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Should we break up the Big Tech companies? Show more Show less

The Big Tech companies - epitomized by the big four of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google - have grown to become some of the largest and most powerful corporations in the world. This prominent status has attracted intense public scrutiny of Big Tech's sometimes controversial business practices. Various public officials, politicians, and regulatory bodies have expressed concerns about the potentially detrimental effects of having so much power concentrated in the hands of a few mega-corporations. In particular, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have been accused of being monopolies, of anticompetitive practices, and of breaches of privacy and personal data protections. Would breaking the Big Tech companies up solve these problems? Or is there a problem at all?

No, the Big Tech companies should be left as they are. Show more Show less

The rise of Big Tech is a free market success story, and the services they provide are indispensable to consumers.
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Breaking up Big Tech would not be legal

Big Tech companies are not actually in violation of antitrust laws, which puts the legal case for breaking them up on shaky ground.
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Context

The Argument

Antitrust laws are intended to prevent companies from dominating markets through anticompetitive practices. In other words, antitrust rules only apply in situations where a monopoly is based on factors other than than a company providing a superior product or service. These rule originate in the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and the Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914, which were put into place during an era in U.S. history when large firms in industries including oil, energy, manufacturing, and tobacco were able to dominate resource production and operate as monopolistic cartels, crowding out competitors and fixing prices to their benefit rather than the benefit of consumers. In contrast, innocent monopolies, which occur when a company dominates simply by making a superior offering to consumers, are legal. The Big Tech companies have achieved their dominant positions by virtue of the quality of their products, so the legal basis for breaking them up is shaky. Antitrust regulations also have limited applicability to the Big Tech companies because, rather than monopolizing any well-defined single market in the way that a company like Standard Oil did, the Big Tech companies achieved their size by diversifying into many different markets. The sheer size of the company alone is not sufficient to be in violation of antitrust laws without proof of specific monopolistic practices, such as the domination of a bottleneck resource.

Counter arguments

Framing

Premises

[P1] Big Tech companies are not actually in contravention of antitrust laws. [P2] Breaking up the Big Tech companies would be illegal.

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

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    This page was last edited on Wednesday, 13 May 2020 at 21:05 UTC