It’s highly unusual for a tech company to ask the government to regulate their industry. My hunch is that they fear the negative public and employee backlash against them should there be “unethical” usage of their services, especially by government and military. So that leaves a tech company with 2 choices regarding a potentially lucrative sales opportunity:
- Take the sales win, but suffer the consequences of a public hanging via social media and negative press coverage, along with internal strife from like-minded employees (as Google recently experienced)
- Decline the customer opportunity, leaving the opportunity for your competitors to win.
With regulation, tech companies can mitigate #1 by claiming that the usage of their tech is constrained to specific, socially accepted use cases that won’t draw the ire of social media. Additionally, regulation lets the company take the customer win, thereby preventing their competition who don’t fear public backlash from winning these business opportunities, thus also addressing #2.
It seems there are two sectors for this type of regulation: commercial & government. And the regulation itself could be a mix of prohibited usages and transparent disclosure when it’s being used. For commercial, we don’t need government regulation, as the industry could come up with their own policies and standards, and companies can opt-in to compliance to these industry standards.
As for government, I don’t see why the US legislative or military would agree to this, especially when the intelligence and military orgs of other (enemy) states are not signing up to do the same. Personally, I think the free market is the best solution, and companies have to make this hard choice of choosing between revenue vs. appealing to the public. I can understand the concerns over providing tech like facial recognition to enemy states, and I believe there are already regulations around specific types of tech that may not be exported or licensed to non-US entities.
In summary, companies need to put on their big boy pants and make some tough business decisions on their own, and live with the rewards and/or consequences.