Time to Regulate Facebook, Dogg?

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Day 2 of Congress grilling Zuck

FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg got a chilly reception yesterday in Congress. House Reps seemed to find him evasive, repeatedly asking him to give direct “yes/no” responses to their questions and expressing disappointment at some of his answers. The hearing made it clear that many legislators in the House believe FB ought to be regulated.

FB is warming to the idea

Zuckerberg did not agree to sweeping changes to FB’s privacy policies, but he did admit that he believed it was “inevitable that there will need to be some regulation” in response to the massive Cambridge Analytica data misuse.

What would these laws look like?

New privacy laws taking effect in Europe next month could serve as a model. In the EU, tech companies can’t collect or share data by default and must receive consent from users to do so. Users must be able to revoke that consent and have their data deleted at any time. Another option, if FB is deemed an unfair monopoly, would be breaking up the company...



Anti-regulation folks make several arguments. #1 As evidenced by some of the questions lobbed at the Zuck this week, the government is not sophisticated enough to craft legislation to properly regulate tech companies. #2 Government should not be policing speech online - 1st amendment violation. #3 Tech companies shouldn’t be wasting money to comply with complex laws.

 

Pro-regulation folks stress the market power of Facebook. Articles in favor of regulation point out that FB owns 3 of the top 10 free mobile apps, has over two billion users, and controls so much information that it’s impacting political processes around the world. These folks think a company with that much power must be reined in by the government - or broken up.


So should FB be regulated?

There should be some form of regulation - at least more than ZERO. FB is a private company that maintains a database of personal information on a couple billion people - and controls the content and conversation those people see. Elections around the world have shown us that concentration of power can cause ill effects if not properly managed. Despite the technical limitations of our legislators, they are capable of deciding what principles ought to guide thoughtful regulation - and impose those regulations. 

No margin for error here - no cushion

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