Despite skepticism of Warren’s radical approach, the general consensus was that clear action needs to be taken swiftly to control the fast-growing tech giants. During her session at SXSW, Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner of Competition, discussed the responsibilities large tech companies should be taking and the need for government to protect active and free competition. “We’re trying to make the marketplace work and be fair and competitive,” said Vestager, “but with tools that are not as far-reaching as breaking up the companies.” Speaking on behalf of her upcoming plans for the European Union, Vestager reflects on how her team of regulators have worked toward more accountability and why “breaking up Big Tech” is the last resort.
“We’re dealing with private property,” said Vestager. “Businesses that are built and invested in and become successful because of their innovation. To break up a company, to break up private property, would be very far-reaching. And you would need to have a very strong case that it would produce better results for the consumers in the marketplace than what you could do with sort of more mainstream tools.”
If the solution to control these tech goliaths is not by breaking them up, then what is the viable solution? The answer from the politicians speaking at SXSW seemed to point towards a changing tax system. Elizabeth Warren, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Margrethe Vestager all agree that the current system is not sustainable. “If you’re big, you also have a special responsibility,” says Vestager, “and that’s a responsibility not to do things that will make it impossible for others to compete against you.”
For more SXSW coverage, read our Virtual Cinema and Bleed for the Throne articles.