Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition, says the government has to move fast to ensure that tech does not subvert society. Presumably, she means the European government.
“…as it becomes clearer how those companies were used to manipulate the 2016 U.S. elections, Vestager feels validated in her distrust of Silicon Valley’s power…”
The quotes come from a podcast interview. It shows Europe, or at least Europe’s competition regulator, is moving in a different direction to the USA and Asia. On the surface at least, these regions seem more comfortable with power being concentrated in fewer hands.
“We want a free market, but we know that the paradox of a ‘free’ market is that sometimes you have to intervene. You have to make sure it’s not the law of the jungle, but the laws of democracy that works.”
Vestager said her commission will continue to focus on preventing large tech incumbents like Google from stifling competition from startups. She also has misgivings about the secrecy surrounding the algorithms that power much of the internet.
“I think some of these algorithms, they’ll have to go to law school before they’re let out. You cannot just say, ‘What happens in the black box stays in the black box.’ You have to teach your algorithm what it can do and what it cannot do, because otherwise there is a risk that the algorithms will learn the tricks of the old cartels.”
While it is easy to identify problems caused by tech companies, fixing them looks harder. Regulating for greater competition is a start, so is transparency, yet, for now, the tech giants have momentum.