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Congress gets ready to take a good, hard look at online monopolies

Congress looks ready to reaffirm the notion that the internet is a public space, not a private funnel for some of the world’s largest companies.

Human beings have done something incredible, but dangerous over the course of the last few decades.

We’ve created another world, essentially, online.  The internet, while nothing more than bits and bytes of data, carries with it an importance not unlike that of our actual physical realm.

Please don’t mistake me for some New Age guru here.  What I mean to say is that where we once had to go to the actual bank on an actual street to grab money to pay back a friend, we know have Apple Pay, Venmo, the Cash App, and other online banking hubs.

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The same goes for shopping, managing car and home insurance, procuring loans, nearly all communication, dating, and even navigating the world around us.

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We have undeniably shifted much of our lives into this sort of parallel universe that the internet has provided, but we have done so with very little regard for the machinations of the companies who dominate the digital landscape.

That is, until now.

The House Judiciary Committee announced Monday that it will hold a series of hearings as part of a bipartisan investigation into whether there is enough competition among U.S. technology companies.

While no companies were named, any investigation will inevitably touch on Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple, all of which have come under increased scrutiny in recent years for their dominance in a variety of markets including social networking, online advertising, online search, e-commerce and mobile apps.

“A small number of dominant, unregulated platforms have extraordinary power over commerce, communication, and information online,” the Judiciary Committee noted in a news release that included the names of both Democratic and Republican members. “Based on investigative reporting and oversight by international policymakers and enforcers, there are concerns that these platforms have the incentive and ability to harm the competitive process.”

These corporations have long reigned supreme on the world wide web, and with impunity.  After all, they are “private companies”.

But, as this digital universe continues to eclipse our own, their dominance could be likened to having a private interstate system, instead of a public one, in which you can only access the businesses and towns that the highway owners want you to visit…namely their own.

 

 

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