Tech

(San Francisco)

The market has periodically started to worry about the regulation of the tech industry. For a while that felt a bit premature, but given recent events, it is starting to feel more real. For instance, the FTC has just begun a marathon of hearings, which will run through November, into the state of competition and consumer protection in the digital economy. The hearings are about more than tech though, as they are fundamentally about inequality and worker’s rights across the whole of the economy. The head of the FTC said “In my view, basing antitrust policy and enforcement decisions on an ideological viewpoint (from either the left or the right) is a mistake”.


FINSUM: These hearings seem like the first stage of what might prove to be big changes for anti-trust policy in the US. If changes do happen, we believe they will be much more far-reaching than just for tech.

(Washington)

Top tech industry executives have spent their week speaking with the Senate and answering tough questions about their data security, fake news, and political content. Many fear it is a preamble to a big regulatory crackdown on the sector by the Senate. Well, that has not occurred yet, but in a worrying development US attorney general Sessions has announced that his department is looking into the tech sector in regards to competition and free speech issues. Sessions said he would be meeting with state attorney generals to discuss a “growing concern” that tech companies “may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas”.


FINSUM: This might be the beginning of a major regulatory move against the sector. We think the market will start handicapping the odds of a big crackdown as more news comes out.

(Washington)

Investors in tech have reason to worry. Not only is Trump saying that they should possibly be subjected to anti-trust regulation, but the tech sector is heading to Washington today to meet with the Senate. Top executives at Facebook, Google, and Twitter, are set to face questions and scrutiny about their practices, including on trust concerns, political content, and consumer privacy. The tide of public opinion has turned against tech over the last year, and congress has followed suit, with Senate GOP leader Orrin Hatch calling Google’s anti-trust behavior “disquieting” despite the fact that he used to staunchly defend the sector.


FINSUM: The big problem for tech is that a regulatory crackdown now seems to have bipartisan support. We think there will be some regulations imposed on tech, but the depth of the forthcoming rules will be the deciding factor. In other words, will it be something along the lines of GDPR (relatively light) or more like Glass-Steagal?

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