back to article Big Tech to face its Ma Bell moment? US House Dems demand break-up of 'monopolists' Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google

A long-awaited congressional report into Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google has been published – and it concludes the online giants are monopolists that need to be broken up. The 449-page dossier [PDF] is the result of a 16-month investigation into Big Tech, and was produced by the staff of the Democrat-led House Judiciary …


  1. ThatOne Silver badge

    Textbook FUD from the FUD textbook

    > would kill off independent retailers and punish consumers by forcing small businesses out of popular online stores, raising prices, and reducing consumer choice and convenience.

    They forgot about how it would cause orphans to starve and kittens to be run over. Or, maybe more actual, help Covid-19 to spread. You wouldn't want any of this, would you - So why would you want big monopolies to be temporary vaguely split up?

    Seriously, sometimes I regret not having pursued a career in PR, they really don't wear themselves out. "Just use excuse #3, that should do".

  2. martinusher Silver badge

    ...and how well did that work out for us?

    I might be a bit out of sync with modern thinking but I actually think that breaking up Ma Bell was a retrograde step with disastrous consequences for the country as a whole. Sure, it provided lots of shorter term profits for everyone involved, Baby Bells, upstart Telcos and so on, but the price as a nation paid for it is that we eventually lost our leadership in, and ability to develop, communications infrastructure. This is at the core of our government's attacks on Huawei, SMIC and other Chinese technology vendors. We've realized too late that we're now dependent on foreign vendors for critical infrastructure and, worse still, we've dissipated the resources needed to develop and maintain that infrastructure. We've decided, Micawber like, to optimistcally assume that "Something will turn up" because it always seemed to happen in the past. It won't.

    The present Internet companies don't need breaking up -- they're not single business units, anyway -- but they do need the same kind of oversight that was once given to the phone companies. Implicit in the break up of Ma Bell was deregulation, a big thing of the 1980s, but that never worked out that well -- after a token effort at competition the disparate businesses consolidated into a handful of effective monopolies resulting in everyone paying more for less (but we're used to it now and many of us are too young to know any different). Let's not make the same mistake again. We need to recognize the social responsibilities these companies have, codify it and enforce it as the price for them being able to be profitable businesses. Part of that social responsilbitiy is to further and finance research, part of it is to be universal and affordable and part of it is to avoid using their power and influcene directly on their customers.

    1. Rol Silver badge

      Re: ...and how well did that work out for us?

      Here in little ol' Blighty we had the General Post Office (GPO), which held the monopoly on all letter and parcel services, Post Office Counters, and telephony.

      Such was their grip on British infrastructure, and such was the political grip on their revenue expenditure, that telephony development struggled to keep up, even when measured against goat based economies.

      True, given the freedom and money to go for it, they cobbled together the first electronically programmable computer in the world, many years before the pretenders to that throne locked horns, but that political will, to operate at the cutting edge, is seldom found in Westminster.

      It wasn't until the monopoly was broken up and British Telecom became a thing, that innovation started being delivered to the Great British public. Prices started to fall, and the service started to improve. Even the operators who were all direct decedents of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, started being replaced by normal humans.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm a bit of a socialist, and prefer natural monopolies to be owned by the nation they serve, and at one time, telephony did appear to fall into that category, but technology has given us many more options and therefore competition has flourished and delivered.

      If Ma Bell had continued, would America now be enjoying the fruits of modern communications, or the luke warm offerings of an organisation that has had no imperative to advance any faster than its political puppeteers would allow at their annual budget horse trading contest?

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: ...and how well did that work out for us?

        but that political will, to operate at the cutting edge, is seldom found in Westminster. ..... RoI

        Do you know if it is also seldom offered, RoI, to be remote, relatively anonymous third party peer commanded and controlled? And would it look like, or appear greatly dissimilar to such a treat, which many may fear to be almost threatening, as is clearly enough delivered within the confines of a freely shared Registered Post?

        Are such things, by their very particular and peculiar nature, easily recognised or easily disguised?

        1. Rol Silver badge

          Re: ...and how well did that work out for us?

          I yearn for a million pounds, but am not sufficiently motivated to suffer the personal costs I would likely have to endure to get it. And similarly, Westminster might yearn for cutting edge tech, but is unwilling to stump up the money to have it.

          The political will to buy into high tech surveillance gear, to better manage us rowdy proles, most probably exists, but in most other facets of our economy, our government is quite happy to run with whatever is the cheapest option, regardless of whether it works or not.

          I hope I have responded appropriately to your comment, as I've forgotten most of the Martian language phrases I learned in my youth, in preference to Beelzebubbian, so I might better understand how the current shower of shite in Westminster intends to drag the nation to the doors of Hell.

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Re: ...and how well did that work out for us? The Bullindon Club must be crying a river

            Messages received and appropriately perfectly understood, RoI.

            And it's such a pain, is it not, to watch *the current shower of shite in Westminster* failing so spectacularly to act Oscarly on the global stage. Do they blame their SpAds and leading mentors to try and escape responsibility and accountability for their own serial incompetence and ignorant indifference to the myriad mountainous inequities surrounding their so oft childishly arrogant and cringingly self-aggrandising sub-prime performances?

            Or are they really all figuratively at sea struggling to stay afloat in a Titanic boat in the Spooky World of Reanimative Seers and NEUKlearer HyperRadioProACTivated IT Peers? And that is a rhetorical question.

            Re *----* ...... Now that's certainly colourful, with many saying to an unfortunately too accurate a degree

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: ...and how well did that work out for us?

      The problem with the Bell break up was the complete corruption of the US political system.

      What you had was on huge monopoly broken up into small localised monopolies.

      Rather than choice of suppliers, you just had defacto supplier for one city or county. Lawsuits and back handers ensured competition is kept to a minimum.

    3. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: ...and how well did that work out for us?

      > deregulation [...] never worked out that well

      And why do you presume lack of deregulation would had worked better?

      A huge established monopoly is never a motor for innovation or improvement. It only does those things while it tries to establish itself and eliminate the competition. After all (to quote Terry Pratchett), "the goal isn't to provide the best service, but to provide the only service". If you're the only choice available, why make any effort?

  3. Pirate Dave


    "Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google"

    But STILL no Microsoft? Well fuck me. Bunch of tossers...


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