If all is well, what could go wrong?
Before the bubble burst during the GFC, the finance sector enjoyed considerable support from investors, providing similarities to Big Tech now. At that time, the financial sector was seen as a critical and profitable sector of the economy. And it grew in complexity and reach, until its growth was no longer sustainable.
In the case of Big Tech, the extent to which they have embedded themselves into society is best seen during the current COVID-19 crisis.
The use of platforms (such as search engines, social media and video conferencing) and the auxiliary services built into the platforms (such as payment services) could cause significant disruptions if withdrawn suddenly and unexpectedly.
The integration of Big Tech into multiple layers of the economy and our lives juxtaposes with the opacity of these platforms’ algorithms.
The black-box nature of these platforms, when applied at enormous scale could extend remarkable influence over the economy. Facebook’s failure to adequately safeguard personal information, and appropriately disclose how personal information could be obtained by others - as highlighted by the Cambridge Analytica data leak back in 2018 - is an example of how important data protection is for Big Tech.
Furthermore, Big Tech firms have been known to use different tax systems to substantially reduce their tax bills. A recent settlement between the Australian Taxation Office and Google for an additional ~$500 million in taxes, highlights the increasing attention Big Tech is attracting from regulators, and the political pressure being mounted to close potential tax minimisation strategies.