As lawmakers play catch-up with fast-changing technologies and their impact on societies, Meta’s president of global affairs Nick Clegg said on Wednesday that the gap between policymaking and technology can be minimised — and called for the US, Europe and India to agree on foundational principles of tech-related lawmaking.
Clegg also urged lawmakers across the world to think about regulations around the metaverse, arguing that a delay hurts businesses like Meta’s.
“Politics cannot move as fast as tech, but the gap can be minimised. The Like button on Facebook was invented 13 years ago and we are talking about regulating social media today. It’s not actually good for us as a company because those 13 years get filled with people yelling at us to come up with solutions that we cannot come up with,” Clegg said at an Idea Exchange session of The Indian Express.
“I urge decision-makers not to repeat a similar pattern when it comes to regulating the metaverse while making rules around data portability, interoperability, child safety, age-gating, etc,” he said.
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Asked if Meta considers political factors while making content moderation decisions in geographies like India, Clegg said that it is not in the firm’s best interests to favour a political party or ideology over another, given that “governments come and go all the time”.
“It would be ludicrous both in principle and practice that we would handpick different parties to favour at different times. Governments come and go all the time. We are accused constantly by the Left of favouring the Right and vice versa. Look at the US, half the country thinks we censor their political views and the other half thinks we don’t censor enough… What possible reason would we have to depart from a serious stance on political neutrality, because the political weather never stands still,” he said.
Clegg said that the US, EU and India are today the three major regulatory forces globally on technology issues and called for a harmonisation in basic principles of policy making. “Today, there are majorly three regulatory forces — India, the USA and the EU. While they cannot agree on precise details of legislation, if they can agree on some basic foundational principles, that will be a good thing in safeguarding the openness of the internet for future generations,” he said.
Commenting on India’s recently released Digital Personal Data Protection Bill, 2022, he said the proposed law “is a model of clarity and coherence”. “While a lot of detail has been left for the implementation phase, the basic architecture of the draft Bill is cleaner, leaner, and much more coherent than a lot of legislation I see around the world,” he said.
Clegg said that not just Meta, but the metaverse will be built by a number of different stakeholders, and within that, the company’s approach would be iterative. “I hope that relatively soon people in India will be able to use our Horizon experiences on their phones and laptops. The kind of virtual products that we are building that will be available on various devices are not the finished article, but a really important, iterative step in seeing how people respond to those experiences,” he said.