The Hoya: McCourt School Namesake, CBS News Anchor Talk Dangers of Big Tech

Mar 20 The hoya Nola goodwin

The founding donor for the McCourt School of Public Policy called for safer online platforms and warned of the dangerous power of digital platforms in a book talk with journalist Norah O’Donnell (COL ’95, GRD ’03) on March 18.

Frank McCourt (CAS ’75), the founder of the investment firm McCourt Global who serves on Georgetown’s board of directors, spoke about his new book, “Our Biggest Fight: Reclaiming Liberty, Humanity, and Dignity in the Digital Age.” The book, which McCourt collaborated on with journalist Michael Casey, explores the threats that big tech, or corporate technology giants such as Google, pose for personal data, democracy and youth mental health.

O’Donnell, anchor and managing editor for the CBS Evening News and contributing correspondent for 60 Minutes, moderated the event.

To begin the conversation, O’Donnell pointed out the intensity of McCourt’s claims, saying that the book draws attention to the internet concerning issues of health, safety and government. 

“You blame the internet for a mental health crisis, for suicide rates rising among young people, for why politics is toxic and refer to it as a threat to democracy. It’s a pretty stark picture,” O’Donnell said at the event.

McCourt said that although today’s internet has the potential to be a factor for positive societal change, the harm digital technology is causing outweighs any potential good.

“There’s an old expression, ‘A hammer is just a tool.’ It can be used to build a house or to kill someone. It’s how the tool is used that matters, and right now this tool is being used in ways that are doing lots of damage,” McCourt said at the event.

McCourt said that digital platforms have changed significantly from how they ran when large tech companies initially went public, moving from simpler transfers of data between locations to more complicated collections, which are now referred to as apps.

Read the full article on The Hoya’s website here. You can learn more about OUR BIGGEST FIGHT: Reclaiming Liberty, Humanity, and Dignity in the Digital Age on

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