Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 5th Sep 2017 11:08 UTC
Google Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Vivalvi (and former CEO of Opera):

Recently, our Google AdWords campaigns were suspended without warning. This was the second time that I have encountered this situation. This time, however, timing spoke volumes.

I had several interviews where I voiced concerns about the data gathering and ad targeting practices - in particular, those of Google and Facebook. They collect and aggregate far too much personal information from their users. I see this as a very serious, democracy-threatening problem, as the vast targeting opportunities offered by Google and Facebook are not only good for very targeted marketing, but also for tailored propaganda. The idea of the Internet turning into a battlefield of propaganda is very far away from the ideal.

Two days after my thoughts were published in an article by Wired, we found out that all the campaigns under our Google AdWords account were suspended - without prior warning. Was this just a coincidence? Or was it deliberate, a way of sending us a message?

Large technology companies have an immense amount of control over and influence on our society, far more than they - or anyone else, for that matter - care to admit. We're way past the point where governments should step in and start to correct this dangerous situation. It's time for another breakup of the Bell System. It's time we, as society, take a long, hard look at corporations - in tech and elsewhere - and ask ourselves if we really want to be subject to the control of organisations we effectively have no democratic control over.

I'm not a proponent of nationalisation, but I am a proponent of breaking up Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and possibly others (I'm sticking to technology for now) to severely limit their power and influence. The products and services these companies create have become too important and too vital to the functioning of our society, and they should be treated as such.

It wouldn't be the first time we, as society, decide a certain product has become too vital to leave in corporations' unrestricted hands.

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As some have said, breaking up is not a viable solution. Facebook is an integrated unit. How would you break it up? Its different components are integrated together as deeply as a networking stack is integrated into an OS - and neither can survive without the other.

What makes sense for monolithic companies that cannot be torn into self-sustaining pieces would be to classify them as Common Carriers. As in, they would no longer be able to restrict the transmission of information simply because they considered it objectionable. In fact, censorship of any kind would then become impossible. They could still remain dominant in their spheres of influence, but they would be forced to accept all comers and be able to reject none. Controversial videos will not be blocked or deleted. Controversial sites would not be delisted. Only verifiable falsehoods could be downplayed when actual information was being searched for.

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