purge opposition. To many who wish to build a proverbial home, the tyrants of Silicon Valley are declaring that they will close off every point of access to that aspiration.
This is all antithetical to freedom and human flourishing. It’s a broadside against the ideals and principles enshrined in our nation’s founding documents. Indeed, it’s a ruthless campaign to eradicate the immutable rights delineated in the Declaration of Independence and safeguarded by the Constitution. And big tech is now not only excising our ideas from society, it’s eliminating our very ability to formulate and express them. …”
These people have blown to smithereens the political support for the sort of “pro-business” conservatism that favored deregulation which has existed since the 1970s:
In the span of a year, there has been a 26 point drop in Republican satisfaction with the “size and influence of major corporations.” This is now the minority view inside the Republican Party.
Look at Republican and Independent views of Big Tech.
After Silicon Valley rigged the 2020 election for Joe Biden, Democrats are unchanged since 2020. There has been a 51 point swing against Big Tech among Republicans and a 21 point swing among Independents. They crossed the Rubicon when they purged Trump from the internet.