Summary of Rein in the Data Barons

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Are we doomed to be indentured servants to big data corporations like Facebook, Google and Amazon? Surrendering our privacy bit by electronic bit? MIT Technology Review’s San Francisco bureau chief Martin Giles explains why antitrust measures that tamed the oil barons and telecoms giants don’t work well in the data economy. He warns that advances in AI will help the data barons collect even more data and do more with it. He looks at some ideas that have been put forward to cut them down to size. Giles’s thought-provoking essay will be a call to action for Internet entrepreneurs and anyone concerned with the impact of Internet monopolies on the economy and people’s personal lives.

About the Author

Martin Giles is MIT Technology Review’s San Francisco bureau chief.



Facebook, Google and Amazon dominate the Internet landscape.

If you want to use the Internet, interacting with Facebook, Google and Amazon is almost unavoidable. They are the data barons. They collect information on the millions of people to whom they provide services. This in turn makes them even better service providers, which brings in more users. Their combined market capitalization now rivals the GDP of Italy. 

There needs to be more competition or more regulation.

The power this gives the data barons is not universally welcomed, or put to good use. Both Facebook and Google have been criticized for not sufficiently protecting their users’ data and allowing fake news to spread. Amazon dominates...

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