The Luddite political backlash against technology that observers have been expecting has begun in Colorado.
Three doctors have proposed a ballot measure that would make it a crime to sell a smartphone to a person under 13, The Durango Herald reported. Retailers would face fines of up to $20,000 for selling smartphones to preteens under Ballot Measure 29.
The proposed ballot measure is the work of Parents against Underage Smartphones; a nonprofit group started by Tim Farnum, a doctor from Sheridan, Colorado. Farnum blasted smartphones as “addictive, harmful and dangerous in the hands of children.”
Farnum’s fear is that smartphones isolate children and discourage physical activity. He has managed to get the measure on the Colorado State Legislature’s website but it is far from becoming law. His group would have to collect 100,000 signatures to get Measure 29 on the 2018 ballot.
Is it the Beginning of the Anti-Tech Political Tide?
It is not clear how much support Farnum has, but his ballot measure might be the start of a nationwide anti-tech political movement. There is already widespread suspicion of technology and growing hostility towards Silicon Valley.
The political backlash against tech will be so great that it will make technology stocks a risky investment, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Chief Investment Analyst Michael Hartnett warned. Hartnett believes that an Occupy Silicon Valley protest movement is imminent.
Populist anger against tech is beginning to grow and manifest itself in protests and even violence. Not surprisingly San Francisco; where Google buses have been attacked and blocked by protestors, is ground zero for the anti-tech movement but there have been outbreaks worldwide.
There were riots against Uber in France in 2015 and anti-Trump protestors chained themselves to that company’s doors in January. There’s also a well-organized and well-financed movement to boycott Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) because of Elon Musk’s association with Donald Trump. Musk was so afraid of that movement he resigned from two presidential advisory boards.
Expect More Anti-Tech Proposals Soon
Expect to see more anti-tech legislation proposed soon. Likely efforts will include measures to remove computers from schools, tax technology companies and ban or restrict the use of robots and artificial intelligence.
Do not be at all surprised if populist politicians such as Donald J. Trump jump on the anti-tech bandwagon. It has the potential to become a political protest as popular and as widespread as the Temperance movement that led to Prohibition in the 20th Century.
Perhaps tech company bosses need to start writing a lot more checks to politicians and fast. Tech companies might soon need all the political protection they can buy.