Regulators Can Eat Their Cake- Because They Bake Their Own


Zuckerberg had this to say at the “eG8” in Paris last week in response to comments about Facebook enabling the Arab spring and also collecting large amounts of information:

But it’s hard to have one without the other …. You can’t isolate some things you like about the Internet and control other things that you don’t.

First, you can enable communication and collaboration without collecting anywhere near the amount of data that Facebook does.

But the more important part is that regulators can and do make rules that require the regulated to make trade-offs. The recent EU cookie regulation is a prime example. I imagine Zuckerberg could easily have said regarding the EU cookie regulation, “You can’t have websites allowing the free flow of information of commerce and enact such a restrictive cookie regulation.” But the regulators have gone ahead and done just that. As a result, browser manufacturers and businesses on the Internet will have to scale back on certain collection activities.

It’s similar to the do not track debate in the US. Technology company CEOs said that do not track lists and significant parts of the information economy would be stopped dead in their tracks with regulation. Well, there has been a significant increase in self-regulation and I don’t know no any privacy practitioners that don’t think there won’t be a some kind of regulation.

In both these situations, regulators responded to either real or perceived excesses raised by their staff and by the public. Buzz and Beacon roll outs were very unpopular with the public. The tech companies can try to make the regulators out has being unreasonable, but their own customers are asking for changes to be made.

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