Jim Balsillie addressed the International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News in Dublin and raised lot of points of concern and some possible solutions.
Jim believes that the current business model of the tech giants Is the root cause of the problem. That the data they have on us gives technology unprecedented power and has serious consequences when improperly used.
Whistle blowers inside platform companies told the committee “the dynamics of the attention economy are structurally set up to undermine the human will.” That is why we need to outlaw the current business model and re-introduce responsible monetization, such as subscription-based models. Strategic regulations are needed to cut off the head of this snake says Jim.
Jim submitted the following six recommendations for consideration by the committee:
- Eliminate tax deductibility for personalized online ads: Taxes create powerful incentives. We need to zero in on the core problem: the attention-based advertisement-driven business model. Subscription business models are much less prone to poisonous manipulation, so tax incentives must encourage responsible business models. This approach will weaken the incentive for political leaders to protect social media companies for the purposes of political gain.
2. Ban personalized political advertising: Online platforms continue to master behaviour modification. We are dealing with the largest, most centralized form of attention control in human history. This kind of tool for manipulation should not be for sale to the highest bidder during elections.
3. Implement strict data governance regulations for political parties: We must apply comprehensive privacy regulations to political parties regarding personally identifiable information. Further, we should require transparency of all commercial and technical relationships between political parties and social media companies.
4. Provide effective whistle blower protections: Some of the most valuable information the public has learned about the abuse of data has come from brave whistle blowers. Today’s technology companies are the most secretive businesses in the world with unprecedented and aggressive non-disclosure agreements for their workforce. Make sure whistle blower protection extends to both private sector and governmental activities.
5. Add explicit personal liability alongside corporate responsibility to affect executive and board of director decision-making: We must require annual signed certifications from chief executives and board members, similar to what is required for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. This 2002 act was designed to better protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures in the wake of various accounting scandals. When a senior executive or board member must affix their name to a document that has personal liability, this immediately changes behaviour to one of greater prudence and caution. Explicit personal liability will also help with tech executives who lie to or deliberately confuse lawmakers.
6. Create a new institution for like-minded nations to address digital cooperation and stability: The data-driven economy’s effects cannot be contained within national borders. New approaches to international coordination and enforcement are critical as policymakers develop new frameworks to preserve competitive markets and democratic systems that evolved over centuries under profoundly different technological conditions. We have arrived at a new Bretton Woods moment. We need new or reformed rules of the road for digitally mediated global commerce — a World Trade Organization 2.0. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the Financial Stability Board was created to foster global financial cooperation and stability. A similar global institution, a Digital Stability Board, is needed to deal with the challenges posed by digital transformation.
Would these plans create a fairer environment for both online platforms and their customers and not concentrate the power in a few hands?
That’s hard to answer but something needs to be done and quickly.
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