Self Help

Digital Empires - Anu Bradford

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Matheus Puppe

· 106 min read

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Here is a summary of the key points from the introduction of the book “Digital Empires”:

  • While the internet has provided many benefits like access to information and enhanced connectivity, it has also enabled the spread of harmful/illegal content and increased societal polarization.

  • A small number of large tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta and Microsoft now wield immense economic and political power due to weak antitrust enforcement allowing concentration.

  • This power and control over platforms, data and discourse is a concern as it competes with nation states and impacts democracy, public debate and individual privacy/data use.

  • Content moderation on platforms is a difficult challenge - balancing free expression vs harmful content. Platforms often get it wrong in both directions by failing to remove some harmful speeches or over-removing at other times.

  • The human toll on content moderators working behind the scenes to enforce community guidelines is also troubling, as they are subjected to viewing disturbing/traumatic material without proper support.

So in summary, the introduction outlines both benefits and harms of the internet/tech platforms, the concentrated power of large companies, and the governance challenges around content moderation decisions and their human impact.

  • Content moderators working for major tech platforms like Facebook face immense psychological toll from constantly reviewing graphic and disturbing content like violence, child pornography, and animal abuse. They are expected to review hundreds or thousands of items per day for low pay and few protections.

  • Their work highlights the difference between highly-paid tech executives and the behind-the-scenes workers keeping platforms safe. It also questions the early vision of the internet as empowering when it exposes many to trauma.

  • Major concerns about tech companies relate to privacy and data collection. They extensively track users and commercialize that data through targeted ads, threatening individual autonomy. Cambridge Analytica showed how political groups can exploit this data.

  • Both authoritarian governments like China and democratic ones like the US extensively surveil citizens through tech companies, undermining civil liberties. Advancing AI raises new risks of mass surveillance and manipulation.

  • As awareness of tech risks grows, calls for regulation are increasing. The EU, US, and China represent three dominant regulatory models - market-driven, state-driven, and rights-driven respectively. Each seeks to shape global digital governance in its image through its companies and rules.

  • There is no consensus on the best approach, as each model balances innovation, rights, security, and economic concerns in different ways subject to valid criticisms. This sets the stage for competition between the “digital empires.”

The passage describes the three main regulatory models for the digital economy:

  • The US model is market-driven and centered on protecting free speech and innovation. It takes a hands-off approach with limited government intervention. However, critics argue this has compromised individual privacy and democracy.

  • The Chinese model is state-driven, aiming to maximize tech dominance while maintaining social control. It has successfully fostered innovation but uses the internet for censorship and surveillance. This strict approach has drawn international criticism.

  • The EU model is rights-driven, seeking to balance rights like privacy and free speech. It views regulation as necessary to protect fundamental rights, democracy, and a fair marketplace. While supporting individual liberties, critics argue it stifles innovation and free speech.

Overall, each model balances economic and political priorities differently. The US focuses on markets and free speech, China on state power and control, and the EU on individual rights and democratic processes. They also each incorporate aspects of the other approaches to some degree. There is no consensus on the best regulatory framework.

  • The US, China, and EU are engaged in both horizontal and vertical battles over regulating the digital economy.

  • Horizontally, they contest what norms and values govern the digital realm. The US promotes open markets and internet freedom. China focuses on political control and protections. The EU prioritizes citizens’ rights.

  • Vertically, governments battle tech companies operating in their markets. Companies wield vast private power akin to empires.

  • Governments seek to restrain companies but also use them as tools. China relies on tech for surveillance. The US uses tech for security. The EU delegates enforcement to companies.

  • Governments need companies to boost economies and aid in horizontal battles against rivals. So the challenge is inflicting oversight without undermining reliance on companies’ capabilities.

  • These horizontal and vertical battles are intertwined, constraining strategies. The US is reluctant to over-regulate tech due to impacts on competing with China technologically.

  • The dynamic produces periods of escalation and de-escalation, avoiding full conflict but no lasting truce. Imperial rivalries shape the evolving global digital order.

  • Tech companies face competing demands from different governments as they operate globally, making it impossible to fully comply with all rules at the same time.

  • Microsoft faced US demands to hand over European user data while also facing EU rules against disclosing that data. Apple and Google removed Navalny’s app under Russian pressure.

  • Companies navigating conflicting demands around Russian invasion disinformation shows this challenge.

  • US tech companies in China face tough tradeoffs, like Apple storing data locally and censoring its app store under Chinese rules.

  • These “vertical” company vs government battles intersect with “horizontal” geopolitical rivalries between countries.

  • The US wants Chinese market access for its companies but also wants to curb China; it faces pressure not to escalate tensions with the EU.

  • Governments rely on tech companies’ success against rivals like China, constraining how aggressively they can regulate companies.

  • These interdependencies across battles force all players toward restraint and managing conflicts rather than extremes.

  • The US, EU and China export their regulatory models globally, competing to shift other countries toward their respective market, state or rights-driven approaches.

  • US tech companies like Facebook, Google and WhatsApp have large global reach due to lenient US privacy laws and antitrust regulations. However, their business models have also negatively shaped other societies.

  • For example, Facebook algorithms amplified controversial Brexit messages. Twitter also allowed Russian interference leading up to the Brexit vote. Meta failed to remove hate speech against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.

  • China builds digital infrastructure globally through projects like the Digital Silk Road, raising concerns about surveillance and data theft enabled by companies like Huawei. An example is hacking operations at the African Union headquarters built by Chinese companies.

  • The EU also exerts global influence through regulations requiring privacy, competition and limiting harmful content. This shapes tech companies’ practices worldwide. For example, an EU court decision invalidated the US-EU Privacy Shield, impacting transatlantic data transfers.

  • These examples show how the US, China and EU export their models globally through the influence of US tech companies, Chinese infrastructure projects and EU regulations. Foreign markets have to navigate impacts and align with one model.

  • While criticisms exist, these “digital empires” also receive invitations from users, citizens and governments who welcome aspects like services, protections or development opportunities they provide.

  • The book argues that the dominant narrative of the digital economy contest being solely between the US and China is flawed. The EU is advancing its own rights-driven regulatory model that more countries are embracing.

  • The US model of free market self-regulation is fading as its public supports stronger tech regulations. Countries face choosing between China’s state control model or the EU’s rights-focused approach.

  • China’s model appeals to authoritarian leaders seeking to maintain power, and its influence is growing through partnerships with developing nations. However, concerns remain around censorship and individual rights.

  • The EU model emphasizes rights, fairness and democracy, reflecting issues with big tech. It is emerging as a leading alternative and the US may need to align more closely with the EU to counter China.

  • The book analyzes regulatory models of the US, China and EU, and the battle lines being contested as their visions collide globally. It examines how each seeks to expand influence by exporting their frameworks.

  • The resolution of these regulatory conflicts will impact economic prosperity, political stability and individual freedom on the internet. The existential battle concerns the future of liberal democracy itself. The book integrates discussions around how the digital economy is evolving internationally.

  • Chapter 1 discusses how China uses technology to fuel economic growth but also for social control and political ends like surveillance and propaganda. This supports the CCP’s goals of economic development and social stability.

  • It acknowledges criticism of infringing on individual rights but notes technological breakthroughs can still emerge under China’s state-driven model. However, China’s regulatory approach is undergoing changes as it cracks down more on tech companies.

  • Chapter 2 covers the EU’s rights-driven regulatory model which aims to protect individual/collective rights and democratic values through distributing power away from large tech firms. However, extensive regulation may hinder innovation.

  • Part II analyzes conflicts between the three models. Chapter 3 looks at challenges faced by tech firms operating across regulatory environments.

  • Chapter 4 examines the escalating US-China tech war and growing subsidy race as each seeks technological supremacy, risking a balkanized digital economy.

  • Chapter 5 discusses transatlantic battles between the US and EU over issues like data protection and digital taxation. However, cooperation is also growing out of shared concerns about China.

  • Part III extends the analysis to how each digital power seeks to expand its influence globally through different means - US via private firms, China via infrastructure, and EU via regulations.

  • Chapters 7-8 analyze the globalizing impact and backlash against the American model, while China gains influence through its Digital Silk Road infrastructure investments.

That covers the key points about the clashes between different approaches to digital regulation and each power’s efforts to shape global norms.

  • Chapter 9 examines how the EU has wielded international influence through digital regulations like the GDPR that have spread globally. The “Brussels Effect” describes how EU regulations often shape the practices of major tech companies, which extend these rules worldwide to standardize products and services.

  • The GDPR is a prime example, but EU rules on antitrust, online content, and emerging tech like AI are also propagated through this effect and incorporated into foreign legislation. Democratic governments are increasingly embracing the EU’s rights-driven model over the US’s market-driven approach for governing their digital economies.

  • However, others criticize the EU for engaging in “regulatory imperialism” that undermines other governments’ authority over their own digital economies. The conclusion questions whether the American, Chinese, or European regulatory models will prevail and if tech companies or governments will ultimately triumph in their battles over influence and control. It predicts the EU model will spread further among democracies but faces challenges enforcing rules against large tech firms. Closer US-EU alignment may be needed to counter China’s growing sway.

  • Early internet pioneers in California, like John Perry Barlow, strongly opposed any government regulation of the internet. They argued the internet should be self-regulating without interference.

  • The market-driven regulatory model that emerged in the US was based on skepticism of government regulation and a belief that regulation stifles innovation and economic growth.

  • Proponents argued markets are better than governments at regulating the internet. Factors like low transaction costs, easy entry/exit, and choice among service providers enable self-governance.

  • However, others argued the internet can and should be regulated through things like code and laws. Also, spillover effects of online activity justify some government regulation cross-borders.

  • While regulation may be possible, the US model favored limited intervention and letting private actors and free markets govern to maximize innovation. Exceptions have been made for national security or critical technology needs.

  • However, critics argue this model no longer adequately addresses issues like privacy, power of large companies, and harms facilitated by unregulated online platforms. This is pushing for potential rethinking of the US approach.

  • Some argue that government regulation is unnecessary and markets will eventually solve problems on their own. Excessive regulation could curb innovation.

  • Techno-libertarians say technology, not regulation, is the solution to issues like harmful speech or privacy concerns. Tech companies can develop their own technical solutions.

  • Self-regulation, as practiced by companies like Apple, is preferred in the US model over government mandates. Apple developed tools to detect child abuse images without regulation requiring it.

  • The US model views an unregulated internet as advancing individual freedom and democracy by allowing diverse voices and participation. Early thinkers saw it enabling direct democracy.

  • US policymakers have argued the internet promotes democracy by spreading information and allowing civic engagement and organization, as seen in social movements.

  • Free speech is a core American value protected by the First Amendment. The US model favors a free “marketplace of ideas” even if speech is hateful, while the EU restricts some speech. This open debate fosters democratic values.

So in summary, the US model favors self-regulation and technological solutions over government mandates, believing this promotes innovation, democracy and free speech rights.

  • The American regulatory model for digital technologies is based on a strong political argument that a free and unfettered internet leads to a more robust and inclusive democracy.

  • This market-driven ethos is codified in US law through statutes like Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and court rulings. Section 230 provides internet platforms immunity from liability for user-generated content.

  • Congress enacted Section 230 in 1996 in response to a court case that held an online service liable for user comments. Congress sought to preserve incentives for platforms to develop new services without risk of liability.

  • Section 230 has been called the “law that matters most for speech on the Web.” It reflects the view that private actors, not government, should regulate online content.

  • Other US laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act also shield platforms from liability to encourage innovation with minimal regulation. Congress has largely taken a hands-off approach, rejecting proposals for stricter privacy laws or antitrust enforcement.

  • This bare-bones regulatory approach stands in contrast to the more interventionist stance taken by EU institutions through comprehensive privacy and other digital economy laws.

So in summary, the US model favors free markets and self-regulation over government oversight, as enshrined particularly in Section 230, in the view that this maximizes innovation and free expression.

While Congress established the market-driven regulatory approach for tech companies through Section 230 legislation, the judicial branch and Executive branch have played key roles in upholding and entrenching this model.

The courts, through cases like Zeran v. AOL, have strongly interpreted Section 230 to provide broad immunity to tech platforms and promote unfettered internet growth. The Supreme Court has also defended online free speech principles.

Meanwhile, presidential administrations from Clinton to Obama embraced light-touch regulation and self-regulation. They advocated for private sector leadership and avoiding unnecessary restrictions on the internet economy. This reflected the techno-optimistic, deregulatory views of the 1990s period when the commercial internet emerged.

As a result of these consistent stances across government, the market-driven approach lacking extensive regulation of tech companies has remained the dominant framework, even as issues have grown more complex. Congress has failed to pass new legislation that might adjust this model, leaving the status quo in place.

  • The US historically embraced a market-driven, deregulatory approach to regulating the digital economy and tech industry. This was based on principles of free speech, free markets, and limiting government intervention.

  • Section 230 gave broad liability protections to online platforms and encouraged innovation and growth of the tech industry. US courts have upheld these protections against many legal challenges.

