ARE GAFAS BACKING SMES INTO A CORNER?

When I read an article from Extreme Tech about a new Facebook patent for a system designed to spy on us, I was really tempted to make a mountain out of a molehill!

Basically, the patent is for a system that actively listens to what’s happening in our households in order to discover how and when we’re exposed to an advertisement. When interviewed about the patent, Facebook stated that they didn’t intend to use it. Promises only bind those who believe in them!

What really worries me is the reaction of the governments who have to legislate. 
Once again, hell is paved with good intentions. Take the example of Canada’s New Anti-Spam Legislation. Spam is a real problem. In fact, a majority of e-mails are spam. There’s no denying something should be done about it, but the solution imposed by the Canadian government has significant consequences for local small-to-medium enterprises. Firstly, it removes the most cost-effective way for Canadian SMEs to reach out to potential customers. Note that I said Canadian; legislative power stops at borders, not the Internet (we’re all still receiving those fake Viagra ads and Nigerian prince scams). Secondly, foreign competitors can continue to communicate with Canadian customers in a way that local businesses can’t.

Added to this, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has recently imposed even more constraints on us, such as the right to the portability of personal data as well as “explicit” and “positive” consent. Far be it from me to think that we should not legislate. However, what worries me are the cumbersome government responses.

If this continues, any web solution that a company wants to create will cost a fortune to set up and maintain. And that’s where the danger lies!

Where our GAFA friends may have well-filled coffers and can afford to pay for any new binding law, this is not the case for SMEs. The beauty of the Internet has always been that it affords you the freedom of choice and low-cost options. This is what has allowed (among other things) floods of creativity and new solutions to be produced on a daily basis. If we aren’t careful, we could end up sterilizing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

May I humbly suggest to governments that, when legislating, they provide for their law according to the size of the organizations? As in legislation, so in nature; if you want a diversity of big fish, you will need a mangrove to protect the smaller, developing fish from the larger, fully matured ones.

Philippe Meloni
Co-founder, President and CEO of Innodirect

GAFA is a term used to refer to the four giants of the Web that are Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon and by extension, all the giants of the web.

The mangrove is a marine marsh ecosystem composed of large roots that protect small species from large predators. Mangroves are among the most productive ecosystems in biomass on our planet.

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