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What if the U.S. authorities tries to restrain the facility of America’s tech superstars, and it doesn’t work?
That’s basically what has occurred up to now in Europe, the place some regulators and lawmakers have been forward of the USA in placing guardrails on Google, Amazon, Fb and Apple.
I talked with my colleague Adam Satariano, who writes about know-how in Europe, about what occurs when authorities officers resolve they need to do one thing about Massive Tech, however wrestle to determine what that one thing must be.
Shira: What’s been Europe’s strategy to the American tech superpowers?
Adam: Europe began doing antitrust investigations a number of years in the past. However the ensuing lawsuits and regulation haven’t achieved a lot.
Google is the perfect instance. Investigations into allegations of anti-competitive techniques took years. The European Union then fined Google several billion dollars for breaking the law. But critics say that Google wasn’t forced to change much, so this did little to restore competition.
What can American lawmakers and regulators learn from Europe’s mistakes?
Speed is crucial, otherwise regulators are fighting yesterday’s battles.
There was also a problem with enforcement. Europe passed a highly-touted privacy law called General Data Protection Regulation, but it’s been a flop at limiting data collection by the biggest tech companies. Much of the policing of the law was left to Ireland, which simply doesn’t have the resources to keep up.
It sounds as if the lesson is that you can believe there’s a problem with tech companies’ power, but it’s hard to craft an appropriate response.
Without a doubt. The authorities in Europe are changing their tactics now. They’re looking at rewriting laws to directly target the way big tech companies do business: How they use data or box out rivals, and ways they give their products preferential treatment.
But after a few years covering this in Europe, I have become much more suspect about these efforts at regulation. There’s a lot of potential for unintended consequences.
What have been the unintended consequences?
A big one is the ripple effects of several countries, especially Germany, making new rules against hate speech online. The worry is that gave cover to countries to enact censorship laws. Turkey cited Germany’s hate speech law in enacting its new social media restrictions. Another law, known as the right to be forgotten, has also raised concerns about limiting the availability of information online.
Does this mean we should be skeptical about any U.S. government action against Big Tech?
Maybe. But it’s still been interesting to watch this growing realization among the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic about the size of these companies and the influence they hold over their democratic societies and how they operate, including their communication systems, information flow and commerce.
You can sense this feeling that lawmakers think they must do something, but aren’t quite sure what that is yet. The next 12 to 18 months are going to be extraordinary.
Hello, dear readers! Several of you had asked about differences in how the United States and Europe handle regulation of technology. This conversation gets the ball rolling on that subject. Please keep the questions coming. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twitter’s blunder is a symptom of our broken internet
Twitter is in hot water with the U.S. government. Let me explain why you should be angry.
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating Twitter and may fine the company up to $250 million for using people’s phone numbers in ways that users didn’t expect, my colleague Kate Conger wrote.
This stems from Twitter’s disclosure in October that the telephone quantity you might need listed as a second type of account verification — along with a password — may also have been used to focus on ads at you. This isn’t good.
Cellphone numbers used for safety functions shouldn’t be repurposed for Twitter to earn money. Twitter stated this was a mistake, nevertheless it hasn’t stated how lengthy this follow had gone on or the way it made this error. (Fb had gotten in trouble for the same thing.)
There are two interrelated issues revealed by what may appear to be Twitter’s minor flub.
First is the issue of firms ignoring widespread sense. Individuals who enter a telephone quantity to maintain impostors out of their Twitter accounts don’t anticipate that quantity for use to focus on adverts. Interval. Subsequently, firms ought to completely not do that.
Two, Twitter’s mistake is a symptom of the broader scourge of on-line surveillance. Web promoting is an arms race waged with our knowledge, and that results in ever extra intrusive harvesting and use of our info.
This isn’t solely a priority for tin-foil-hat privateness paranoiacs. Firms like Fb and Google have an enormous leg up over all different firms that promote digital adverts as a result of they’ve extra and higher knowledge than anybody else. Each different firm is tempted to play catch up by resorting to more and more creepy methods of accumulating consumer knowledge.
That may embody Twitter, or apps we’ve by no means heard of that collect our location info and promote it with out our information to different data-hungry firms. All of the tech issues are related.
Earlier than we go …
I believe individuals may have emotions about this: Stacey Steinberg, a kids’s rights lawyer and photographer, says that oldsters sharing info, together with images, about their kids on-line could unwittingly be offering fodder for bullying or youngster abuse. These dangers have made her think twice before she shares information about her kids on social media.
Maybe this newsletter should just be memes? On Instagram and other apps, news organizations and activists have captivated audiences’ attention by posting less text and more charts, graphics and other easy-to-digest ways to convey news and information, in line with Axios. It is a sample that youthful individuals latched onto a very long time in the past: Fast-scan visuals like memes are a good way to elucidate difficult issues.
The net discussion board that traces the web’s previous 5 years: Wired has a fascinating look at a Reddit group about President Trump that turned one of the in style and divisive gatherings on-line. The article tells how this group’s story encapsulated the evolution of web boards in molding or policing individuals’s private interactions and beliefs.
Hugs to this
Take a look at these ethereal cuttlefish embryos bobbing around in their eggs. Sure, these tiny black dots are the cuttlefish infants’ eyes. (Thanks to an On Tech reader, Dr. Julie Drawbridge, for suggesting this video.)
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