Governments, civil society and industry are beginning to understand the value of data to society in much the same way they considered the importance of thoroughfares 200 years ago. Just as these roads ushered in a new era of physical infrastructure that helped society thrive then, today we are beginning to understand the need to invest in modern approaches to our data infrastructure that will enhance economic growth and innovation, support individual empowerment and protect us from harm. Just as our physical infrastructure of roads and highways needs to be used appropriately, maintained and protected, so does our data infrastructure.
To maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of our data use, we need privacy regulations to serve as our global rules of the road that preserve our ability to use and share data across borders, supported by innovative tools and solutions that protect privacy and empower individuals. As we reframe our focus to support data use, let’s examine the regulatory approaches that have been working, and develop new approaches where needed to enable the responsible use and sharing of data. To read more about Microsoft’s approach to protecting data infrastructure, visit Microsoft on the Issues.
December 07, 2021
Are the United States and China now locked in a new form of Cold War? Their governments behave as if they are.
But Bremmer isn’t buying it. He’s not predicting that Washington and Beijing will become more cooperative with one another, but that both will be too preoccupied with historic challenges at home in coming years to wage a full-time international struggle.
In Washington, the main worry will be for America’s broken political system. US politics is becoming even more tribalized as TV and online media target politically like-minded consumers with hyperpartisan news coverage. Widening wealth inequality fuels the fire by separating white and non-white, urban and rural, and the more educated from the less educated. Deepening public mistrust of political institutions will fuel future fights over the legitimacy of US elections.
Beijing’s burden centers on how to extend decades of economic gains while moving away from a growth model that no longer works, as higher wages in China and more automation in factories elsewhere cut deeply into China’s manufacturing advantages. China is still a middle-income country. To reach the prosperity level of wealthy nations, it needs 6-7 percent growth for another 20 years.
But China must spend less in coming years to keep giant, deeply indebted companies afloat and more to care for the largest population of elderly people in history. And its leaders must accomplish this at a time when China’s people expect ever-rising levels of prosperity from their government.
The domestic distraction of US and Chinese leaders will create new opportunities for European, Japanese, Canadian, Indian and other political and business leaders to contribute toward international problem-solving. But other governments aren’t the only new players stepping into this power vacuum.
Technology companies are fast becoming important geopolitical actors. We’re entering a world in which economic winners and losers, election outcomes, and national security will depend on choices made by both governments and by the world’s big tech firms.
Bremmer calls this a “techno-polar moment.”
The idea is simple but transformative: Just as governments make the laws that determine what can happen in the physical world, tech companies have final authority in a digital world that’s becoming both more expansive and more immersive.
The biggest tech companies will establish sovereignty by defining the digital space and its boundaries, the algorithms that determine what happens within that space, and the “terms and conditions” that decide who gets to operate in this world.
For skeptics, Bremmer poses this question: Who will do more to influence the outcome of next year’s US midterm congressional elections: The president of the United States or the CEO of Meta? According to Bremmer, since the vote will be influenced by both real-world rules changes and the online flow of information, the answer isn’t obvious.
How will tech companies try to expand their power? Some will behave as “globalists” by trying to reach consumers and influence politics everywhere.
Others will act as “national champions” by aligning with individual governments and their goals.
Still, others will behave as “techno-utopians,” companies that expect historical forces and tech innovations to help them replace governments in important ways.
The relative success of these models over the next decade will decide how government and tech companies share power over the longer-term and whether democracy or autocracy will have the upper hand.
What’s to be done? “Think adaptation, not surrender,” says Bremmer. Steps can be taken to limit the sometimes negative influence of tech companies in the political lives of democracies. But just as climate change can be limited but not avoided, so we must understand and adapt to a world in which governments and tech companies compete for influence over our lives.
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Japan, the world's third-largest economy, has long been a bastion of modern capitalism. But newly-minted PM Fumio Kishida thinks it's time for a rethink of the neoliberal model.
Capitalism must further evolve, Kishida says during an exclusive address to our parent company Eurasia Group's 2021 GZERO Summit. And Japan can help lead the way along with other advanced democracies like the US and European countries in an increasingly G-Zero world.
But what does Japan's "third way" capitalism actually entail?
