EBay pushes ‘big data’ approach to regs

The online sales company eBay is pushing government agencies to modernize their regulatory systems.
In a report to be released on Tuesday, the company makes the case for using so-called “big data” to analyze vast troves of information, identify trends and determine goals for new regulations.

“All kinds of decision-making today is enhanced by data and data analysis,” eBay’s Brian Bieron, the executive director of global public policy, told The Hill.

Current regulatory regimes, he said, are “sort of slow and modeled after earlier business models.”


That means agencies can’t keep up with the private sector, which is using new technology to develop products and perform services faster than ever before.

“It’s much more reasonable to try to develop a process where there’s agreement on what the metrics are going to be that you’re going to measure, and then you’re constantly measuring so that industry and the government regulator can see where the business is,” Bieron said.

He noted that the payment company PayPal, which is owned by eBay, sometimes has problems signing people up due to rules requiring verification with a passport, bank account of other type of identification.

Instead of setting hard-and-fast rules, Bieron said regulators should give companies a target and let them decide how to get there.

“You need to identify measurable metrics that you can collect data against,” he said. “It’s clearly hard, but at the same time it’s essentially universally accepted that using data to inform decisions gives you better results.”

Bieron told The Hill that the recommendations could be applied to a range of other areas beyond payments processing.

He noted that tech companies and other industries are already making decisions analyzing vast amounts of data.

Regulators, however, are being left behind.

“We deal with regulatory regimes and regulators around the world,” he said. “It’s actually in the regulatory arena where we find, No. 1, an almost complete lack of that measurement-based decision making.”