The world needs U.S. antitrust legislation: Big Tech must not determine global human rights

“Truth and democracy will forever be under attack with Big Tech calling the shots and manipulating information flows to pad their pockets.”

A very small number of U.S. tech companies exercise outsized control over global human rights in the digital age. This must change. Today, Access Now and 29 civil society organizations from around the world issued an open statement calling on the U.S. Congress to tackle this dangerous dominance head-on by passing the American Innovation and Choice Online Act and the Open App Markets Act

These bills have the power to hold U.S. corporations like Alphabet and Meta — whose influence is wielded through their platforms Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp — Apple, and Amazon accountable for failing to keep people safe online, and put an end to their reign of data abuse and surveillance.

“As it stands, we live in a world where the decisions of a few Silicon Valley CEOs have more sway over human rights online than democratically elected officials,” said Jennifer Brody, U.S. Policy and Advocacy Manager at Access Now. “This is simply unacceptable. The U.S. government’s regime of negligence is over — It must immediately regulate its home-grown surveillance capitalists and put an end to Big Tech’s shameful history of facilitating human rights abuses around the world.”

U.S. platforms all play a fundamental role in enabling human rights violations and exacerbating inequalities. By amplifying dangerous disinformation, and weaponizing sensitive data against targeted communities, these companies’ conscious decisions have devastating real-world impacts including attacks against human rights defenders in the Philippines and ethnic violence in Ethiopia.

“Big Tech’s massive power over our economic, social, and political lives has been left unchecked for too long,” said Maria Luisa Stasi, Head of Law and Policy for Digital Markets at ARTICLE 19. “It has produced enormous harm to democracy and led people to normalize the violation of their fundamental rights. It is time for the U.S. Congress to act to tame this power and reset the conditions for a fairer, more diversified and innovative economy to flourish, and for people to have choices and see their rights duly respected.”

“Big Tech companies have been allowed to grow too big and too powerful, to the detriment of human rights and democracy,” said Nathalie Maréchal, Policy Director at Ranking Digital Rights. “Passing this antitrust package is key to accountability and to creating a level playing field for future innovation that strengthens society. Just as importantly, Congress needs to protect privacy at the federal level and reform corporate governance.”

The U.S. Congress must seize this opportunity to end years of anti-competitive practices that have given Big Tech no incentive to safeguard human rights. It is time for lawmakers to take a stand on putting people before corporate greed.

Read the full statement.