  • Antitrust enforcement was also very light, allowing major tech companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon to consolidate power through acquisitions with few constraints.

  • There was no broad federal privacy law, leaving online privacy regulation to self-regulation by companies. Attempts to pass new laws generally failed due to industry opposition.

  • However, more recently there has been growing criticism of this model from diverse groups. Cases of censorship, disinformation, data privacy issues, and the power of large tech platforms have caused more to question the market-driven approach.

  • This led to some modest changes like FOSTA limiting Section 230, as well as antitrust cases against Google and Facebook in 2020. But the legal system remains committed to free market principles generally.

  • Critics argue that leading tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple have grown too large and powerful, with influence over markets, data, online speech, and politics that was unimaginable when the internet first emerged.

  • There are growing calls to strengthen antitrust enforcement against these companies for anti-competitive behavior and address data privacy and content moderation issues. Congress and regulators are under increasing pressure to take action.

  • Proposed reforms include tightening antitrust laws, limiting the liability shield in Section 230 for platforms that do not moderate content properly, and enacting comprehensive privacy laws. However, change has been difficult due to the tech industry’s lobbying power and entrenched pro-market views in the US.

  • While reform efforts have faced obstacles, the backlash against big tech represents a challenge to the American model of light regulation that has allowed these companies to amass power and influence with little oversight or accountability. The coming years may reveal if new legislation can usher in a new era of stronger tech regulation in the US.

  • While the US regulatory model is generally market-driven and libertarian, it overlaps with European and Chinese models in some areas.

  • The US and EU both emphasize free speech as a fundamental right, though the EU more strongly balances it with other rights like privacy and dignity.

  • The US government has played a significant role in funding innovation through agencies like DARPA, showing elements of a state-driven model. Technologies like the internet, email, touchscreens, and even the iPhone benefited from government research grants.

  • National security objectives lead the US government and tech companies to closely collaborate on issues like cybersecurity and digital surveillance.

  • Individual rights beyond just free speech, like privacy, are also a concern in the US model, though enforced more at the state level than through federal laws like GDPR.

  • So the US model incorporates aspects of market-driven, rights-driven, and state-driven approaches, though it generally prefers markets and decentralization over top-down regulation or state control. The commitment to political freedom remains core.

  • The US and China are now geopolitical rivals competing for leadership in key technologies like semiconductors. This has fueled a subsidy race, with the US passing the CHIPS act to fund domestic semiconductor R&D.

  • The US is also imposing restrictions on tech exports and investments to limit China’s access to strategic technologies. This moves the US away from traditionally promoting an open digital economy.

  • The US model incorporates elements of other models. While market-driven, the government plays an important role in shaping the digital economy due to national security, law enforcement, and cybersecurity needs requiring public-private cooperation.

  • For cybersecurity and surveillance, the US uses a public-private partnership model with collaborative relationships between state and tech companies. However, tech companies also resist government requests at times to protect users’ privacy and data.

  • Examples show both collaboration like tech companies aiding surveillance as well as resistance like Apple challenging the FBI over unlocking a phone. The relationship is complex with dynamics changing over time and issues.

  • The geopolitical rivalry with China and issues like cyber threats are driving closer cooperation between the US government and tech companies on national security issues in the digital sphere.

The passage criticizes the market-driven regulatory model in the US tech industry for being blind to market failures and downsides. It argues that lax antitrust laws have created an overly concentrated market dominated by a few large firms with too much power over consumers. It also critiques Section 230 for granting platforms too much immunity and enabling harmful behaviors like harassment and sex trafficking.

Additionally, it doubts if the model is delivering on promises to enhance democracy, arguing that online polarization, disinformation, and low-quality sensationalist content are replacing civic debates. Algorithms prioritize virality over truth, and platforms have incentives to amplify controversial content for revenue. This undermines an informed public and shared understanding.

The passage also raises concerns about platforms’ influence over elections through content moderation and targeting of political ads. Their data collection could theoretically manipulate voters, and their algorithms currently contribute to polarization by targeting ads only to those who already agree. Further, platforms tolerate election interference through disinformation.

In summary, the passage offers a critique of the US market-driven model by highlighting various market failures and arguing it has negative consequences for competition, free speech, democracy, elections, and privacy.

  • The Chinese regulatory model for digital technologies seeks to harness tech to strengthen government control rather than protect individual freedom, in stark contrast to the American market-driven model.

  • However, China’s success in building powerful tech companies under a state-driven model shows that significant innovations can still emerge without a purely free market approach. These companies have fueled China’s economic growth and global prominence.

  • Maintaining economic development and social stability are priorities for China’s leadership to retain popular support and power. The regulatory model aims to achieve these political goals.

  • Statements from President Xi Jinping frame digital governance as rooted in sovereignty and emphasize using tech for economic growth, productivity gains, and maintaining social harmony and control over communications.

  • China’s model has still fostered a powerful domestic tech industry, challenging the view that state involvement hinders innovation. However, it departs significantly from other models by prioritizing Party control over individual freedom.

Here are the key points about China’s push for technological dominance and reliance on digital protectionism according to the chapter summary:

  • The Chinese state-driven regulatory model aims to leverage digital technologies for economic growth and geopolitical prominence.

  • Initially the government took a more hands-off approach to regulation to nurture growth of domestic tech companies and isolate them from foreign competition so they could gain scale in the Chinese market.

  • Today’s tense geopolitical environment, including the ongoing US-China tech war, motivates China to invest more in its domestic tech industry to enhance self-sufficiency in key technologies like semiconductors.

  • China has made concerted efforts to become a technological superpower through initiatives like the “Made in China 2025” plan which supports strategic industries with huge government subsidies.

  • The goal is for China to dominate technologies critical to its economy, geopolitics and military, such as AI, quantum computing, robotics through this strategy of technological self-sufficiency and digital protectionism.

So in summary, the Chinese model aims to use digital technologies to further China’s power while reducing dependencies on foreign tech through nurturing domestic companies and shielding them from foreign competition initially.

  • China’s Made in China 2025 program aims to diminish the country’s dependence on foreign technologies and enhance its “technological sovereignty.” It sets targets like achieving 70% self-sufficiency in strategic industries like semiconductors by 2025.

  • The longer-term goal by 2049 is for China to be a global “manufacturing powerhouse” with world-leading technology and industrial systems. This responds to deteriorating US-China relations and the tech war.

  • The program has faced criticism abroad for its protectionist goals and effects, like forcing technology transfers from foreign companies. This has led China to downplay public references to it while still pursuing its goals in practice.

  • Protectionism is a key part of China’s efforts to develop its tech sector. The government shields domestic companies from foreign competition through market restrictions, technology transfer requirements, censorship rules, and data sharing mandates.

  • This restricts foreign tech giants while allowing Chinese companies to grow and innovate within China’s large protected market, helping them become more competitive globally over time.

  • The model contrasts with the traditionally more open US system and challenges that as the optimal approach for innovation and economic progress.

  • China deploys extensive censorship and surveillance online to control citizens and prevent dissent that could undermine the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This includes facial recognition, monitoring of online communications, blocking access to foreign websites, VPN crackdowns, and more.

  • The goal is to maintain “social harmony” and party control, prioritizing these over citizens’ rights. This authoritarian control online is a defining feature of China’s state-driven regulatory model.

  • Laws like the National Security Law, Cybersecurity Law, and Data Security Law cement the government’s control and require technology to serve the state. They criminalize activities seen as endangering national security, undermining the socialist system, or inciting protests.

  • Individuals can face prison for sharing rumors or information online, with over 50 jailed in recent years for social media posts criticizing the government or topics like Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Even those with few followers have been imprisoned.

  • The censorship balances allowing some information to benefit governance while tightly controlling anything that could incite unrest or opposition to the CCP. The goal is optimal, not absolute, censorship to maintain control while utilizing online information.

The state-driven model of internet regulation and censorship used in China can be effective at achieving the government’s goals of controlling information and shaping public opinion, even without total control over the online environment. Through a combination of fear, friction, and flooding, the Chinese government relies on “porous censorship” that selectively blocks certain content to avoid public backlash but still limit the spread of undesirable information. Propaganda on social media and state-run media is also a major component, aiming to promote a pro-government narrative related to issues like COVID-19 and suppress alternative views. The government employs human censors and online commentators (known as the “50 Cent Army”) to manually delete prohibited posts and flood the internet with pro-regime messages. While Chinese propaganda aims to present a unified message across media, people are increasingly skeptical of state-controlled sources and global public opinion has largely resisted China’s propaganda efforts on certain issues like the Peng Shuai case. Overall, the model aims to govern online discourse more effectively through censorship, distraction, and messaging control.

  • The Chinese government uses pervasive digital surveillance to enhance state control over citizens. Technologies like facial recognition, developed by Chinese companies, allow unprecedented monitoring.

  • Officials argue surveillance improves public safety, governance and economic growth. However, critics say the real goal is authoritarian social control. AI enables tracking individuals in real-time and predicting dissent.

  • Over 500 “smart cities” have been built in China with extensive surveillance systems. While touted as improving lives, they primarily monitor and control citizens.

  • Surveillance is most intensive in Xinjiang, where Uyghurs are the “most intensely surveilled population on Earth.” Facial recognition there can trigger “Uyghur alarms.”

  • A controversial social credit system aggregates data to rate trustworthiness and reward or punish individuals. While effects are debated, it aims to control society through consequences.

  • Close partnerships with tech companies are key to robust censorship and control. Companies are rewarded for cooperation but also risk sanctions like shutdowns for noncompliance. This enables large-scale private censorship.

  • China’s system of internet censorship and regulation is an extension of its broader system of government control over media and information. Commercial media and online platforms must moderate content according to strict government rules.

  • Laws require platforms to delete content that threatens state interests or stability. Regulations also push platforms to promote content in line with the ruling Communist Party’s messaging.

  • The Cyberspace Administration of China closely monitors platforms and issues frequent directives to enforce censorship. Failure to comply could result in penalties or shutdowns.

  • Employees at ByteDance, which owns TikTok, described intensive censoring efforts to meet government demands and avoid scrutiny. Compliance is crucial for companies’ survival.

  • While some Chinese citizens welcome aspects like social credit scoring, others actively use the internet for activism, resistance and social change - though space for meaningful dissent has shrunk under Xi Jinping.

  • While largely authoritarian, China’s regulatory approach borrows some consumer protection elements from Europe and America, like new data privacy laws that aim to curb companies’ data abuses and protect citizens. Overall though, political control takes precedence.

  • The Chinese government is concerned about unfair business practices and data exploitation by dominant tech companies. They have curtailed price discrimination and using personal info to treat people differently.

  • Recent regulations aim to introduce more fairness in the market by distributing power away from tech companies to users and consumers. However, the government still seeks to enhance user rights vis-a-vis companies but not necessarily vis-a-vis the state.

  • Early on, China embraced a hands-off, market-driven approach like in the US. American VC firms were important early backers of major Chinese tech companies like Alibaba and Tencent, helping the industry grow in a capitalist way initially.

  • Since 2020, China has taken a sharper turn toward greater state control of tech. Major crackdowns have targeted companies like Ant Group, Alibaba, DiDi, and Meituan with fines, restructurings, and data security investigations. New laws and guidelines have strengthened regulation of antitrust, data practices, cross-border data transfers, cybersecurity, and more.

  • The Chinese government significantly increased regulation of the tech sector in 2021, targeting large software companies in areas like fintech, e-commerce, education, and online gaming. About 62 of the 238 largest private tech companies in China faced regulatory actions.

  • The government’s motivations included addressing wealth inequality, public concerns about exploitative practices, restoring state control over large data troves, and protecting state-owned financial sectors from disruption.

  • The crackdown may also aim to counter U.S. regulatory moves as part of the U.S.-China tech war, and shift resources toward strategic “hard tech” industries like semiconductors.

  • Regulations have had severe impacts, wiping out over $1 trillion in market value from Chinese companies. Chinese tech companies have acquiesced to regulations rather than challenging them, in contrast to U.S. tech company responses.

  • Debate exists over whether the aggressive actions will compromise China’s technology ambitions or allow effective policies like those in the U.S. and EU to address issues around market dominance and privacy.

  • In recent years, several Chinese tech founders and companies have pledged to donate significant sums to the Chinese government or public causes, seen as an accommodation to tighter regulations. Founders like Colin Huang and Wang Xing donated billions in company shares, while ByteDance and Tencent committed over $15 billion each to social programs.

  • Critics argue China’s regulatory model infringes on individual rights and political freedoms. The US and EU have expressed concerns over censorship, surveillance and how China uses technology to control dissent. Groups like Meta have singled out Chinese policies undermining free speech.

  • China defends its approach as protecting citizens from societal ills online like hate speech and unrest. It accuses the US of hypocrisy given NSA surveillance programs and private sector monitoring in the US. Chinese companies also distance themselves from how surveillance tools are actually used.

  • While China disputes foreign criticism, some note tensions between political control of the internet and goals for innovation/economy. Over-regulation could eventually compromise economic goals, though China does not acknowledge such issues currently.

