This will be one of the inevitable threads of our digital life. Government agencies are considering almost everywhere whether to establish greater control over the technology that shapes our future.
What was a relatively practical approach to regulating the technology industry is now being reviewed from world capitals to smaller US states. We see that these games are about taxation, new forms of employment, digital privacy, new uses of corporate power, and free expression.
Some government efforts may be inappropriate or counterproductive, but this conflict will not go away; the consequences will be both unpredictable and potential.
I have discussed these developments and why they are possible with my colleague David McCabe, who recently wrote about US states trying to impose new taxes on large technology companies.
Shira. What are some US state or local technology laws you are considering?
David What was newly adopted in Maryland was a new advertising tax that companies like Facebook և Google are showing to residents of the state. The state is trying to stimulate budget holes by targeting new taxes on technology-rich companies; it is not alone. Indiana և Connecticut is considering similar taxes to help fund rural broadband or online bullying prevention programs.
There is a feeling that these technology companies have not borne enough taxes compared to the impact of their profits on the economy.
In addition to taxes, New York has proposed amending its antitrust law to make it easier for technology companies to sue.
And there’s a bill in Florida that bans companies from suspending political candidate accounts. This may be one of the few government proposals we will see in response to unsubstantiated allegations that social media companies are biased against conservative views.
Shira. These proposed bills և The North Dakota Bill How does Apple charge for iPhone apps? In the state, these seem to be issues that Congress usually settles.
David Yes, but state legislators clearly do not believe in data privacy, online expression, and technology monopolies, which are entirely federal. Congress is also slow or completely blocked by many of these concerns.
It is not clear, however, how far states are allowed to go in these technological regulations և taxes. The Maryland digital advertising tax will almost certainly be challenged in court.
Shira. How do tech companies feel about this?
David We will probably hear more from them that state legislators are in control of their state economies with new taxes or regulations. Often this is how any company responds to more government rules or costs.
And on some issues, particularly after California passed strict digitalization laws, the big tech companies are demanding federal laws to partially rule out future local or state regulations that may be stricter.
Shira. Is there a common theme in the new regulations that technology companies face in such places? Pakistan, Australia: and the United States
David This is a sign of a new reality for Google, Facebook, Amazon and other American tech powers. These companies began to operate as light-regulated newcomers, but as they grew and globalized, other countries began to worry about the impact of companies on their economies, their employees, and their communication with people.
Now a review of the laissez-faire approach to technology regulation has returned to the United States, including states and cities.