Obama calls for tighter regulations on tech

Obama calls for tighter regulations on tech
© Getty Images

Former President Obama says that major technology firms should be regulated more tightly.

Obama on Wednesday said that "data collection and how data is used," as well as “how [data] gets commercialized,” are areas in which the government needs to step in. He made the comments at the Okta technology conference in Las Vegas, according to Business Insider.

The former commander in chief said he believes Washington needs to do a better job at moving more quickly on technology matters and work better at cooperating to address issues posed by Silicon Valley tech firms.

In an apparent reference to Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, which he didn't mention by name, Obama said that recent data scandals have made the need for cooperation and further regulation clear, Business Insider reported. 

"There's been a data breach, people are outraged, they feel they don't know that their data was used in a particular way, so then people [in the Valley and Washington] scramble to catch up to the headlines," he said, according to the news outlet.

Both Congress and European lawmakers have hauled Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Apple approves Parler's return to App Store | White House scales back response to SolarWinds, Microsoft incidents | Pressure mounts on DHS over relationship with Clearview AI Facebook unveils new audio features Hillicon Valley: Biden administration sanctions Russia for SolarWinds hack, election interference MORE in to testify about the company's data practices, and lawmakers and critics have increasingly started to charge that massive tech firms like Facebook, Google and Amazon are monopolies.

Obama thinks there is still a need for more of that discourse.

"That kind of conversation [over regulation] hasn't taken place," he said.

While lawmakers in the U.S. have floated some types of regulation about political ad transparency, few have seriously discussed or drafted legislation that would impose significant new regulation on tech behemoths.

During another conference in February, Obama also gave critical remarks about large technology companies like Facebook and Google but did not advocate for regulation.

“We have to have a serious conversation about, what are the business models, the algorithms, the mechanisms, whereby we can create more of a common conversation. And that cannot just be a commercially driven conversation,” he suggested instead during MIT’s Sloan Sports Conference.

Obama’s administration was extremely close with Silicon Valley. He met with tech CEOs on several occasions throughout his presidency.

His White House also became a revolving door of employment that White House staffers and Google employees jumped between, and his aides frequently met with the search giant.