  • The European Union takes a distinct rights-driven approach to regulating the digital economy, with the goal of enhancing individual and collective rights of EU citizens in a digital society.

  • The EU approach views governments as playing a central role in steering the digital economy and using regulations to uphold fundamental rights, preserve democratic structures, and ensure a fair distribution of benefits.

  • Key values emphasized in EU policy include democracy, fairness, human dignity, nondiscrimination, and data privacy. Regulations are aimed at harnessing technology for human empowerment.

  • The EU model balances the right to free speech with other fundamental rights, taking a broader view than the US approach which primarily centers on free speech.

  • The EU is also more willing than the US to intervene in platform autonomy through content moderation if needed to protect human dignity, democratic discourse, and other rights of EU citizens.

  • While motivated by similar goals as the US, the EU regulatory model takes a distinct, rights-driven approach that is neither fully aligned with the US market-driven model nor China’s state-driven approach.

  • The EU takes a more interventionist, rights-driven approach to regulating the digital economy compared to the more market-focused US approach. This reflects broader differences in their views of government’s role in markets.

  • The EU prioritizes values like fundamental rights, democracy, fairness, equality and the rule of law. Regulations aim to safeguard these against harms from technology companies.

  • EU citizens widely support digital regulations, giving political momentum and legitimacy. Political parties also find consensus in favor of regulation.

  • In contrast, the US emphasizes limiting government to preserve business innovation and economic opportunities. It is more comfortable with income inequality.

  • While protectionism may play some role, the EU’s primary motivations stem from its rights-driven ethos and ensuring technology supports European political and economic ideals. Regulators are responding to genuine concerns about issues like data use and online harms.

  • Extensive EU digital regulations have constrained tech companies’ operations but furthered goals around user rights, democracy, fairness and other social priorities reflecting European political values.

  • The European regulatory model takes a rights-driven approach, with fundamental rights like privacy, data protection, freedom of expression, and non-discrimination enshrined in EU treaties and law.

  • A key focus is on the right to privacy and data protection, given Europeans’ historical experiences. The GDPR establishes robust rules for lawfully and fairly processing personal data.

  • The CJEU has been influential in interpreting and expanding the scope of these rights through landmark rulings, like establishing a “right to be forgotten” that obliges search engines to delist certain content upon request.

  • While recognizing limitations, the CJEU conducts a balancing test that generally affirms data protection as a priority. Overall the regulatory model champions fundamental rights and gives EU citizens extensive control over their personal information online.

  • However, critiques argue extensive regulation may impede innovation and technological progress compared to less regulated models, though the EU aims to balance rights protection with a thriving digital economy.

The passage discusses two key areas of the EU’s regulatory model for protecting fundamental rights online: data privacy and artificial intelligence (AI).

On data privacy, it notes the EU takes an expansive approach, viewing privacy as a pivotal right. The courts leave no doubt that data privacy goes to the heart of the EU’s rights-driven regulatory framework.

On AI, it explains the EU aims to promote ethical AI development while protecting fundamental rights. The proposed AI Act regulates AI based on risk levels and prohibits uses that undermine free will or facilitate social scoring/mass surveillance. The goal is to ensure AI benefits humans and is overseen by people.

The passage also discusses content moderation. While committed to free expression, the EU curtails harmful speech like hate speech. It has relied on voluntary agreements with tech companies to remove illegal hate speech but may introduce mandatory rules. Terrorist propaganda is also a concern given security threats, though efforts to curb it must respect fundamental rights.

In summary, the EU prioritizes fundamental rights in its digital regulatory model, especially rights to privacy, non-discrimination, and free expression. It uses a mix of binding laws and voluntary codes to promote an ethical approach to data, AI and online content.

  • The dissemination of terrorist and harmful content online affects fundamental rights like freedom of expression and nondiscrimination. The EU has adopted regulations like the Regulation on Preventing the Dissemination of Terrorist Content Online and the Digital Services Act (DSA) to balance these rights.

  • The DSA establishes transparency and accountability requirements for online platforms regarding content moderation. Very large platforms face additional obligations around risk assessments, independent auditing, and algorithmic transparency.

  • The regulations aim to preserve freedom of expression while addressing issues like terrorist content and disinformation that can undermine democracy. They refrain from general monitoring obligations and retain platforms’ liability shield.

  • The EU sees protecting democratic discourse and truth in information as important. It has taken steps to counter disinformation through voluntary codes of conduct as well as binding DSA regulations for very large platforms around risk assessments, independent auditing, and algorithmic transparency.

  • The EU believes government intervention is needed to preserve democracy in the digital age, in contrast to a more hands-off approach in other jurisdictions like the US due to censorship concerns. The regulations reflect the EU’s commitment to both rights and democracy online.

The passage argues that any limits on free speech ultimately pose a greater threat to democracy. Some key points:

  • Politically motivated disinformation campaigns and foreign interference can seriously undermine democratic elections, as seen in examples like Russia’s influence on the 2016 Brexit referendum.

  • Targeted manipulation of voters without their consent, as in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, threatens citizens’ ability to exercise free and autonomous political choice.

  • In an attempt to curb such manipulation, the EU has proposed regulations to enhance transparency in political advertising and restrict targeting/amplification techniques for political ads.

  • However, some argue this could limit free speech, which is crucial for democracy. The passage asserts that limits on free speech ultimately risk harming democracy even more by threatening citizens’ political rights and ability to partake in free and fair elections.

  • Overall the passage takes the position that while addressing disinformation is important, democracy cannot rely solely on limiting speech or platforms’ self-regulation - there must be a careful balance that does not excessively curb political expression, which is vital for democratic debate and decision making.

  • The EU aims to reduce power imbalances in the digital economy through regulations that promote a fairer distribution of economic opportunities and gains.

  • Key areas where the EU has pursued policies to shift power away from large platforms include antitrust enforcement, digital taxation, and improving worker protections.

  • Antitrust laws are used to create a more level playing field and prevent discrimination against smaller rivals. Recent cases against Google apply this fairness-driven approach.

  • Many EU countries have implemented digital services taxes to ensure tech companies pay their fair share. The EU also proposed a digital levy at the European level.

  • Digital taxation is seen as an important tool to redistribute wealth generated in the digital economy more evenly. It has led to disagreements with the US over taxing rights.

  • The EU also uses state aid rules to challenge what it views as unfair tax benefits given to large companies like Apple, with the goal of promoting competition.

  • Overall, the EU seeks to integrate fairness both in opportunities to compete through regulations, and in distributing the economic gains of digital transformation.

  • The EU is concerned about the precarious working conditions of platform/gig workers and lack of social protections for them.

  • The European Commission proposed a Directive in 2021 to improve protections for platform workers by classifying them as employees when the nature of their work requires it. This would extend labor and social rights to platform workers.

  • National courts across Europe have also ruled that platform workers like Uber drivers should be classified as employees.

  • The EU effort aims to promote fairness by ensuring platform workers receive benefits like minimum wage, paid time off, unemployment benefits, etc.

  • The Commission was motivated to act both due to concerns over inadequate protections and fears of regulatory fragmentation across EU members introducing conflicting laws on platform workers.

  • The proposal reflects the EU’s view that government intervention is needed to ensure the digital economy benefits wider society in a fair way.

So in summary, the EU is trying to regulate platform work and assert greater fairness through classifying more platform workers as employees entitled to basic labor rights and social protections.

Here are the key ideological commitments that distinguish the EU model from the US and Chinese models:

  • The EU is founded on neoliberal principles aimed at creating an integrated single market without internal barriers to trade. It has relied on market-driven policies like removing tariffs and limiting restrictive regulations.

  • However, the EU’s digital regulations have increasingly taken on a rights-protective stance in recent years, introducing more “market-correcting” policies alongside market-creating ones. This reflects concerns over issues like dominance of large platforms and privacy.

  • More recently, the EU has adopted aspects of a state-driven approach like China by focusing on strategic autonomy, technological sovereignty, and reducing dependencies on foreign technologies. This involves boosting the EU’s own digital capabilities through subsidies and other industrial policies.

  • The goal is for the EU to gain more control over technologies, data, and infrastructure rather than relying so heavily on companies from the US and China. It shows a move toward shaping rules and reducing vulnerabilities.

So in summary, while the EU model was historically more market-driven like the US, it has incorporated more rights-protective and state-driven strategies in digital policy resembling aspects of China’s model as strategic concerns have increased. But it still balances these with its core goal of maintaining an integrated internal market.

  • The EU has set ambitious targets for gaining market share in strategic technologies like battery cell production and artificial intelligence. It is investing billions of euros through initiatives like the European Battery Alliance and Coordinated AI Plan to stimulate private sector investment.

  • However, there are open debates around whether the EU can balance goals of economic openness, international cooperation, and ensuring strategic autonomy/self-sufficiency in key technologies.

  • The EU’s push for “digital sovereignty” has also been criticized as potentially legitimizing more extreme versions pursued by authoritarian states like China and Russia. There are questions around how the EU can pursue its goals while upholding its values of fundamental rights, democracy, and fairness.

  • Critics argue the EU’s regulatory approach increases costs and deters innovation, leaving it behind the US and China in technology. Enforcement of regulations like the GDPR has also been lackluster. There are internal conflicts among EU member states’ approaches.

  • However, others note the EU lacked substantial tech regulation until recently, yet still fell behind, and regulations can help companies through reduced operating costs and increased consumer confidence in some cases. The relationship between regulation and innovation is complex with reasonable arguments on both sides.

  • The EU aims to set high regulatory standards for issues like data privacy, AI ethics, and online content to both safeguard its values and gain a commercial advantage if consumers prefer compliant services.

  • However, critics argue EU regulations disproportionately burden small companies while large multinationals can more easily absorb the costs. This entrenches the power of big tech giants.

  • There are also issues with inadequate enforcement of EU digital laws. For example, the Irish Data Protection Commission charged with GDPR enforcement is overwhelmed, resulting in few cases and small fines so far.

  • Fines alone may not be enough to change companies’ behavior or business models if they are a small cost of doing business. Stronger enforcement tools are needed.

  • Content regulation can be criticized for either overly aggressive or under-enforcement. The lines around permissible speech are difficult to draw. Relying on private companies for implementation increases their power over information flows.

So in summary, while the EU aims to set high standards, critics argue the regulations disproportionately impact smaller businesses and that enforcement has so far been inadequate to achieve the goals of the regulatory model in practice. Drawing the line on content issues is also challenging.

  • There are internal divisions within the EU that can potentially undermine the efficacy and legitimacy of EU tech regulations.

  • EU member states differ in their digital advancement, tax regimes, privacy cultures, commitments to democracy/rule of law. This creates tensions in the political process of drafting regulations.

  • More digitally advanced states like Ireland prefer a liberal approach, while France favors digital sovereignty and compromises on privacy for security.

  • Germany is strongly pro-privacy while France is more flexible. Recent spyware scandals also expose divisions on privacy.

  • Poland and Hungary challenge EU’s democratic/rights values by trying to curb content moderation and promote conservative views.

  • However, internal differences can also strengthen the EU model by creating compromises and balancing more extreme positions. This makes regulations more balanced.

  • Accommodating differences is part of democratic lawmaking and the EU model is designed to work across diverse jurisdictions, giving it global appeal.

  • Core commitments of the European rights-driven model still prevail despite internal conflicts. This allows the EU to chart its own distinct path between the US and China models.

  • Apple claims to strongly protect user privacy and human rights, but its practices in China compromise these values to access the Chinese market. It stores Chinese user data locally in China on servers managed by Chinese state employees, weakening encryption to allow Chinese government access.

  • US tech companies face conflicting regulatory demands in operating globally. In China, they must capitulate to censorship and data sharing with the government, violating American values of free speech and privacy. However, withdrawing from China also carries major costs.

  • Horizontal battles between governments are compounded by vertical battles between governments and tech companies over regulation. Tech companies struggle to satisfy all sides when values clash, like Google did over censoring search in China.

  • These conflicts risk fragmenting the digital economy through “technological and economic decoupling” as companies must choose between markets with incompatible rules. While challenging a global internet, decoupling also impedes cooperation and drives deglobalization.

  • Chinese tech expansion in the US now faces more scrutiny over national security concerns around data collection and algorithm influence, complicating the traditionally open American market model.

In summary, the chapter examines the challenges facing both US and Chinese tech companies as they navigate conflicting regulatory demands globally, with values clashes creating dilemmas for maintaining access to key markets.

Here are some of the major implications of the vertical conflicts between US and Chinese tech companies:

  • Growing risk of further decoupling of the global digital economy. As tech companies are forced to choose between the US and Chinese markets, it could accelerate the split into two competing systems and standards.

  • Difficult balancing act for tech firms operating in both markets. Complying with demands in China often goes against values and rules in the US, putting companies in an impossible situation.

  • Companies face consequences no matter what choice they make. Remaining in China requires capitulating to censorship and controls, while leaving means losing access to a huge, lucrative market.

  • Erosion of shared global online spaces as companies withdraw or censor content for China. This fragments the internet and limits free exchange of ideas.

