Tech Companies and Governments: A Love-Hate Relationship
Regardless of how fast a country’s technology companies grow or how slow the nation’s government is in playing catch-up with that growth, a strong synergy between the two is very important. They must work together in several areas for the advancement of the nation as a whole—creating new job opportunities, opening new centers in specific locations, and helping promote the economy.
Even though the tech companies and government authorities work closely to achieve progress, there have been several situations in recent years where a strained relationship has resulted. Many cases can be attributed to growth in technologies such as social networking, cloud computing, and mobile computing.
Data is becoming overwhelmingly difficult to handle. A lot of information is out there in public on the Internet, risking a user’s privacy. Tech companies are beginning to control what user information they expose, at varying levels of stringency.
One major recipient of this information is the government. Compromises on user privacy when such data reaches the government’s hands, especially because the government has the right to ask for any data it wants at any point, are becoming a hot ground for disputes with the tech companies.
At this time, there is no legal mandate than holds back tech companies from implementing encryption policies that put additional checks and balances on what data is exposed, and this is one safehold companies are trying to latch onto. Reports are often published on which companies are better than others when it comes to safeguarding users’ privacy.
Technology companies that are strong rivals in the marketplace are joining hands to stand against the government at required times to establish a neutral ground between what the government needs and the ideal levels of end-user privacy. They have together won lawsuits that have in some instances forced the US government to pay them millions of dollars.
Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, often in the news talking about the relationship between these two entities, recently discussed how the government’s surveillance policies make it more difficult to do business globally. This is important to consider because the mandates are beginning to cross local boundaries and impact business opportunities overseas, making this an important point for discussion between not just local governments and tech companies but also those internationally.
At the end of the day, the love-hate relationship between these entities will continue. Tech companies want the right to ensure a correcting mechanism in case a supreme body such as the government gets into a zone of domination and power play. It is in the best interests of both to have ongoing interactions to arrive at a good spot for compromise, as both are indispensable to a nation’s well-being.