Can We Trust Big Technology Companies?

Trust in technology companies is at a low ebb as their influence reaches worrying levels. But will governments take action to protect people from the destructive nature of their products.

Building relationships

Microsoft has become one of the most valuable companies in the world, as it provides technology solutions to its millions of customers. In addition to making huge profits it travels the world to talk to leading politicians about the disruptive effect of technology. It attempts to build relationships between the technology sector and its countless customers. And it tries to ensure the digital platforms that capture every scrap of information about our lives are protected from random cyber attacks. There is however mounting pressure on big tech companies to take responsibility for what is posted online and the protection of the democratic process from hacking by hostile powers.

The challenge for the industry is to figure out how to manage the negative effects of the products and services they sell to the public. In recent years the issue has reached a critical point, as the concerns of governments and people powered pressure groups rise to unprecedented levels. There is always tension between government and technology companies. But there is an urgent need to tip the balance in favour of those who are disadvantaged. The choice for technology companies is to take voluntary action to address the situation or risk the introduction of tighter controls. The preference of course is for the former. But time is running out as public confidence and government patience is tested to the limit.

Strained relationships

In the past, when big business captured too dominant a position in the market governments drafted legislation to curb their power. And such action may be taken in the future. But there is an opportunity for tech companies to acknowledge that long-term success depends on their behaviour in the marketplace. If, however, they refuse to act they will alienate governments and legions of loyal albeit increasingly frustrated customers. Not least as newer technologies like artificial intelligence and digital facial recognition roll out to raise a whole new raft of ethical and moral issues about their controlling effect on the next generation.

In the final analysis trust lies at the heart of how tech companies choose to operate because in the current climate governments and people are losing patience. One solution to the problem is to develop a global-wide Code of Conduct, so that all new technology is developed in a way that supports rather than threatens the quality of people‚Äôs lives. 

So, technology companies need to build better relationships or governments will be forced to introduce legislation to curb their growing influence.