After a Rough 2018, Big Tech Now Under the Microscope

After a Rough 2018, Big Tech Now Under the Microscope

In many ways 2018 was the year big tech — the companies that dominate markets like search and social media as much as the national conversation — finally took it on the chin. Publishers who have wrestled with big tech’s influence on their business for years took notice.

“If I had to choose one transcendent type of development it would be the change in the perspective that now applies to the great digital platforms,” said Allan Adler, executive vice president and general counsel for the Association of American Publishers. Adler was speaking during a law and policy roundup at the AAPs annual Professional & Scholarly Publishers conference, Feb. 7.

He described governments around the world as having a hands off policy when companies like Google and Facebook first emerged. “No one really wanted to slow down their evolution through the deadening hand of regulation as some people would view it,” he said.

The headlines turned sour for the tech behemoths throughout 2018. Misinformation campaigns, data breaches, privacy breaches, scandals, civilian deaths and antitrust claims have all changed the public’s and possibly policy makers’ attitudes.

“Suddenly concerns about the manipulation of data, particularly personally identifiable information that consumers continue to feed to these giants, has changed the perspective regarding whether or not there needs to be greater accountability,” said Adler, who now sees efforts both in the U.S. and in Europe to examine the business models and legal environment in which these companies operate.

This reexamination could come at a positive time for publishing when so many new technologies are entering the market, including artificial intelligence, blockchain and the introduction of 5G mobile networks as covered in Simba Information’s Publishing for the Mobile Professional 2018-2021.