Maureen Ohlhausen, the current chairman of the FTC, dismissed concerns over Silicon Valley monopolies, Tuesday, citing the rise and fall of AOL.
“Speaking at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., Maureen Ohlhausen said that the public must ask itself whether unelected government bureaucrats are the best qualified to pick the winners and losers in high tech markets,” reported USA Today. “The speech comes as a narrative has begun to emerge among some critics who charge that companies such as Amazon and Google have become so large they are monopolies that threaten competition.”
“As Ohlhausen put it in her speech, the fear is that ‘we are spiraling towards a dystopian future where a few giant technology companies will ultimately gain sustained control over our economic lives,'” they continued, adding, however, that “Ohlhausen said technological platforms don’t necessarily win simply because they had a big portion of the market at one time.”
“As an example, she cites concerns over AOL’s merger with Time Warner, which back in 2000 raised specters of a competitive bottleneck in content, as AOL controlled much of the dial-up Internet market,” USA Today reported. “Today it is often thought of as one of the worst mergers of the dot.com era and AOL has been completely overshadowed by other companies.”
Large tech companies, including Google, Twitter, and Facebook, have been repeatedly criticized for political censorship, with several conservative icons calling for government intervention. That intervention could come in several forms, but FTC action is one possibility.
In August, following Google’s firing of employee James Damore, who faced criticism after publishing a viewpoint diversity manifesto, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) declared “The mistreatment of conservatives and libertarians by tech monopolies” to be a “civil rights issue.”
Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon has also called for the regulation of tech giants, while Fox News’ Tucker Carlson proclaimed, “I don’t know why the government is standing back and letting this happen, it’s scary,” during an interview with Andrew Torba, CEO of free speech social network Gab, which has faced repeated sanctions from other tech companies.
After a Google-funded think tank expelled a group of members for supporting the European Union’s sanctions against Google, one of the academics claimed the company was “coming after critics in academia and journalism.”
“Google has established a pattern of lobbying and threatening to acquire power. It has reached a dangerous point common to many monarchs: The moment where it no longer wants to allow dissent,” claimed Zephyr Teachout, an academic, activist, and former Democratic political candidate in an article.