“That was never going to last,” said Daphne Keller, a professor at Stanford University’s law school who focuses on platform regulation and internet users’ rights. “There was a lull, but I think the lull is over.”
“There was pretty broad consensus that this was an emergency and you could take emergency measures and forfeit some other priorities in the name of public health,” she said.
In fact, the health crisis could end up giving additional public momentum to efforts to rein in the tech industry, despite — or even because of — how vital it has proven during the pandemic.
“I think what we are seeing as a result of the crisis is that more and more people are depending on these platforms, which just highlights how powerful they are,” said Charlotte Slaiman, competition policy director at the advocacy group Public Knowledge. “I think people are noticing in more areas of their life, that there are very few legal protections that people and companies have for their interactions with these platforms.”
As the techlash returns with a vengeance, Zuckerberg and his peers may face a long, tense year ahead.