back to article Google, Facebook, Amazon et al look on nervously as Biden bumps anti-Big Tech warriors into key posts

In a sign that President Biden is planning to take an aggressive stance toward Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other giants, he has nominated not one but two anti-Big-Tech advocates to key posts. On Tuesday, it was reported that Lina Khan, a lawyer at Columbia University who specializes in antitrust and competition law, will be …

  1. Chubango


    I don't expect them to be very successful given the inertia, special interests and lobbying. But, still, a man can dream...

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: Godspeed

      Strangely enough I think that they will be successful. Big Tech is a threat to the government, Trump blew the first whistle and then got blown away. Biden is merely carrying on the same work but he will probably succeed because whoever is pulling his strings, I believe, is more powerful than the Orange One.

      The media were used to win the election, now that it's won they have lost a lot of their bargaining power. Big Tech however are a different kind of animal, they are wild and unpredictable, they can be controlled in a different manner...

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge

        Re: Godspeed

        "Big Tech is a threat to the government, Trump blew the first whistle"

        He did? When?

        Counterexamples would be of course instituting Ajit Pai to chair the FCC and favoring telecom companies; hanging out with Tim Apple; sanctioning MS, and then Oracle to pursue TikTok (why?!); claiming Google has thousands of (rogue?) engineers working on a Covid19 project - nonsensical but definitely pro-Google; meeting (and dining) with Zuck several times.

        Of course Trump was angry at FB, Twitter and others when the banhammer hit, and before that they (well, everyone) had a HUGE bias against him when he was campaigning against Biden with the Section 230 legislation. Really SAD.

        "Biden is merely carrying on the same work but he will probably succeed because whoever is pulling his strings"

        What makes you say that? (other than him not being Trump)

        Biden has been working on Senate and at Washington before Voyager 1 was launched. It's usually the newcomers who get their strings pulled, not the veteran politicians.

    2. naive

      Re: Godspeed

      You are probably right. Not only the vast amounts of money and lobby power Big-Tech amassed is a hurdle, the absence of effective laws fighting the type of monopoly power that makes tech companies Big-Tech doesn't help.

      It will take many years of fighting the legal equivalent of WW1 trench warfare to get anywhere.

      On top of that, the people leading the counter offensive on Big-Tech need to have a clean life style, since Big-Tech knows everything about everyone and things easily "leak" when it fits them.

      Perhaps starting with laws which forbid companies to trade information about its users to other companies is a start, so google can't buy phone records from your provider. Introducing laws prohibiting Big-Tech to take a controlling share in other companies will prevent they can squash upcoming competition to maintain their monopoly. There should be laws which prohibit collection and use of freely accessible information like wifi points, the latter for instance gives google access to your location and the people around you, even when you switch off wifi and location services, the wifi of your neighbors will always tell google where and with whom you are.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @naive - Re: Godspeed

        May I remind you that US government through its various agencies is largely benefiting from the vast amount of data collected without the need to spy on its citizens. And the big-tech knows that very well.

  2. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    Make them Pai!

    They've only got three years... the fourth year will be all about losing the next election to the orange one, again.

    1. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

      Re: Make them Pai!

      I don't think Trump will be running in 4 - but anyway, it the elections in two years that will decide the senate that are of more immediate import.

      1. jason 7

        Re: Make them Pai!

        About three months ago I predicted that Biden would deliver next to none of his campaign promises and got severely moaned at.

        Well looks like I was 98% right in my prediction. The Dems are going to get obliterated in 2022.

        If you can't deliver anything promised, substantial or popular with control of all three branches of Govt. then you deserve to lose. The Progressives/Squad have proven to be mostly useless and all Twitter talk. Bernie always folds at the last moment.

        By the way I'm a Brit and no fan of either side in US politics. They all just work for the same elites.

        1. genghis_uk

          Re: Make them Pai!

          Biden has been in the White House for 7 weeks and is still getting his appointees approved.

          What exactly were you expecting in the first 49 days? He has already backed out some of the more divisive Trump era policies...

          The interesting bit of the mid-terms in '22 will be what happens to the GOP. Trump could split the party and make it difficult for them to get a majority despite what the Democrats do.

          Also a Brit and slightly interested in US politics. However, the whole 'elite' thing is a BS term like fake news. The politicians ARE the elites and always have been - have you seen how much money you need to get into US politics? Show me one who is not from an upper class background (or at least very wealthy upper-middle class). They actually work for the lobbyists who fund them.. that is all of them, on both sides.

          1. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

            Re: Make them Pai!

            "Show me one who is not from an upper class background (or at least very wealthy upper-middle class). "

            OK, I randomly picked Schumer first because he and Pelosi were the first names that came to mind, and Pelosi looks like a Brahmin whereas Schumer looks very dowdy. (I have nothing against Pelosi by the way - I think she is a master at her job).

            From Wikipedia -

            > "Schumer was born in Midwood, Brooklyn, the son of Selma (née Rosen) and Abraham Schumer.[6] His father ran an exterminating business, and his mother was a homemaker.[7][8] He and his family are Jewish,[9] and he is a second cousin, once removed, of actress Amy Schumer.[10][11][12] His ancestors originated from the town of Chortkiv, Galicia, in what is now western Ukraine.[13]"

            "Ran an exterminating business" could mean many things - but here's another quote:


            > When a tall, familiar figure alighted from a car and came over, I introduced myself as a former customer of Abe’s, and followed him into the elevator.

