In the last thirty years, the world has seen an explosion of new technology at a terrifying rate. In the late 80s computers could barely add up. In the late 90s, the latest technological advancement was a primitive form of the internet that offered basic websites and dial-up connections that stopped anyone in the house from using the phone at the same time as the internet, with speeds so slow that you could click on a link then make a cup of tea while you waited for it to load. Fast forward a few decades and you have almost instantaneous internet speeds in a device that’s small enough to fit in your pocket. We’re more connected than ever, some have been able to make an entire career out of working online and people that would otherwise have gone about their lives only known to the people in their local area have become famous across the globe. The world population has taken the ever-evolving technology in their stride, but throughout this governments have fallen increasingly far behind the times.
We’ve all been there, listening to our parents proclaim that it “wasn’t like that in my day”, and then probably repeating the same sentence to our children. The turn is that technology, the internet and social media are hard to keep up with if you don’t have your finger on the pulse – and that is something that the older generation do struggle to do. Unless you’re using social media every day, for example, you’re not going to know what is trending, what’s popular and even how people are using the platforms and so you get quickly left behind – which is where many Governments across the globe have found themselves.
Another example is the way online casinos are regulated in Ireland – where, in 2015 they allowed online gambling to take place if the bookmakers were based outside of Ireland and then in the same year completely legalised online betting. It was obvious that whether they allowed it to happen or not, people would find a way to be able to place bets from within Ireland & as such, they needed to make sure they were on board with what was happening.
What Are Governments Doing About Ever-Changing Technology?
Branded “tech illiteracy”, this is where technology has outpaced the government’s ability to legislate, resulting in out-dated laws that don’t accommodate for new technologies and some technologies that aren’t regulated at all. It also leads to governments making changes without fully thinking through the consequences, which leaves the people affected in increasingly odd situations.
One huge example of this in UK law is the world of social media and in particular influencer marketing. The UK influencer marketing space was largely unregulated however following complaints from some members of the public new regulations were put in place in a knee jerk reaction, wh
Currently, under UK advertising regulations influencers have to make it clear throughout the piece of content that it has been sponsored or they have been given a product to review – if it’s not made clear enough then the influencer can be fined. However, if a TV show or film is sponsored by a company the production company can implement an unlimited amount of product placements without needing to disclose anything. The reason for this is simply that not enough people have complained about advertising in films and TV.
Technology Within The Gambling World
Technology is evolving at an incredible pace, and with laws governing every single part of our lives it’s impossible for the government to fix every piece of legislation to accommodate new technologies as they occur – there are simply too many issues to fix for governments to have the capacity to change the laws as they become out-dated.
Another glaring example of this is the gambling industry. Despite gambling companies being quick to take their business online with the advent of the internet in the late 1990s, it took the UK government until 2005 to create a regulatory body, and even then it was just to ensure that online casinos were reputable. It took until 2019 for the UK Gambling Commission to bring any legislation that regulated gambling into law, and in 2021 the UK government are only just discussing further regulation of TV advertising, with social media marketing seemingly passing them by.
What Else Has Technology Affected?
The 2020 US elections provided another opportunity for the public to see tech illiteracy in action. There was no doubt that social media was going to have a huge influence on how Americans voted in the presidential elections, but rather than being a helpful resource social media became a fountain of misinformation and propaganda. The current US president at the time of the race was banned from major platforms like Facebook and Twitter for spreading false information, but only because the tech companies themselves decided to do this. There was little to no guidance from the government and it exposed just how little legislation has moved on since social media began.
What Can Governments Do?
Tech illiteracy has been shown time and again to be a huge issue with governments across the world. As technology moves on, citizens are increasingly looking to their governments for guidance on new technologies when their elected representatives still haven’t legislated for technology that’s existed for over 10 years. New technologies are being developed faster than ever, and unless the general public campaigns for their governments to do something about their out-dated laws, the problem is only going to get worse. Ultimately, people in charge tend to be the older generation which means that they’re probably not twerking on TikTok or speaking to their friends on SnapChat – which is probably for the best. But it does mean that their approach to these things can be out-dated and as such, perhaps it is time for Governments to recruit some younger team members to help keep them in the loop for all things social media and popular internet.