With bipartisan calls to break up big tech, it is worth pausing to ask whether the proposed remedy matches the diagnosis of the problem. Antitrust breakups work best when there’s a clear conflict between public and company interests. Yet with some of the most pressing problems - such as the spread of disinformation - company and public interests plausibly converge. An alternative approach would be to keep tech companies intact but integrate users and workers more directly into their governance systems.
In the United States, the rule of law has always had property rights as its lodestar, with private property serving as the central legal interest that requires protection. Attending to our history reveals the dangers and paradoxical nature of this property-first conception of the rule of law.