Big Internet Companies Can Expect Tougher Regulation, Even as User Privacy Concerns Decline, Analyst Says
Two of the big trends that will impact the largest Internet companies this year are increased scrutiny by U.S. regulators and reduced pressure over privacy.
These topics were among 10 trends that Mark Mahaney, managing director and lead Internet analyst at RBC Capital Markets, listed on Monday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in Aspen, Colo. Generally speaking, all of these items may mean more revenue for tech companies.
In the next year or two, giant tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook will likely face new regulations and bigger fines from U.S. regulators, Mahaney said. That theory is already becoming a reality after the Federal Trade Commission last week hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine over its data practices.
While more penalties are expected, tech companies will likely be able to shrug off recent antitrust investigations by the Department of Justice or Federal Trade Commission.
“What’s not going to happen is a bust up of Big Tech,” Mahaney said. “To unwind acquisitions from multi years ago, I think that’s extremely unlikely.”
Over the last few years, critics have attacked Google and Facebook for their data practices. But despite the louder calls by federal officials for tougher regulation, users appear to be less concerned about how companies handle their data, Mahaney said.
Nearly half of people, 49%, have made no adjustments to their use of tech, according to a monthly survey by RBC Capital Markets of up to 3,000 people. That percentage has been on the rise, mostly because people increasingly understand the tradeoff for free Internet services, Mahaney said.
“As we keep going through this cycle, we’ll see fewer and fewer people concerned about privacy.”
Finally, in a third trend, businesses like Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, which traditionally made their money from ads, are becoming bigger players in e-commerce. In March, Instagram debuted Checkout, which makes it easier to make in-app purchases. Meanwhile, Pinterest has said it wanted to make its service more shoppable.
“You’re going to see traditionally social media platforms … become truly disruptive e-commerce platforms.”
More must-read stories from Fortune Brainstorm Tech 2019:
—The real reason Walmart needs its stores in order to compete with Amazon
—Ancestry CEO talks genetic data privacy and the business of DNA testing
—Quantum computers might save the world—if there are workers to build them
—Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield isn’t worried about battling chief rival Microsoft
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