Podcast: Why Big Tech needs to be regulated

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Should Big Tech be regulated? If so, to what extent? These are important questions, not just for the tech sector, but for governments and private citizens around the world for whom social media, smartphones, AI assistants and other products of Big Tech are part of everyday life.

In this episode of The Next Stage, we heard from both private industry and government: Ailish Campbell, ambassador to the European Union with Global Affairs Canada and Christian Lanng, co-founder and CEO of supply chain startup Tradeshift, debate the finer issues.

Christian said too much regulation is a bad thing, especially when it comes to GDPR and its successor, Schrems II, which he claimed will, when put into effect, make tools like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud inaccessible to European companies, thus stifling innovation across Europe, and with it, any chance of the birth of a Big Tech company there.

“To give context, in a previous life I was writing regulations for the European Union and in this life I’m a startup entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, so I have had the pleasure of seeing this from both sides,” said Christian.

Is the tech sector mature enough to withstand regulation?

“To the question if we should regulate, absolutely, but maybe the second piece is: We regulated banks, we regulated oil, we regulated cars, when these were mature industries. I think it would be a very big mistake to think that tech is right now at a mature point in time. I think we have another 25, 15 years ahead of us of exponential growth.”

“For me, the idea that we wouldn’t regulate – that tech is too immature or not yet ready – I completely reject that premise,” countered Ailish.

“We don’t have a choice about regulating platform companies,” said Ailish.

“They’re now reaching billions of consumers, but more importantly to my mind, billions of citizens. We’ve seen the harm of cybercrime and specifically the sexual exploitation of women and girls. We’ve seen what disinformation can do.”

Regulating social media and other technologies must be a society-wide effort

Should Big Tech be subject to regulations in relation to misinformation, disinformation and hate speech? Yes, said Ailish, but she had a caveat. It must be a principles-based, society-wide approach that takes into account the media at large rather than only targeting online platforms.

For a deeper dive into the economic, political and societal implications of regulating Big Tech listen to the full episode here.

Ailish Campbell, ambassador to the European Union with Global Affairs Canada and Christian Lanng, co-founder and CEO of supply chain startup Tradeshift were in conversation with Rob Cox, global editor for Reuters Breakingviews, at Collision 2021.

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