Surveillance Capitalism: politicians don’t get it!

Politicians like to think they have all the answers and that they can explain the worlds’ issues to all of us and why we should stick with them to fix it.


For some reason, they think this also includes IT! At the recent RSA conference in California, security “Godfather” Bruce Schneier told it “how it was”.


The fast pace of tech development…


In essence, because of the exponential pace of tech development, legislators – in fact – have a pretty tough time in keeping up to date with developments, let alone forming a rounded informed opinion of the implications of new technology and how this may affect people in six months or five years’ time.


Schneier believes that the tech industry itself must exercise some selflessness and engage with policymakers to collectively influence, and even generate, laws that are fit for purpose. Why? Because the tech companies will not go for this voluntarily: with such a lack of legislation, why would they give themselves a more vigorous operating environment that they have now?


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This dovetails with his concern (mine too!) with the power of the tech “lobby” and how this must be countered with tech knowledge to oppose them. Ill-informed legislators are rightly cautious about inadvertently disrupting the money-making machine of big tech (and the taxes they ostensibly create for the state). With informed input on their side of the table, this can help to even up the arguments of these powerful lobbyists. In 2018, these big tech companies spent $64 million as they face new scrutiny and potential regulation.


He went on to say that regulations such as GDPR, although EU-centric can have far wider reaching changes. Although companies can create one set of policies of products that comply with this EU regulation and another for everyone else, it is more cost effective to just have one. “Restrictive laws in a reasonably large market are likely to have effects worldwide”.


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