  • Tensions spill over into other economic and geopolitical issues as technology becomes tightly coupled with national interests and values. Decisions are increasingly politicized rather than market-driven.

  • Authoritarian controls spread as Chinese approach to regulation globalizes through its economic influence. Undermines open internet norms and human rights protections.

  • Loss of American influence as tech sector divides and Chinese companies dominate the domestic market and develop competing standards.

  • Major US tech companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook have made efforts to enter or operate in China, despite risks of backlash at home over compromising values like privacy, free speech, and human rights.

  • To protect investments, Apple has heavily censored its Chinese App Store and removed apps at the request of China, even ones like a Quran app. This contrasts with its human rights rhetoric elsewhere.

  • Google launched a censored search engine in China in 2006 but faced political and investor criticism. It exited China in 2010 due to censorship demands it viewed as untenable.

  • Google secretly worked on “Project Dragonfly,” a censored search engine for China, in 2018 but faced strong employee and public backlash and eventually abandoned it.

  • Facebook also tried to enter China in 2016 by developing software compatible with censorship but faced opposition and concerns over a user backlash. It now operates a photo sharing app there under a Chinese company.

  • Amazon similarly pursued the Chinese market but acknowledged challenges around “ideological control and propaganda” demands, leading it to agree to certain concessions to operate there.

  • Major US tech companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft have all sought to operate in China’s large market by partnering with local companies and complying with China’s censorship and regulatory demands.

  • This has included complying with requests to censor or remove certain content from their sites/platforms in China related to political issues, activists, the Dalai Lama, etc. They justify this by saying they must follow local laws.

  • Some companies like Amazon have faced criticism for projects that promoted Chinese government propaganda. Others like Microsoft closed platforms in China due to increasing censorship demands.

  • There are also accusations that companies like Intel, Nvidia, and Oracle have provided hardware or software that assists China’s surveillance of minorities in Xinjiang. The companies deny intentionally aiding human rights abuses.

  • Navigating the demands of both the US and Chinese governments has grown difficult as tensions rise. Companies are pulled between commercial interests in China and pressure/sanctions from the US over issues like Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

  • The conflict of values when operating in authoritarian countries like China places US tech firms in untenable positions between freedom of expression and complying with local laws.

  • US tech companies face difficult decisions when operating in China due to conflicting demands from the Chinese government and their home market regulations. Concessions to China are harder to justify given growing anti-China sentiment in the US.

  • A few Chinese tech companies like TikTok and Shein have found success in the US market, which historically has been relatively open. But most Chinese companies have struggled to gain traction against entrenched US competitors.

  • Recently, the US has accelerated restrictions on Chinese tech companies like TikTok over national security concerns. It sees these companies as potentially enabling mass surveillance by the Chinese government through data collection on American users.

  • Banning apps like TikTok and pressuring companies to choose between the US and Chinese markets represents an escalation in the US-China tech war and a departure from the US’s historically open regulatory approach towards foreign tech firms. This is exacerbating a trend toward the decoupling of the Chinese and American digital economies.

  • TikTok raised national security concerns in the US due to the possibility of Chinese authorities accessing Americans’ personal data and influencing TikTok’s content moderation to spread propaganda.

  • The Trump administration took actions like executive orders to ban/force the sale of TikTok and WeChat to US companies over these concerns.

  • TikTok and WeChat challenged these orders in US courts and had some success blocking the bans, though courts acknowledged the potential security threats.

  • The legal challenges showed how Chinese tech companies can use the US legal system to defend themselves, unlike in China where court rulings are influenced by the government.

  • However, US courts may not always side with Chinese companies, and other restrictive actions short of bans could still be permitted. Regulatory scrutiny of Chinese tech in the US is likely to continue.

  • There is debate around the US approach, with some arguing restrictions go too far, while others urge more assertive measures given legitimate national security concerns and actions in other countries like India.

  • There is increasing concern in the US about China’s growing global influence and the role of Chinese companies operating in the US. This concern extends to companies like TikTok that collect large amounts of user data.

  • Americans are also distrustful of tech companies’ digital surveillance practices. The combination of a company being both Chinese-owned and engaging in data collection heightens unease.

  • US tech companies like Meta have actively pushed the narrative that Chinese companies like TikTok are untrustworthy in order to maintain competitive pressure. However, banning Chinese apps also risks undermining American values of open internet access.

  • The case of DiDi’s IPO and subsequent regulatory backlash in China illustrates increasing tensions between US and Chinese regulators as Chinese tech companies list on US stock exchanges. DiDi’s access to location and travel data raised significant national security concerns for China.

  • Overall there is a debate around whether bans of Chinese apps actually address national security issues or are driven more by commercial protectionism, and whether the US should adopt a rights-based regulatory model instead of emulating China’s approach.

Based on the passage, the largest fine issued by the Chinese government in any data protection breach case mentioned is:

There is no mention of any specific fines issued by the Chinese government for data protection breaches. The passage discusses regulatory actions and policies by Chinese and US authorities regarding data privacy, cybersecurity reviews of Chinese companies, and the listing of Chinese companies on US stock exchanges. However, it does not provide any details about actual fines issued in China for data breaches.

  • The US and China reached an agreement in 2022 to allow sharing of audit information for Chinese companies listed on US stock exchanges. This could prevent delisting of around 200 Chinese companies and reduce tensions.

  • However, full compliance will depend on the PCAOB actually being allowed to inspect audit firms in China with no restrictions. Disagreements already exist around the role of Chinese regulators in the inspection process.

  • Global tech companies face challenges navigating conflicting regulatory demands from the US and China around issues like data privacy, censorship, and disclosure of information to governments. There are no options that satisfy all stakeholders.

  • This is leading to greater fragmentation or “balkanization” of the global tech ecosystem and internet as companies choose one market over the other or build separate versions for different countries. Some predict the emergence of a “splinternet” with separate American and Chinese-controlled internets.

  • Further decoupling of financial markets and tech sectors remains possible given ongoing geopolitical tensions, though undesirable due to economic costs. The most extreme scenario could be complete separation of global stock markets.

  • The battle between the US and China over technology regulation is escalating and evolving into a broader conflict over technological supremacy between the two digital superpowers.

  • Individual issues like China’s censorship requirements are now part of a horizontal war as the US targets China’s entire tech ecosystem and economic/geopolitical ambitions.

  • This rivalry is unfolding global supply chains, impacting companies, markets, and international relations beyond just the US-China relationship.

  • Optimism over China increasing integration into the global economy has faded as tensions have grown over China’s role and adherence to international economic rules.

  • Since 2017 under Trump, the already contentious relationship has erupted into a full-fledged trade and technology war, leaving companies to navigate between the two sides.

  • Both countries see technological dominance as key to economic and geopolitical supremacy, fueling an intensifying conflict over issues like 5G, artificial intelligence, and semiconductor supply chains.

So in summary, the conflict has escalated from individual regulatory battles to a broader horizontal war for technological supremacy between the US and China with widespread economic and geopolitical implications.

  • The US and China view each other as strategic rivals competing for technological and economic dominance. This has turned the digital economy into a zero-sum game between them with little cooperation.

  • The US justifies its actions by citing China’s unfair economic policies like IP theft and subsidies, as well as human rights issues. China sees US actions as an attempt to contain its rise and preserve US dominance.

  • The conflict has accelerated the decoupling of US and Chinese tech assets and eroded trust in global supply chains. It has also galvanized a techno-nationalist response in other countries like the EU.

  • The US has pursued numerous measures against Chinese tech companies like restricting exports of critical technologies to China, limiting Chinese tech investments in the US, and imposing sanctions related to alleged cyber espionage.

  • It has also pressured allies to limit the presence of Chinese tech companies. These actions curtail Chinese companies’ opportunities while escalating political tensions.

  • The conflict risks permanent damage to global digital cooperation and supply chains while fueling greater digital protectionism worldwide. Both sides continue balancing restraint against escalation given ongoing economic interdependencies.

  • The US adopted the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 which authorized the government to restrict exports of critical technologies to China or other countries on national security grounds. The Bureau of Industry and Security enforces these controls.

  • The Act expanded controls to “emerging and foundational technologies” essential to US national security, like AI, semiconductors, and robotics. However, the US government has not fully utilized its powers and many technologies remain uncontrolled.

  • The US places entities like Chinese companies on the Entity List to restrict specific tech transfers. Over 260 Chinese companies are now listed, limiting companies like Huawei, Dahua, SenseTime and Megvii.

  • The biggest measure was banning Huawei’s access to semiconductors made using US tech in 2020, which crippled the company. But controls remained narrowly focused on military end uses until recently.

  • In late 2022, the US imposed new drastic export restrictions cutting off Chinese access to advanced semiconductors and chipmaking tools. It aims to hamper China’s technological advancement by withholding US chips and chipmaking software. These controls extend restrictions globally via the “foreign direct product rule.”

  • The US has implemented new export controls that will limit Chinese companies’ access to American-made hardware and AI technologies. This will affect industries like medical imaging and autonomous vehicles.

  • However, the controls will also hurt some major US chip equipment companies that derive around a third of their sales from China, like Applied Materials and Lam Research.

  • It remains to be seen how effective the US will be since allies did not join the sanctions regime due to economic ties with China. China may respond by seeking alternatives to US tech and building up domestic capabilities.

  • In the short term, the controls will push further decoupling of the US and Chinese tech ecosystems. US nationals can no longer work for Chinese chip companies. Apple may use Chinese-made chips for Chinese iPhones.

  • The US has also sought to limit Chinese companies’ investments in critical US tech infrastructure and assets. Banning Huawei from US 5G networks is a prime example, driven by national security concerns around data espionage.

  • President Biden has strengthened these restrictions on Huawei and other Chinese digital infrastructure firms like ZTE in the US. However, the US has had mixed success convincing other nations to follow suit due to factors like limited 5G alternatives.

  • The US has made limiting Huawei’s presence a key part of its tech war with China. It scrutinizes Chinese investment in critical US technologies through the CFIUS process.

  • CFIUS can block foreign direct investments on national security grounds. Recent reforms expanded its scope to include non-controlling investments in certain US businesses involving critical tech, infrastructure, or data.

  • CFIUS reviews have led Chinese investors to retreat from the US tech sector in recent years, showing the scrutiny is having a chilling effect as intended.

  • Beyond investments, the US “China Initiative” aimed to prosecute individuals engaged in economic espionage, but often targeted Chinese-American researchers and led to overreach without strong evidence. It was ended in 2022.

  • The US has also canceled visas for thousands of Chinese students and researchers with alleged military ties, though they represent a small fraction of Chinese students and contribute greatly to US innovation.

  • Further bills propose restricting or banning Chinese students from certain fields, though this may undermine US technological strength built on open collaboration.

  • The US sees China as a major cybersecurity threat and has sanctioned China following accusations of state-sponsored hacking, further worsening tensions between the countries.

  • The US has implemented new cybersecurity measures and export controls to restrict Chinese access to strategic technology due to national security and economic competition concerns with China. This marks a shift away from prioritizing economic openness.

  • In response, China has taken its own measures against US tech companies, including export controls on critical tech, an unreliable entities list to counter US sanctions, screening of foreign investments, and antitrust enforcement.

  • China also aims to reduce technological dependencies by pursuing self-sufficiency. The tech war has reinforced China’s approach of using the state to develop its tech sector and ensure it benefits political goals.

  • Specifically, China has export controls under its Export Control Law and unreliable entities list. It also has rules to shield companies from US sanctions like the Blocking Rules. Additionally, China uses its data localization and security laws to limit data transfers abroad.

  • The actions on both sides indicate the tech war is pushing both the US and China towards greater state intervention in their digital economies for strategic reasons over prioritizing open markets.

  • China has enacted laws like the Blocking Rules and Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law to counter US sanctions and “blocking” compliance by non-US companies with US secondary sanctions. However, it has not specified which foreign laws would be blocked to avoid economic costs.

  • China screens foreign direct investments for national security concerns through the new FISR Measures process. It can impose conditions or prohibit investments in certain critical technologies. Control over foreign investment has tightened but China still promotes some openings to ease trade tensions.

  • China uses its antitrust laws blurring the line with national security reviews to block certain high-profile acquisitions, especially in tech. This has deterred some deals and imposed costs on others. Lengthy reviews without decisions have doomed some foreign acquisitions of Chinese companies.

  • Foreign investment in China faces further limitations due to an unpredictable regulatory environment and stringent conditions for operating in China. Many US tech companies have withdrawn from China or limited their presence due to these challenges.

  • In response to US sanctions and the tightening tech environment in China, China is pursuing technological self-sufficiency to reduce its dependence on foreign technologies like those from the US.

  • This strategy of technological self-sufficiency predates the US-China tech war but has been accelerated by it. A key policy is China’s “dual circulation” strategy of developing the domestic market and supply chains while still engaging globally.

  • China is pushing companies to invest more in critical “deep tech” areas like semiconductors, EVs, and 5G that are seen as important for its technology ambitions. US sanctions have further incentivized this push for self-sufficiency.

