Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet Inc. (parent company of Google), Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, Vice President-elect Mike Pence listen as President-elect Donald Trump speaks Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Should Tech Companies Be More Tightly Regulated?

In the wake of recent high-tech mishaps, do we really need to establish new regulatory principles and agencies to manage emerging risks? While the European Union certainly seems to think so, following its lead could be a costly mistake.

WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of recent high-profile tech scares, such as a fatality involving an Uber self-driving car and Facebook’s alleged mishandling of users’ personal data, stricter regulation of the industry – along the lines of, say, the financial sector – has become the policy question du jour. Stock-market values for leading tech companies are down – or perhaps just becoming more volatile – in the light of such concerns.

Obviously, rules regarding motor vehicles need to be examined carefully. In the United States, this is generally a state-level decision, though the federal National Transportation Safety Board has a very good reputation for its investigations and often changes how we think about best practices. The NTSB is investigating the Uber crash and previously assessed a fatality involving a Tesla vehicle.

As for Facebook, press reports suggest that the company may have made some egregious mistakes. One hopes we will learn more about the details of its decision-making on data privacy when its chairman and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, testifies before Congress, as he has agreed to do.

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