It was the “Wizard of Oz” in digital format as the four titans of Big Tech testified via video before the House Antitrust Subcommittee. Just like in the movie, what the subcommittee saw was controlled by a force hidden from view. The wizard in this case—the reason these four companies are so powerful—is the math that takes our private information and turns it into their corporate asset. It is the 21st century equivalent of Rockefeller’s 20th century monopoly over oil. Unlike industrial assets such as oil, data is reusable. Data is also iterative, as its use in a product creates new data.
The American economy continues to digitalize at an astounding pace, but tens of millions of American households cannot access the digital economy due to physical gaps in local broadband networks, unaffordable subscription plans and personal devices, and a lack of digital skills. Digital equity offices would aim to address these structural barriers and ensure the digital economy reaches all local households.