A survey carried out by Amnesty International has found a clear appetite for greater regulation of Big Tech.
The human rights charity found 73% of people across nine countries want governments to do more to regulate firms such as Facebook, Google and Amazon. Dominant tech firms have been the subject of a so-called ‘techlash’ following a range of scandals, many of which relate to the misuse of personal data.
Fears around the collection of personal data by Big Tech were widespread among the 9,000 people surveyed by Amnesty, with 71% expressing concern about the type of data being collected and how it is being used.
“The poll results are stark and consistent – a clear majority of people are worried about the power Big Tech has over their lives. People are hankering for governments to do more to regulate these corporate giants,” said Tanya O’Carroll, director of Amnesty Tech.
“The results are a damning indictment of how Big Tech companies harvest and use our personal data. People want to see an end to tech companies trampling over our right to privacy.”
The survey, which quizzed people from Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Norway, South Africa and the USA, found that 59% were worried about losing control over their personal data.
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Many Big Tech firms centre their business model around collecting personal data from people using their services to then create highly targeted adverts.
This model was exploited during the 2016 presidential election when now-defunct political consultancy Cambridge Analytica harvested the personal data of 87 million Facebook users without their consent. It then used this data to create highly targeted ads on behalf of the Trump campaign.
Amnesty found fears in the US of a repeat of the scandal in the 2020 presidential election were high. Of the 75% who said it was a problem that Big Tech firms created and sold detailed personal profiles, 61% were concerned they would be used to unfairly influence the election.
“Scandals like Cambridge Analytica’s illicit harvesting of millions of people’s personal data have seriously damaged public trust in tech companies,” said Tanya O’Carroll.
“Governments need to take action on the manipulation of targeted online political advertising. Our poll shows that people simply don’t trust Big Tech to determine the terms of political debate.”
The poll follows a recent report by Amnesty, which condemned the “insidious” surveillance of Facebook and Google. Google and Facebook disagreed with the findings.
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Regulating Big Tech has become high on the agenda of politicians such as US presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren, who has promised to “break up Facebook”.