In 2019, barely a week goes by without another big scandal or controversy concerning a big technology company, the rules around its platform access or the use of its audience data.
And all that comes on the heels of the prior two years of ad-tech outcry, when advertisers lamented the opaque and often fraudulent digital ad supply chain, and when the European Commission introduced legislation to govern use of citizens’ data.
Now legislators around the world are sharpening in their pens, and the possible reconfigurations of the tech industry are various – “break ’em up”, tax ’em harder, and a host more besides.
In this video interview with Beet.TV, Rob Norman, GroupM senior adviser, suggests regulators have a tightrope to walk.
“There’s not that many people that can point to harm to themselves as a result of the use of digital data in the industry,” he says.
“It’s now a run rate of something approaching $20 billion of fines (levied) in the tech industry.”
What about anti-trust? The calls are growing that say certain tech companies are now too big, that they are monopolies.
But Norman thinks that argument may have unintended consequences.
“It’s very difficult to regulate businesses that got where they are because consumers chose them,” he says. “If the consumer feels like you’re taking something away from them, that never makes for good policy.
“The most likely thing that’s going to happen is that government is going to … pursue what I think of as a laws of our land policy … companies are going to be forced to geofence parts of their business.”