[Doctorow-L] Column: Permitting the growth of monopolies is a form of government censorship

Cory Doctorow doctorow at craphound.com
Mon Jan 6 15:52:24 EST 2020

In my latest Locus column, Inaction is a Form of Action, I discuss how
the US government's unwillingness to enforce its own anti-monopoly laws
has resulted in the dominance of a handful of giant tech companies who
get to decide what kind of speech is and isn't allowed -- that is, how
the USG's complicity in the creation of monopolies allows for a kind of
government censorship that somehow does not violate the First Amendment.

We're often told that "it's not censorship when a private actor tells
you to shut up on their own private platform" -- but when the government
decides not to create any public spaces (say, by declining to create
publicly owned internet infrastructure) and then allows a handful of
private companies to dominate the privately owned world of online
communications, then those companies' decisions about who may speak and
what they may say become a form of government speech regulation --
albeit one at arm's length.

I don't think that the solution to this is regulating the tech platforms
so they have better speech rules -- I think it's breaking them up and
forcing them to allow interoperability, so that their speech rules no
longer dictate what kind of discourse we're allowed to have.


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