Let’s make it a crime to own Facebook

Let’s make it a crime to own Facebook

 It’s my secret wish for 2021, says John Naughton. What I want is to see Mark Zuckerberg in the dock, with Nick Clegg alongside “taking notes”. And my wish might just come true: at long last, officialdom is getting serious about bringing tech giants to heel. In the US, Alphabet, Google’s corporate owner, is facing antitrust suits from 38 different states. In the UK, a new Digital Markets Unit may soon have power to clamp down on any company that exercises market power over a specific digital activity. Meanwhile, the EU is coming up with a new legal framework to stop the likes of Facebook engaging in anti-competitive practices. But how long before any of this bites? Antitrust cases against Google are likely to drag on for years. And as Joe Biden’s top staff choices include “a depressing proportion” of former tech bigwigs, there’s bound to be a lot of stalling the other side of the pond. But there is one way to speed up the process: do what the US trust-busters did in the 1930s and make running a monopoly a criminal offence. If Zuckerberg and co. thought that they might have to face criminal charges, that would help to “concentrate minds” in the tech world.

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