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Big Tech Reckoning

The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the market power of large technology companies and the inadequacy of current digital governance and regulation. What should policymakers do to address Big Tech’s growing clout and build an equitable digital economy?

In this Big Picture, the University of Cambridge’s Diane Coyle predicts that the accelerating shift online owing to the pandemic will intensify political and regulatory scrutiny of Big Tech. Robert B. Reich of the University of California, Berkeley compares today’s technology giants to the US “robber barons” of the late nineteenth century, and advocates breaking them up in order to restore a competitive environment.

But Dambisa Moyo argues that dismantling large technology companies would be counterproductive, and that only global governance of the digital economy can prevent the emergence of a fragmented “splinternet.” Likewise, IE University’s Oscar Jonsson and McGill University’s Taylor Owen recommend three sets of imperatives for policymakers seeking to mitigate the digital domain’s adverse effects.

Harvard’s Dani Rodrik, however, thinks the best that can be hoped for is a regulatory patchwork, based on clear ground rules that empower countries to pursue their core national interests without exporting their problems to others.

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