Steve Bannon

Bannon Mulling Regulation of Google, Facebook as Information “Utilities”

As our lives become ever more intertwined with the digital dimension, many have raised concerns about the necessity of Google and Facebook in our everyday activities.

Certainly, the meteoric rise of the internet over the last two decades has created a unique technological situation for Americans, with very few living without a constant connection to the vast informational coffers of the world wide web.  From the mundane use of GPS to find our way, to the increasingly lazy rise in delivery services such as Amazon Now and Grubhub, Americans are becoming so entrenched in the connected world that we may not recognize the pre-internet world in movies and television.

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One massive concern, however, comes from the monopoly on information that certain websites possess, namely Google and Facebook, who have become so ubiquitous in our modern world that we often find ourselves turning to these sources out of pure muscle memory while using our smartphones, laptops, and more.

This monopoly becomes ever more concerning when you peek behind the curtain and realize just how liberal these organizations are.  Facebook has openly admitted to censoring conservative trending topics on their site, with onlookers citing Mark Zuckerberg’s own leftist beliefs as the root cause.  Google has similarly steered Americans away from the truth, particularly during the 2016 presidential campaign in which the search engine would cull anti-Hillary results from the auto-complete tool on their front page.

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Now Steve Bannon, former media executive and current White House Chief Strategist, is looking to reform the way in which these liberal lifelines operate, likening the sites to modern day informational utilities.

“Bannon’s push for treating essential tech platforms as utilities pre-dates the Democratic ‘Better Deal’ that was released this week. ‘Better Deal,’ the branding for Democrats’ political objectives, included planks aimed at breaking up monopolies in a variety of sectors, suggesting that anti-monopoly politics is on the rise on both the right and left.

“Bannon’s basic argument, as he has outlined it to people who’ve spoken with him, is that Facebook and Google have become effectively a necessity in contemporary life. Indeed, there may be something about an online social network or a search engine that lends itself to becoming a natural monopoly, much like a cable company, a water and sewer system, or a railroad. The sources recounted the conversations on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give the accounts on record, and could face repercussions for doing so.

“Regulating a company as a utility does not mean that the government controls it, but rather that it is much more tightly regulated in what it is able to do and prices it is able to charge. And it doesn’t mean every element of the company would be regulated in that way. For Google — which now calls itself Alphabet and has already conveniently broken itself up into discrete elements — it may only be the search function that would be regulated like a utility.”

While the left may rebuke the idea simply based on their blind “resistance” to President Trump and his administration, there is a democratic precedent for this possibility.

Obama’s FCC had earlier proposed a regulation of internet providers, in order to prevent these companies from discriminating against data by throttling their customers’ ability to visit certain areas of the world wide web.


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