Last week the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google were pulled in front of the US Senate’s Commerce Committee for the latest in what has now become a long series of largely ineffectual big tech hearings.
We first learned four years ago of the true scale of the problems these tech “disruptors” were creating for democracy.
Since then there have been numerous hearings of this kind, with representatives of big tech hauled before legislatures in Washington, D.C., London and around the world.
Since then we’ve also learned a lot more about the problem. We even have a name for it: surveillance capitalism.
Yet what has actually changed?
No significant regulatory laws have been passed.
Here in the UK the Government will soon (finally!) be implementing a key Fair Vote UK demand: digital imprints. This is welcome but it is a piecemeal response to what is a major crisis.
In the US, activists and civil rights campaigners (including our founder and director Kyle Taylor), made desperate by the inaction of policymakers, have been forced to conduct their own scrutiny and create The Real Facebook Oversight Board.
Regardless of tomorrow’s US election outcome, we cannot waste anymore time. We must get serious about tech regulation and ensure both the US and the UK are again leading lights of progressivism and democratic values. It won’t be easy but nothing that’s worth it ever is.