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NYT: Fighting Big Tech Makes for Some Uncomfortable Bedfellows

Read on The New York Times

It was not a given that Steve Hilton, the conservative Fox News host, and Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor who worked in the Obama White House, would get along.

But when they met by chance at a cocktail party in Washington last year, they quickly landed on one surprisingly strong point of agreement: It was time to break up Big Tech.

“We thought the same way,” Mr. Hilton said.

Mr. Wu, who is also a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, agreed. “There’s unusual constituencies arising,” he said. He later went on Mr. Hilton’s show, “The Next Revolution,” for a congenial interview.

The antitrust movement has been revived by a bipartisan loathing of Big Tech that extends beyond lawmakers to the furthest firmaments of the right and the left.

On one side is the progressive left, whose members have been appalled by Facebook’s handling of pro-Trump Russian disinformation campaigns and Silicon Valley’s consolidated power. On the other side is the Trumpist right, whose members see the power of social media companies to ban content as censorship and worry that the arteries of communication are controlled by young liberals.

The common cause has made for some strange new bedfellows. The left and the right now often have similar anti-tech talking points on cable news and at congressional hearings. Conservatives are showing up at largely liberal conferences, while liberals are going on conservative TV shows.

On Tuesday, that alignment will be evident at an antitrust hearing on Capitol Hill featuring executives from Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple, as well as policy experts like Mr. Wu. The hearing, held by the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, will examine “the impact of market power of online platforms on innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“To the bewilderment of many observers, the ascendant pressures for antitrust reforms are flowing from both wings of the political spectrum,” Daniel A. Crane, a law professor at the University of Michigan, wrote last year in a paper called “Antitrust’s Unconventional Politics.”

Now those who have found mutual understanding need to figure out if they can actually get along.

It is not easy. Often, it is awkward.

Read the full article on The New York Times.

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