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Commentary – It’s time to rein in the data barons

MIT Technology Review – Martin Giles: “Facebook, Amazon, and Google will resist attempts to restrain their market power. But for the sake of our collective prosperity and our personal privacy, it’s a fight we can’t afford to lose…With over two billion users, the company is the colossus of social networking, dwarfing rivals like Twitter and Snapchat. Along with Amazon and Google, which is owned by holding company Alphabet, it dominates the internet landscape. Apple and Microsoft are often mentioned in the same breath as these tech giants, but their business lines are more varied and less internet-centric—enterprise software in Microsoft’s case, phones and other devices in Apple’s. There’s another key difference too. Facebook, Google, and Amazon all have business models that require them to scoop up large amounts of data about people to power their algorithms, and they derive their power from this information. It’s the sheer scale and sophistication of the data-collection empires they’ve built that make them so distinctive. For the past decade or so, these three firms have had a relatively smooth ride to the top. Their cornucopia of services, often provided for free, made them immensely popular and turned them into some of the most valuable businesses in the world. Their combined market capitalization of some $2 trillion at the end of May was roughly equal to the GDP of taly. Now, however, debates are in full swing on both sides of the Atlantic about how to deal with their dominance…”

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