It was as if the Interstate System of highways had been built using volunteer road crews, working without a map. No one present at the 1969 creation of the network that later became the internet imagined that this niche Pentagon project — built as a research tool for a small group of academic computer scientists — would one day become the backbone of the global economy.
Fast-forward five decades, and Big Tech is eating the world. During this year of pandemic and protest, the combined value of the American tech sector has topped that of the entire European stock market, and the products of its five biggest companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — become ever more inescapable features of life and work. Severe market consolidation has prompted increasingly vigorous bipartisan calls to rein in the excesses of the companies built on the internet. Regulation is essential, lawmakers argue, both to restore fairness to the online economy and to protect democracy itself.
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