- How big tech firms are influencing the global governments ?
- Elaborately discuss about the state in India and why India needs a robust technology policy with measures that need to be taken.
In today’s times, Big Techs run most of the digital services that are integral and ubiquitous to our life. They wield immense power. For. E.g., Alphabet (Google), Meta (Facebook), etc. dominate global digital advertising with 74% mindshare and influence.
Big Tech firms as non-state actors: Such monopoly in search, advertising-intermediation and controls threaten sovereignty. The dominance of Big techs leads to concentration of excessive power, making economies heavily dependent, disrupting economy & geopolitics. Often it stifles fair business conduct, competition, data sharing and data protection. An interesting case is internet sanctions and emergence of splinternet by the Big Tech during Russia-Ukraine conflict. For sure, globalisation is retreating as digital walls are being erected around race, nationality or linguistic affinities, fragmenting the internet to control tech-mediated processes. The growing trust deficit is evident as the US based firms accuse Russia’s sovereign internet (Runet) to control people, elections, and society, while Russia blamed US for its aggressive national cybersecurity strategy. In response Russia blocked access to Meta’s Facebook & Instagram, while limiting other social network platforms. Another case is Apple or Google’s duopoly (mobile OS) which make people self-contained with market dominance – detrimental to consumers, competition and innovation across sectors and devices.
Internet must nurture open, fair and collaborative digital markets and citizen-centric initiatives. Thus, limiting the market power of Big Techs require indigenous alternatives. Addressing systematic issues can help make our browsers, virtual assistants and messaging stay neutral & unbiased.
A case for India: As one of the largest open internet markets, India is working on a comprehensive data privacy framework to boost digital economy whilst keeping personal data secure. India is committed to implement stringent security safeguards, given its weak rules as compared to the ‘gold standard’ data protection legislation like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). To ensure greater fairness in value created by data, it is imperative to safeguard illegal access to Indian data by foreign governments. India should lay out the rights & obligations on the use of consumer and corporate data generated in smart gadgets. As AI and deep analytics continue to replace human decision-making, concerns are being raised about their openness, ethics and accountability. So, to make automated decision-making free from discriminatory outcomes, algorithms must be transparent.
India should embrace the global best practices to evolve a common, independent and neutral cyberinfrastructure, stronger algorithmic audit framework and compliance standards. Removing barriers to data-sharing & developing cross-sector interoperability standards for data are vital. To become a dominant, self-reliant, global force in technology, India should act on a national vision to produce a team of technology champions by 2025, who would lead India in emerging disruptive technologies. To become self-reliant, the government should fund & support these firms to advance sophisticated apps. In this, benchmarking against the global best is the only way to excel. The new EU Digital Markets Act offers a great insight for India to replicate.
India must now act to reimagine the jurisprudence of cyberspace and quickly look into how laws can help India gain legitimacy in cyberspace and plug the legal loopholes. Relegating this may pose an existential national threat. Opportunity beckons India to make its technology policy innovative, secure to protect national sovereignty, fair compensation, inclusive diffusion, consumer rights, market efficiency & economic growth, and human progress. However, the question remains, Is India ready for an Atma Nirbhar internet ?