The People v. Tech: Balancing the Interests of Big Tech and Society

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By Julia Levine

The Journal of Business & Technology Law hosted their annual spring symposium on March 9, 2023: The People v. Tech: Balancing the Interests of Big Tech and Society. The symposium explored the dynamics of regulating big tech companies, like Google and Apple, through societal, legal, and administrative lenses. The event brought together experts from industry and academia to discuss the future of big tech and the law.

The symposium consisted of two panel discussion sessions. The sessions aimed to advance the dialogue on policy, practice, and the future in how big technology companies can be regulated and the necessity of that regulation. Julia Levine ‘23, the Executive Symposium & Manuscript Editor for Volume 18 of the Journal of Business & Technology Law, gave a brief welcome to the audience before Patricia Campbell, Director of the Intellectual Property Law Program and Maryland Intellectual Property Legal Resource Center and Professor of Law, delivered welcoming remarks outlining the current need for this type of discussion surrounding this constantly evolving industry and debate regarding regulation. Campbell then handed over the discussion to Michael P. Van Alstine, Francis King Carey Professor in Business Law, to moderate the two panels.

The topic of the first panel was, “What does big tech regulation look like today? Discussion of the legal framework that governs big tech.” Three distinguished panelists spoke on this panel regarding the current regulatory framework for big tech companies, including Professor William Kovacic, Global Competition Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School, Benjamin Fuld ’18, Associate Commercial Counsel at Google, and David B. Hamilton ’83, Partner at DLA Piper.

Van Alstine then transitioned to the next panel on the topic of, “Should big tech be regulated in our modern world?” This panel featured three distinguished panelists as well, who discussed the need or lack thereof of big tech regulation, including Bilal Sayyed, Senior Competition Counsel at Tech Freedom, Laura Alexander, Director of Markets and Competition Policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and Michele Gilman, Venable Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Faculty Research & Development at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Commenting on the event, Paul Andersen ’24 said, “This year's JBTL symposium provided an outstanding overview of the arguments for and against the regulation of big tech, explained the current legal uncertainty surrounding all federal regulatory action, and provided attendees with tangible ways to engage with these topics as current and future attorneys.”

After these two important and insightful panel discussions, there was a lively Q&A with the audience followed by a well-attended standing reception in the atrium of the law school.