Technological Policy-making


Lena Conde Araujo, Contributing Writer

Technological Policy-making


There is a chance that during the Facebook hearings, you’ve heard of many of the often ridiculous quotes said by congressmen. For instance, “If [a version of Facebook will always be free], how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?” (Bey et al, 2018). Through this quote, it is reflected that government officials are unsure of how to address policymaking adapted to new fields associated with the growth of technology. The issues that may arise as Silicon-Valley based corporations possibly violate human rights can’t be addressed unless we get technology experts involved in policy-making, regularly updating, and taking a role in new laws. We must do this to maintain ethical business practices in tech and ultimately save the United States’ future of democracy.

The aforementioned Facebook hearings had the purpose of investigating the claims made by whistleblower Frances Haugen, which claimed that Facebook aimed to “harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” (Bey at all, 2018) all to generate more profit. It had the potential to address Facebook’s use of data which is largely unethical as it raises privacy concerns and can further develop bias and corrupt human decision-making through its influence. For instance, the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal. The scandal entailed the partnership between Facebook and the British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, which ultimately aimed to influence American voter decisions for the 2016 elections. They pulled information from over 87 million users using the third-party quiz app “thisisyourdigitallife” (Ma et al, 2019). The quiz took psychological information about its users to further determine those susceptible to voting for certain candidates, not only handing this data over to Trump’s campaign but continuing to recommend users propaganda motivating them to maintain or switch their political views in favor of him. Ultimately, Facebook remained largely unscathed once the trial was over. Furthermore, technology leaders after this hearing, such as Google’s Sundar Pichai, weren’t scrambling to fix their unethical issues within their platforms to avoid similar trials against them. Some practices will have to remain within applications, including the use of ads, as companies would be seeing an immense loss of profits if AdSense practices were to be withdrawn. However, the lack of understanding by these professionals is further encouraging corruption and a lack of ethics instead of better solutions. 

Believe it or not, Congress does have a history of attempting to get technology professionals involved. It started with OTA, or the Office of Technology Assessment, established in 1972 and tasked with researching the possible actions needed to be taken with developing innovations (So et al, 2022). It didn’t only analyze these innovations but went through several policies and the possible effects of each. The agency made a total of 750 papers until it was terminated in 1995 due to Congress’ efforts to eliminate funding. Since OTA’s defunding, there have been countless innovations such as cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence. In a questionnaire conducted for the senior congressional staff, it was found that they believed they lacked the necessary branches providing the information needed to support all of their duties, with 81% of staff saying that these resources are very important and only 24% being very satisfied (Goldschmidt, 2017). This means that there have been significant negative changes in the confidence of policymakers when going up against new technology, with industry experts such as Harvard’s Bruche Schneier and Google Cloud principal engineer Kelsey Hightower urging them to “take a critical, skeptical approach” (Vega, 2022). Ultimately, it led to policy-making, such as SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act, introduced in 2011 (Smith, 2011). The act aimed to stop online piracy by ending copyright infringement online by taking websites down. However, it intentionally limited access to the world wide web for the entirety of the population, most notably, increasing the wealth gap between those succeeding in education and not. While being attempted to be combated with Creative Commons, the government’s lack of technological literacy failed them once again as they remained insistent on SOPA. Around the same time, Representative Lamar Smith aimed for businesses to keep detailed records of the activity done on their public networks with the bill H.R. 1981: Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 (Bort, 2011). While this law aimed to protect children, it’d have the dire consequence of violating the public’s privacy. Fundamentally, the lack of technical information can lead to frightening consequences as reflected in these policies and could lead to the end of democracy as more people boycott and protest them, losing trust in the government and turning to corporations instead. 

The most pressing issue that the American government is faced with at the moment is cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is a virtual currency, therefore, it is not regulated by any government or institution. It provides individuals with a way to store and transact money pseudonymously outside the conventional systems, making it difficult for the government to track. Furthermore, without a proper understanding of the blockchain and how transparency works online, it raises a question about whether the government should be regulating these assets. It’s important to understand that this is just the beginning. If the American government is failing to see the dire consequences of the lack of regulation in cryptocurrency, the future is uncertain with the risks of technological development. 

Some may argue that the government has been able to sustain itself thus far without professionals in the technology field. However, sustaining is not enough. There are over 4,000 current economists employed under the government, looking at the economy’s state alone. In a survey conducted by Pew Research, it was stated that 72% of Americans said they were “at least somewhat worried about a world where machines perform many of the tasks traditionally done by humans.” (Maxwell, 2018) The priority that the government places on economic matters should apply to technology, too, as America’s weak, nonsense policies should no longer be taken advantage of by FAANG. To move forward as a society, we must place trust in artificial intelligence by requiring that regulation on possible human bias seeping through be regulated with disciplines such as DevOps, for example, making the first steps toward placing our trust in technology. 

In conclusion, the United States government is being faced with countless technological innovations and their consequences, both positive and negative. After the defunding of OTA, there aren’t professionals to support their regulation through policymaking. While cryptocurrency has been legal in the United States since 2021, the government fails to see it as a legal tender as it remains largely unregulated. To avoid catastrophe in the future, Americans must advocate for collaboration with technology experts in Congress to help policymakers fully understand the whole picture of the consequences possible from certain innovations.


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Goldschmidt, K. (2017). State of the Congress: Staff perspectives on institutional capacity in the House and Senate. Congressional Management Foundation. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

Ma, A., & Gilbert, B. (2019, August 23). Facebook understood how dangerous the trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica could be much earlier than it previously said. here’s everything that’s happened up until now. Business Insider. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

Maxwell, T. (2018, December 21). Robots are the future, and we don’t trust them. PBS. Retrieved December 14, 2022, from 

Schneier, B. (2019, November 12). Policymaking must catch up with technology – before it’s too late. World Economic Forum. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

Smith, L. (2011, October 26). H.R.3261 – 112th Congress (2011-2012): Stop online piracy act. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

So, K., Rowland-Shea, J., Richards, R., Villagomez, A., Weiss, M., Sozan, M., & Schneider, A. (2022, October 4). Congress should revive the Office of Technology Assessment. Center for American Progress. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

Vega, N. (2022, June 3). Tech experts call for Congress to bring ‘skeptical approach’ to crypto industry: ‘not all innovation is unqualifiedly good’. CNBC. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from