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A Big Choice for Big Tech

Share Data or Suffer the Consequences

Your data or your life: at the Google office in Zurich, Switzerland, August 2009. CHRISTIAN HARTMANN / REUTERS

Over the last two decades, a few technology giants have come to dominate digital markets. Google performs about nine out of every ten Internet searches worldwide. Facebook, the world’s leading social media platform, has well over two billion users. Together, the two companies have seized well over half of the online advertising market. Apple, originally a computer manufacturer, now runs the world’s largest mobile app store in terms of revenue, with about 80 percent of the market, and the second-largest music streaming business, approaching a third of the market. And Amazon captures close to every other dollar spent online in the United States. These companies are what the economist David Autor calls “superstar firms,” able to gain huge market shares and translate their market power into enormous profits.

Their success has brought tremendous benefits to users—and grave dangers to societies and economies. Each company hoards the information it

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