Summary of What Big Tech Wants Out of the Pandemic

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Dominant tech companies have found new opportunities in the COVID-19 pandemic to reposition themselves as friends of the US government. Apple, Facebook and other big tech companies have offered to share information to augment the government’s efforts to counter and contain the virus. However, in the estimation of Atlantic writer Franklin Foer, the companies’ primary aim is to avoid anti-monopoly attacks. His analysis contends that government alliances with big tech can diminish democracy while helping these companies thwart competition. While politically charged, this article will intrigue readers who follow tech-firm regulation.

About the Author

Franklin Foer, a staff writer at The Atlantic, is a former editor of The New Republic.

 

Summary

Big tech companies may use the COVID-19 pandemic to insert themselves in government.

Big tech companies’ idealistic images have faded amid public perception that they provide platforms for spreading lies and manipulating the unwary. The COVID-19 pandemic presents big tech with a chance to counter such concerns and demonstrate its willingness to perform a public service.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella wrote that the pandemic should compel “an unprecedented alliance” between the private and public sectors. He suggested that the pandemic-driven popularity of online instruction and remote medical care could lead the private sector to play a greater role in education and public health.

Big tech may help government with a mobile-phone warning system triggered by the proximity of COVID-19 patients.

Big tech companies have offered to share their expertise for the public good, even while the US government has scrambled to counter COVID-19. For example, Apple and Google reported in April 2020 that they would cooperate, not compete, to create a system that alerts mobile-phone users when they approach phones held by coronavirus...


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