Important read from a Facebook friend.
For over 100 years the phone company had similar technical capabilities as these internet companies. We did not allow them to use these capabilities and would have considered it criminal and scandalous to do so.
AT&T could easily have:
– Listened to content
– Recorded Calls
– Sold info about you to advertisers
– Given all your calls to government prosecutors without a warrant
– Tracked your whereabouts and pieced together an investigative profile of you
– Set out rules for what you can and cannot say.
– Selected a favored political ideology and decided, for example, that only one party can make campaign calls
– Provided assistance to a political party, such as data on when best to call or which calls were more likely to be fruitful
– Decided that only favored people could use their network for profit, while others were limited to personal use.
– Banned people from the network entirely
ALL of these and more, were within the technical capabilities of the phone companies. But they were never used. Not even criminals were banned from the network.
In return the phone companies were given limited liability for content: They could not be sued for allowing criminals to plan crimes over their network.
The internet is now a utility. Con Edison doesn’t get to ban the KKK from using their electric network. If the KKK commits a crime, the govt, and not vendors, steps in to limit rights and impose criminal or civil penalties. FedEx can’t scan my boxes, collect data on me and sell that to advertisers.
Companies have fiduciary responsibilities – that is they are given technical capabilities needed to perform functions, but where those capabilities can lead to their personal gain or other uses outside of an agreed to scope, they are legally obligated to limit their use of those capabilities. The bank can’t sell my transaction data or insider trade based on what they learned.
These separations are vital and not at all new. The tech giants are hardly the first or only companies to have more data and capabilities than we want used. We limit others as a matter of routine. It’s the other side of the argument – “if the tech giants want to use our civil network, such as our police, courts, infrastructure, then they have to abide by our rules”.
Without this, bedlam would ensue. What if the electric company was Republican and decided that it wouldn’t service Google. “Hey, the electric company is a private enterprise.” You see? It would never end. These powers we cede to courts and political institutions with checks and balances. Those are hard enough to control.
Letting the tech Giants ban people should not be allowed.