Generally speaking, I believe in a free market system. Where there is minimal government interference as possible and the best products and businesses are allowed to thrive. Usually, I find that the free market system is often confused with crony capitalism, where only a selected few businesses and people benefit unevenly compared to others thanks to favors they get from the ruling class. That’s a discussion for another day.

I mention this because I often find myself in two minds when it comes to Big Tech (e.g. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Spotify, Apple, Uber, etc.) This is because, time and again, they have proven that left to their ways, they will abuse and exploit whatever is possible to be abused and exploited.

In 1998, authorities in the USA called on Microsoft, even asking Bill Gates to testify, to explain itself as it was being charged with anti-competitive behavior by bundling its web browser with its Windows Operating System. Not only bundling but aggressively forcing users to use Internet Explorer and integrating it with its OS at the expense of other web browsers such as Netscape at the time. The result of the case was close oversight by the government into Microsoft's source code and APIs to prevent it from integrating IE too much into its OS. 📷 Bill Gates giving testimony in the USA vs Microsoft case (1998)

Take the example of Google just this week. A law firm in the USA has filed a lawsuit alleging that the company collects your personal information and web browsing history even when you are using Google Chrome’s Incognito mode. The really weird part is Google says they will defend and fight the allegations. Yet, not only did every single person that uses Incognito mode believe that it is private but also when you open an Incognito window on Google Chrome you see the following message:

Now you can browse privately, and other people who use this device won’t see your activity.
However, downloads and bookmarks will be saved…
Chrome won’t save the following information:Your browsing history
Cookies and site dataInformation entered in forms

However, that’s not the kicker for me. It is the fact that it is alleged the company uses data and information from Google Analytics, Google Adsense, and other services it owns to collect the web browsing history and personal information of users even when in Incognito mode.

That is also borderline anti-competitive behavior because who knows how else Google is using such data to entrench its web browser dominance. This is ironic because were it not for authorities in the USA in 1998 forcing Microsoft not to tightly integrate its Internet Explorer web browser with its Windows operating system, Google wouldn’t have had even a sniff at single-digit market share of the web browser market.

Then you add the fact that Big Tech companies don’t pay taxes (except in the USA, Ireland, and for some the Netherlands) in any jurisdiction they make money in (e.g. all African countries), then I think you’ll probably lean towards my thinking - i.e. government intervention might be necessary.

But beyond intervention, I just think they should be chopped up into separate companies based on their services because it is when these different services start “talking to each other” that they start abusing their dominance.

P.S. The law firm in the USA which is suing Google is asking for $5,000 per Google Chrome user in damages. If they contact you or you get your cheque, let me know. Curious to know if it applies to all Google Chrome users or just the ones in the USA.

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