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How Big Tech Regulation Limits Misinformation

Across the globe, government regulators are eager to contain the influence of Big Tech for a number of reasons that pose a significant threat to democracy and the security of a civil society.

These include concerns about the companies' market power, their ability to stifle competition, their impact on privacy and data protection, and their role in spreading misinformation. 

Regulators are also concerned about the power that Big Tech companies have over their citizens' lives, as they control the information we see and the way we interact with the online economy.

Big Tech Global Market Development

Over the next few years, regulators will crackdown on some of the world’s biggest tech companies -- including Amazon, Google, Meta, X (Twitter), Alibaba, and Tencent -- according to the latest worldwide market study by GlobalData.

The insightful GlobalData survey findings predict that regulators will pursue the most influential Big Tech companies in 12 key regulatory arenas.

Those include data security, data privacy, antitrust, tax avoidance, misinformation, online harm, artificial intelligence (AI) ethics, copyright, net neutrality, US-China tech sanctions, environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), and obstruction of justice.

Sweeping new regulations will come on multiple fronts, but data privacy, antitrust, AI ethics, and online harm will be the main targets of regulators’ investigations in the foreseeable near-term.

These areas are critical to ensure a safe Global Networked Economy, and the protection of democratic ideals that are under attack by authoritarian governments and their corrupt dictators.

Brussels is taking the lead in promoting new regulation -- including on AI -- with a string of new EU laws targeting Big Tech's business model. In Washington, despite President Biden’s resolve to step up tech regulation, a divided U.S. Congress makes a change in the legal landscape unlikely.

For its part, the Chinese government must strike a delicate balance: maintaining regulatory oversight of the tech sector while innovating fast in the technologies most under pressure from the U.S. leaders.

"Ad-funded internet companies treating data as a free resource — like Meta, Alphabet, Amazon, and Baidu — face the highest regulatory risk," said Laura Petrone, principal analyst at GlobalData.

While Microsoft and Apple are less at risk from data privacy issues, they are both highly exposed to antitrust regulation and meet the criteria -- alongside Amazon, Meta, and Alphabet -- to qualify as ‘gatekeepers’ under the EU’s new antitrust legislation.

According to the GlobalData assessment, Salesforce, Samsung Electronics, Nvidia, and Netflix will encounter the lowest regulatory risk, as they do not face significant scrutiny in the critical regulatory arenas of data privacy, antitrust, and online harm.

"All companies investing in AI will face significant scrutiny by regulators in AI ethics, but Big Tech again has the most at stake," Petrone concludes.

Outlook for Big Tech AI Applications Growth

The EU’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act has the potential to hold providers of foundation models, which create content from limited human input, accountable for assessing and mitigating possible risks.

Should the U.S. and the UK regulators align with the EU Brussels’ approach, companies like OpenAI, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Meta will be deemed responsible for how their systems are used, even if they have no control over specific applications of the technology.

That said, I believe Big Tech platforms have been used to spread misinformation and hate speech, and the ramifications on society as a whole have been dramatic. The unfiltered publication of blatant lies has had a negative impact on democracy and public discourse. This is the key issue that must be resolved ASAP.

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