This article first appeared in The National Post on October 30, 2020.
Last week the U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against Google over its alleged search monopoly. The move came on the heels of a Congressional committee investigation into the anticompetitive practices of the world’s biggest tech firms — Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple — and is widely believed to be the U.S.’s first salvo in a long battle to rein in these global platforms.
Similar reports from our international peers, including the U.K., the E.U. and Australia, have warned that governments must urgently tackle the problems that Big Tech pose for economies and democracies everywhere. While many of these jurisdictions have taken concrete steps to rein these giants in, a question looms: what can a middle power like Canada do at home and abroad to ensure our technology is fit for democracy?
While Canada has no jurisdiction over the corporate structure of these U.S.-based tech giants, we do have other legislative tools at our disposal to promote trust online — and allies we can call upon to create new democratic safeguards for our increasingly digital work.