DEBATE: Does the increasingly global reach of the tech giants require a regulatory watchdog?
Does the increasingly global reach of the tech giants require a regulatory watchdog?
Ruth Manielevitch, director of business development EMEA at Taptica, says YES.
Even Mark Zuckerberg himself has admitted that some regulation of his industry is necessary. A regulatory watchdog would ensure that the activity of Facebook and other tech titans is scrutinised, to make it more transparent and regulate its market power, without stifling innovation.
For this type of watchdog to have the opportunity to make a positive and measurable impact, it needs to have a global outlook. We’re seeing a shift in behaviour that means the global media market is no longer managed locally, or even nationally. In Europe, the introduction of GDPR and the growing appetite for enforcement reflects the change in attitudes towards these businesses. But this need for regulation is now expanding far further than the EU, with California, India, and Brazil all announcing similar guidelines to protect consumers.
With this in mind, we expect to see more regulatory guidelines being adopted globally over the coming months, to move digital businesses onto a level playing field.
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Nigel Vaz, chief executive of Publicis.Sapient EMEA and APAC, says NO.
Regulation was designed for a world in which change was incremental or episodic. If the tech giants have absented themselves of responsibility for adequately controlling problematic content, the idea that a watchdog could better navigate an industry defined by exponential, technology-driven change is questionable.
The challenge is vast, and a regulatory watchdog would struggle to cope with the complexities of these businesses: this is not an “industry” delivering content and connectivity, but rather a nexus of cross-category platforms that also provide shopping, finance, and management. They are increasingly seamless interfaces to our world.
The multi-sector nature of this transformative trend makes the tech giants themselves best-placed to understand and engineer necessary safeguards to accompany innovation.
They must commit to meaningful self-regulation to deliver valuable and responsible services. If consumers can’t trust them, a greater threat than regulation is customer exodus.
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