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Governments Should Focus on Consumer Rights

By South China Morning Post at 12:54 PM 5/31/2020 (PDT)

In a world that is growing more reliant on technology, it is only right that the UN look into how to regulate such monopolies. However, some of the criticisms that come from the CSTD committee are extreme. Germany believes that, “ it was a mistake to allow Facebook to acquire Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp a couple of years later”. The Central African Republic fears that, since, “only Google has been introduced... and not much of other tech companies, this will affect the economy.” These are very strong statements that look to be anti-business growth. It seems wrong to regulate how these businesses grow.

Criticisms of data storage, consumer rights and censorship are well warranted due to how important these rights are to individuals and a democratic society. And indeed, countries have touched upon this. Iran, the US and Japan have all said that these are important issues to their country. However, by also trying to regulate how the market looks, countries risk losing focus on what is more important, the rights of the people for protection from these monopolies. It is more damaging for consumers to have malicious technology companies than to have only one technology company.

Cuba for example, “has state owned companies which are monopolies… And we are thriving because of this.” The difference is that because the state has regulated what these monopolies can and can’t do, the fact that they’re monopolies doesn’t impact their ability to serve the consumer.

In fact, it’s the size of monopolies that allow them to be so good for the economy and for people. Japan has said that due to their size, monopolies, “can also work on large-scale projects that benefit communities, projects that smaller competition don’t have the scale or resources for.” Due to their size and large profit margins, companies, “can … provide many free services to consumers” as stated by the US. And because their network is so wide ranging, it lends itself well to the network effect, where the more people use a network, the more effective it becomes.

So, by regulating the size of the business, countries could actually end up harming citizens. Instead, countries should focus on the privacy and consumer rights that could be infringed. Countries and the UN don’t have a place in the market and they shouldn’t try to regulate it. They have a duty to their citizens not businesses. And these citizens benefit most when there are monopolies but they are strictly regulated.

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