  • The US-China rivalry is fueling an “arms race” as both countries ramp up subsidies and investments to gain an edge in strategic technologies like AI, semiconductors, cloud computing, and batteries. This is intensifying their technological competition and the role of the state in directing the digital economy.

  • Both see winning technologies like AI as crucial, and are committing vast resources to gain leadership by 2030, exacerbating the technology competition between them.

  • The US and China both view AI as strategically important for economic competitiveness and national security. Both countries are heavily investing in AI development through funding research, startups, and talent.

  • In terms of funding and investment, the US and China lead globally. However, China’s funding has slowed in recent years while US VC investment continues to grow steadily.

  • The US produces the most AI startups and attracts top talent internationally. China publishes more AI research papers and files more patents, though a small percentage are granted.

  • Semiconductors are another key technology due to their role in powering digital devices. Both countries provide massive subsidies to bolster their domestic chip industries and reduce reliance on imports.

  • The ongoing tech war risks entrenching “techno-protectionism” as countries pursue self-sufficiency. While decoupling is unlikely, the conflict fuels uncertainty and undermines trust in supply chains.

  • Neither side shows willingness to reconcile, but complete decoupling would also be very costly. The conflict may continue at substantial economic cost without a clear winner.

In summary, the passage discusses the strategic importance both the US and China place on AI and semiconductors for security and economic reasons. It analyzes their large investments and competitive dynamics in these areas, and outlines implications like rising global tech nationalism and continued tensions in the bilateral relationship.

  • Governments around the world are increasingly pursuing nationalist industrial policies and limiting foreign investment/trade to gain greater self-reliance and structural control over their economies. The COVID pandemic exacerbated these trends.

  • The US under Trump spearheaded this shift away from open trade by pursuing protectionist policies against allies and rivals like China. Biden has also emphasized boosting American jobs and industry.

  • China has a long history of intervening in its economy and restricting foreign tech firms. It is now doubling down on plans to achieve technological sovereignty and reduce reliance on foreign tech.

  • These US and China policies have hardened the stance of digital sovereignty in the EU. While some urge openness, others say the EU needs self-sufficiency given others’ lack of openness.

  • The emphasis on sovereignty globally risks legitimizing greater government control over digital economies and decreased openness. It also undermines the ability of the US and EU to advocate for more open systems.

  • The tech war outcome is uncertain, but a single dominant power is unlikely. While the US still leads in some areas, China leads in others like smartphones and is gaining in software. Results vary by technology.

  • The US-China tech rivalry is likely to continue and intensify as both sides pursue their economic and geopolitical goals. There is a risk it could escalate into a larger military conflict.

  • Graham Allison’s research on the “Thucydides Trap” suggests rising powers like China challenging existing powers like the US often leads to war, so a US-China war in the coming decades is possible.

  • Technological decoupling between the US and China is taking place through export restrictions and investments in domestic capabilities. However, complete decoupling would be very costly and difficult to achieve given interdependencies.

  • US tech companies want access to the Chinese market and oppose heavy-handed restrictions, as profits in China fund innovation. This pushes the US toward restraint in managing tensions.

  • Neither side has fully decoupled economies, and the conflict will likely involve periods of escalation and de-escalation as both balance commercial and geopolitical interests. A totally “zero-sum” approach could prove perilous.

  • The US is engaged in two major regulatory battles - one with China and one with the EU. Most attention has focused on the US-China battle, but the US-EU battles are also important in shaping the global digital economy.

  • US tech companies face conflicting regulatory demands from the EU’s rights-driven model and the US’s market-driven model. This was seen in a 2013 case where Microsoft received conflicting data requests from US and EU authorities.

  • The US passed the CLOUD Act in 2018 to help address these conflicts, but disagreements remain, such as between the US and EU member states with blocking statutes.

  • Key differences between the US and EU models are that the EU distrusts tech companies and favors more government intervention to protect rights, while the US distrusts regulators and favors private sector innovation.

  • Major regulatory battles between the US and EU have centered around issues like data protection, digital taxation, and antitrust law. These illustrate the tension between prioritizing individual rights versus commercial freedoms and market-driven outcomes.

So in summary, while the US-China tech battle receives more attention, the US also faces important regulatory challenges from the EU’s competing rights-driven model, creating ongoing tensions around balancing various policy goals.

  • European regulators have taken action against large US tech companies like Google, Meta, and Amazon, alleging they exploit their dominant market positions and undermine fair competition. They have also sought to extend their tax authority over digital revenues generated in Europe by US firms.

  • Europeans are concerned that US tech giants take too much from European consumers and markets without properly contributing or allowing fair competition from smaller firms. Regulators have stepped in to protect data, competition, and tax authority.

  • Americans see some European regulatory efforts as excessive and protectionist, unfairly targeting successful US companies. There are debates around data privacy rules, antitrust enforcement, and digital taxes.

  • Privacy vs national security is also a transatlantic issue, as the US generally prioritizes security over privacy more than the EU. However, differences between the US and EU on these digital regulatory issues seem to be gradually narrowing.

  • Both sides acknowledge shared concerns about China’s rise and dominance pose a greater threat than their own mutual differences. Overall cooperation between the US and EU on digital issues seems to be improving.

Here are the key points about how EU court rulings have disrupted transatlantic data transfers:

  • The EU’s GDPR restricts transfer of data to non-EU countries without “adequate” privacy protections. The US is not deemed adequate due to its weak privacy laws.

  • The Safe Harbor agreement from 2000 allowed data transfers by certifying US companies met certain principles. But it was struck down by the CJEU in 2015 after Snowden revelations about NSA surveillance.

  • A new Privacy Shield agreement was negotiated in 2016 with stronger protections, but was still invalidated by the CJEU in 2020 due to concerns about broad US surveillance powers.

  • The CJEU rulings were in response to challenges brought by Max Schrems, an activist concerned about his personal data held by Facebook being exposed to NSA surveillance.

  • The rulings have disrupted the $412B annual digital trade between the US and EU by creating ongoing legal uncertainty around transatlantic data flows, which many companies rely on. The US and EU have struggled to find an agreement that passes muster with the strict European court.

  • The CJEU’s Schrems II ruling struck down the EU-US Privacy Shield framework for transatlantic data transfers, leaving companies reliant on alternative mechanisms like Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs). However, SCCs still require companies to verify data protections.

  • The ruling was based on concerns over inadequate privacy protections and oversight of US surveillance programs. The US legal system does not provide non-US citizens with sufficient avenues to challenge surveillance involving their personal data.

  • There is no clear long-term solution. Proposals include overhauling US surveillance laws, but the US is unlikely to do so, especially given geopolitical tensions. Data localization is also not ideal for either the EU or US.

  • The impasse prolongs legal uncertainty for transatlantic data flows and businesses. It has spurred calls for data localization within the EU, but that fails to address espionage and creates issues for multinational companies. Overall the future of EU-US data transfers remains unclear.

  • The taxation of tech companies has fueled tensions between the US and EU as large US tech firms generate huge revenues in Europe but pay little in taxes.

  • EU countries see this as unfair and have proposed digital services taxes (DSTs) to allocate more tax revenue based on where companies earn profits. This challenges international tax norms.

  • France was the first to enact a DST in 2019, followed by other EU states. The EC originally proposed an EU-wide DST and digital profits tax but is now focusing on a digital levy.

  • The US strongly opposes efforts to increase tax liability for US tech giants in Europe. This tax issue has added to political tensions in the broader regulatory battle between the US and EU. Resolving disputes over taxing digital companies will be important for easing trade conflicts.

  • The EU imposed Digital Services Taxes (DSTs) on large tech companies, seeing the traditional tax system as outdated for the digital age. However, the US opposed the DSTs as discriminatory against US tech giants.

  • The US launched investigations into DSTs in countries like France, Italy, Spain and the UK, finding them to be discriminatory and inconsistent with international tax principles. It threatened tariffs in retaliation.

  • However, negotiations were also ongoing at the OECD to reach a consensus on global tax reform addressing the tax challenges of digitalization. Both sides preferred a deal at this level to unilateral measures.

  • Progress was slow until 2021, when the Biden administration’s compromise proposals helped bring the parties closer to an agreement. This included a unified approach to allocate more taxing rights to market jurisdictions and establishing a global minimum corporate tax.

  • A final OECD deal was seen as key to avoiding escalating trade tensions and finding long-term certainty and stability for international taxation of the digital economy.

  • The EU has been very active and aggressive in antitrust enforcement, targeting major US tech companies like Google, Apple, Meta through high-profile cases and large fines totaling billions of dollars.

  • The EU is concerned about data collection practices, self-preferencing by platforms, and abuse of dominant market positions by these tech giants.

  • National competition authorities in EU member states have also launched their own investigations in parallel.

  • The US has taken a more hands-off, laissez-faire approach to these same companies compared to aggressive EU regulation.

  • The EU has also pursued state aid cases, notably a $15 billion tax claim against Apple through Ireland which is still ongoing in appeals.

  • To enable more proactive regulation, the EU passed the Digital Markets Act to designate and regulate large “digital gatekeepers” like the major US tech firms.

  • There is resentment on both sides, with the EU targeting US firms and the US viewing EU enforcement as protectionist. It has caused transatlantic regulatory differences and friction over digital policy.

  • The US views many EU antitrust investigations and regulations targeting large US tech companies as protectionist measures aimed at disadvantaging American firms and boosting weaker European competitors.

  • US officials argue that investigations into companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook reflect Europe’s inability to compete with dominant US tech leaders and an attempt to “carve out commercial interests.”

  • Concerns intensified around regulations like the Digital Markets Act, seen as narrowly targeting only the largest US digital gatekeepers.

  • However, the EU denies protectionism motivations, saying investigations protect consumer welfare and fairness, not European competitors per se.

  • EU actions often involve complaints from other US firms as well, complicating claims of anti-American bias.

  • Recent studies found no evidence EU merger control systematically favors Europeans over foreign acquirers.

  • While EU rhetoric is increasingly focused on “European champions,” its actions remain geared towards competition mandates rather than industrial policy goals, according to the EU.

  • Overall, there is disagreement over whether EU antitrust reflects true protectionism or legitimate consumer interest enforcement.

  • The Siemens/Alstom merger decision by the EU triggered criticism that EU antitrust policy lacks an industrial policy to support European champions.

  • France and Germany published a manifesto calling for political oversight of mergers to consider industrial policy and allow member states to override the Commission. They have since softened this to allow member state “input.”

  • This manifesto and criticism can be seen as endorsements of European protectionism and tech nationalism.

  • The EU is now pursuing more active industrial policy and supporting strategic technologies, moving from rhetoric to action. France especially advocates for this dirigiste approach.

  • However, there is no consensus in Europe on protectionist antitrust reforms. Some warn against protectionism and digital walls.

  • Populist governments, China’s rise, Brexit, and geopolitical instability may push Europe toward more nationalist economic policies and industrial policy reforms.

  • However, the US is also becoming more critical of big tech, potentially aligning more with Europe’s regulatory approach and mitigating conflicts over issues like privacy and antitrust.

  • The US and EU also share concerns about China’s authoritarian digital influence, which could further push transatlantic cooperation on digital policy issues.

  • For over two decades, the US promoted a market-driven, unregulated model for the digital economy both domestically and globally through free trade agreements and its “internet freedom agenda.” This allowed large US tech companies to expand internationally with little constraints.

  • Today, US tech platforms like Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter are ubiquitous worldwide and how most people connect and share information. However, their vast influence over people’s online experiences is also a source of concern.

  • The US-led model is now facing challenges as countries like the EU pursue their own regulations to address issues like monopolistic behavior, misinformation, data privacy, etc. There are questions around whether a joint transatlantic approach can be found to balance economic progress with addressing these issues.

  • Concerns are also growing about China’s attempts to export its state-driven regulatory model and digital authoritarian values globally. The Trade and Technology Council was established by the US and EU to strengthen cooperation in countering China. However, differences remain between the two sides.

  • American tech companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, and others have achieved massive global influence through their worldwide presence and user bases, which they established when digital regulation was limited.

  • These companies set the rules for the global digital economy through their own terms of service and community norms, essentially acting as governance institutions without constraints from governments.

  • Facebook’s enormous global reach is highlighted, with billions of users worldwide and its most important markets outside the US. Other US tech companies like Google also dominate global markets.

  • While these companies are globally influential, they primarily reflect American values and techno-libertarian stances rather than truly global perspectives. Their ethos stems from the US market-driven regulatory model.

  • Recent backlash against unchecked US tech company power has weakened the global influence of the American model, creating openings for alternative models like those from the EU and China to gain prominence.

  • The chapter analyzes how the US, China, and EU are each seeking to expand their regulatory spheres of influence globally through digital diplomacy and the propagation of their distinct market, state, and rights-driven approaches.

  • US tech companies like Apple, Microsoft and Amazon have significant global footprints, generating substantial portions of their revenue outside the US. However, their penetration and market shares vary greatly by region.

  • While Chinese tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent have grown enormously, their international presence remains relatively limited due to their initial focus on China’s large domestic market. US companies were earlier in pursuing global expansion.

