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Mikhail Liebenstein

Breaking up the Internet Information Giants - what's the plan going to be?

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As some of you may have spotted, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been calling for Facebook, Google, Amazon etc to be broken up.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/09/elizabeth-warren-break-up-facebook-google-amazon

I agree with this view as there are similarities to the Standard Oil Cartel, just replace oil with data. It does seem widely felt that the world's anti-monopoly committees have been lazy the last couple of decades.

But my question to this forum is how? 

Much of the value in social media is from the network effect, but this also is where many disadvantages also stem. Can they be broken up, whilst retaining the positives and losing the negatives?

It is likely sizeable profits are needed to support their huge R&D efforts (mainly referring to Google which does more pure R&D), so how do we avoid losing technology gains if firms are broken into smaller more competitive units? Or is this not a problem, as big firms find it harder to innovate over time.

Another key question is data, how would data be carved up and separated and actually who owns the data?  Is it the consumer who the data is about, or the firm?

What about tax?  Is some sort of global accord needed? 

I look forward to your responses.

 

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2 hours ago, Mikhail Liebenstein said:

As some of you may have spotted, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been calling for Facebook, Google, Amazon etc to be broken up.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/mar/09/elizabeth-warren-break-up-facebook-google-amazon

I agree with this view as there are similarities to the Standard Oil Cartel, just replace oil with data. It does seem widely felt that the world's anti-monopoly committees have been lazy the last couple of decades.

But my question to this forum is how? 

Much of the value in social media is from the network effect, but this also is where many disadvantages also stem. Can they be broken up, whilst retaining the positives and losing the negatives?

It is likely sizeable profits are needed to support their huge R&D efforts (mainly referring to Google which does more pure R&D), so how do we avoid losing technology gains if firms are broken into smaller more competitive units? Or is this not a problem, as big firms find it harder to innovate over time.

Another key question is data, how would data be carved up and separated and actually who owns the data?  Is it the consumer who the data is about, or the firm?

What about tax?  Is some sort of global accord needed? 

I look forward to your responses.

 

I’d like to see a way for every consumer/user to have their own private cache of data which would follow them, rather than reliquinishing the acquisition to  dozen external providers. A balloon of data tethered to each person, with companies allowed to request limited access for a set period of time?

As to who would provide the safe envelope to store this data...I have no idea because they would have to be impregnable. 

I wonder whether a 2 tier system might develop? Paid for privacy or free plundering.

The fact that facebook has become a default global SSO never fails to shock me.

A complex topic and probably why our lords and masters don’t wish to discuss it.

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Just stop them claiming ownership of employees' inventions in perpetuity. And let competition operate. 

You could always match their legal bullying tactics with government funds; loser pays so won't cost much. 

Change tax so that tax is charged in country of consumer. 

The illusion that corporations are powerful is all based on some unfair legal and commercial  advantages which allow them to act a bit like monopolies. 

Take them away and they quickly start looking like a pyramid of users and parasites who get all the money, and a mass of workers who get paid zilch. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, PeanutButter said:

I’d like to see a way for every consumer/user to have their own private cache of data which would follow them, rather than reliquinishing the acquisition to  dozen external providers. A balloon of data tethered to each person, with companies allowed to request limited access for a set period of time?

As to who would provide the safe envelope to store this data...I have no idea because they would have to be impregnable. 

I wonder whether a 2 tier system might develop? Paid for privacy or free plundering.

The fact that facebook has become a default global SSO never fails to shock me.

A complex topic and probably why our lords and masters don’t wish to discuss it.

People could start by showing a willingness to pay for online services instead of flocking to 'free' offerings whose goal is to extract as much information about you as possible, and sell it on.

The business model of Facebook, Google et al. is literally to destroy your privacy.

People could also tell politicians that they don't want to be spied upon - but not going to happen in our very well controlled and managed 'democracy'.

 

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5 hours ago, Mikhail Liebenstein said:

I agree with this view as there are similarities to the Standard Oil Cartel, just replace oil with data.

Not really. Standard Oil was losing money because it had no choice but to keep buying up all the competition, and starting a competitor was easy because there was little to no regulation to prevent it. Today, big business gets regulations passed to keep competitors out of the market.

My guess is that the plan is to blackmail them into giving lots of 'donations' to her presidential campaign.

