After picking up the phone we hear from Zephyr Teachout that our conversation might take lesser time than it has been agreed before as we both depend on a small baby who has his schedule and wakes up irrespectively of his parents’ plans.
Teachout, the law instructor at Fordham University in New York is famous among the public for her previous career development such as applying for the position of the governor of the state and Congress representative New York’s 19th district and her various books such as “BREAK ‘EM UP: Recovering Our Freedom from Big Ag, Big Tech, and Big Money.” The interview took place the next day after the discussion of Big tech lack of trust during the US Congress session.
Teachout considers such discussion as the key point of understanding of democracy and corruption contradiction. She thinks that financial reform in the company like at the example of Big Tech companies has nothing common with the concentration of financial power at the hand of a couple of persons. She considers such an approach to be harmful to the public sphere and the capacities of casual people to influence the serious “decisions”. Our interlocutor treats such hearings as a double standard economy and parallel governments which are designed for the needs of their sponsors. At the same time, she has little knowledge about blockchain technology but treats it as a powerful tool to avoid the “power accumulated in the hands of a couple of persons.
To make our story shorter, we will next present our discussion in a question-answer format.
So check it out
How did you treat recent six-hour anti-trust hearing in the Congress?
I was fascinated withCongressman David Cicilline’s remark that it goes about the controversy between democracy and monopoly. At the same time, the commission had been ready for such a situation and had all required documents and pieces of evidence like with the situation about the scandal concerning Cambridge Analytica, when he fascinated the senators with his openness and caused polite treatment to himself.
To check if the words are true we have to review the documents and companies’ actions concerning anti-trust law and assess the facts of law disruptions such as the situation when platforms use their power for dubbing or merging other organizations.
Can you set an evident example of company merging?
The most prominent example is Amazon. It means that you understand that you will deal with Amazon one way or another in case if you want to take up with online sales and have less than one million dollars for your business or do not intend to do your marketplace. After Bezos was urged for merging, which had been evident for everyone; as these companies have never been partners. They have always been adversaries.
What do monopolists do for the creation of mirror government structures?
Of course, there are secret or so-called “head governments” which govern our official governments and their power is constantly growing. Let’s say if somebody asks which legal jurisdiction the Amazon belongs none gives an exact answer, as Amazon, like other similar companies, have their own operational, intellectual and managerial mechanisms of the cooperation with sellers. That is why it is important to understand whom you deal with.
See more on this issue here Blockchain Code Can Fill In When Antitrust Law Fails
I think that it goes about the quite forgotten idea of 80-es, meaning that monopoly has always been turned into government and all governments are impossible to function without the legal system. In some cases, it goes about companies’ internal operation systems like the Amazon appeals processing system or Facebook posts moderation system.
It is also worth remembering about arbitration systems used by such companies. Such companies pay third party judges who decide about which content to post etc. Moreover, such judges are bound with non-disclosure agreements.
You speak a lot about decentralization in your book. What is the role of cryptocurrencies in this process?
I am sure that such systems are of great importance but everything depends on regulation mechanisms. Just to set an example with Amazon’s recent application for the patent related to the usage of blockchain technology supposing every seller to provide information about the source of supplies. It has nothing common with decentralization. It means that technology serves the centralized government body.
There has never been anything subjecting to some order. I always smile when crypto adepts present cryptosystems as the one without governance. It is not true as at least someone controls the amount of supplied coins
Privacy. But why we do not ask “the PRIVACY FROM WHOM?”
You mention “f–k-off” economy. What do you suppose by this term?
I am striving to move from the treatment of the economy from the economists’ point of view. They had been performing the role of prophets telling us that we do not have to correlate the term of business with such terms as a monopoly or antitrust and simply rely on their view of efficiency evaluation. But when the situation concerns people the main thing is wage.
I am convinced that we need the economy when the employee can say goodbye to his employer at any time. But to do this you need to have the place where to go.
How can companies greatly affecting our economy influence privacy?
I fear that the privacy regime can be affected by contract law because when an individual can contract stuff the asymmetry of power emerges. Now the tech giants are greatly interested in using business models when they get as much information about people as possible, while our task is the opposite.
What the next step should be?
The main thing is to change overall politics related to antitrust and come to the understanding that first, we need to make our movement viable and then fix it on the level of political resolutions.