Denmark Says Tech Giants Affect It More Than Entire Countries, Decides To Appoint Official 'Digital Ambassador' To Them

from the if-you-can't-beat-them,-establish-diplomatic-relations-with-them dept

As you may have noticed, here on Techdirt we write quite a lot about companies like Apple, Google and Facebook. That's partly because they are very rich and very powerful, and therefore tend to be driving many of the key developments in the tech field. Some think they are too powerful. Here, for example, is Robert Reich, writing for The New York Times, in a 2015 piece entitled "Big Tech Has Become Way Too Powerful":

While in 2001, the top 10 websites accounted for 31 percent of all page views in America, by 2010 the top 10 accounted for 75 percent. Google and Facebook are now the first stops for many Americans seeking news -- while Internet traffic to much of the nation's newspapers, network television and other news gathering agencies has fallen well below 50 percent of all traffic. Meanwhile, Amazon is now the first stop for almost a third of all American consumers seeking to buy anything. Talk about power.

As Reich points out, the European Union seems to agree, and is investigating Amazon, Apple and Google for various alleged abuses of that growing power. More recently, the European Commission signalled that it was not happy about aspects of Facebook's takeover of WhatsApp. But not everyone thinks fighting tech giants is the solution. Here, for example, is what Denmark's Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen has announced, as reported by The Local:

Saying that tech giants like Google and Apple now have more influence than many countries, Denmark will become the first nation in the world to appoint a so-called digital ambassador.

Samuelsen said that through the ambassadorship, which has not yet been filled, Denmark will work toward better relationships with the American tech firms that have amassed fortunes much larger than some of the countries with which Denmark practises traditional diplomacy.

There's a certain logic there, but it does set a worrying precedent. If there's an official digital ambassador, why not have an energy ambassador for the giant oil and gas companies, and a drug ambassador for Big Pharma? And won't that kind of political apparatus provide yet more ways for already influential companies to bend and shape government policy in a country -- tipping the balance against ordinary people even further?

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+


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  1. icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 3 Feb 2017 @ 9:13am

    Re: And how many divisions does Google have?

    "The typical ambassador manages relationships between countries within a framework of relative power that includes, somewhere at its base, the raw power of military muscle. Companies have very different resources and responsibilities."

    In this age of "security companies" like Blackwater, I wouldn't be so sure that a major corp like Google could *not* field a ton of the "raw power of military muscle".

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