If politicians really wanted to break up these companies, the simple solution would be to put interest rates back up to sensible levels. They're largely reliant on low interest rates to keep the money flowing in, either through loans or because their customers are able to borrow lots of money at low rates to pay them.

Otherwise, as mentioned, giving patents and copyright to inventors rather than corporations would be huge. Making companies like Facebook and Twitter that censor user-created content responsible for that content would be huge, too.

Finally, just require explicit user consent for spying. Without that, most of these companies would have nothing to sell.

Of course, none of those will actually happen, because of those 'donations'.

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No particular view about individual companies and how they do business.....the big issue is how dependant people have become on technology......could they live without it for a week??.....if not, kinda scary don't you think...is that what the end game plan is?;)

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17 hours ago, Sour Mash said:

People could start by showing a willingness to pay for online services instead of flocking to 'free' offerings whose goal is to extract as much information about you as possible, and sell it on.

The business model of Facebook, Google et al. is literally to destroy your privacy.

Hang on though - they only destroy the elements of privacy that you let them, and people might actually be making a rational choice here?

For example, choosing to let an internet site have data about you as an alternative to paying money might be perfectly rational for most people, since the knowledge that they're 28 years old, like football, and visited Paris last weekend is valuable information to the marketers - but isn't information that is of value to the individual.  So giving away 'worthless' information in exchange for free Champions League updates makes more sense than paying for Champions League updates doesn't it?

If anything, what's needed is education (from a very young age) that these "free" sites aren't actually free, but rather swapping information about you for services.  Only then can people start thinking actively whether they're happy with the deal.  However, I suspect that most people would conclude they're fine with it - and the few who aren't don't have to use the websites in question.

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17 hours ago, Sour Mash said:

People could start by showing a willingness to pay for online services instead of flocking to 'free' offerings whose goal is to extract as much information about you as possible, and sell it on.

The recent news about youtube kids app showing videos intercut with graphic violence and disturbing images is a case in point. What you pay for with netflix is the knowledge you can sit the kids down in front of it and not a) have them clamouring for advertised tat, b) not have them asking why Elsa’s being gang attacked by a finger family of Spider-mans. 

But many parents would rather save the monthly fee and risk it. 

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No personal data allowed to be gathered without permission if it's not fundamentally necessary to the service (e.g. Amazon need to know where to deliver). No hiding behind "you don't get the service at all without giving us permission" to get around that. They don't, however, need to record what you've bought (doesn't mean they can't do that but shouldn't without permission). Should be possible to request any item of personal data to be deleted (and not via some complex labyrinthine procedure only accessible by pigeon post).

Won't happen because governments don't want to stop such data being gathered, they want to have access to it too.

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On 18/03/2019 at 08:29, scottbeard said:

Hang on though - they only destroy the elements of privacy that you let them, and people might actually be making a rational choice here?

For example, choosing to let an internet site have data about you as an alternative to paying money might be perfectly rational for most people, since the knowledge that they're 28 years old, like football, and visited Paris last weekend is valuable information to the marketers - but isn't information that is of value to the individual.  So giving away 'worthless' information in exchange for free Champions League updates makes more sense than paying for Champions League updates doesn't it?

If anything, what's needed is education (from a very young age) that these "free" sites aren't actually free, but rather swapping information about you for services.  Only then can people start thinking actively whether they're happy with the deal.  However, I suspect that most people would conclude they're fine with it - and the few who aren't don't have to use the websites in question.

Facebook and Google's data gathering is a lot more insidious than the details you willingly give up on their main sites, they track you across the web (not just their own sites) and you have to go to some considerable lengths to try to maintain some privacy.

Even if you have never signed up to Facebook, chances are that someone you know has, and Facebook have a 'shadow' profile for you.  Google likely do similar and chances are that you are in someone's Android phone contact list or have communicated with a Gmail accout.   And facial recognition means that if you have ever been 'tagged' by someone on those services then chances are you are going to show up in a database of people in photos that have been stored to cloud drives on their services.

Then there's all the 'free' mobile apps that grab as much data about you as they possibly can and send it goodness knows where.  Even MS are getting in on the action with Windows.

