Technology and the internet have undeniably transformed our world. It has revolutionized the way we communicate, work, and even access information. However, such rapid growth in technology and internet companies pose ethical dilemmas that American politicians must confront while developing policies, laws, or regulations for these companies.
Troublesome to note is the low level of knowledge these legislators have when it comes to technology. With the 118th Congress median age in the Senate being 65.3, no wonder those committee members are asking daft questions of the leaders of high-tech companies like Google and Facebook.
Regulating these giant conglomerates is no simple task. The question of where to draw boundaries for these companies has never been more pressing. At least four areas need regulation: safety, privacy, competition, and honesty. Only by coordinating action across all four areas will it be possible to hold these high-tech and internet companies accountable.
The Pew Research Center found that 56% of Americans support more government regulation, and a majority say these firms should be subject to at least as much regulation as other companies. But what are the potential benefits and drawbacks of regulating high-tech and internet companies?
Benefits of Regulation
On one hand, regulating these companies can prevent monopolies, deter anti-competitive behavior, and protect users’ privacy and safety. Regulation can also ensure ethical standards and prevent the exploitation of consumers. It is necessary for companies to operate in such a way that the potential benefits reach every consumer equally.
Problems with Regulation
On the other hand, overregulation could stifle innovation and kill smaller startups. It could also create an uneven playing field, where established companies have the upper hand, reducing the possibility of fair competition. Companies could also leave America in search of more relaxed environmental and labor regulations, thus resulting in revenue and job losses.
Governments must strike a balance between regulating the industry and stimulating innovation. European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a key example of a comprehensive regulatory policy with clear guidelines on data privacy. GDPR’s implementation ensures that users’ rights are not trampled upon while maintaining a code of ethics for companies. American politicians must look towards such policies while developing their own.
Moreover, capitalism and governance in a rapidly evolving technological age have ethical considerations for private companies holding immense power over society. The unbalance of power and the disregard for ethical limitations by companies in this space must be addressed comprehensively.
In conclusion, regulating high-tech and internet companies is a delicate dance with significant stakes not only for the American economy but society as a whole. It is imperative that policies, laws, or regulations are comprehensive, specific, and empathic toward the needs of every user involved. While respecting the right of companies to innovate, American politicians must ensure that every citizen is protected and presented with equal opportunities to access emerging technological advancements.
- “Big Tech Needs To Be Regulated. Here’s How.” (https://time.com/5872868/big-tech-regulated-here-is-4-ways/)
- “56% of Americans support more regulation of major tech” (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/07/20/56-of-americans-support-more-regulation-of-major-technology-companies/)
- “The Global Drive to Control Big Tech” (https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2021/global-drive-control-big-tech)