[discuss] [bestbits] Shoshanna Zuboff: Dark Google

michael gurstein gurstein at gmail.com
Wed May 7 04:58:46 UTC 2014



From: evanleibovitch at gmail.com [mailto:evanleibovitch at gmail.com] On Behalf Of Evan Leibovitch
Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2014 6:29 PM
To: michael gurstein
Cc: Milton L Mueller; 1Net List
Subject: Re: [discuss] [bestbits] Shoshanna Zuboff: Dark Google


On 6 May 2014 08:09, michael gurstein <gurstein at gmail.com> wrote:


The piece from Springer as I read it, wasn’t, at least overtly, concerned with the copyright issue.



No, but the comment speaks to the company's long-standing grudge against Google. So when you appeal to the gravitas of Springer as somehow being relevant to the authenticity (let alone relevance) of its claims, Springer's backstory with Google -- and this its subjective motivations -- also becomes relevant.

[MG>] So what… as someone said because the canary in the mine shaft is wearing a company jacket doesn’t make it any less of a canary (perhaps even more useful because of their special knowledge


What is becoming clear in most non-ideological (or self-interest) distorted analyses is that the Internet provides opportunities for global monopolies (and all of the distortions and inequities which are the result) and that if Internet Governance doesn’t deal with these then national governments in their various localized wisdoms most certainly will.


I have no idea why you speak of this in the future tense. This is already happening. Or are the "great firewall of China", recent moves by Turkey to throttle Twitter, or even screwing with the DNS to implement DMCA "takedowns" in the US just myth?


[MG>] As I’m sure you know these above are rather different instances with different motivations and different desired outcomes and I share your concern with them but responding to them either nationally or globally requires a rather different strategy and policy/decision making mechanisms… I see little value except the attempt to score rhetorical (ideological) points in conflating them…



I think most participants here are aware that Google is large, pervasive, and is itself into surveillance of personal information as a core business model. It needs be watched and regulated, and be the focus of as much attention regarding data abuse as any state; we didn't need Springer's fear-mongering to tell us that. However, Google is also a legitimate stakeholder, a recognized innovator, and one of the builders of the Infrastructure that makes the Internet useful to many.


[MG>] The original question that I posed was--should Google be a “stakeholder” in a “multistakeholder” process of regulation of the industry in which it is a dominant player… If the answer is yes then we seem to have a different perspective on the likely behavior of foxes in hen houses.



Sure, we must not be complacent, aware that even companies that strive to "do no harm" exist to maximize value to their shareholders as a primary goal. We have also seen that every tech company that has historically been feared to be a pervasive monopoly eventually gives way to disruptive upstarts. Just as important as keeping an eye on the behemoth companies is nurturing the kind of environment that enables some future effort to do to Google what Google itself did to Microsoft's seeming impenetrable monopoly.


[MG>] One of the more interesting elements of the Springer (and Zuboff) arguments was the way in which Google was choking off precisely the type of innovation which would allow for a monopoly such as itself to come under extraordinary technology competition. Certainly it is possible but blind, naïve, mystical, faith in the power of technologists to save us all is not something that I (or I would imagine most people in the world) are ready to easily subscribe to…



The issue IMO is not whether local governments have the authority to regulate the Internet (and companies such as Google) within their borders; they clearly do. The issue is to demonstrate and promote that it is in their joint national interests to have a free and open Internet, and come as close as we can to a treaty or sign-on convention that points them in that direction. Such openness, and the resulting atmosphere of innovation, is as necessary a check on the excesses of Google (or any other player) as much as any state regulation.


[MG>] Far be it from me to argue against a free and open Internet but I would also want the notions of “freedom” and “openness” to be as relevant to the interests and concerns of those in Burkina Faso and the Highlands of Borneo as to the folks in Silicon Valley or its clones/nodes elsewhere in the world.  I think we know from Mr. Snowden that the US regards “freedom on the Internet” to mean freedom to surveille and freedom from oversight… and from folks like Zuboff that “openness” means leaving your knowledge and intellectual capital “open” to whoever has the technology and financial means to capture it for resale.


If the words “free and open” actually mean anything other than as a PR driven slogan then it is worth thinking quite seriously about what a “free and open” Internet might mean to a rather wider range of folks than those currently deriving extraordinary benefits from its current configurations.




- Evan




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