Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with the 77-year-old conservative Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) talked to students and attendees at Brigham Young University. Senator Hatch, who apparently acts as chair of the U.S. Senate Republican High-Tech Task Force, invited Zuckerberg to speak to a crowd of nearly 10,000 in the university’s Marriott Event Center to talk about technology and policy.
When this event was announced two weeks ago, BYU requested questions to be submitted via their official Facebook page (of course!), resulting in about 450 possible questions.
Senator Hatch probably asked Zuckerberg less than 10 questions in the 45 minute discussion, but by the second question, Mark turned the tables on him — “Do I get to ask you questions, too?”
The first question Zuckerberg asked the Senator revolved around government’s role in business, particularly with respect to regulation. Mark asked Hatch, “How does the government see the evolution of the Internet and technology — what do you think the government can do to encourage startups?”
Senator Hatch quickly responded with, “probably the best thing would be for us to stay out of the way”, and that he “personally prefers keeping innovation alive,” as opposed to overly regulating. He was quick to say that in some cases, regulation is necessary of course, but in most, it’s better to stay out of the way.
A couple points in the discussion more interesting to the business attendees than the students, might include Zuckerberg’s suggestion that many startups could come challenge the social network and similar technologies at any time, by simply being focused on building something better in an open environment:
“We believe there will be much better services for all the people who use Facebook if millions of people around the world can develop those services. A good independent entrepreneur should always be able to do something better than a division of a company.”