 

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1 hour ago, Sour Mash said:

Facebook and Google's data gathering is a lot more insidious than the details you willingly give up on their main sites, they track you across the web (not just their own sites) and you have to go to some considerable lengths to try to maintain some privacy.

That's a good point.  I don't really care about this sort of thing, but I can understand why people don't like it, and it's a fair criticism.

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19 minutes ago, PeanutButter said:

Although that's based on the assumption that you explicitly use Google signed in to everything and using their services; how much will therefore vary depending upon exactly what you do, e.g. I don't sign in to Google directly ever, rarely in to YouTube, am fairly strict on what sites I let set cookies, and don't have a static IP address.

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19 minutes ago, Riedquat said:

Although that's based on the assumption that you explicitly use Google signed in to everything and using their services; how much will therefore vary depending upon exactly what you do, e.g. I don't sign in to Google directly ever, rarely in to YouTube, am fairly strict on what sites I let set cookies, and don't have a static IP address.

Sure but Here's How Facebook Tracks You When You're Not On Facebook GOOGLE TRACKS YOU EVEN IF LOCATION HISTORY'S OFF. HERE'S HOW TO STOP IT

The thing is they don't openly tell you what they know about you. 

https://duckduckgo.com/ is a decent alternative but nothing's ever really clean. 

 

 

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Well the location part I'm not worried about, I don't use Google on the go at all and when I turn my computer on its location estimate is pretty inaccurate (although it would be more handy still if the map just defaulted to being zoomed in on the country).

Facebook is a more interesting case due to its efforts to grab what other people say about you. I'd be surprised if there's all that much there although there's bound to be something. Photo-wise if you put my name in Google (and my name is uncommon enough to not get lots of hits on other people) no pictures of me come up. Someone might've labelled me in a photo or two on Facebook though.

edit: I tell a lie, there's one picture that has me in it, a cartoon from about 15 years ago (don't ask!)

Edited by Riedquat

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2 hours ago, Riedquat said:

Although that's based on the assumption that you explicitly use Google signed in to everything and using their services; how much will therefore vary depending upon exactly what you do, e.g. I don't sign in to Google directly ever, rarely in to YouTube, am fairly strict on what sites I let set cookies, and don't have a static IP address.

I'm reasonably privacy conscious but I have an Android phone and am a heavy user of Youtube on my home smart TV (which runs Android TV) - therefore my privacy is horribly compromised from the off.   I've listened to podcasts on my phone and shortly after had suggestions related to subjects  in the podcast pop up on my Youtube feed.   Likewise I've just surfed around to find information about things I am interested in buying and lo and behold, Youtube starts popping up reviews of said things.

 

That's with Firefox on my PC, a decent ad-blocker and a tracker blocker and clearing cookies regularly.  I also try to select all the relevant privacy offerings but a full copy of my Android phone's config still got uploaded to Google as I found out when I got a new phone and it basically auto-installed all my old stuff.  Also, all my Chrome bookmarks got uploaded (when I used Chrome) despite me trying to disable that option.

 

If you want to use the internet in a reasonably convenient and casual way, it's nearly impossible to not get tracked.  To ensure a decent chance  of privacy you can mess around with running customised versions of Linux and browsers in anonymous mode inside a Virtual Machine connected to a VPN but that takes a ton of effort and would make day to day use way too cumbersome.

 

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I've not encountered the popping up thing although 90% of the time I don't use YouTube signed in (and have adblocker running anyway). Even without that it remembers the sort of videos I've looked at, at least until the router crashes so I end up with a new IP address but I've never seen any sign of cross-site sharing. There's no phone or TV involved though, they seem to be the route of a lot of information gathering and it sounds like it's harder to stop them doing what they want behind your back.

I certainly don't go to every extreme to stop the nosiness but I've not found too much evidence of it being all that successful with me yet.

I ditched Skype when it started updating itself despite being explicitly told not to and setting the relevant services not to start up automatically.

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I'm fairly agnostic - I'd be happy enough if they just made tracking illegal across distinct services*, and required all paid content to have a distinctive border. That would solve most of the problems (clarity and reach). Even the targeted political stuff depended, afaik, on analytics external to FB.

