In 1932, Senator Carter Glass and Congressman Henry Steagall joined forces to propose 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. Their legislation was enacted and became the law of the land until it was repealed in 1999.
As we move into the digital world, there are firms that perform a number of different business functions and legislators are asking whether broad-based market power hurts consumers and creates unfair advantages for those companies. Over the past year, the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee 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 alleged abuses. He described the CEOs as “emperors of the online economy” and said they engaged in a number of unfair practices.
In this episode of the TechTank podcast, CTI Senior Fellow Darrell West hosts Congressman Cicilline for a candid conversation about the Antitrust Subcommittee report and the menu of policy choices it will offer. Congressman Cicilline feels America needs Glass-Steagall legislation for the internet because large internet platforms have unfair advantages and harm small and medium-sized businesses. He says it is time for Congress to develop new rules of the road for the digital economy and stop firms from selling goods while also determining the shape of the marketplace. If enacted, the reforms would have far-reaching consequences for the digital economy.
TechTank is a bi-weekly podcast from Lawfare and The Brookings Institution exploring the most consequential technology issues of our time. From racial bias in algorithms to the future of work, TechTank takes big ideas and makes them accessible. In a series of roundtable discussions and interviews with technology experts and policymakers, moderators Dr. Nicol Turner Lee and Darrell West unpack tech policy debates and highlight new data, ideas, and policy solutions. Future episodes will explore the role of technology in election interference, disinformation campaigns, school reopening and broadband access, the digital divide and more. Sign up to receive the TechTank newsletter for more research and analysis from the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings.