Regulatory And Legal Barriers To Tech-Company Market Entry, Success, Stubbornly Persist
Last month at The Atlantic Festival, FTC Commissioner Slaughter and former FTC Chair Ohlhausen participated in an enlightening interview on technology regulation. When discussing how the United States approaches regulation compared to other nations, Ohlhausen said the U.S. has such an “enormous presence in the tech space” due in part to America’s “lighter touch” on regulation.
Slaughter questioned whether regulation stifled innovation to the extent Ohlhausen inferred, noting that Silicon Valley is located in a state with a particularly challenging regulatory and legal environments.
Commissioner Slaughter’s comments, and the perspective they represent, merit serious reflection and analysis, especially with the FTC holding an ongoing series of Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century. Stakeholders participating in and commenting on those hearings should remind the Commission of regulation’s impact on innovation. Evidence abounds of that connection.
Consider, for starters, Slaughter’s example of Silicon Valley. The area has thrived as an incubator of new ideas and technology, but California’s harsh climate for free enterprise is beginning to take its toll. The Economist reported in August that more people are leaving San Francisco County than are arriving, and many more are planning to depart within two years. The gauntlet of mandates and controls businesses must navigate, along with punishing taxes and fees, have sent the cost of living, and the cost of labor, in Silicon Valley skyrocketing. Venture capitalists are increasingly taking their money elsewhere, as startups look to other cities and countries.
California’s elected officials seem determined to pile on more disincentives. This past summer, the legislature passed the California Consumer Privacy Act. The act creates a panoply of data-privacy rights and imposes rigid data-security and breach-notification requirements. Plaintiffs’ lawyers will help enforce the law’s data-security provisions through private lawsuits that seek statutory damages.