Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft: Can we trust Big Tech with our data?
The Agenda


There is good reason for the EU and U.S. to work together on tackling Big Tech: Digital platforms work on a country by country basis and can only be regulated through a unified approach.

"The problem with free market enterprise," says tech journalist Kate Russell, "is it does allow for different countries to operate different taxation laws in order to attract big business."

So how do we make sure tech giants pay their fair share without stifling innovation?


Kate Russell started writing about technology, gaming and the internet in the mid-1990s and has been a regular face on the BBC's flagship technology programme Click for more than a decade.

She is also the author of Working the Cloud, a guidebook to the internet.

Joining Stephen Cole and Kate Russell is Steven Levy, the Editor-At-Large of Wired magazine. He was formerly the chief technology writer for Newsweek.

Levy won the Computer Press Association Award for a report he co-wrote in 1998 on the infamous Year 2000 problem. He has written several books including Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution.


Russell believes the U.S. and the EU have similar approaches but are simply moving at different paces. "The EU is a phase ahead of the U.S.," she says. "The U.S. is only now starting to look at the monopolistic behaviors of Big Tech companies."

Levy believes the U.S. has been slower out of fear of stifling US firms.

"Naturally the U.S. has a backstop in that they don't want to harm American companies," he says. "And the EU is a little miffed that they have no Big Tech companies so they're happy to collect their money from fines."

Levy also thinks people don't know what they agree to when giving permissions and that any Big Tech regulation of the future needs to give consumers more clarity about their data.


Levy says Big Tech companies get away with selling people's data to advertisers because it was legal when they first began monetizing their products.

"They used personal information for advertising because it was allowed," he explains, "but If we create a tougher regulatory infrastructure that doesn't allow them to use that data. They'll have to find other ways, which are better for all of us."

But Russell believes that consumers need to take more responsibility for their browsing habits. "If you don't enjoy being treated like a product, then you need to start paying for the services you get for free. That's the reality."

This is something Russell thinks Generation Z can get behind: "Young people are much more aware of the impact of the internet, cyber-crime and misinformation," she says. "We're going to see the landscape shift from free providers having the power to us realizing that we have the power."


Former Facebook CEO for Australia and New Zealand Stephen Scheeler explains whether Australia's landmark media law will set a precedent for other countries aiming to make Big Tech pay for journalism.

Having worked with the likes of Martin Scorsese and Bob Dylan, Jonathan Taplin, the author of Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy, explains the cultural impact of allowing platforms like YouTube to expand without proper regulation.

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