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The struggle between the U.S. government and major technology companies like Apple, Facebook and Google could take years to thrive, with efforts to limit the activities of multinational organizations expected to thrive at a glacial pace.
The big technology experienced more intense criticism last week thanks to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, in an argument that stressed the need for more careful monitoring of companies at the top of the technology industry. However, the struggle to regulate these companies will be long and protracted, with various obstacles in the way of progress.
Declared a “moment of big tobacco” by Senator Richard Blumenthal, the leak led to a call from Congress to focus on regulatory measures affecting Facebook further. These ideas include removing some protection from technology companies to punish the increase in hate speech, he writes New York Times, forcing more revelations about the use of data and algorithms, and even the creation of a new federal agency.
However, the huge funds available to technology companies could be used to fund a huge army of lobbyists to push lawmakers in the desired directions. Reach is already evident, with many privacy accounts killed in Congress by such efforts.
In the case of Apple, on September 1, it was revealed that the company spent about 4.1 million dollars on lobbying in the institutions of the European Union in order to defend itself from antitrust investigations about its business.
Meanwhile, an investigation released Sept. 8 revealed that Apple was “aggressive” in lobbying tactics to influence opinion in various states, fighting proposed laws that could potentially affect the App Store.
According to Harvard professor Allan Brandt, an expert on the history of tobacco industry tactics against regulatory measures, Facebook “suffered a major blow this week, but they are capable of withstanding many hits just as the tobacco industry did.”
Pointing out that more than 50 years have passed since a cigarette hazard study was first published, and ten years after a similar internal document leaked to whistleblowers, before significant government regulation was passed, Brandt doubts much will happen in the near future. of the future.
“There will be regulations for Facebook and other technology companies, but I am skeptical of the path to successful regulation in the near future.”
Differing views of Democrats and Republicans on how to deal with speech on technology platforms could also be an obstacle, and concerns about the spread of misinformation, privacy and censorship vary across the hallway. There are similar concerns about the use of antitrust regulations as a means of control, as there are different opinions regarding competition and if this is the first set of tools to use.
According to Blumenthal, the posting of documents on Facebook was considered important, in part because of his previous experience as the chief prosecutor of Connecticut who sued Big Tobacco in the 1990s. “It was a light bulb, and all the memories came back to the strategic documents that the tobacco companies did when they arrived at the high school,” he offered.
“It was like you could just rearrange words and replace them with tobacco,” the senator added, before advising that technology differs from tobacco in that broad legal protection prevents state prosecutors from performing similar legal actions as happened before. three decades.
Blumenthal apparently predicted that the changes would be slow, stating “This battle will not be fought in court.”
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