TechTank: Congressman David Cicilline on Why We Need a Glass-Steagall Act for the Internet

Nicol Turner Lee, Darrell West
Wednesday, September 2, 2020, 10:05 AM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

In 1932, Senator Carter Glass and Congressman Henry Steagall joined forces to pass a new banking law that divided investment from commercial banking. They argued there was an inherent conflict of interest in banks performing both activities and that it was harmful to consumers. As we move into the digital world, there are firms that perform a number of different business functions and there are questions whether this hurts consumers and creates unfair advantages for particular firms.

Over the past year, the House Antitrust Committee has held a series of hearings and heard complaints from businesses about unfair practices by large internet platforms. In a recent hearing with CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, subcommittee chair David Cicilline outlined a number of abuses.

Now the subcommittee is finalizing its report and Congressman Cicilline sat down with Brookings Vice President Darrell West for a candid conversation about problems in the digital economy and why America needs Glass-Steagall legislation for the internet. He explains why large internet platforms have unfair advantages and harm small and medium-sized businesses. He says it is time for Congress to enact new rules of the road for the digital economy.

About the Center for Technology Innovation

Founded in 2010, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings is dedicated to enhancing understanding of technology’s legal, economic, social, and governance ramifications, and informing the public debate on technology innovation in the U.S. and around the world. Our expert scholars, whose areas of focus range from privacy to antitrust to artificial intelligence, deliver evidence-based research and analysis to help policymakers, academia, industry, and civil society leaders draw conclusions about current and emerging technologies.

Dr. Nicol Turner Lee is a senior fellow in Governance Studies, the director of the Center for Technology Innovation, and serves as Co-Editor-In-Chief of TechTank. Dr. Turner Lee researches public policy designed to enable equitable access to technology across the U.S. and to harness its power to create change in communities across the world. Her work also explores global and domestic broadband deployment and internet governance issues. She is an expert on the intersection of race, wealth, and technology within the context of civic engagement, criminal justice, and economic development.
Darrell M. West is vice president and director of Governance Studies and holds the Douglas Dillon Chair. He is Co-Editor-in-Chief of TechTank. His current research focuses on artificial intelligence, robotics, and the future of work. West is also director of the John Hazen White Manufacturing Initiative.

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