  • The success of US tech companies, especially from Silicon Valley, has spurred many regions to try replicating their innovation ecosystems through initiatives like “Silicon Wadi” and “Silicon Savannah.” However, Silicon Valley remains the preeminent global tech hub.

  • US tech platforms’ global dominance allows them to influence users and societies worldwide. Their algorithms and policies stem mainly from American values and priorities, not local needs. This has extended the US regulatory model globally through these companies’ private ordering.

  • While foreign governments initially welcomed US tech expansion, many now seek to curb the companies’ power and influence by imposing local laws on data storage, content moderation etc. But regulating these giant private companies remains challenging.

The US government has strongly promoted an agenda of “internet freedom” centered around non-regulation of the commercial internet and anti-censorship principles. This facilitated the global diffusion of the light-touch regulatory model preferred by major US tech companies like Google and Facebook.

Starting in the 1990s, the Clinton administration exported this model abroad through agreements with allies aiming to shape a global narrative in favor of private sector-led growth of digital commerce without trade barriers or conflicting regulations. Countries including Japan, Australia, and the EU agreed to avoid unnecessary regulations and ensure cross-border data flows.

The US also secured commitments through trade deals like with Jordan. It provided regulatory assistance to developing nations to establish independent agencies following principles of competition, privatization and transparency rather than censorship. Major US tech companies supported these digital development programs through initiatives in places like Latin America and Africa.

The overall goal was to prevent new “virtual walls” or an “information curtain” from dividing the internet, and promote Western values of democracy, freedom and an open internet globally in the post-Cold War era. This helped create an enabling environment for the unhindered growth and global dominance of leading US tech giants.

Here is a summary of the key points about projects in developing countries:

  • The US sought to export its internet freedom agenda and non-regulatory model through international institutions like the WTO. It advocated for eliminating trade barriers on digital technologies and e-commerce.

  • The US played an active role in early WTO discussions on digital policies during the Clinton administration. Clinton urged adoption of US-style non-regulatory policies.

  • This led to agreements at the WTO like the 1996 Information Technology Agreement that removed tariffs on IT and e-commerce, reflecting the US approach.

  • The US also backed a multistakeholder model of internet governance rather than vesting authority in state-driven institutions like the UN. It supported the creation of the non-governmental ICANN to administer the domain name system.

  • Through organizations like ICANN and promotion of its policy agenda, the US was successful in globalizing its non-regulatory, market-driven approach to internet governance in the 1990s and 2000s.

  • The US also sought to export its anti-censorship principle as part of protecting political freedom of expression globally and shielding US tech companies from foreign censorship policies.

  • Under President Obama, the US directly supported online freedom of expression in repressive countries through developing new anti-censorship technologies, training journalists and activists, and overseeing circumvention efforts in over 40 countries.

  • The State Department’s NetFreedom Task Force oversaw these efforts to export the US model of internet freedom abroad.

  • The Arab Spring uprisings heightened the importance of the US internet freedom agenda and role of social media in empowering dissidents. The US provided support to activists organizing the protests.

  • The US worked with allies like Sweden and the Netherlands to advance internet freedoms globally and overcome skepticism of US foreign policy goals.

  • Between 2008-2012, Congress allocated $100 million to support internet freedom initiatives developing new anti-censorship technologies and training for activists.

  • Efforts focused on countries with heavy censorship like China, Iran, Vietnam, and provided tools, training and funding to activists and dissidents.

  • The US saw internet freedoms as crucial to fostering political reforms and sought to co-opt the private sector, urging tech companies to help safeguard free expression globally. Companies generally supported these goals due to business interests in an open internet.

  • Some US tech companies like Narus, Juniper Networks, and Cisco were accused of selling surveillance and censorship technologies to authoritarian regimes like Egypt, China, which undermined US internet freedom goals.

  • Members of Congress like Rep. Christopher Smith criticized these companies for prioritizing profits over human rights and called for legislation to hold them accountable. However, Congress was unable to pass such laws.

  • Under Trump, the US largely abandoned promoting internet freedoms abroad by defunding programs and weakening agencies like Voice of America. Trump also threatened domestic policies resembling censorship seen in authoritarian states.

  • Biden has restored commitment to internet freedoms but emphasized adjusting the traditional US non-regulation approach. His administration is focused on countering rising digital authoritarianism from China and Russia around issues like disinformation and surveillance. The State Department has bolstered related efforts through a new Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy.

  • In summary, tensions emerged between US tech company interests in foreign markets and the US government’s internet freedom agenda, though Biden aims to realign these while adapting the historical non-regulation stance. Competition with China and Russia’s growing influence is a key current priority.

The vast global influence of major U.S. tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter is facing growing criticism from abroad. This has led foreign governments to pass stronger regulations to curb the power of these companies and assert more control over their domestic digital economies.

Critics argue that U.S. tech platforms have enabled harms like the spread of hate speech, disinformation, and terrorism internationally. Specific examples highlighted include Facebook’s role in the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, social media enabling election interference like in the U.K. Brexit referendum, and terrorist groups using platforms like WhatsApp to plan attacks.

The “Facebook Papers” leaks also revealed massive amounts of hateful and fake content spread on Facebook in countries like India. This shows that expanding into new markets without understanding local contexts can fuel societal harms.

Governments are disturbed by how U.S. tech platforms are often deployed against their own interests. They are losing faith in the U.S.’s laissez-faire, market-driven approach to regulation. In response, countries are pursuing stronger regulations that curb the power of U.S. tech giants and promote alternative regulatory models, weakening U.S. influence over the global digital economy.

  • US tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter are criticized for failing to effectively moderate content in foreign languages, especially those outside North America. They lack the capabilities and devote inadequate resources to moderate harmful or illegal content globally.

  • The disproportionate focus on English and larger languages like Spanish has real world consequences, as was seen with Facebook’s inability to curb hate speech against Tigrayans in Ethiopia during civil conflicts there.

  • Not only tech companies, the US government’s promotion of “internet freedom” has also faced criticism. Authoritarian states see it as aimed at regime change, while democratic allies were upset after the Snowden revelations exposed US global surveillance.

  • The “internet freedom agenda” has been ineffective, as hopes from the Arab Spring faded and authoritarian rulers consolidated power using digital tools. Groups like Freedom House document how online freedom has declined globally since 2010.

  • In summary, both US tech platforms and the government have lost credibility and face accusations of hypocrisy, cultural bias, disproportionate focus on the US, and failure to achieve the goals of the “internet freedom agenda.” This is driving a shift away from the US-led regulatory model.

  • The US initially had success promoting a free and unregulated internet through the 1990s, as many countries adopted the US view that tech companies should be largely self-regulated.

  • However, over time massive tech companies grew too influential, spreading hate speech, disinformation and other harmful content. This triggered a global backlash against the US model.

  • The EU has emerged as a leading voice for an alternative, rights-driven regulatory approach. It has passed many new laws in recent years to rein in tech companies and protect users. This model is now spreading globally.

  • Authoritarian states like China always opposed the US’s internet freedom agenda due to its stance on free speech. China has pushed the concept of “internet sovereignty” and provided an alternative state-driven regulatory model.

  • Events like the Capitol insurrection further undermined arguments that an unrestricted internet necessarily leads to more democracy and freedom.

  • As a result, the US model has significantly declined in influence as both democratic and authoritarian states adopt stronger regulatory approaches that challenge US tech dominance and internet exceptionalism. The global trend is now moving away from the original US vision.

  • Over the past decade, China has expanded its global influence by enabling Chinese tech companies to supply digital infrastructure to many countries. This includes 5G networks, fiber optic cables, data centers, and other foundational technologies.

  • China promotes this through a “Digital Silk Road” initiative to connect Asia, Africa, and Latin America to Chinese digital networks. This gives China “infrastructure power” to shape how other societies develop digitally.

  • By providing basic infrastructure, Chinese companies establish paths for these countries to adopt more Chinese technologies over time due to compatibility and reliance on Chinese maintenance. This grows countries’ dependence on China digitally.

  • As Chinese standards become common through widespread adoption of Chinese infrastructure exports, China gains leverage over international standard setting for new technologies.

  • China’s state-driven regulatory model may also spread as its technologies enable enhanced digital surveillance, particularly in “smart cities” built with Chinese assistance. However, adoption of Chinese norms is not inevitable.

  • A combination of Chinese efforts to export technologies and developing countries’ needs for affordable digital development have contributed to the growing global influence of China’s state-driven digital model. This concerns some countries over increased Chinese government access and control internationally.

  • China is promoting its Digital Silk Road (DSR) as part of its broader Belt and Road Initiative to connect Asia with other continents through digital connectivity projects like building telecom networks, laying submarine cables, establishing data centers, etc.

  • Over a third of 138 countries in the BRI were also involved in DSR projects with Chinese companies like Huawei, ZTE, Alibaba and Tencent. These companies benefit from various levels of government support.

  • The DSR expands economic opportunities for Chinese tech firms but also supports China’s goals of becoming a tech leader and cultivating relationships abroad as the US tech decoupling reduces China’s market access.

  • There are concerns China could leverage the DSR for geopolitical influence by gaining leadership in key tech standards and access to politically/strategically valuable data from connected devices and infrastructure.

  • Smart city projects are examples where Chinese firms export surveillance and control technologies, sometimes with governments subsidizing loans. This could indirectly export China’s regulatory model of state control over digital societies and data.

  • Chinese smart city tech has reached many jurisdictions, including some liberal countries, expanding China’s digital sphere of influence globally through these infrastructure projects.

  • Chinese tech companies like Huawei and ZTE have made major inroads in African countries by installing telecom networks, providing surveillance technologies, and supplying equipment for smart city projects. They have significant presences in countries like Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan, Egypt, and Kenya.

  • These companies also see Africa as an opportunity to test and improve their AI and surveillance technologies, like facial recognition, by gaining access to diverse populations that can help reduce racial biases in their algorithms.

  • Some African governments have also adopted aspects of China’s authoritarian digital governance model through new laws that increase censorship and content controls online in ways similar to China. Countries like Tanzania and Egypt have passed laws banning “false” information and content deemed offensive.

  • Chinese influence is also strong in parts of Asia, especially Pakistan where companies have built telecom infrastructure, launched e-commerce projects, and provided surveillance equipment. Projects in the Philippines and elsewhere in Southeast Asia also rely heavily on Chinese technology and financing.

  • Through these technology exports and partnerships, China is expanding its sphere of influence while also helping other authoritarian-leaning states gain greater digital surveillance and content control capabilities.

  • Chinese tech company Huawei has undertaken several undersea cable projects in the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries, expanding its influence in the region.

  • China has also increased its sphere of influence in Latin America through deals with countries like Ecuador. Ecuador acquired surveillance technologies from Chinese companies like Huawei and CEIEC to help reduce crime. However, these systems have transformed Ecuador into a mass surveillance state with few privacy protections.

  • While Chinese influence is strongest in authoritarian and developing nations, companies like Huawei have also sold surveillance technologies to over 100 US municipalities. Likewise, Huawei helped build Serbia’s surveillance network despite public opposition. Some European countries have also worked with Chinese firms on 5G and surveillance.

  • China adopts different strategies in developed vs developing markets. In developed markets, it views countries as sources of new technologies to acquire. China supports firms’ efforts to gain foreign tech through partnerships, acquisitions, etc. coordinated by its network of science and tech diplomats.

  • By exporting its digital infrastructure and standards, China is able to spread its model of state-led internet governance worldwide. It also actively lobbies international standards bodies to gain more influence over global standard-setting.

  • China advocates shifting internet governance from the multi-stakeholder model centered around the US/EU to a state-centric model led by the UN, where it can more easily rally support from other countries. It also seeks to strengthen its voice in existing multi-stakeholder organizations.

  • Technical standards are important to set for emerging digital technologies as they can shape the future development and use of those technologies. China sees setting standards as a way to gain economic and geopolitical influence.

  • China has pursued a strategy to gain more influence over international standard-setting organizations like the ITU, ISO, and IEC. It has had some success getting Chinese individuals elected to leadership roles in these organizations.

  • Chinese companies frequently propose standards to these organizations in an effort to get them adopted internationally. One controversial proposal was China’s “New IP” standard for core internet protocols that could replace the current IP system and shift control over IP to governments.

  • The New IP proposal raised concerns that it could transform the open internet into a closed, state-controlled system. While some argue fears are overblown, others see risks and say existing technical issues don’t require abandoning the current IP approach.

  • The battle continues over IP standards and digital governance models. China uses its growing influence over standards bodies to promote its state-driven approach, challenging the existing multi-stakeholder model used by groups like ICANN and IETF.

  • The EU has embraced private industry involvement in standard setting, but growing Chinese influence in organizations like ICANN, IEC, ISO and ITU threatens this. Many Chinese standard setting groups have close government ties.

  • China coordinates positions of its participants and ensures standards align with its national interests, especially on priorities like 5G. This entrenches China’s vision of “digital sovereignty” where state-controlled institutions can challenge open internet ideals.

