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article imageIs it time to start regulating the technology giants?

By Tim Sandle     Jun 25, 2019 in Technology
Given the various data privacy issues and other matters like tipping the balance during elections, the big technology companies are increasingly coming under the spotlight. Is it now time for regulation?
Voices in support of regulating the major technology firms, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, are growing stronger. These calls have been recently articulated by California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has signalled to the technology sector, especially the major players, that there will soon be federal regulation in place.
Speaking with with Axios, the politician said: "The current regulatory framework for these social media companies is going to pale compared to what it will be in a decade." He also added that it was in the interest of big technology firms to accept that regulations are coming and to work with law makers in achieving a fair and workable solution.
As a counter measure, some technology firms are calling for regulation, as with the case put by former Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who is now a spokesperson for Facebook (and its head of global affairs). By adopting this tactic Facebook is possibly attempting to influence the shape of the regulation. Clegg said, when speaking to BBC Radio 4, there was a “pressing need” for new “rules of the road” in terms of privacy, election rules and data protection, adding: “It’s not for private companies, however big or small, to come up with those rules. It is for democratic politicians in the democratic world to do so."
One example mentioned by Governor Newson was Facebook's refusal to remove the doctored video of Nancy Pelosi (a matter covered by Digital Journal "Facebook and disinformation - Pelosi video to remain.") According Newson, failure to remove something so clearly an item of pro-Trump fake news is a clear sign as to why regulation is desperately needed. This would seem a very real possibility should the Democrats win the White House in 2020.
Also on the agenda are calls for the companies to be broken up, as a means to dilute their power and influence (this is a policy point by some U.S. presidential hopefuls, like Elizabeth Warren). Under Warren's plan, which is taking a different path to Newson's, some technology acquisitions like Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram or Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods, would be rolled back in order to downsize the reach of the big players.
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