The United States can lead the way on innovation in technology regulation—but instead it has fallen far behind.
he U.S. Justice Department’s latest move to sue Google for allegations that its search and advertising functions violate federal antitrust laws is unsurprisingly making headlines. The world should welcome much-needed scrutiny of a dominant platform that has, as the Department contends, monopolized the search sector and exploited society through that commercial domination. But the reality is that the United States—and its global partners—must take a comprehensive approach to internet regulation to address the biggest and most persistent challenges that the internet has surfaced over the past decade. While action against Google represents a significant development, lawmakers’ regulatory intent can’t end with Google, or simply the enforcement of antitrust provisions against the firm.
The coronavirus pandemic has only increased the importance of regulation across the internet. COVID-19 has accelerated the world’s transition to a virtual economy: Work and school have largely shifted online; telehealth services have expanded; online shopping has soared; apps for food and grocery delivery, fitness, and social meetups have proliferated. Each of these trends was already underway, of course, but global lockdowns because of the pandemic have dramatically sped up these changes. [ … ]