We know we can’t trust big monopolies with our financial information. The potential for collusion and exploitation is just too great
As antitrust scholar Matt Stoller wrote after Libra was first announced, “Imagine Facebook’s subsidiary Calibra knowing your account balance and your spending, and offering to sell a retailer an algorithm that will maximize the price for what you can afford to pay for a product.” Tech giants have repeatedly used their enormous size and virtually limitless access to consumer data to concentrate more power and wealth in fewer and fewer hands. In one well-known example, the startup Diapers.com refused to sell to Amazon, so Amazon used its size to flood the market with cheap diapers, selling the product at a loss until Diapers.com buckled. And until privacy concerns forced them to stop earlier this year, Facebook was utilizing an app called Onavo that gathered user data, giving Facebook insight into which popular start-ups they should acquire and run out of business.
When the lines between banking and commerce are blurred, monopolization and market concentration follow. Working people suffer the consequences, whether it’s big tech undermining small businesses or big banks gouging consumers by manipulating the price of oil, aluminum, and electricity. We must protect consumers by strengthening the separation between banking and commerce. The data shows the public is with us on this. But the question now is whether we can build the political will to stand up to big banks and big tech.
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