It manages to both sneer at European technology and miss the point of data protection. It also fits nicely with MG Siegler’s post yesterday
about out-of-touch Silicon Valley attitudes.
I don’t want to put too many words in this particular individual’s mouth, but the sentiment in this tweet is pretty common in certain circles in the USA.
It’s sometimes a fair point to say ‘no wonder Europe can’t build the next Facebook if it’s more focused on quick profits and heavy regulation than helping business grow.’ But when it comes to data protection, the EU is leading, not losing.
The principles behind GDPR are essentially about treating individuals and their data with respect and human decency. The fact that has to be regulated at all is the problem.
Technology should be built for people. If “how consumer internet works” is at the expense of individuals’ control of their data and privacy, then… maybe it works the wrong way?
As Yelp’s CEO recently said
, “In some ways, Silicon Valley as a whole has lost its purpose… If its purpose really was, ‘Hey, we’re really trying to have a positive impact,’ just focusing on technology and growth might not be enough. You might actually have to make decisions that hurt growth.”
How that change of priorities squares with a venture capital model built on rapid growth at all costs will be an interesting challenge in the next few years. I believe it can be done, if people (including investors) adjust their expectations of what internet companies should be.
I know it can seem crazy to a certain kind of internet entrepreneur, but sometimes strong regulation (and a bit of self-reflection
) is exactly what’s needed.