Conflicting Internet Regulations Could Kill Technological Innovation
posted Sunday Jul 1, 2018 by Scott Ertz
2018 might just be the year of bad internet regulations being passed globally. A little over a month ago we had the implementation of GDPR, which requires that a citizen of the European Union can request that a company delete all personal data they have collected about that person. Conceptually, the law makes sense: you may not want a company like Facebook to know everything that you have ever done. And when you delete your account, you would like to know that it is actually gone.
Now we have new laws coming around that are going to implement different sets of regulations on internet traffic and usage. For example, California has passed what is being called CCPA, which is essentially California's version of GDPR. The law was rushed and never fully considered because it was a knee-jerk reaction to the Cambridge Analytica issue from earlier in the year. The law will certainly not be the last of its kind in the US and is a sign of a problem.
California is proof that not thinking about a law can cause drama, but the EU continues to prove that even long consideration can produce garbage. Between GDPR and their newest legal disaster, they show a complete misunderstanding about how the internet works. Even worse, they, along with California, are producing an environment in which technological innovation is going to come to a screeching halt.
GDPR had the unfortunate side effect of essentially making blockchain, which is designed to prevent centralization, a liability. Once you store profile information in a block, it is there. You can make adjustments, but you can never remove content from the ledger, or it will never validate. That means that whole parts of blockchain usage is officially illegal in the EU. However, the new law is about to make memes illegal. If you use any piece of content that is copyrighted, a platform will be required to autonomously remove it. So, no more Rick & Morty memes about a long day at work.
In addition, the wording of the law could also try to implement a link tax. This concept has been tried and failed spectacularly in the past because implementing it is impossible. Imaging the government trying to charge Facebook because you shared this article on the platform. Neither Facebook nor PLuGHiTz Live had anything to do with your actions, but both of us have to be involved now. Pure insanity.
If these types of laws continue to pop up around the world, we will see one of two results. Either we will see companies implementing different rules for each global area, which means only big companies with large legal departments, will be able to compete, or we will see companies block these regions entirely. We've seen the latter happen before when Google News pulled out of Spain for a similar type of link tax. I fear that we will see a result somewhere down the middle, where fewer startups will be able to succeed and the big companies will punish the EU in particular for their laws.