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The Uber files tell a simple truth: democracy depends on curbing mercenary tech giants | Rafael Behr

By Rafael Behr

11 Jul 2022 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

A Guardian commentary on how despite being on the cutting edge of technology, analogue tactics like lobbying are still exploited by Big Tech companies and how that's detrimental to democracy.

There were taxis before there was Uber, just as there were bookshops before Amazon and friends before Facebook. A large part of innovation is new ways to deliver old ideas. Technology gives the innovator an edge by lowering costs, enabling nimbler delivery and outcompeting established traders who are stuck with obsolescent methods.

That is the foundational myth of Silicon Valley folklore. It was the story that Uber propagated about itself in the years of its most explosive growth from a service for hailing rides around San Francisco to a global tech powerhouse. Here was the archetypal digital disruption – an app to match demand to supply with a slickness that blew competition off the road.

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