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Supreme Court ruling could block government oversight of big tech, net neutrality and AI

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Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court added another ruling to its list of recent controversial decisions by a 6-3 vote, stating that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not have the authority to reduce emissions from power plants believed to be cause global warming. As a result of the decision, rules drafted by other government agencies that hinder major industries and businesses from helping to protect consumers are now likely to be challenged.

The Associated Press (AP) notes that this also includes the federal government’s efforts to curb giant tech companies; well-known and powerful companies such as Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others have been visited on Capitol Hill several times by executives in recent years. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been involved in an effort to protect consumers’ personal information from unauthorized use by major tech companies to sell advertisements and for other revenue-generating purposes.

A recent Supreme Court ruling could prevent governments from protecting consumers from big tech companies

At the same time, the agency keeps an eye on the tech industry to ensure the public is not harmed by burgeoning monopolies. A few years ago, the FTC asked several tech companies to disclose data from nearly a decade of acquisitions that these tech companies were not legally required to disclose to U.S. antitrust agencies because they were valued at $90 million or less.

While these are small deals that are unlikely to have an impact on the public, that could become a problem if several small deals that fly under the radar are completed, and the FTC must ensure that consumers are not influenced by anti-competitive business practices. Alexandra Givens, the president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology, said, “Every agency will face new hurdles in the wake of this confusing decision. But hopefully the agencies will continue to do their job and make progress.”

Givens says agencies like the FTC should be able to withstand challenges to their authority based on the Supreme Court’s EPA decision. But she also says Congress must act quickly to pass laws that protect consumers’ digital privacy rights and other rights related to new technologies. But she also says that even that is not enough. “We need a democratic system in which Congress can empower expert agencies to deal with problems as they arise, even if those problems are unforeseen. The government literally cannot co-operate with Congress controlling every twist and turn.”
Some states, including California, have passed net neutrality laws, and FCC appointees to President Joe Biden are reportedly in favor of bringing back even stronger net neutrality protections to consumers.

EPA ruling could prevent government agencies from protecting the public from new technologies like AI

Last week’s Supreme Court ruling could also lead to agencies like the FTC no longer monitoring the potential harm to consumers from new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). And while it may not implicitly prevent the government from regulating self-driving vehicles, Michael Brooks, chief adviser to the nonprofit Center for Automotive Safety, says the ruling could lead to more judicial challenges that challenge whether the government can make rules and exercise control. on self-driving vehicles. driving cars.

Brooks says the Supreme Court’s ruling against the EPA could have been based on that agency’s complex laws that gave it the authority the Supreme Court just denied. On the other hand, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) authority is “just as crystal clear,” Brooks said.

But even if there’s no question about government control over self-driving vehicles, the Supreme Court may have just given tech companies an opening to collect more personal data and create even bigger tech companies that don’t put consumer interests first. While many people may be in favor of keeping the government out of technology because it’s a topic most elected officials don’t understand, perhaps that should be offset by the government’s obligation to protect consumers.

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