Big Tech is Always Watching

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Have you ever read Facebook’s Terms of Service after downloading the app? Chances are, probably not. While we often mindlessly click ‘accept,’ big tech companies like Meta have been known to violate user privacy without their knowledge or consent. With the rapid rise of big tech, data privacy has increasingly become a concern for both individuals and regulatory organizations.

In light of this issue, Adrian Kuenzler (YLS ’15), Assistant Professor of Law at Zurich University, presents a new framework for how competition between big tech companies can promote data privacy. Kuenzler’s research draws on a variety of legal investigations, empirical economic analyses, and cognitive science studies. He proposes a new way of protecting consumer interests by integrating three strategies typically used separately.

Firstly, users should be able to choose between different platforms like Google Chrome and Safari to maintain consumer sovereignty. Next, different providers must be interoperable—switching platforms and migrating data must be practical. Finally, consumer input should be considered and used to improve existing services such as feature addition and product design. Taken together, these strategies promote consumer voice and choice, giving users more authority to prioritize data privacy.

Authorities typically only use a single approach, often overlooking the convergence of the three strategies when remedying data privacy issues. “It doesn’t follow that we only need one account or that a certain regulatory scheme is always appropriate,” Kuenzler said. Ultimately, using the three strategies as complements rather than substitutes enables us to better navigate data privacy concerns and leads to more effective regulatory policy decisions.