Consumers Support the Regulation of Technology Companies

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony in front of Congress made it clear that U.S. legislators are concerned about the power wielded by big technology companies, and believe that such companies may need to be reined in with regulations. Now, according to a survey from market research firm HarrisX, we learn that about 53 percent of Americans think the federal government should regulate big technology companies — even though only 31 percent believe the government is capable of doing so.

Recode reports the HarrisX survey also reveals that, “public sentiment for tech regulation was significantly higher than it was last fall.” The online survey, which analyzed the responses of 2,546 adults between April 12 and 13 (within 24 hours following Zuckerberg’s appearance in front of Congress), also showed that, “62 percent of Americans think the government will take steps to regulate the tech sector within the next few years.”

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Not surprisingly, “older Americans were even more likely to say tech companies should be regulated like banks while millennials were less likely.”

In HarrisX’s Inaugural Tech Media Telecom Pulse Survey 2018, “by a wide margin, [the] public supports regulating the targeting of news feeds, search results, and ads based on political views or affiliations.” Forty percent support such regulation, with 27 percent opposed and 34 percent undecided.

When the report asked respondents which tech companies should be heavily regulated, Facebook took the No. 1 position, with 49 percent, followed by Twitter at 42 percent, and Snapchat at 40 percent. Twenty-nine percent said Apple should be heavily regulated; 27 percent wanted heavy regulation for Amazon, and 26 percent for Microsoft.

With regard to specific legislation, 67 percent support the Consent Act, which requires any company that collects online data to get that user’s explicit consent, and the European GDP rules, which add that the company in question must be clear about how the data is used.

Despite these concerns, 63 percent of Americans believe that technology is a force for good in today’s society and 68 percent believe it has a positive impact on the world. Only 14 percent believe that such technology has a bad or negative impact on society and the world.