Main image of article Survey Results: Tech Professionals Want Privacy Laws, Not Regulation

Last week, we asked if you thought tech companies should face government regulations. As scandals continue and large tech companies remain to blame, lawmakers are starting to focus on regulating social media and large tech companies.

But do tech professionals want that? According to our official survey, one-fourth are fine with regulation. 26 percent say tech should be “totally regulated” by the U.S. government. As Facebook continues to act nefariously and the likes of Amazon and Google start to show their hands, many tech professionals are just plain done trusting large tech companies. The side effect is regulation likely won’t just encompass big tech, but all of tech, and the regulatory hurdles we’d have to jump through may make it difficult for startups.

20 percent don’t think tech should be regulated at all. An additional 17 percent think large fines will do the trick, which is sound reasoning. Though Facebook’s incoming $5 billion fine is seen by many as too small, a series of those kinds of fines will have some effect. Of course, fines only arrive on the back of added regulation.

The majority of tech professionals – 37 percent – feel better (and more) privacy laws are the best path forward. This is the “happy medium” resolution: tech companies continue to self-govern, and the U.S. government can enact any law it sees as beneficial to its citizens. It shows most are fed up with the antics of Facebook and other companies, but we’re not ready to have a government official with a desk in Menlo Park poking their nose around at everything they don’t quite grasp.

In a separate poll via Facebook, we asked if tech should be regulated. 61 percent said tech should remain unregulated.

Government regulation in tech is a tricky topic, and after two polls we still don’t have a clear answer on what should be done. We know tech professionals want large tech companies split up, which itself is government intrusion. By and large, we can argue most simply want the government to protect citizens and leave tech alone. 74 percent of respondents are happier with better privacy laws and fines than oversight. We see this echoed in our Facebook survey.

But there’s a large percentage who welcome regulation. A full 26 percent in our survey welcome it – even though options like “better privacy laws” exist. Our Facebook poll was binary, so it’s hard to say what the 39 percent who welcome regulation actually imagine that would look like, but we can’t overlook that almost half of those respondents would be happier if the government were more involved with tech.

We expect tech to be a focal point for the 2020 elections and beyond, and the debate around regulation will resurface every time a tech company is found to be acting in bad faith, or in a way most wold find offensive.