Google and Facebook dominate web search and social media, respectively, in ways that echo the great US monopolies of the past: rail in the 19th century, then oil in the 20th century, and then telecommunications. All these industries have become basic forms of capitalist infrastructure for economic and social development. And all these monopolies required legislation to separate them for the public good.
It is not surprising that the giant ad tech media platforms do not want to follow the rules, but they must admit that their great fortune and power comes with a moral responsibility to society. Facing them with this responsibility will require state intervention.
Online pioneers The deer came (currently Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google) and Tim Berners-Lee (“Inventor of the World Wide Web”) also made presentations to the Senate committee on behalf of companies. They made high-minded claims that the code would break the “free and open” internet.
But today’s internet is hardly free and open: for most users the “internet” is huge corporate platforms like Google and Facebook. And these companies don’t want Australian senators to interfere with their business models.
Independent senator Rex Patrick hit the head when asked why Google does not admit that the core issue is about income rather than technical details or principal questions.