HH The Dawn Of A New Big Tech Regulatory Era?

At the ShellyPalmer Innovation Series Breakfast at CES 2018, I had a Socratic discussion about the influence of the big technology platforms and other emerging technologies on our lives and the need for responsible innovation with David Sapin, US Risk & Regulatory Leader, PwC. We also talked about the growing “techlash” buzz for more industry regulation and, while we agreed that there was a need for formal approach around some aspects of the industry, we felt that the best approach at the time might be an industry self-regulatory approach to responsible innovation (see A Case for Responsible Innovation).

Mark Zuckererg, CEO, Facebook

Our perspective was that the industry was in the best position to develop and enforce responsible innovation standards that would address growing concerns from the public and policy makers about the influence of big tech and emerging tech but would not unnecessarily restrain the innovation that has been the trademark of the industry. We received quite a bit of positive feedback and people were interested in what a self-regulatory approach would look like and whether it might just work. Then the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica news broke.

David and I, along with our friend and colleague Rob Mesirow, Principal, PwC Connected Solutions, have spent some quality time discussing Big Tech regulation — and our thinking has evolved.

2018: The pendulum starts to swing for big tech regulation

The breaking of the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica story in March 2018 may be the moment where we all realized that some level of big tech platform regulation is needed. The story (and its aftermath of hearings etc.) set in motion a year that has brought even more attention to the influence of technology and the big tech platforms on our lives and new calls to think about how or whether we “regulate” the industry. Over the rest of 2018 we saw the regulatory approach move into full swing on the privacy front. While not a reaction to the Facebook situation, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect in May and then California passed its own privacy legislation in June, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). We have also seen large global tech companies and others implement new policies, procedures and controls to address growing concerns of consumers and policy makers alike on issues ranging from location tracking, facial recognition to hate speech. Finally, towards the end of the year we began to see a divergence within the industry, as some of the big tech players – such as Apple – calling for regulation, while others are less enthusiastic.

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David Sapin, Principal US Advisory Risk, PwC contributed to this article. For more information, please read PwC’s second ...

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Gary Anderson 2 months ago Contributor's comment

I find it interesting and a good thing that self driving companies are beginning to see the limitations of their technologies. Failure to continue down this road will result in a justified backlash towards this over promised technology.

It is great that rules against cashlessness is popping up. Cashlessness is a reckless idea whose time to be exposed has come.