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Big Tech's big challenge to the global order

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Read Ian Bremmer's wide-ranging essay in Foreign Affairs that puts in perspective both the challenge, and the opportunity, that comes from the unprecedented power of Big Tech.

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here on the road, something we haven't done very much recently, but will increasingly as we try to move through COVID. And I want to talk to you about a new article that I just put out in Foreign Affairs that I'm calling "The Technopolar Moment." Not unipolar, not bipolar, not multipolar, technopolar. What the hell does technopolar mean?

It means that increasingly big technology companies are themselves geopolitical actors. So to understand the future of the world, you can't just look at the United States, Europe and China. You need to look at the big tech companies, too.

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Facebook — OFF

Has a single tech malfunction ever affected quite as many people as this? You do the math, but on Monday an unexplained outage at Facebook left some 3.5 billion users worldwide without access to the social media site, its messaging app WhatsApp, and the photo sharing site Instagram.

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The US and EU further talks on technology governance

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Hello, and welcome to the new Cyber In 60 Seconds. My name is Marietje Schaake, and you're finding me at the Democracy Forum in Athens. So, from my hotel room, I'm looking back at the Trade and Technology Council that took place in Pittsburgh this week.

For those who missed it, this gathering brought together high-level officials from the Biden administration and the European Commission. It was a long-anticipated meeting that was supposed to reach conclusions about a shared governance agenda for tech-related issues like AI, data, semiconductors, and foreign direct investments. But the Trade and Technology Council was also expected and hoped to mark a new start after very difficult years across the Atlantic. I think we all remember the years when President Trump was still in the White House. And thankfully, the August fallout and French anger did not end up pouring cold water over the events. Although, the general sentiment in Europe that the honeymoon weeks are over is widely shared.

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Why is China trying to game the gamers?

This week, the market value of Tencent, China's biggest video game company, nosedived after a state media outlet suggested that online gaming was as addictive and destructive as opium. Tencent immediately pledged to cap the number of hours people can play, and to keep minors off its platforms.

It's the latest example of a months-long crackdown on major Chinese technology firms that until recently were viewed as some of the world's most powerful and successful companies, as well as a source of national pride. Beijing's about-face on its own tech titans could have big implications for China, and beyond.

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Social media’s responsibility in American politics

Former US Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes argues that one of the biggest issues in American political discourse at the moment is the lack of regulation on social media platforms. Americans believe fake news, not because they are all crazy, but because this information is being effectively presented to them as though it is fact. Biden should work with Big Tech to regulate social media, Rhodes tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, because the situation is worsening. "Part of what's different is the way in which social media and technology has literally made it possible for a very large chunk of this country to live in an alternative reality."

Watch the episode: Is American democracy in danger?

Cuba internet censorship amid protests; pressure grows against Huawei

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Cuba has curbed access to messaging apps amid protests. How controlled and censored is Cuba's internet?

Well, any debate and criticism is tightly controlled in Cuba, including through information, monitoring and monopoly. But activists such as blogger Yoani Sánchez have always been brave in defying repression and making sure that messages of Cubans reached others online across the world. Now mobile internet has become accessible to Cubans since about two years, but accessing it remains incredibly expensive. But the fact that the regime in Cuba once again seeks to censor people through shutting down internet services actually shows it is its Achilles' heel. As Yoani has said, the Castros have lost the internet.

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Biden’s executive order cracks down on Big Tech and protects consumers

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses tech policy in the United States and the new White House executive order with no less than 72 competition enhancing measures.

How will Biden's executive order crack down on big tech?

The answer is in almost every way. The order clearly seeks stronger antitrust enforcement with specific provisions on data and the impact of its assembling on privacy. The order asks for new rules on surveillance from the FTC but will also allow for assessments of not only future but also past mergers. And that is important because the very wealthy, very powerful tech companies are known to buy up competitors that they may fear, and through those mergers grow their data piles. So, the executive order must cause concern in Silicon Valley. The order goes on to restore net neutrality, which is crucial for smaller companies and noncommercial websites. And the position of consumers improves with the possibility to have products repaired or to see others doing that, which is a practice that is often banned today. So once these various measures are in place, the public interest, innovation, consumer rights, and privacy protection should be better safeguarded from abuse of power by big tech.

Apple vs Facebook, a clash of the tech titans; social media algorithms scrutiny

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

How big of a blow is Apple's new privacy feature to companies like Facebook, who depend on tracking users?

The long-awaited update, including enhanced privacy features, actually empowers those users to decide not to be tracked. So that's great news for people who are sick of how the data trail they leave behind on the web is used. But it has to be said, that simple feature settings changed by Apple cannot solve the problem of misuse of data and microtargeting alone. Still, Apple's move was met with predictable outrage and anti-trust accusations from ad giant Facebook. I would anticipate more standard setting by companies in the absence of a federal data protection law in the United States. That's just to mention one vacuum that big tech thrives on.

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