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A hard rain's gonna fall in Silicon ValleyWe might look back on 2017 as the last moment of unbridled faith and optimism in the technology industry. The revelations about Cambridge Analytica's use of Facebook data – mining more than 50 million users' personal information – came at a time when people were already considering appropriate ways to curb the handful of powerful tech companies that dominate not just the American economy but, increasingly, American life.In the midst of all this, as America was transitioning into a digital economy, we neglected to ask: What is the role for government here?The image of technology firms springing forth from unfettered free markets was never quite accurate. Today's digital economy rests on three major technologies: the computer chip, the internet and GPS. The situation looks more like an oligopoly than a free market.Until recently, as Indian entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani pointed out to me, there were just a handful of digital platforms with more than 1 billion users, all run by companies in the United States or China such as Google, Facebook and Tencent.
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