Facebook’s head of global affairs Nick Clegg dismissed calls for a breakup of the company and said it would be more helpful if the government stepped up its regulation efforts, according to a report by Reuters.
He also said that breaking up large tech companies wouldn’t solve the problems of privacy, election meddling or the tamping down of harmful content.
“Just because it is difficult to regulate the internet doesn’t mean policy makers should jump to the alternative of wishing these companies away,” Clegg said in a speech on Monday (June 24) in Berlin.
Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister, was brought on to help with the blowback from Facebook’s scandal over mishandling user data and also not stopping Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election.
The company is in the sights of regulators and governments for either monetary penalties or calls for it to be broken up. The company owns WhatsApp and Instagram, which used to be rivals.
“The internet does need competition and it does need regulation … we want to work with governments and policymakers to design the sort of smart regulation that fosters competition, encourages innovation and protects consumers,” Clegg said.
The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission both announced recently that they were working together on probes of the four large tech companies. Seven senators have asked the government for details about the investigations, which involve the misuse of market power.
Clegg said that while Facebook was a large company, it’s piece of the global ad market was “relatively small.”
The conversation became more urgent when Facebook introduced plans to release its own cryptocurrency called Libra. U.S. President Donald Trump has said that tech companies suppress conservative voices and should be looked at more closely.
Clegg said regulars need to move quickly, because other countries are moving to make their own rules.
“If the West doesn’t engage with this question quickly and emphatically, it may be that it isn’t ours to answer. The common rules created in our hemisphere can become the example the rest of the world follows,” he said.