International Policy Digest

Google
Tech /27 Feb 2020
02.27.20

Why Big Tech has Started Asking for More Government Regulation

The tech industry is the source of innovations that have changed the world. It’s also the center of public and government scrutiny within the past several years. As big tech continues to grow, so does criticism and backlash.

Big tech refers to the biggest, most influential companies in the industry. These are the businesses that have the power to develop programs with the latest technology, like artificial intelligence (AI). With all of this dominance, regulations would be an obstacle, slowing them down.

However, some tech leaders, like Google and Microsoft, have publicly voiced their support of more government interference. Yet the question is why. Why would they ask for more regulation when it doesn’t directly benefit them?

The answer starts with the rise of innovations.

Mistrust of Big Tech

Fear of technological progress is not something new — it’s a feeling that’s been around since technology came into the spotlight.

Many people fear that it will breach privacy and security and take away human jobs. This fear, though not something the entire public shares, has always held a short fuse with big tech. Then, things sparked during the 2016 presidential election.

When foreign interference in voting came into question, more people started to criticize big tech and security assaults, a shock to the system that piled on more mistrust. With lawsuits and investigations into big tech companies happening weekly, backlash only continues to grow. People keep asking why this industry has so much power and what the government can do to control it.

Reasons for Regulations

It would appear to be in big tech’s best interest to oppose government regulations. Yet industry leaders claim the opposite. While some believe these tech leaders may genuinely be interested in listening to public and government concerns, others are more skeptical.

These doubters point out that regulations may not overtly benefit big tech, but they do have subtle implications on the sector. On the surface, these requests may appear as if companies want to cooperate and use tech for public benefit. Deeper down, though, this move is a grab for more power.

Regulations are expensive. They include investigations, lawyers, compliance experts, creating new codes, changing product development and more. To big tech companies, this is nothing more than an irritation. For smaller businesses and startups, however, this could derail operations or even put them out of business. The result is less competition for and more reliance on bigger corporations.

Big tech will frequently pay fines for abusing data privacy or consumer trust. Nevertheless, it does not appear to change the course of the industry. Government regulation likely won’t change it either.

Still, the tech industry is exceedingly popular, and not all have malintent. Many people flock to Silicon Valley for work opportunities they might not otherwise have. Companies like Zoom Video Communications, DocuSign and Tesla have all become popular for new employees to get started at.

As the industry grows, so does skepticism. The balance of job opportunities and the need for regulation may go in many directions.

The Future of Big Tech

The tech industry is not going anywhere. Many issues will continue to plague it like unequal wealth distribution, job displacement and privacy breaches. With growing concern, however, will things change? It’s still hard to tell.

Tech could enable corruption or combat it in the future. Still, big companies appear to benefit, whether they have regulations or not. With constant government and public backlash, perhaps the tides will change.

With stricter regulations that would proportionately affect big tech and smaller businesses, maybe the future of tech look brighter.