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The Big Four


The World Wide Web stands for the free, unregulated and continent-spanning exchange of knowledge, opinions and ideas. In reality, this founding myth has often remained a myth.

Four US corporations have long since divided the Internet among themselves. Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple decide what people should know, think, feel and buy. Against the GAFA giants – the added market value is around 5.3 trillion dollars – there is resistance.

The Reasons:

  1. Valuable quartet. Market value of the four largest US tech companies compared to Dow Jones, EuroStoxx and Dax, in trillions of US dollars


  1. The 30% levy that Apple and Google charge for in-app purchases is causing trouble. The makers of the online game “Fortnite” – there are around 350 million users worldwide – have become the spokesmen for the protests against the amount of the levy. “Fortnite” was promptly banned from Apple’s app platform and Google’s Play Store.
  2. In Germany, the Federal Cartel Office is examining whether Amazon has abused a dominant position in the corona crisis. This is about Amazon’s online marketplace, through which other retailers can sell their goods directly to customers.

Although the responsible authorities have not yet officially broken up the tech companies, the tone is getting tougher. Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s candidate for the vice presidency, wants to at least, have a split of Facebook examined:

Facebook has grown massively and has preferred that growth to the interests of its consumers. It’s essentially a utility that hasn’t been regulated.

Democrat David Cicilline also reaffirmed Harris’ line at a hearing of the GAFA chiefs in the US House of Representatives:

Our founders did not bow to the king, nor should we bow to the emperors of the online economy. Some should be smashed, others need proper regulation. That must have an end.

The top spokesman for breaking up the tech companies, however, comes from the Republicans – and is Donald Trump:

If Congress doesn’t make big tech fair, which it should have done years ago, I’ll do it myself. In Washington, EVERYTHING has been TALKED for years and there are NO ACTIONS. The people in our country are fed up with it!

Conclusion: Political discontent is growing. The day of a decision is approaching. The story of democracy on the Internet is not yet told to the end.

Translated and Adapted for an International Audience from Gabor Steingart.