The fu­ture of tech pol­icy

Financial Nigeria Magazine - - Contents - Co-founder/CEO, Face­book, Mark Zucker­berg last month be­fore the US Congress

Tech­nol­ogy and the largest tech firms are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly con­tro­ver­sial. To­day, there are grow­ing con­cerns about third par­ties ac­cess­ing and ma­nip­u­lat­ing Face­book user data; and be­fore that, there was a rag­ing de­bate about whether the gov­ern­ment should be able to un­lock de­vices be­long­ing to sus­pects of terrorism or other crimes. More broadly, tech­nol­ogy-driven job dis­lo­ca­tion has be­come a source of con­stant anxiety.

For all of these rea­sons, tech­nol­ogy pol­icy has taken cen­tre stage, as I pre­dicted it would ex­actly one year ago. Face­book Chair­man and CEO Mark Zucker­berg re­cently con­ceded in con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony that some reg­u­la­tion of his in­dus­try is nec­es­sary, and there is now an open win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to pur­sue new poli­cies for the sec­tor. In for­mu­lat­ing such poli­cies – whether through leg­is­la­tion, reg­u­la­tory rule-set­ting, international agree­ments, or mea­sures ad­dress­ing re­lated is­sues such as tax and trade – the goal should be to limit the down­sides of tech­nol­ogy with­out sti­fling in­no­va­tion. To that end, five in­ter­re­lated is­sues should be kept in mind.

The first is pri­vacy. Although the Euro­pean Union’s far-reach­ing Gen­eral Data Pro­tec­tion Reg­u­la­tion (GDPR) goes into force on May 25, it will not of­fer any pro­tec­tion for non-Euro­peans. In the case of Face­book, that trans­lates into 1.5 bil­lion users, al­most all of whom have clicked to agree to the com­pany’s terms of ser­vice with­out hav­ing read them.

There are cur­rently pro­pos­als to re­quire tech com­pa­nies to ob­tain an af­fir­ma­tive opt-in from users be­fore col­lect­ing their data, and to al­low users to re­trieve or erase their data eas­ily. How cus­tomers and com­pa­nies,

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