TechTank: Congressman David Cicilline on Why We Need a Glass-Steagall Act for the Internet

By Nicol Turner Lee, Darrell West
Wednesday, September 2, 2020, 10:05 AM

In 1932, Senator Carter Glass and Congressman Henry Steagall joined forces to pass a new banking law that divided investment from commercial banking. They argued there was an inherent conflict of interest in banks performing both activities and that it was harmful to consumers. As we move into the digital world, there are firms that perform a number of different business functions and there are questions whether this hurts consumers and creates unfair advantages for particular firms.

Over the past year, the House Antitrust Committee has held a series of hearings and heard complaints from businesses about unfair practices by large internet platforms. In a recent hearing with CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, subcommittee chair David Cicilline outlined a number of abuses.

Now the subcommittee is finalizing its report and Congressman Cicilline sat down with Brookings Vice President Darrell West for a candid conversation about problems in the digital economy and why America needs Glass-Steagall legislation for the internet. He explains why large internet platforms have unfair advantages and harm small and medium-sized businesses. He says it is time for Congress to enact new rules of the road for the digital economy.

About the Center for Technology Innovation

Founded in 2010, the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings is dedicated to enhancing understanding of technology’s legal, economic, social, and governance ramifications, and informing the public debate on technology innovation in the U.S. and around the world. Our expert scholars, whose areas of focus range from privacy to antitrust to artificial intelligence, deliver evidence-based research and analysis to help policymakers, academia, industry, and civil society leaders draw conclusions about current and emerging technologies.