The old saying "competition breeds innovation" has fallen somewhat out of favor thanks to the rise of mega-corporations, especially in the tech sector. However, if the head of the House antitrust committee has anything to say about it, the days of "trustbusting" and regulation could be coming back with a vengeance to the modern digital landscape.
So why exactly are Google, Facebook, and the rest of the tech titans feeling jittery about the potential for governmental oversight? As Kiran Stacey of The Financial Times reports, David Cicilline, a senior House Representative who chairs the House antitrust committee, has publicly suggested that imposing a tech-oriented variant of the Glass-Steagall rules from our country's past could be the best way to rein in the market power and potentially illicit practices of Facebook, Amazon, Google, and others.
If you're in need of a quick history lesson, Glass-Steagall was a set of legislative rules passed in 1933 that helped curtail the risky investments and actions that led to the financial crash years before. Until the government repealed this act in 1999, Glass-Steagall was seen as a successful example of regulation and oversight in the financial community.
So what would the tech version of these laws look like? According to further insight from Stacey, it appears that Cicilline and other Democratic members of this committee envision legislation that hinders the ability of these companies to ruthlessly buy up or intimidate new competitors (something that many see as a calling card of Facebook's business style). Additionally, expanded versions of this theoretical set of rules could also see many suspect Silicon Valley mergers and acquisitions "unwound' and disbanded for the sake of engendering competition and promoting a fair and level playing field.
Naturally, this is far from a certainty, especially given the fact that we are still early into the tenure of this congressional class. Still, the idea that Google (and others) may have to divest its advertising and data collection branches from its line of products and services (including the curation of the very same search engine through which these ads are broadcast) could be the first step toward some much needed transparency within the tech sector.
Is a modern-day revival of the Glass-Steagall Act just what the tech sector needs? How could this move by the House antitrust committee alter the way that your dealership advertises and connects with viewers in its local market? Let us know what you think about these questions in the comments below, and be sure to check out the full story from Stacey and The Financial Times when you have a few spare minutes.