Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in a new interview rejected the notion that Capitol Hill has a role to play in regulating big tech companies, breaking with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent willingness to work with lawmakers.
“The problem is if you write a rule, inevitably, you fix the solution on a specific solution, but the technology moves so quickly,” Schmidt says. “It’s generally better to let the tech companies do these things,” he adds. Schmidt, who ran Google from 2001 to 2011, acknowledged that over his tenure the company did not understand the scale or severity of problems originating from its products. But since then, the company has addressed the issues, he said. “Our response has, in my view, been very strong,” he said. “Today, we have all sorts of software that enforces policies of one kind or another. And people complain about the rules, but the fact of the matter is the rules are published.”
Schmidt suggested that even if Congress does pass new regulations on tech companies, issues will continue to originate on tech platforms because the sites display unpredictable human conduct. Content moderators and other employees need to ensure that users abide by the rules of a given platform, he said. “All of these platforms that are human centric will have to have a component of them, which is…watching what the users are doing and making sure they’re consistent with their terms of service and the law,” he says. “These issues are ongoing, because these are human-based systems,” he says. “And so humans will continue to use them. They will continue to do unexpected things. There will continue to be surprises.”