The Guardian is reporting on the father of the Internet, Tim Berners-Lee, who believes technology firms need some form of regulation to attempt to prevent a “weaponised” web:
Berners-Lee, in an open letter to mark the 29th anniversary of his invention, said: “In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections, and criminals steal troves of personal data.”
These problems have proliferated because of the concentration of power in the hands of a few platforms – including Facebook, Google, and Twitter – which “control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared”.
“What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms,” said the 62-year-old British computer scientist.
These online gatekeepers can lock in their power by acquiring smaller rivals, buying up new innovations and hiring the industry’s top talent, making it harder for others to compete, he said.
Google now accounts for about 87% of online searches worldwide. Facebook has more than 2.2 billion monthly active users – more than 20 times more than MySpace at its peak. Together, the two companies (including their subsidiaries Instagram and YouTube) slurp up more than 60% of digital advertising spend worldwide.
On the one hand, he is absolutely correct. There are too few gatekeepers, and this small concentration of power has allowed these companies to collect far too much data on internet users, and control the web’s capabilities.
But on the other hand, it is too late to stop it. Pandora’s proverbial box has been opened and there is no going back. What central global government is going to regulate the technology firms? Let’s suppose a scenario where the US opts for such legislation. Startups will simply avoid the US, and will go elsewhere, eschewing all the benefits the US has to offer, while not being burdened with the regulation
There is simply no way will all modern nations create laws to regulate technology firms. This is a tough problem to solve, and will require out-the-box thinking. Legal remedies rarely work in technology. This time is no different than the countless previous other attempts.