2 min readAre we witnessing a new form of digital colonization?

How will state-hood change in the face of Big Tech dominance?

The following is a 2018 paper written by Renata Avila Pinto for Sur International Journal on Human Rights. In this article, she talks about the tensions between privacy and security which has been initiated and enhanced by technologies and data collection of tech companies. Pinto shares that the issue of privacy is more complex than what is being addressed by mainstream media. She says, “The power of surveillance and the concentration of the data gathered by both public and private mechanisms is focused on a small number of actors, public and private, based mainly in one jurisdiction and leading to a rapid erosion of state sovereignty and democracy”. Pinto goes on to discuss the many faces and facets of this digital domination.

Pinto also discusses the motivation behind the quasi-philantrophic efforts of several companies such as Facebook, Google, and SpaceX to “connect the disconnected”. She also offers insights (as well as examples) on how revolving doors between these companies and their governments can be used as a geopolitical advantage.

The good news, Pinto says, is that less developed countries (with lesser capacities to create independent technological infrastructures) is that there are spaces of resistance and technological sovereignty is still possible. She also offers suggestions on how middle-income and low-income countries can utilize the benefits of new technologies while at the same time protect their citizens’ rights.

Editor’s Note: While this article was written three (3) years ago, it seems to be pertaining to the society of the present. The COVID-19 crisis has fast tracked the digitalization of the world, and many countries are not yet ready to protect their citizens. The infrastructures mentioned by Pinto have not yet been set up, and most governments in developed countries are still clueless on how technology can be utilized to control their actions and decisions.

But we are still in the early stages. By re-publishing this article, we are hoping that citizens (if not their government leaders) will wake up to the reality of digital colonization. We hope that more will rally behind initiatives that seek to uphold digital dignity that are based on human rights standards.

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