Mike Davis: Unchecked Big Tech Endangers U.S. National Security

October 11, 2021

Newsweek 

Large companies engaging in anticompetitive practices will typically do anything to distract us from their monopolistic behavior. Historically, they have shifted the argument to highlight the activities of other global powers under the guise of patriotism. Today, as in days before, these mega-corporations wave the Red, White and Blue, but only care about the green in their overstuffed pockets.

With increasingly questionable business behavior, Big Tech giants like Google and Facebook, which view themselves as key assets for America, have been attempting to shift the focus of lawmakers and regulators on America’s biggest economic and political rival: China.

Big Tech monopolists are arguing that this is a zero-sum game; breaking up Big Tech will only strengthen Chinese companies, they claim. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, facing political heat back in 2018, wrote in his Senate testimony notes, “Break up [Facebook]? U.S. tech companies [are a] key asset for America; break up strengthens Chinese companies.” And last month, 12 former national security advisors parroted the same argument, urging Congress to halt its package of antitrust bills.

Is Big Tech too small to take on China, or is Big Tech attempting to divert attention away from their own monopolistic practices?

These former national security advisors are gaslighting the American people on antitrust. They failed to disclose in their letter to Congress that all 12 signatories have financial ties to major tech companies, either from working with them directly or serving with organizations that receive funding from them. It’s one thing to get paid by Big Tech, but to then turn around and echo their talking points without disclosing relevant relationship with these companies is unacceptable.

Monopolistic behavior in fact harms our national security. After all, a lack of competition leads to a decline in innovation. Support for reining in Big Tech is bipartisan and growing. When asked about potential legislation, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, issued this shot across the bow when she said, “I think we can get this done. There’s bipartisan support to move, and time is ticking.” Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is working with her to achieve exactly that. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) even invoked Big Tobacco to blast Facebook as a dangerous company in a recent hearing. This should tell you that the walls are closing in on Big Tech.

When it comes to national security, Big Tech would have you believe that what is good for them is good for America. They argue Big Tech will always answer the call of duty when America needs them the most, but the historical record proves otherwise.

In 2018, Google abandoned its drone contract with the United States government, leaving the status of the project in complete suspension, with no company yet able to fill the void of Google’s market dominance.

These companies may claim to have an interest in protecting our national security, but you can count on them to retreat when a partnership doesn’t serve their financial interests. Our country accomplished so much when Big Tech was not in the picture, from winning the Second World War to the Cold War. To now argue that we need them to maintain our position in the world is implausible and historically ignorant.

Big Tech giants like Facebook boast that their size makes them impenetrable and impervious to cyber attacks and that we therefore must celebrate their strength and resist antitrust enforcement; otherwise, they claim, we’d open ourselves up to attacks from our enemies. But can you imagine what would have happened if our national defense system went down for six hours, like Facebook and its other properties did last week, all because we were so reliant on a single system?

From trust-busting to enacting data privacy standards, China is finally getting tough with its own Big Tech problem. Are we now going to say that China doesn’t care about its own national security? While China’s move is more about exercising government control than encouraging economic competition, China certainly still doesn’t view unregulated Big Tech as strictly necessary for success.

Big Tech’s collusion with America’s adversaries, like China and Russia, is the most troubling fact of all. The same year that Google canceled its drone contract with the United States, the company was willing to play ball with the Chinese Communist Party to develop a censored search engine. Just last month, under pressure from the Russian government, Google and Apple removed a voting app created by allies of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. A person familiar with Google’s decision declined to be identified “for fear of angering the Russian government,” while Apple refused to respond to repeated attempts for comment.

How can we reasonably expect Big Tech to be part of the solution to protect our national security interests when they submit to these adversarial governments in fear of economic retribution? Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO) blasted Google and Apple for this move, tweeting, “Does anyone honestly believe breaking up Big Tech is somehow bad for America’s national security? Apple and Google are literally siding with the Putin regime now. Who needs enemies when America has ‘friends’ like these two?”

Breaking up Big Tech is not a national security risk for our country. The opposite is true. Big Tech is actively empowering our enemies.

America is built on the ideas of free market capitalism. The creation of an “open internet” spurred Big Tech to reach unimaginable heights. But now, the trillion-dollar Big Tech monopolists are working to end anything that comes close to a free market in tech, and by any means necessary—crush competition, shutter small businesses and silence political opponents.

Congress must end Big Tech’s antitrust amnesty. Big Tech has gotten away with too much for too long. Meaningful reforms that put our country’s interest first are coming. The Big Tech foundation is already crumbling. Now, let’s knock it down.

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