A big part is combating rising inequality, one of several market-based distortions that have led to electoral populism and "narrow-minded nationalism."
It's also about investing big in climate, digital transformation, and economic security — including health — for all citizens.
Kishida plans to detail his vision for a new capitalism in the spring.
In the meantime, the prime minister has already committed Japan to spending $4.4 billion on COVID vaccines and treatment, and to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a whopping 46 percent by the end of the decade in order to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Watch Kishida's speech and insights from other participants on Day 2 of the event on the GZERO Summit website.
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December 07, 2021
France's presidential election is only three months away, and it’ll be no snoozer. Although barely one-quarter of French voters back current president Emmanuel Macron, he’s heavily favored to win re-election because he’d almost certainly beat far-right hopefuls Marine Le Pen or Éric Zemmour in a runoff. But the center-right French president now faces an unexpected challenge from the old establishment right: Valerie Pécresse, the nominee of the Les Republicains party, could give Macron a run for his money if she makes it to the second round. We take a look at how the top four French presidential candidates have polled over the past six months.
December 07, 2021
Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin agree to disagree. But what a disagreement it is…. From what we know, during their Tuesday video call, the Russian president made clear that NATO’s flirtations with Ukraine are a red line, and that Moscow is prepared to defend its sphere of influence. The Kremlin also wants to see movement on the 2015 Minsk peace plan, which would give Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine broad autonomy. Biden meanwhile stressed that if Russia stirs up fresh trouble in Ukraine, the US is prepared to impose more severe economic sanctions. The US president also told Putin that Washington doesn’t accept the idea that Ukraine’s interests are subordinate to Russia’s. All of that leaves us more or less where we were before the call: Russia with 70,000 troops camped out on the Ukrainian border, and the US sounding the alarm about a possible invasion.
Rohingya sue Meta. Dozens of Rohingya refugees in the UK and the US want $150 billion in compensation from Meta, the parent company of Facebook, for allegedly allowing hate speech targeting the minority ethnic group to spread like wildfire in Myanmar. More than 10,000 Rohingya — most of whom are Muslim — were killed in August 2017, when the country's trigger-happy military, egged on by radical Buddhist monks, carried out a bloody crackdown against Rohingya communities. Meta, for its part, has as of Tuesday evening yet to reply to the lawsuit, which claims Facebook turned a blind eye to its algorithm amplifying misinformation, failed to invest in moderators and fact-checkers, and didn't take down accounts that explicitly called for violence against the Rohingya. The legal case is only the latest example of Meta, which has admitted its past mistakes in Myanmar, being haunted by its business practices. Regardless of what happens in court, shutting down in Myanmar is a non-starter because for most people there Facebook is the internet.Peru’s new president is on the ropes already. Impeaching presidents is practically a national pastime in Peru, which has done it to six of them in as many years. Now it’s the newly-elected Pedro Castillo’s turn. After a scandal-ridden and erratic first four months in office, the leftist former schoolteacher — a political novice from Peru’s oft-neglected highlands who won the presidential runoff election by a hair — has seen his approval ratings plunge from a meager 40 percent to a flashing-red 25 percent. Lawmakers are talking about booting him, and while there isn’t quite enough support in Peru’s fractious parliament just yet, the bell could toll soon enough unless Castillo rights things — and fast.
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How is China able to control their tech giants without suppressing innovation?
For Ian Bremmer, one important reason is that there's a big difference between Jack Ma questioning Chinese regulators and Elon Musk doing the same to the SEC.
"In the United States you've got fanboys if you do that; in China, they cut you down," Bremmer told CNN anchor Julia Chatterley in an interview following his annual State of the World Speech.
Still, he says China knows it cannot kill its private sector because it needs to keep growing and competing with American tech firms.
So, who's winning the global battle for tech primacy?
Right now, Bremmer believes the US and China are at tech parity — thanks to their tech giants.
"When we're talking about tech supremacy, we can't just talk about governments anymore."
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Hard Numbers: Japanese WW2 shrine visit, UAE shortens workweek, Ethiopian vigilantes, no vax no vote in Latvia
December 07, 2021
100: Some 100 Japanese lawmakers and cabinet members visited on Tuesday the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo for the first time in two years. The visit was met with the usual outrage from China and South Korea because Japanese World War II war criminals are buried there.
