Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has asked Western countries to start establishing a “clear regulatory framework” for the internet that “can become a standard around the world.”
Zuckerberg made the comments during a conversation with European Union Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton and said that he thinks internet regulation is inevitable.
He warned that if Western governments don’t step in with regulatory frameworks, China‘s model will likely become the standard for regulating the internet.
“I just think that’s [China’s model] really dangerous,” Zuckerberg said. “I worry about that kind of model spreading to other countries and I think that the best antidote to that is having a clear regulatory framework that comes out of Western democratic countries and that become a standard around the world.”
Zuckerberg also praised existing European regulatory frameworks and cited the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a good example of a European regulation that has become standard around the world.
One thing Zuckerberg failed to mention with European regulations such as GDPR is that, while they do help protect consumer privacy, they often solidify the dominance of big tech platforms because the cost of compliance places a huge burden on small businesses.
For example, the cost of compliance with GDPR for these big tech companies with multi-billion dollar revenue levels is relatively small and they can also afford to pay the maximum GDPR fine of €20 million ($21.6 million) or 4% of turnover (whichever is higher) if they fall foul of the rules.
But smaller platforms with lower revenue levels have to invest a much higher proportion of their revenue to comply with GDPR and if they’re hit with a multi-billion dollar fine for GDPR violations, it’s likely to put them out of business.
Another thing that didn’t come up when Zuckerberg encouraged Western countries to set standards for regulating the internet is that some of these countries have strict online speech regulations with Germany’s online hate speech laws being some of the strictest in the world.
Senator Josh Hawley has also previously suggested that Zuckerberg’s criticism of China is disingenuous and revealed last October that Zuckerberg was ready to comply with China’s regulatory standards and censor in the Chinese market until Facebook was shut out of China.
Zuckerberg’s call for internet regulation driven by Western countries comes just a couple of months after he asked governments to define what people can say online and determine “what discourse should be allowed?” when it comes to political advertising.
Facebook has also quietly formed a new lobbying group to promote the virtues of big tech in Washington – another move that will likely strengthen the dominant position of these big tech companies.