ITIF Critiques the Critiques of ‘Big Tech’ in New Briefing Series, Challenging the Rush to Regulate

March 7, 2022

WASHINGTON—Is social media really the main culprit for societal misinformation? Is technology really destroying personal privacy? Is antitrust enforcement against today’s “Big Tech” companies really the best way to improve U.S. innovation and competitiveness? The answers are no, no, and no, according to a new series of policy briefings from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the leading think tank for science and technology policy.

ITIF’s “Defending Digital” series, written by author, analyst, and ITIF non-resident senior fellow David Moschella, examines popular criticisms, complaints, and policy indictments against the tech industry to assess their validity, correct factual errors, and debunk outright myths. 

“Our goal in this series is not to defend tech reflexively or categorically, but to scrutinize widely echoed claims that are driving the most consequential debates in tech policy,” said ITIF President Robert D. Atkinson. “Before enacting new laws and regulations, it’s important to ask whether these claims hold water.”

ITIF publishes new installments in its Defending Digital series every month. So far: 

  • Issue 1, “It’s Not Just Facebook—‘Old Media’ Spreads Misinformation, Too,” turns the mirror on the widely repeated charge that social media has become a primary source of societal misinformation, and concludes that mainstream media should get its own house in order. Major TV networks, cable channels, and America’s most prominent news organizations have all repeatedly served as super spreaders for damaging misinformation in recent years.
  • Issue 2, “Technology Has Created Much More Privacy Than It Has Destroyed. Let’s Keep It That Way,” highlights the many ways that the Internet and mobile technologies build valuable privacy into our everyday lives, and concludes that policymakers should resist alarmism. Technology’s privacy benefits greatly outweight the harm, and collecting and using data is an important source of innovation and value for individuals, organizations, and society as a whole.
  • Issue 3, Theory Aside, Antitrust Advocates Should Keep Their ‘Big Tech’ Ambitions Narrow,” recaps 50 years of high-tech antitrust experience—including the cases against IBM and AT&T in the mainframe and telephony eras, and Microsoft and Intel in the PC era. It concludes that targeted remedies for particular business practices and complaints have been much more effective than sweeping government interventions which have repeatedly resulted in damaging unintended consequences.

In coming installments of the Defending Digital series, ITIF will debunk the idea that Big Tech is making too much money off of “our data,” show why artificial intelligence is much less biased than people, argue that America will need all the automation it can get, and present numerous other challenges to conventional digital wisdom.

“The problem with most tech policy debates these days is that critics seize on a few examples of damaged trees and mistake them for a sick forest,” said Moschella. “There are certainly valid questions to ask about particular technology uses and business practices, but too many of the overarching narratives about ‘Big Tech’ and the broader digital marketplace are wildly exaggerated, distorted, or just plain false.”

Follow ITIF’s “Defending Digital” series: itif.org/defending-digital.