4.5: The United Arab Emirates is the world’s first country to ditch the 5-day workweek — by switching to a 4.5-day weekly schedule in order to do more international business. Emirati public-sector workers will only clock in half a day on Friday, a holy day for Islam, and take the full Saturday and Sunday off.
200,000: An estimated 200,000 young residents of Addis Ababa have joined vigilante groups to help defend the Ethiopian capital against rebels from the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front. PM Abiy Ahmed has called on all able civilians to take up arms to halt the TPLF's advance in the year-long conflict.3: Three Latvian MPs were suspended from voting in parliament and had their pay docked for refusing to get a COVID jab. Lawmakers are required to show proof of vaccination, recovery, or medical exemption before entering the building.
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Germany has been the European center of political attention in recent months, as punk-rock god Angela Merkel exits the stage after almost two decades at the helm. But there’s another big election heating up in Europe. The French will head to the polls in just twelve weeks, and the race has started to get very interesting.
What’s the state of play?
The slate of presidential candidates is now finalized after Les Républicains on Saturday elected Valerie Pécresse to head the ticket. Pécresse, the first woman to head the center-right party of Charles de Gaulle, is hoping to reinvigorate a group that’s been marginalized in French politics in recent years as anti-establishment sentiment has gripped the electorate.
She faces off against incumbent President Emmanuel Macron, a wishy-washy centrist who is not particularly popular and would reap about a quarter of votes if elections were held today.
Trailing Macron in the polls is Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right National Rally party, who in recent years has abandoned part of her populist economic agenda to broaden her appeal. And more recently, far(ther)-right firebrand Éric Zemmour — a media shock jock who likes to say provocative things to get attention — has entered the political fray.
Center right vs right vs far right. The French electorate is now decidedly right-leaning. This is in part because the once-potent French left has imploded since former President François Hollande of the Socialist Party left office in 2017 as one of the country’s most unpopular leaders. The French progressive movement remains split as a result of intra-party infighting and ideological differences. Young progressive voters are disengaged from politics.
As a result, big electoral debates over immigration, law and order, and France’s influence on the world stage are playing out almost entirely on the right. For Macron, who has for years tried to paint himself as a pragmatic, liberal political outsider, this swerve to the right has not been too difficult to navigate. He’s talked tough on immigration and Islamic extremism to appeal to right-leaning voters who have staunch views on security and French identity, while distinguishing himself from his far-right opponents whom he dubs as myopic kooks.
But Pécresse’s entrance into the race indeed throws a spanner in the works. The 54-year-old, who served as budget minister in former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government and was an advisor to party stalwart Jacques Chirac, is no provocateur à la Zemmour and Le Pen. She's a run-of-the-mill conservative who has vowed to get tough on immigration and rein in big government. Pécresse describes her brand as “one-third Thatcher, two-thirds Merkel.”
This is a somewhat nightmarish situation for Macron. For the French president, it’s easy to play up his sensible middle-of-the-road politics (on the right, that is) when you have Le Pen’s and Zemmour’s respective Wikipedia pages to draw upon. But Pécresse can hardly be branded as a far-right loon. What’s more, as current chief of Paris’ regional government she has experience balancing budgets and overseeing social programs.
France has a runoff presidential voting system — if no one cracks 50 percent in round one, the two top finishers face off in a second bout. A new poll shows that Pécresse would beat Macron in a runoff, while the incumbent would thrash Le Pen or Zemmour.
Does it even matter who wins? Sort of. Pécresse does not have a track record on foreign affairs, and unlike Macron, would be unlikely to advocate for European strategic autonomy or push for France to lead European policymaking.
Zemmour, on the other hand, is avowedly Euroskeptic, while Le Pen doesn’t like Brussels but says breaking away would be too damaging.
Domestically, tightening immigration rules and cracking down on crime will be priorities for all of the presidential candidates given that large swaths of the French electorate support such moves. But passing legislation through the French parliament is going to be hard for whoever wins the race because no party is likely to win a majority.
Looking ahead. Pécresse is currently five points behind the second-placed candidate. If she makes up the difference over the next few months, all bets are off.
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