Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

The US Federal Trade Commission wants your ideas for how to better police Big Tech

June 20, 2018

The regulator’s outreach comes as it’s facing stiff criticism for being too soft on Google, Facebook, and other tech giants.
The news: The FTC, which is responsible for consumer protection issues, has announced public hearings where it will solicit ideas for tackling digital-age challenges. Top of the list are ways to deal with the immense power of these internet giants. (For more background about the risks this power poses and some novel ways to rein in the companies' clout, see "It's time to rein in the data barons" from our July/August magazine issue.)
The criticism: The review has been launched by Joe Simons, the new Republican head of the agency (pictured above), which also boasts a slew of new commissioners. Simon, who joined the FTC in May, will hopefully lead a tougher committee than the prior one. The previous regime was criticized for being slow to respond to scandals like the Cambridge Analytica affair, in which sensitive Facebook data of 87m people was shared without their consent or knowledge.
Why this matters: Europe has taken the lead in policing the tech giants, including fining Google 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) last year for antitrust violations. The EU's new privacy regulations impose strict limits on what firms can do with people’s personal data. America badly needs tougher tech policing and tighter data protection rules too. Advocates for more robust enforcement are already calling on the FTC to reopen the antitrust investigation into Google that it shelved in 2013, and to punish Facebook for data violations associated with Cambridge Analytica. The agency’s new listening tour should give the public a way to influence the FTC's plans, and hopefully won't be an excuse to delay holding Big Tech accountable.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.