Big Tech’s power growing at runaway speed

first_imgHow do you regulate a business you don’t understand?It’s a problem the U.S. government has not resolved or even faced, said experts at a Harvard Kennedy School forum, and until it does, big technology’s power “to shape our politics and even our public policy” will continue to grow unchecked.“Anyone who’s been paying attention to news in the past year or so has woken up to the power of digital platforms and large technology companies,” said Nicco Mele, director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and moderator of “Big Tech and Democracy” on Wednesday evening. Just as bad, “if you asked members of Congress to articulate the problem, you’d get a wide range of views,” he said. Harvard Law School Professor Susan Crawford said the largest tech companies are already powerful enough to have their own infrastructures, from Amazon’s private internet service to the health care systems now in the works at Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan Chase.“And at a time when the U.S. subway system is falling apart, Amazon is building a heliport. Health care, transit, communication … these are all essential for America, yet these giant companies can build around them.” It illustrates something “profoundly wrong” with American government, she said.Digital communication, especially, is “the most powerful and pervasive platform in the history of this planet,” said Shorenstein senior research fellow Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC from 2013 to 2017. But currently the companies controlling it “are making the rules in their own best interest,” he said. “We’re not talking about bad people, but [tech companies] are being presented with the opportunity to make their own rules, and nobody has repealed the laws of human nature.” — Dipayan Ghosh “If you have this underlying infrastructure that is essential to the operation of the 21st century, shouldn’t the public be represented in the rules of its operation?” Wheeler asked. “So far we have been letting it take care of itself, feeling that we will break the magic if we touch this. Well, it is time to touch it.”Significantly adding to the government’s hands-off attitude has been the fact that digital savvy is scarce among members of Congress, the panelists pointed out. Only about 15 percent of the current Congress is technically trained, said Laura Manley, director of the Technology and Public Purpose Project at the Belfer Center, and when they need to make decisions on technological oversight, their staff members are likely to go to tech lobbyists for information.Dipayan Ghosh, the Pozen Fellow at the Shorenstein Center, pointed out that many tech companies make money selling data about their customers’ use patterns, and have questionable records of respecting privacy rights. He noted that although Apple has said that it doesn’t collect data from customers in the U.S., it has no qualms working with the Chinese government to collect data on its citizens.“It’s not as though they follow human rights values consistently through all their business practices,” Ghosh said. People don’t even have to go online to have their data collected, said Ghosh, a former global privacy and public policy adviser for Facebook. When customers walk into a car dealership in Boston, he said, what they look at is tracked from the moment they come in, and their contact information is used to sign them up for a newsletter and then sold to a major data broker.“I would argue for a policy regime that treats those areas in a way that protects the American consumer,” Ghosh said.The panelists said there are no easy fixes: pricey lawyers can find loopholes in regulations, and even without those, effective competitors to the major digital companies aren’t likely to appear soon. “We’re not talking about bad people,” Wheeler said. “But they are being presented with the opportunity to make their own rules, and nobody has repealed the laws of human nature.”But responding to an audience question about how government can keep up, Crawford did have one solid recommendation: “The older people need to leave. It really is a generational issue at this point.”“Big Tech and Democracy” was sponsored by the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School.last_img read more

Evergreen Aguero holds key to City’s title defence

first_img0Shares0000Sergio Aguero’s predatory instincts hold the key to Manchester City’s title defence © AFP / Paul ELLISLONDON, United Kingdom, Nov 1 – Sergio Aguero holds the key to Manchester City’s bid to overhaul Premier League leaders Liverpool as the Argentine striker reaps the rewards of the “best decision of his life”.When Aguero walks onto the Etihad Stadium pitch ahead of Saturday’s clash with Southampton, he will feel more at one with his surroundings than he would ever have imagined when he arrived eight years ago. Back then, Aguero was a talented but not yet fully rounded player hoping to thrive in England after a promising start to his European career with Atletico Madrid.The intervening years have been a dream come true for Aguero, who is now City’s record goal-scorer and has amassed four Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four League Cups while helping the club’s become top dogs in Manchester after decades of dominance from United.Aguero marked his 350th appearance with two goals against Southampton in the League Cup fourth round win on Tuesday, giving him 12 for the season and 243 in his City career.For all the brilliance of his City team-mates Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, it is the 31-year-old Aguero and the guarantee of goals which remains the key element in their bid for a third successive English title.“It was hard to imagine spending so long with one club when I first started off but as time went by, it became clearer to me that it was exactly what I wanted. And here I am, enjoying my eighth season with Manchester City,” Aguero said.“How couldn’t I feel like a Mancunian? I feel at home in this club and in this city. As soon as I arrived, I’ve felt like I belonged, that made the adaptation process much more natural.“I believe coming to Manchester City is one of the best decisions I’ve taken in my life.”– Intense competition –Chasing their first top-flight title since 1990, Liverpool are six points clear of City and remain a daunting obstacle for Aguero and company.Jurgen Klopp’s side head to Aston Villa with nine wins from their 10 league games this season, a blistering streak that is fuelled by the intense competition for places and the high standards set by the European champions.Evidence of that desire was provided by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who scored a superb goal in the midweek League Cup win over Arsenal but then admitted he hadn’t done enough to deserve to retain his place against Villa.“I wasn’t great on the ball and not near my own personal level of where I want to be. I watch the boys of a weekend and I know what it is about here,” he said.“You have got to be at a really high physical level to go and put in a performance like that. Fab (Fabinho) did really well at the weekend so I need to keep pushing myself and maybe I will get a chance.”Elsewhere, Manchester United, enjoying a mini-revival after their poor start, can make it four successive away wins when they visit Bournemouth.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side beat Chelsea in the League Cup on Wednesday thanks to Marcus Rashford’s superb free-kick and the United striker feels confidence is growing in the squad.“If you get a couple of wins back-to-back early on in the season it can change the direction the season is going,” Rashford said.“When you’re winning back-to-back games, the team’s confidence levels go up.”Arsenal boss Unai Emery is under pressure to deliver a win against Wolves after his side blew leads against Liverpool and Crystal Palace.The Palace match was marred by Granit Xhaka’s astonishing feud with Gunners fans and the fall-out continues, with Emery still deciding whether to strip him of the captaincy.Fixtures (1800 unless stated)SaturdayArsenal v Wolves, Aston Villa v Liverpool, Bournemouth v Manchester Utd (1530 GMT), Brighton v Norwich, Manchester City v Southampton, Sheffield Utd v Burnley, Watford v Chelsea (2030 GMT), West Ham v NewcastleSundayCrystal Palace v Leicester (1700 ), Everton v Tottenham (1930)0Shares0000(Visited 15 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more