* that may be in the wind - it would explain FB's recent technical troubles if they were trying to test out consolidating several services into one, in order to get ahead of the requirement

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They wont be broken up at all. the state just wants a bigger hand in the control of things like facebook. control and the power that comes with it has shifted from the bbc and other institutions that were in the hands of the establishment to private foriegn companies like facebook over the past few years. The government now has done a deal with facebook that they will support their agenda and control their enemies and in return the government will allow them to operate. a clear example of this is tommy robinson being banned which happened the same week he exposed panorama which is another of their tools theY use to set their agenda and destroy their enemies. the word went out from government to facebook and the courts etc that tommy robinson must be destroyed and they all played their part.  the problem is it was all so glaringly obvious that this was a hatchet job direct from the establishment, i dont give a damn what you think of tommy robinson, my point is how it exposed how they all work together to destroy whoever they like with the use of others. big buisness, government, media, court system are all working hand in hand to control us all and setting the narrative and what we may deem is appropiate.  the masses fall for it but the voices shouting against it and that can see how its all operating together is getting louder every day. 

 

Take a look at brexit. for 2 years before the vote 90% of the media told us all it was bad idea, the government told us it was a bad idea, the buisness leaders and groups told us it was a bad idea. yet the people still voted for it. and because they (ESTABLISHMENT) lost the vote all these people then have twisted things, frightened people and done everything possible to not deliver the vote they lost. that smells like colusion to me.however its another crack in their system of allways getting their own way. the cracks are appearing everywhere now. i mean i dont think their has ever been a time in history that the government refused to do the will of the people in a democratically elected vote. right or wrong its a dangerous thing to do and i dont care if it suits your opinion for brexit to be cancelled, next time it might be your vote that wins and is cancelled. there is going to be some serious changes at the next election in the uk over it all thas for sure. the only tool the public had was their vote and you dont honour that you are now dictators. 

 

another thing that has exposed them is how they manipulate protests against them or their agenda. like how they hardly reported on the yellow jacket protests in france. or increased the numbers attending their agenda protests ie anti brexit march and decreased the amount attending protests against their agenda ie pro brexit demonstrations, scottish independence demonstrations. if anyone has any doubt this is all being manipulated then quite frankly they need their heads tested, just because you may agree with their agenda dont make the manipulation of it right. 

Edited by jimmy2x3

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9 hours ago, jimmy2x3 said:

another thing that has exposed them is how they manipulate protests against them or their agenda. like how they hardly reported on the yellow jacket protests in france. 

How do you know they're happening if they haven't been reported on..? 

Everyone I know is fully aware of the protests. They know about the fires and they've seen the close up zooms of bloodied faces (and the gofundme links) and the burned out cars and the blocked up streets. There's no point dedicating vast swathes of our news cycle to people overseas yelling about the price of diesel when we already have more than enough news that actually affects the UK. 

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Anyway here's an actual news article about the original topic

Europe too fearful to break up internet giants

Quote

 

US politicians, who, like Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, want to break up the big technology companies are treading onto a path that has long drawn their European colleagues.

Europe has better opportunities and more compelling reasons to dismember Amazon, Facebook and Google. Yet it hasn’t done so, despite years of discussion.

There are at least three reasons the EU is better positioned to break up the internet giants. One is that they’re even more dominant in Europe than in the US. Only Amazon, according to some incomplete data, isn’t dominant in Europe; Google and Facebook are beyond any competition in their narrowly defined markets of search and social networking.

Another reason is recent regulatory practice. The US hasn’t broken up a company since AT&T in 1982. The example of Microsoft - which was kept intact by regulators but lost a number of competitive battles, including in browsers and mobile operating systems - has contributed to a laissez-faire attitude. As Frank Pasquale, a University of Maryland law professor, put it, US regulators have “taken a curious turn toward trying to help Google and other massive digital platforms to consolidate market power, rather than policing them”.

The EU hasn’t broken up any monopolies yet, but it has made some strong anti-trust rulings against the internet giants. At least one of them was followed by rather defiant behaviour by Google: the remedy it implemented after being fined for using its search dominance against competing shopping comparison engines has done nothing to fix the situation. According to EU competition rules, breaking up a company is possible “where there is a substantial risk of a lasting or repeated infringement that derives from the very structure of the undertaking”. That’s an adequate description of Google’s intrinsic power in comparison shopping.

 

 

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  • 293 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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