            “You knew Abe?” he asked.

            “Yes, we always used Acme. I even have a letter from him. How is he?”

            “He’s fine,” Chuck Schumer said. “He’s 92 now.”

            I mentioned our similar backgrounds.

            “You know,” the senator said, “people don’t understand it when I tell them that, in our house, DDT was the smell of love!”

            I then asked him why he wasn’t supporting Bernie Sanders, another alumni of Madison High School.

            “I like Bernie, and he’s a friend,” said my new friend Chuck. “But you have to understand that, if Hillary wins, I’ll be Senate majority leader. Imagine me, the son of Abe, who never finished high school, as Senate majority leader.”

            1. genghis_uk

              Re: Make them Pai!

              Ok, not necessarily all are from great backgrounds but they have certainly worked to get to the upper levels. Pelosi's father was a Congressman and later Mayor of Baltimore and Schumer, while having more humble beginnings, went to Harvard Law so is probably considered in the upper classes now - he is a Senator so there is substantial money somewhere. That said Dems are not the ones generally complaining about 'elites' to appeal to the working classes.

              The point really was that the like of Trump and his cultists rail against the 'elites' while coming from very comfortable backgrounds and having had what most would consider elite education. The elites are not in the background pulling strings, that is mostly lobbyists for large corporations, the elites are the ones gaslighting the voters.

              From the time of the founding fathers, the system was set up to only allow the elites to govern. When they said 'the people' they did not mean everyone - just the people that matter!

          2. jason 7

            Re: Make them Pai!

            Yeah...but I'm still right though. It's Obama 2.0. Got all branches but still can't/won't pass anything substantial. Most of that $1.9 trillion will just waft upwards.

            It's cheaper to just bomb Syria than issue out those promised $2000 cheques 'immediately'.

            Plus all the other stuff... Now is 'not the time' etc. etc. Platitudes...

            Dems will lose both houses in 2022. Worth £50 on.

            Plus...where is Joe these days?

  3. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    More generally

    As Cory Doctorow explains the problem is with the "Big" rather than the "Tech."

    Existing anti-trust laws shouldn't have allowed these companies to grow by buying up the competition, but they have hardly been enforced since the "greed is good" days. Forty years of lax supervision has resulted in monopolies or oligopolies everywhere, from energy through accountancy to eyeglasses, and the lack of competition is always damaging.

    Repairing that much neglect is going to be a long job.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Greybearded old scrote - Re: More generally

      This is the essence of Capitalism. What would you expect ?

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: More generally

      Exactly, and putting experts into jobs that need experts, what a novel thought experiment!

  4. ICam

    To break 'em up, or not?

    Previously, I think I would have agreed that breaking up the big-tech companies sounds like a good idea.

    Steve Yegge has just recently released one of his epic but infrequent blog posts mostly about the rise of China, and in that he argues that breaking up the big-tech companies is not a good idea. It's an interesting read.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ICam - Re: To break 'em up, or not?

      Yeah, riiight! If you don't mind, I would ask who brought up this argument ? Why yes, the big-tech of course.

      Kill us and China will swallow you and you will all end up as communist slaves. Quick, let's all kneel in front of our big-tech cause only they can save us.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To break 'em up, or not?

      On the contrary, China future trajectory doesn't look so great as Xi is bent on turning every business into a government monopoly - to centralize power and eliminate any threat to his own.

      The ONLY reason the CCP might get away with such blatant inefficiency is because the US has resorted to a government subidised ever inflating stock market to keep the votes flowing - and most of that money has flowed downhill into the stocks that seem most likely to achieve monopolistic market capture, regulatory capture, etc. In the meantime the US imports essentials from China and consumer businesses rule. It's sustainable - until it's not!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To break 'em up, or not?

      Big business has an important role to play - the concentration of skill and capital can be used for public good. I read an interesting article some this year about Alibaba opening a new business helping factories modernize and apply AI to their production lines. Amazon does no such thing - I wish they would. Perhaps if the dollar were weaker and/or the yuan stronger, then US manufacturing would stand a chance and it might happen. Anti-monopoly per se won't make that happen - so anti-monopoly is not a miracle antidote to all US problems.

      Adopting a "Big Business is inherently evil' approach is counterproductive. What government needs to do is to tweak the levers to allow healthy competition and provide incentive for big and small businesses to make long term investments which incidentaly will feed back into the commons.

      Look at Finland - often regarded by US leftists as a socialist utopia - they have an attitude that large companies contribute to the common interest - so business tax is set at around 20% which is the current international norm. Their personal income tax is high - while their public services, education, and healthcare is top notch. Yet, in the US, many leftist voices call for keeping personal income taxes low, while raising taxes on business because they are inherently evil. The US left is a decade or two behind Finland w.r.t. policy about business tax.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC - Re: To break 'em up, or not?

        The only purpose of these big businesses is to make profit for shareholders. "Can be used for public good" ? Where did you get that nonsense, Mr. Zuckerberg ?

        For your information, Amazon is extensively using AI to spy on their workers in order to maximize productivity and detect early signs of unionizing.

        As for leftist voices, in case you don't know how much taxes is Facebook paying, I'll give you a hint. It's way less than an average American citizen.

      2. jason 7

        Re: To break 'em up, or not?

        The USA isn't heading towards Socialism, it's heading towards Serfdom.

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