WITSA Calls for a Sensible Approach to Regaining Trust on the Internet
WITSA published a statement of policy entitled “Tech Industry and the Avoidance of ‘Techlash’: A Sensible Approach to Regaining Trust on the Internet.”
Fairfax, VA: On 27 March The World Information Technology and Services (WITSA) published a statement of policy entitled “Tech Industry and the Avoidance of ‘Techlash’: A Sensible Approach to Regaining Trust on the Internet.” The paper addresses the growing animus toward “Big Tech” companies and generalized opposition to technological innovation that is threatening industry development and economic growth, calling it deeply problematic for future progress, prosperity, and competitiveness. The paper debunks the main misconceptions that are associated with this “techlash” and identifies several recommended actions and policy principles which WITSA believes can rekindle faith and trust in the technology industry for the betterment and delivery of the promise of the digital Age where everyone on earth benefits from the use of information and communications technology (ICT).
The paper addresses several important subjects, including anti-trust and competition concerns, privacy concerns, disinformation and election integrity. The paper argues that while politicians around the world are increasingly calling on regulators to break up the largest Internet companies, break-up cases are by far the most difficult type of antitrust action and should be avoided whenever possible. Before governments initiate a time-consuming and costly trust-busting crusade, they should begin with a competition policy agenda that delivers immediate, tangible results. Broader antitrust questions, if they are to be addressed, require a collaborative international effort.
The paper also takes issue with critics that equate big tech with “surveillance capitalism,” the idea that pervasive data collection such as tracking on websites, is eroding all privacy online. However, building and maintaining trust and confidence between all users of the Internet is one of the fundamental building blocks of the Digital Age and all stakeholders have a role to play in building this trust ecosystem. To that end, WITSA advocates a principled approach, which recognizes information privacy as a fundamental human right, and seeks to balance this in context with equally important policy objectives of national security and data protection while maintaining the economic and social capability of digital information.
The paper acknowledges that, in the digital era, false content has been amplified through social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok and YouTube by fearmongers, Internet trolls and election-meddlers to widen social fissures, undermine democracy and strengthen authoritarian regimes by spreading content that intends to deceive, mislead or manipulate. However, rather than rushing to create a new framework for regulating speech online, and risk inadvertently harming legitimate speech or reducing the effectiveness of industry’s takedown mechanisms, the paper calls on policymakers to work with the private sector to improve such mechanisms, while ensuring platforms have moderation policies that protect free speech.
“Over the past few decades, innovation in ICT has brought about untold benefits and transformed millions of lives in amazing ways,”, stated WITSA’s Secretary General Dr. Jim Poisant. “Going forward, policymakers should understand that most people see technology as an essential and valuable part of their lives, and that they seek and desire new innovations and improvements—but that where there are challenges and issues, government acts in a limited and responsible manner to deal with the problems at hand in a manner which cause the least possible harm to competitiveness, innovation, or consumer welfare. Industry stands ready to work with governments everywhere,” continued Dr. Poisant.
Latest News from
Building the future we need - a levelled up economic recovery27/05/2020 16:25:00
Summary of the North East Regional Conversation – Friday 22 May.
Versatile defence software helps to combat the COVID-19 pandemic27/05/2020 13:33:00
Guest blog: Lead Sales Engineer, Tage Lund, talks about how Systematic’s defence solutions have proven to be versatile and suitable in the efforts to stop the COVID...
techUK webinar series on human rights & sustainability27/05/2020 11:25:00
techUK is holding a series of webinars on human rights and sustainability issues in June.
Enabling COVID-19 research27/05/2020 09:33:00
Guest blog: Suzy Foster, CEO, EMIS Health discusses the importance of patient data to help researchers develop a deeper understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Introducing the NHS COVID-19 Text Messaging Service26/05/2020 16:25:00
Guest blog: Dr James Graveston, Solution Consultant at Valtech discusses their involvement in developing the new NHS COVID-19 text messaging service.
Application form: Future Borders Innovation Den26/05/2020 14:38:00
techUK is working with the Government’s Future Borders Programme to deliver a series of Innovation Dens.
Welcome to techUK’s Data Analytics Week!26/05/2020 13:33:00
Today marks the beginning of techUK’s first ever Data Analytics Week- highlighting the opportunities and benefits of data analytics across different sectors and...
Connect to protect: TEC solutions for the COVID-19 crisis26/05/2020 10:05:00
Tunstall has always played a pioneering role in helping to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society, using technology to enable them to get help in an emergency 24 hours a day, and to monitor and manage their health in a community setting. In recent weeks we have been focused on working with our customers help them continue to deliver their services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to introduce new solutions to support individuals during the outbreak.
New Lawtech Sandbox increases the UK’s offer on tech innovation26/05/2020 09:05:00
Plans for a new Government backed Lawtech Sandbox have been unveiled. The new sandbox is inspired by the success of the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) regulatory sandbox, which was launched in 2016 becoming a key driver of the UK’s world leading fintech ecosystem.