The Information: How to Regain Control Over Your Data


No longer must we, the users, accept the terms and conditions of the contracts apps and platforms put in front of us. Instead, we require them to sign our terms and conditions.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which compelled the “Baby Bell” telephone networks to allow competing services to operate over their lines, included a less well-known provision that has proved transformative: that customers be allowed to keep their telephone numbers when changing providers.

This modest clause helped break the network effect that gave the regional, fixed-line telephone companies a stranglehold over their markets. In so doing, it decentralized the U.S.’s information infrastructure at a pivotal moment and unleashed a powerful wave of digital innovation.

Three decades later, we desperately need a similar approach to decentralize the internet again. The Web 2.0 era of the past two decades has given rise to a far more powerful breed of gatekeepers—and this time, the stakes are much higher. Today’s dominant internet platforms have centralized control over something far more fundamental and powerful than telephone numbers: our online data.

Read the full excerpt on The Information. You can learn more about OUR BIGGEST FIGHT: Reclaiming Liberty, Humanity, and Dignity in the Digital Age on

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