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Oracle breaks with tech industry to back sex trafficking legislation

Oracle breaks with tech industry to back sex trafficking legislation

Cloud computing behemoth Oracle has broken off from the standard tech sector line and decided to back a bipartisan proposal in the US Congress that would make it easier to penalize operators of websites that facilitate online sex trafficking.

The technology sector has, thus far, been firmly opposed to the legislation on the grounds that it would strangle innovation and lead to endless litigation.

“Your legislation does not, as suggested by the bill’s opponents, usher the end of the internet,” Kenneth Glueck, Oracle senior vice president, wrote in a letter to Republican Senator Rob Portman and Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, chief architects of the proposal. “If enacted, it will establish some measure of accountability for those that cynically sell advertising but are unprepared to help curtail sex trafficking,” he continued.

The legislation would open up the potential for state legislators and victims to pursue legal action against Facebook, Google and other big tech giants if their measures to limit exploitative material are found to be insufficient.

This news came at the same time a new report was released which showed that tech entrepreneurs generally have very Democratic values, except when it comes to regulation. The report from the Stanford Business School suggested that when it comes to regulation tech entrepreneurs are as right-wing as Republican party donors, while being as left-wing as Democrat party donors on almost every other issue.

That being said, it would be fair to suggest that regulation has the potential to unduly affect the tech sector. It’s a sector often misunderstood by those less “tech-savvy”, who may well be lawmakers, and the pace of innovation is firstly very high and secondly part of the sectors identity. But while this might explain the sectors adversity to regulation it does not speak to how valid any individual regulation might be.

One point to consider in the latest case is that Oracle and Google have been rivals in a lawsuit that lasted six years – or seven, depending on whether you think it’s still going. Oracle runs cloud-based CRM-type systems for businesses to store data and processes, so is unlikely to be much affected by legislation which speaks to consumer advertising. It is conceivable that this move from Oracle is just the latest in its propensity to try and stitch up Google.

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Ben Allen is a traveller, a millennial and a Brit. He worked in the London startup world for a while but really prefers commenting on it than working in it. He has huge faith in the tech industry and enjoys talking and writing about the social issues inherent in its development. Find him on Twitter @benjijamesallen

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