  • Other authoritarian measures for internet control and surveillance cannot all be attributed to China. Countries like Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia were unlikely to adopt Western models.

  • Russia has transitioned from a Western model to a tightly controlled, Chinese-style state-driven model over the past decade. It passed laws in 2019 and 2021 tightening state control over its internet and requiring data localization.

  • Russia is also adopting China’s content moderation approach, punishing platforms for censoring pro-Russia or failing to censor anti-regime content. Its digital authoritarianism stems from protests in 2011-2012 and threats social media pose to political stability.

  • Russia and China have collaborated on internet governance, sharing resentment of US dominance and promoting “cyber sovereignty” at the UN to justify political control over the digital economy.

  • Russia and China share the goal of legitimizing state-driven internet regulation globally, but they have some differences in priorities and capabilities. China pursues technological dominance while Russia lags behind technologically.

  • Russia has tried to emulate China’s state-driven internet model but has not been as successful due to its history of a more open, Western-influenced internet. It is harder for Russia to impose tight censorship retroactively.

  • Russia lacks China’s capacity for comprehensive internet monitoring and censorship. Incidents show Russia is dependent on foreign infrastructure and struggles to fence off its internet or engage in mass surveillance like China.

  • Russia cooperates more with China out of necessity, but also views China warily and imposes conditions like only using Russian 5G equipment. It seeks to reduce dependence on foreign platforms through laws favoring Russian apps.

  • The war in Ukraine has pushed Russia to clamp down more through censorship and propaganda, further aligning it with China’s authoritarian approach online.

Surveillance technologies like facial recognition can both improve public safety and enable authoritarian control, depending on how they are deployed. Chinese companies argue they only provide the technology and do not determine its use, but there are concerns their technologies could help governments crack down on dissent. The growing authoritarianism and pandemic have increased demand for such technologies.

While Chinese companies supply the most surveillance technologies globally, Western companies also provide them. It’s not that Chinese tech only goes to authoritarians - companies from democracies also sell to problematic regimes.

A key concern with Chinese tech is the opaque relationship between companies and the government. There is a risk the Chinese government could access data collected by its companies abroad, enabling espionage. However, evidence of this actually happening is limited so far. Still, as geopolitical tensions rise, there are fears China could leverage its infrastructure influence for strategic gain. Overall, while surveillance tech benefits public safety, its use raises serious risks to individual rights and national security depending on who controls the data.

  • Evidence showed Huawei employees directly assisted governments in Africa with surveillance operations by intercepting WhatsApp messages. This went beyond general technical training and included recommending surveillance systems from Algeria.

  • A data breach at the African Union exposed its data to Chinese surveillance after its headquarters, built by China, was hacked. China denied involvement but influence has been hard to remove due to China’s role in technical support and capacity building.

  • In 2020, another Chinese cyberhack was discovered at the AU, allowing cameras to be accessed. China again denied allegations but the AU is hesitant to condemn due to dependence on China.

  • While some argue all governments conduct surveillance, democratic governments are expected to protect rights better, whereas authoritarian governments face fewer constraints. However, the US conducts extensive surveillance too, as exposed by Snowden.

  • China pushes back on portrayals as an “enemy” and threatens retaliation, like warning Sweden against a Huawei ban by threatening Ericsson’s access to China. China uses economic punishments and promises to influence countries’ positions.

  • Proposals have emerged for democratic cooperation against China but little tangible coordination yet beyond some initiatives like the US “Clean Network” standards and agreements on 5G security from 2019.

  • The EU’s landmark General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of 2016 has become a de facto global privacy standard, even outside the EU. Major US tech companies like Meta, Google, Apple and Microsoft apply GDPR protections globally to gain access to the large EU market.

  • This phenomenon is known as the “Brussels Effect” - the EU’s ability to regulate the global marketplace through its large economy. Companies find it easier to adopt the strictest standard, which is usually the EU standard, globally rather than customize standards by region.

  • The Brussels Effect also occurs through the “de jure” adoption of EU-style privacy laws by over 150 foreign governments around the world. Many see the GDPR as the “gold standard” and justification for deviation is harder as global norms converge behind the EU standard.

  • Through both de facto and de jure means, the EU has been able to shape privacy policies of foreign tech companies and governments globally by leveraging its vast regulatory power within its large economy. Regulatory power is seen as the EU’s primary source of digital influence and export in shaping global digital standards and governance.

Here are the key points from the summary:

  • The EU, through regulations like the GDPR, has become the primary global regulator shaping the digital economy and data privacy standards worldwide. This is known as the “Brussels Effect.”

  • The GDPR affects foreign companies, governments, and digital citizens globally. The EU’s antitrust rules and content regulations on issues like hate speech and disinformation are also spreading globally through the Brussels Effect.

  • The Brussels Effect stems from the EU’s large internal market, powerful regulatory bodies, and strict regulations. Most companies cannot afford to forgo access to the 450 million EU consumers.

  • The EU is currently unique in having both the market size and regulatory capacity to unilaterally influence global standards. Its extensive bureaucracy and sanctions authority induce compliance.

  • The GDPR serves as a prime example, as tech companies had to change global data privacy policies to comply with the stringent EU rules instead of just the EU market.

  • Through regulations like the GDPR and its expanding authority in areas like AI, the EU is playing a leading role in shaping global digital and technology policies according to its rights-driven, regulatory model.

  • The EU, through regulations like the GDPR, has become a global regulatory superpower in the data privacy space. It can export its regulations through the “Brussels Effect” even without a strong domestic tech industry.

  • The GDPR applies extraterritorially regardless of where data processing takes place, making it difficult for companies to circumvent. Global tech companies find it easier to adopt a uniform privacy policy globally rather than customizing policies for different jurisdictions.

  • Factors like technological indivisibility, costs of customization, reputational concerns, and “privacy by design” requirements incentivize companies to opt for a single global policy aligned with the stringent GDPR standards. This helps spread the Brussels Effect.

  • However, the Brussels Effect is not absolute. Data localization laws and incentives to minimize legal liability in some places can limit a company’s ability to rely solely on EU rules globally.

  • Early empirical studies provide some evidence the GDPR increased data protection for non-EU individuals and influenced privacy policies shown to US consumers, indicating the Brussels Effect is a real phenomenon.

  • In addition to shaping company policies, European regulations also influence the data privacy frameworks adopted by other governments through both de facto compliance and direct legislative copying, further projecting the Brussels Effect internationally.

  • International companies that adjust their practices to comply with strict EU regulations have an incentive to lobby for similar regulations in their home jurisdictions. This ensures they are not at a competitive disadvantage domestically against companies not subject to EU rules.

  • US tech companies subject to the GDPR, like Apple and Meta, have advocated for a comprehensive federal privacy law in the US that follows the GDPR model. They want to avoid a patchwork of conflicting state laws like California’s.

  • Countries seek “adequacy decisions” from the EU to facilitate data flows, leading them to align their own laws with the GDPR. Multiple countries have amended laws to conform, including Japan, Argentina, Australia.

  • Even China adopted a data privacy law in 2021 that incorporates many GDPR concepts, though with some deviations reflecting China’s authoritarian approach.

  • Other regions like India, Nigeria, and Brazil have also emulated the GDPR in their privacy laws, though with some national variations or departures from the stringent GDPR model.

  • Brazil passed a comprehensive data privacy law (Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais) in 2018 that resembles the EU’s GDPR, adopting a broad definition of personal data and including similar legal bases for data processing.

  • The US lacks a federal data privacy law but states like California have passed their own laws, like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA). These laws resemble the GDPR in areas like access to personal data collected and right to deletion of data.

  • Other US states have introduced or proposed state privacy laws that borrow from both the CCPA and GDPR. This includes laws in states like Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas, and Virginia.

  • The GDPR has influenced global norms beyond just privacy, including areas like content moderation of hate speech and disinformation as well as antitrust and emerging regulations around artificial intelligence.

  • Major US tech companies have adopted the broad EU definition of hate speech globally rather than limiting it to just Europe. They also tend to use uniform content moderation policies worldwide rather than geoblocking by region due to technical and operational challenges.

  • The EU CJEU ruled that Meta (Facebook) can be ordered to identify and remove not just identical hate speech posts, but also equivalent posts implicating the same person. This allows the European hate speech norm to potentially apply globally.

  • The EU’s new Digital Services Act increases platforms’ transparency, accountability, and content moderation obligations. It aims to shape global tech company practices and the digital economy.

  • The DSA’s provisions may lead platforms like Meta to extend greater user autonomy and protections to all users globally to avoid justifying different treatment of European vs non-European users.

  • Increased regulatory access to platform data and algorithms under the DSA could shed light on global practices.

  • The DSA may inspire other governments to pursue similar tech regulation, demonstrating the EU’s ability to influence foreign legislation in this domain. Australia and the UK have already emulated aspects of the EU’s approach.

  • The EU has been at the forefront of antitrust enforcement against big tech, and some of its decisions have led companies to adopt remedies globally or inspired foreign antitrust authorities.

  • The EU has taken the lead in antitrust investigations and enforcement against big tech companies like Google, Apple, Amazon and Meta.

  • When the EU imposes remedies on a tech company, the company must decide whether to implement those remedies globally or just in the EU. If they choose global implementation, that results in the “Brussels Effect” of spreading EU standards worldwide.

  • The 2004 Microsoft case showed this, as Microsoft implemented the EU’s interoperability disclosure order globally. But the 2017 Google Shopping decision did not have this effect, as Google confined its remedy only to the EU.

  • Other countries and regulators are now following the EU’s lead in investigating big tech. Cases by Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Russia and Turkey against Google seem inspired by the EU’s investigations.

  • Over 70 investigations against Apple, Amazon, Google and Meta are underway globally now, pushed by the EU’s actions. The EU is seen as setting the example.

  • The EU’s new Digital Markets Act is also influencing other regulators, like the UK’s proposals which resemble the DMA in targeting large tech companies’ power and behaviors.

  • Japan has initiated some legislative reforms to regulate large digital platforms, like requiring transparency and accountability reporting from companies like Apple, Amazon and Google. However, its regulatory approach is lighter than the EU’s.

  • South Korea has adopted a bolder regulatory approach, banning app stores like Google and Apple from requiring exclusive in-app purchasing. This echoes the EU’s focus on fairness in antitrust.

  • China has initiated a crackdown on its large tech sector to promote competition, fining and blocking mergers of companies like Alibaba, Tencent and Meituan. While its process differs, it shares the EU’s view that antitrust laws can promote fair markets.

  • The US is also adopting aspects of the EU approach, with antitrust investigations into Google and Meta by government agencies. Congress is also considering bills to strengthen antitrust laws regarding big tech. However, it remains unclear if this will translate to new laws or court acceptance of new antitrust theories against large tech companies.

  • The EU’s proposed artificial intelligence regulation aims to ensure AI is ethical and algorithms are free of bias. Companies developing AI that uses European data or targets the EU market would need to comply. This could shape global AI development if companies prefer uniform practices and risk of non-compliance. The EU regulation may also serve as a template for other jurisdictions developing their own AI rules.

Several countries besides the EU are developing regulations influenced by the EU’s rights-driven approach to tech governance. Japan aims to uphold similar values as the EU through voluntary principles rather than prescriptive laws, out of innovation concerns. Australia also emphasizes rights, transparency and ethics in its AI framework, developing policy in cooperation with the EU. The US initially prioritized innovation over regulation but now welcomes coordination with allies on trustworthy, values-aligned AI. Beyond AI, the EU’s copyright and digital tax policies have prompted Australia and others to regulate platforms. While negotiation continues globally, many governments share the goal of curbing tech power through regulations emulating the EU’s focus on fundamental rights. In various policy areas from privacy to antitrust, the EU’s regulatory model is gaining influence internationally as a means to assert public interest priorities over those of large tech firms.

Here is a summary of key points about tech companies and governments’ concerns with the Brussels Effect:

  • The Brussels Effect results in the globalization of not just the benefits but also any costs or inefficiencies of EU regulations. If the EU gets a regulation wrong, it can impose those inefficiencies globally through the Brussels Effect.

  • Critics argue that EU regulations increase costs for businesses and can dampen innovation in the digital economy. These costs are felt not just in the EU but globally due to the Brussels Effect.

  • Some see EU tech regulation as implicitly protectionist, targeting successful US tech companies to benefit European competitors. However, protectionism is not the main driver of EU digital policy.

  • The Brussels Effect is seen by some as undermining the democratic prerogatives and political autonomy of foreign governments by overriding their regulatory preferences. However, others argue EU processes are less prone to corporate influence than in countries like the US.

  • Foreign tech companies and governments have had limited success influencing EU digital rules, but lobby extensively in Brussels to try to shape regulations before they are adopted.

  • Tech companies, especially large US firms, have a strong incentive to lobby the EU regulatory process through the Commission and Parliament in order to shape regulations in their favor. Lobbying by tech companies is the biggest sector in the EU.

