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Regulation in Technology and Why It’s So Important

Regulation in Technology and Why It’s So Important

Technology is a major part of all people’s lives, with the most used and pervasive technologies having been created by large corporations that can seemingly do whatever they want without repercussion. Let’s look at the efforts to keep this “big tech” under control and why it’s important for society.

Understanding Big Tech

Big Tech can be understood as the companies that control the largest portion of the working Internet. All you have to do is look at what services and websites you might use regularly to determine what the Big Tech companies are. Here are the big five:

Here are some others in the United States:

Additionally, you can consider the following also to be members of Big Tech, even if they are associated more with their host countries’ governments:

These companies have a total market capitalization value of over $17 billion, and most of them make billions of dollars in profits every year. Naturally, their size and growth are not a mistake; they reflect how widely used they are and the value they present to customers. However, this also comes at a cost to customers, which is our focus for today’s article.

How Big Tech Uses Personal Information

Big Tech's methods are reminiscent of those of large industrial companies at the turn of the 20th century. It took years of regulations to break up monopolies, allowing smaller organizations to grow rather than being consumed by their competition. Regulation is required to keep the use of personal information and data in check, especially as companies grow and consume others.

The Internet has quickly become an immense vehicle for advertisement, and companies need data to use it as such. Since this has become a common practice, numerous efforts have been made to implement regulations for how companies use that data. However, lawmakers' ability to implement these regulations is another story.

How You Can Avoid Big Tech Abusing Your Personal Information

If you truly want to take proper care of your personal data while using the above companies’ products and services, consider the following ways you can take back your privacy:

  1. Use alternative solutions: There are plenty of alternatives to products developed by Big Tech companies. For example, there are options for web browsers, like DuckDuckGo, that limit the data they collect. Additionally, you can take measures to limit the amount you share on social media profiles in the first place.
  2. Pay to clean up online profiles: Services like LifeLock can help you scrub personal information from various websites. These tools generally require an annual subscription, but they can be effective at helping you control your online information.
  3. Practice proper password hygiene. While this might not help much compared to Big Tech, it will protect other information that you safeguard behind those passwords. If you’re curious whether your passwords have been stolen, you can check sites like HaveIBeenPwned.com to see if you have been the victim of a data leak. 
  4. Use a VPN: VPNs are great tools that can help you avoid sharing your physical location while using online services or potentially even hide this information from your ISP to ensure that you have access to regionally available content. We recommend that you don’t get a VPN from the app store, as they often come with bloatware attached. Others do the exact opposite of what you want, taking your information and using it to make money.

Only time will tell how these data collection policies will continue under government scrutiny. Efforts such as the European Union’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) have cost some of these large companies €2.1 billion in fines in 2023 alone, and the figure seems to be rising yearly.

While you could wait for governments to act on Big Tech, you have more power over your data than you think. Our blog frequently covers topics like this, so be sure to follow it for more information.

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Monday, June 17 2024

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