I haven’t always seen Big Tech as a big problem… Libertarian-leaning conservatives like me, who came of age under the presidency of George W. Bush before riding the Tea Party wave of the 2008, were steeped in a political movement that gave wide latitude and deference to the free market, focusing instead on the perils and pitfalls of big government.
The corrupt and distorting threat of big government remains a real and present danger. But in 2013, I noticed a peculiar nexus between big government and big business that fundamentally altered how I looked at the “private” industries of Big Tech.
As part of the spy program PRISM, detailed in information leaked by former CIA contractor Edward Snowden, the U.S. National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been, for years, collecting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, and documents from the internal servers of a “who’s who” of Silicon Valley companies – Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Dropbox, and a host of others.
Not only that, but these companies had willingly thrown open the back door.
Largely without understanding what they were doing, Americans had willingly given Big Tech the full details of their inner and outer lives. And Big Tech was willing to hand it over to the government with little prodding. What else were they up to? The more I paid attention, the more I began to recognize the troubling implications of private power that existed at this scale, without transparency or accountability.
Since 2013, the power of the Big Tech companies has only continued to grow. These are hardly the garage-basement startups of the 1990s… Rather, Google and Facebook, in particular, are now mega-corporations capable of distorting speech, thought, and behavior – not to mention privacy and data property rights – on an international scale, exerting unprecedented levels of influence over billions of people.
How the Right – and libertarians, in particular – should respond to this development has been a particular focus of mine. I have testified before Congress about the need to make sure competition in the tech marketplace is preserved, debated the issue in places like Newsweek and USA Today, participated in policy symposiums, and discussed the dynamics of corporate power, government policy, and liberty on countless panels.
Read more at American Consequences