This report proposes a new approach to regulating technology companies that aims to deliver stronger accountability and more freedom to innovate. It explores the rise of the following new business models:
platform companies whose core product is the foundation for an ecosystem of other products and services;
aggregators that leverage a superior customer experience to breeze past old models based on controlling distribution; and
infrastructure businesses that replace costly, fixed assets with affordable and scalable services.
It argues that these business models have enabled technology companies to concentrate power in the hands of a relatively small number of companies that all too often wield it clumsily and without sufficient legitimacy.
It argues that technology companies should be responsible to:
develop community standards in consultation with users, governments and civil society;
enforce these standards consistently and report on exceptions; and
consider the best interests and well-being of users and society when setting strategy.
And that regulators should:
be empowered to create safe harbours where firms can develop and test solutions to economic and social challenges; and
make recommendations about the repeal or reform of obsolete rules that inhibit innovation or the public interest.
be required to approve acquisitions of potentially competitive start-ups by big tech companies, with a presumption that these will not be allowed unless there is a compelling public-interest case to the contrary; and
have the power to place big tech companies in an alternative corporate-tax regime that allocates profits geographically in proportion to active users, as a stopgap pending more comprehensive international tax reform.