I definitely don’t want to crack down on all tech companies.
L.M. Schulte
1

That all sounds good to me, but I’d go back to what I said about particular areas of the law. Privacy law is certainly needed, federal-level fair wage legislation needs to be further debated (not clear to me what the right answer is), but what other areas of regulation would you have in mind for these large companies? Without specificity it is hard to debate the merits of a claim that ‘large companies need to be regulated more’. Agree with you that fees should be high enough to discourage bad behavior…Wells Fargo received a tiny penalty for their fraud account scandal.

I’d also love to hear more about what you mean exactly when you say “power”. How is Apple “powerful” with respect to consumers at large, more so than other companies? They are powerful vis a vis their suppliers, and powerful to app developers, and need to be kept in line with respect to privacy, but consumers can switch phones and computers and home devices whenever they like (to increasingly comparable competitors). When I think of power, it is about power towards the consumer due to lack of competition…which is when pricing abuses can come in. Or conversely being the only employer in the space, where labor abuses come in…but Apple’s employees (not those of suppliers) can choose to work in many places. Many also argue that without the leadership of Steve Jobs, Apple is in a vulnerable position, and will not innovate in a way that their business model demands (they need to be product leaders in order to succeed).

This point also goes to the power you say about Alphabet. Yes they touch most consumers, but their power is weak due to high competition (again the low switching costs thing). As you say, they could become bad actors, but then I’d ask you…what regulation needs to be in place that isn’t there (other than the privacy issues we’ve already mentioned)? Given their power is so illusory (again, see Yahoo), how could they act in such a way that is not currently regulated and wouldn’t lose customers? Actual questions as I could be easily be missing areas of secret corporate malfeasance.

“Alphabet may not be as powerful now as it will be someday, but all it needs to do is make a small percentage of its ventures successful in order to become involved in a huge swath of people’s lives” — — In addition to my general point on what ‘power’ is above, I’m quite confused by this. “All it needs to do” in this case is beat out other enormous competitors in highly complex sectors. Driverless cars has nearly every major tech company working on it as well as hundreds of startups, and by no means is Google’s success guaranteed (many agree it is too early to tell). Ditto with general AI. And again, thanks to the competition that the US is so great at fostering, even if Google succeeds in a venture, it is highly likely that there will be other competitors to keep them in line. As a general point, I see from many astute observers the feeling that business is sort of easy, winners keep on winning indefinitely…but disruption is always around the corner and nothing is guaranteed.

“Amazon engages in anti-competitive practices in a number of fields” — other than poor treatment of their warehouse workers (which will be replaced by robots eventually in any case), what practices would you mention? In the end, a business model that allows a company to realize economies of scale to lower prices and thus beat out less-efficient competitors isn’t really “anti-competitive” per se, it’s just a sound business model. They aren’t colluding with competitors, or misleading consumers, or other things traditionally thought of as anti competitive.

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