A New Deal for Big Tech

Tech companies being
big is not surprising, the economics of the
Internet naturally favour businesses that
operate at scale. But the debate surrounding
them is difficult. On the one hand, consumers
and businesses have gained enormously from innovative
new products and services. On the other, they have
unleashed significant economic upheaval, huge
cultural pressures and uncertainty about the future. Many of our political leaders
are looking for a quick fix, but endless fiddling with
rules designed for a world before the Internet won’t work. For regulation to be effective
it needs to be designed for the Internet, not try to fight it. Our report sets out the three
things a new approach to regulation needs to get right. First, it must ensure tech
companies take their responsibilities seriously.
We shouldn’t leave it to executives in Silicon Valley to
decide on the values that matter to us as a society, but we should
expect them to uphold them. Second, it must ensure that
consumers understand the technology in their lives.
Tech companies could be more straightforward with us about
how things work, but we all need to take responsibility
for the choices we make. Third, it must fix rules made
obsolete by the Internet. Where these obstruct innovation
they should be abolished. And where they
need to be tightened up on competition, for example,
or tax, then we should be bold enough to do so. Making this happen
won’t be easy. It needs policymakers to put
in the hard work of understanding new technologies and business
models, and crafting a new set of rules that treat the Internet
as the norm, not the exception. But if we get it right, we can
deal consistently with technology rather than lurching from
one crisis to the next, and get back to a place where
tech is a much needed source of optimism
about the future. You can read the full report
at www.institute.global and tweet us your thoughts
@InstituteGC using the hashtag #TBItech.

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