Today, EFF joins a diverse coalition of civil society and tech companies to call on Congress to pass strong anti-monopoly rules for the Internet. We do this because it has long been EFF’s belief that users have the right to make their own choices—and the current state of Big Tech has taken many of our choices from us.
We live in a world that increasingly requires us to be online. The promise of all this technology was that barriers would be lowered, allowing more people to exercise their rights—especially rights related to speech. For those who work in securing rights for others, activists and journalists, for example, this has been an invaluable change.
However, that promise has been broken by the rise of a few unassailable companies. No longer does something replace Facebook the way Facebook replaced MySpace. Instead, Facebook buys Instagram and WhatsApp to prevent being replaced. And then being on Facebook stops being a choice, but a requirement for communicating with some segments of the population. It’s difficult to leave if those people are your friends and family, but it’s impossible if you are a small business who needs to reach a certain group of people.
If you can’t be found by a Google search, you might as well not exist. And if your app can’t get into an Apple or Google app store, it also may as well not exist.
All of this runs counter to a basic principle of the internet: you get to decide. If you learn that there’s a vulnerability in iMessage, you should be able to uninstall it. If you are an activist or journalist who could be targeted, that is a potentially lifesaving choice you need to be able to make. And if you simply want a different app to take iMessage’s place on your phone, you should get make that choice.
If you choose to use the Apple store it should be because you trust its safety determinations, not simply because it ranges from difficult to impossible to do otherwise. If you choose to use Google search it should be because it gives the best service, not simply because alternatives are harder to access. And if you are on Facebook it should be because it’s the best social network, not simply because it keeps buying up its competitors and shoving everything under the “Meta” brand.
Services need to go back to competing for our time by being the best, rather than the only. Our security is increased when multiple companies are working to be the safest, most secure service. Our privacy is increased when one company isn’t able to track us across our search, email, video watching, map, and health data.
The Open App Markets Act would give us back control of our mobile devices by forcing companies to let us decide what is on the devices we paid hundreds of dollars to own. The ACCESS Act would allow us to choose to leave the biggest services by promoting interoperability—allowing us to stay in contact with people on the largest services without being forced to sign over our information to those services. The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act would increase oversight on acquisitions by the biggest tech companies, giving new services a fair chance to grow into real competition instead of being bought up by a giant.
Join us in this day of action by emailing your representatives about these bills today. And if you have a business or organization that would like to join the day, visit antitrustday.org.