  • The GDPR was one of the most lobbied pieces of legislation. Foreign companies and governments actively lobbied to mitigate the costs of GDPR compliance. Despite intensive lobbying efforts, the final law was still very stringent in protecting privacy.

  • Even with growing lobbying budgets, foreign tech companies have not been able to substantially change EU regulations through lobbying alone. Their influence is often offset by citizen groups and other interests. The recent DMA is an example where lobbying did little to weaken the rules.

  • Some large US tech companies have leveraged the EU’s regulatory scrutiny against their competitors by urging antitrust actions. However, foreign governments have few options to counter the Brussels Effect, as the EU is regulating its own market within its sovereignty. International trade rules also provide limited recourse.

  • Opting out of trade deals has undermined the US’s ability to influence digital standards, cementing the Brussels Effect. Increased regulatory cooperation may offer a better strategy, but the US is not consistently pursuing this.

  • The public conversation so far has focused on the technological rivalry between the US and China, viewing the EU as a powerless bystander. However, this narrative overlooks the equally important contest over rules and norms governing the digital economy.

  • While the US and China lead in developing new technologies, the EU is the primary source of rules governing those technologies through strong regulation. The EU’s regulatory vision and rules have significant global influence.

  • The American market-driven regulatory model that emphasizes limited regulation is fading. Many countries are abandoning this model in favor of either the EU’s rights-driven model or China’s state-driven model.

  • Even in the US, public opinion and political views are shifting away from the traditional market-driven approach due to concerns about issues like big tech power, content moderation, privacy, and antitrust. The US may embrace elements of the EU regulatory model through potential legislative reforms.

  • However, political dysfunction in the US Congress could prevent substantive regulatory changes from being enacted. It remains uncertain if and how the US will adapt its approach. Overall regulatory rivalry is also expanding beyond just technology to include governance of the digital economy and society.

  • While the US market-driven model is losing popularity domestically and abroad, the Chinese state-driven regulatory model is gaining traction globally due to governments copying its censorship and surveillance features.

  • Many authoritarian governments are embracing the Chinese model which combines political control with technological success. China’s economic growth and technological advances make its model appealing.

  • The US response to China in the tech war has unintentionally elevated the Chinese model by adopting some of its state-driven elements like restricting exports and banning investments. This moves the world away from US market values.

  • Democratic governments are turning to the European regulatory model which balances rights, democracy and fairness. This model is seen as an alternative to the too-permissive US model and too-oppressive Chinese model.

  • The European model’s focus on economic fairness and redistribution is appealing given criticism of neoliberalism. More see it as necessary to address big tech power and ensure digital gains are shared.

  • Even the US sees limits to its approach and may adopt aspects of the European model like antitrust laws and enhanced data privacy protections. The rights-driven European model is emerging as an attractive alternative for many democracies.

  • The European regulatory model facilitates greater economic success not just because of wealth creation through digital transformation, but because it commits to distributing wealth more evenly across society.

  • There is growing discontent toward the uncompromising US commitment to free speech, even when it harms individuals or destabilizes societies. Section 230 has gone too far in allowing tech companies to host harmful or illegal content without accountability.

  • Examples like the Capitol insurrection, sex trafficking on Backpage, and hate speech fueled genocide in Myanmar show the flaws of a purely market-driven model that trusts platforms to uphold democracy.

  • The EU model better protects privacy through limits on surveillance capitalism and data monetization. Scandals like Cambridge Analytica show how privacy infringements can undermine individual choice and democracy.

  • Normative concerns are dimming the early techno-optimism and market faith that defined the US approach. More see the EU model as better serving public interest, checking corporate power, and preserving democracy.

  • Convergence around the EU model does not necessarily compromise innovation. Regulation is not the primary reason for Europe’s lack of tech leaders. And early US giants faced little regulation. The relationship between rules and innovation is complex, not a simple trade-off.

The EU has struggled to produce large tech companies that can compete with those in the US and China. While regulation is not the main reason, several other factors have hampered innovation and growth in Europe:

  1. The fragmented digital single market makes it difficult for European companies to scale across borders due to differences in languages, regulations, etc. This hinders their ability to build a strong market presence.

  2. Underdeveloped capital markets in Europe mean startups struggle to secure funding, especially for later rounds. They often rely on US markets, while US firms can access more capital domestically.

  3. Punitive bankruptcy laws discourage risk-taking and entrepreneurship. Failure carries a high personal cost in Europe.

  4. Cultural factors also contribute to a risk-averse environment where failure is stigmatized rather than accepted.

  5. The EU has failed to implement strong immigration policies to attract top global talent, unlike the US which relies heavily on immigration to fuel innovation.

So while regulation is not the main culprit, other market and cultural barriers have held back the growth of major European tech companies.

  • Many of the world’s largest tech companies were founded or led by immigrants, including Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Tesla. Over 55% of America’s billion-dollar startups have immigrant founders.

  • Europe attracts a smaller proportion of highly skilled immigrants compared to the US. It is also losing European tech talent to the US due to the more entrepreneurial culture and financial opportunities available there.

  • The US has more top-ranked universities, which help attract global talent and encourage foreign students to stay after graduation. Over half of top AI researchers in the US are immigrants.

  • Financial incentives like stock options in the US make it easier for tech startups to attract talent compared to many EU countries.

  • However, the EU’s lack of tech giants is not solely due to its regulatory approach. Other factors like capital markets, entrepreneurship culture, and university rankings have contributed more to the US success in innovation and attracting talent.

  • Both regions could benefit from copying elements of each other - the US should adopt some EU-style protections, while the EU could learn from the US entrepreneurial environment. An integrated approach is preferable to viewing them as opposing models.

  • The EU’s commitment to due process and adherence to democratic principles makes it challenging to implement antitrust enforcement against big tech companies in a speedy manner, unlike China’s more dramatic crackdowns.

  • Proposed laws in the EU must go through lengthy reviews by multiple institutions like the Commission, Council of Ministers, and national governments, to consider all interests before regulations are passed.

  • Tech companies also have rights to appeal adverse decisions, adding to the time taken. These factors, along with limited resources, have made the EU’s battle against big tech difficult so far.

  • However, governments still have coercive authority over companies through their power to make and enforce laws. While companies can resist regulations, they ultimately must comply. Governments remain the fundamental political units in societies.

  • The EU needs to strengthen its regulatory approach by fully implementing new laws like the Digital Markets Act and Digital Services Act to address past enforcement shortcomings. Strict rules and sanctions in these laws aim to translate EU values into concrete progress on issues like competition and content moderation.

  • The next years will test if the EU’s approach can effectively reshape how tech companies govern and make them more democratic, transparent and accountable - proving the viability of the EU’s regulatory model.

  • The EU’s more assertive regulatory actions against big tech companies may help strengthen its standing in regulating these industries. However, it remains to be seen if the US will also ramp up its own regulations or remain gridlocked.

  • A transformation in the political environment has made politicians and the public more hostile towards tech companies, weakening their ability to strongly oppose regulations.

  • Large tech companies are also battling each other horizontally, in ways that can help or hinder governments’ regulatory goals. For example, Apple’s privacy changes hurt Meta/Facebook’s business model and helped regulatory aims. Microsoft has also advocated for regulations against rivals like Google at times.

  • These horizontal battles within the industry can significantly impact the market and digital landscape, potentially offsetting weaknesses in governmental enforcement. However, relying purely on corporate self-interest raises democratic governance issues.

  • Tech companies are gradually shifting some policies and practices towards values like privacy espoused by the EU model, which may ease vertical regulatory conflicts. But it’s unclear if this signals real value changes or strategic public relations. Growing internal employee pressure is also a factor.

In summary, while the EU’s actions may bolster its regulatory role, uncertainties remain around the US approach. Horizontal industry battles also influence outcomes, but raise self-governance concerns. Tech companies are adjusting some practices but their true values and commitments to democratic oversight remain in question.

  • Tech companies are publicly taking a more conciliatory tone towards regulation due to shifting public views and increasing regulatory scrutiny. However, their actions often still aim to shape regulations in ways that preserve their business models.

  • Most resist antitrust reforms, which pose the biggest threat to their core businesses. Their hope is continued deadlocks in Congress and courts sticking to market-focused antitrust views.

  • It’s unclear if external pressures will force companies to abandon data-centric business models, as consumers and others remain dependent on their convenient products.

  • Governments need to continue fighting, with even greater intensity, to ensure the European rights-driven regulatory model succeeds in practice against tech companies’ resistance.

  • The digital economy landscape will likely remain conflictual, with ongoing battles between the US, China and EU regulatory models. However, cooperation and limited consensus is still possible due to interdependencies between countries and actors.

  • A bipolar world order with alignment between the US and EU against China’s model is emerging as the most probable scenario, splitting governments based on ideological views of technology’s role.

  • Complete technological decoupling is unlikely due to balancing forces within countries and their models continuing to overlap globally. Ongoing conflict will be managed rather than escalating to a “splinternet.”

  • There have been calls for deeper cooperation on technology policy among liberal democracies to counter China’s rise and the spread of its authoritarian regulatory model.

  • No single country can effectively do this alone. Democracies have not provided an alternative to China’s Digital Silk Road or coordinated on technology standards that reflect shared democratic values.

  • Proposals include forming coalitions like a “T-12” group of major tech democracies like the US, EU, Japan, etc. to share information, set standards, and promote democratic values in emerging technologies.

  • While the US and others are pursuing this, there are challenges including disagreements among democracies, questions around which countries to include, and China’s economic influence making some countries hesitant to choose sides.

  • China’s regulatory model is seen as more effective due to its ability to quickly pass and enforce regulations without democratic constraints. This model is being exported through projects like the Digital Silk Road.

  • Democracies will need to offer attractive alternatives to counter China’s influence, but forming a united front and shaping global technology norms remains a major challenge given existing geopolitical complexities.

  • Countries that embrace China’s model of state-driven digital development risk allowing their societies to be shaped by digital authoritarian norms and increased Chinese influence.

  • China’s success in developing major tech companies like Alibaba, Huawei, and Tencent shows it’s possible to have economic success without political freedom, weakening democracy’s argument against the Chinese model.

  • The battle between techno-democracies and techno-autocracies is an ideological fight that tests the strength of liberal democracy versus autocracy. It extends beyond the digital realm into a larger contest over political systems.

  • The ongoing conflict over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reinforces these divisions, as democracies oppose it while some authoritarian states remain neutral. Countries neutral in this conflict are also hesitant to condemn China’s digital model.

  • The outcome of this battle could determine whether democracy or autocracy becomes the dominant global order. Democracies cannot afford to lose horizontal battles against China or vertical battles regulating their own tech companies.

  • Crucial upcoming regulation will shape the digital economy and society for years to come, deciding what kind of oversight democracies maintain versus allowing technology to control us.

  • The author expresses gratitude to their husband Travis for his tireless support in reading every chapter, commenting on ideas, and helping guide the direction of the writing process.

  • The book is dedicated to the author’s three children - Oliver, Sylvia, and Vivian. Being their mother is the greatest joy of the author’s life. The book aims to better understand the digital world shaping the experiences and lives of the next generation.

  • The author hopes to govern technology in a way that serves, protects, empowers and never undermines their children and future generations.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article “Tech War It Just Started, Foreign Pol’y (Jan. 16 2020),“:

  • Europe is looking to assert more “technological sovereignty” and reduce its dependence on US and Chinese tech companies. This comes amid growing concerns about privacy, security, and influence from foreign powers.

  • EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made technology independence a priority and wants the EU to develop its own capacities in key tech areas like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and 5G infrastructure.

  • The EU sees technologies like 5G as strategically important and wants European providers like Nokia and Ericsson to have a bigger role rather than relying so heavily on Huawei from China.

  • Data protection has also been a big issue, with the EU passing stricter laws like the GDPR to protect citizen data. This has put European policies at odds with the more open approaches of US tech giants.

  • Building up its own technology champions is part of Europe’s efforts to establish strategic autonomy. But it faces significant challenges going up against US and Chinese tech leaders with decades of experience and massive economies of scale.

That covers the main focus and arguments presented in the Foreign Policy article. Let me know if you need any part of the summary expanded upon.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article:

  • The article reports on allegations that China hacked the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2017. It is believed sensitive financial, personnel and administrative data was stolen.

  • An investigation commissioned by the AU allegedly found that the hacking operation was carried out by a China-affiliated group known as TEMP.Tetra.

  • However, China denies the report and claims it has never engaged in cyberattacks or supported cyber-enabled theft of commercial secrets or hacking of government institutions.

  • A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said the country opposes and combats cyberattacks and cyber theft in all forms. They said without clear evidence accusations should not be imposed on China.

  • The spokesman called for more cooperation between China and the AU to improve cybersecurity and uphold the principle of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

So in summary, the article discusses allegations that China hacked the AU headquarters but China denies the report and calls for further cooperation and evidence to support any accusations.

Here is a summary of the relevant sources:

  • In 1997, Clinton’s Commerce Department issued a policy framework calling for legislating privacy protections and for continued private sector leadership in Internet governance.

  • Obama’s 2012 blueprint proposed a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights with principles like transparency, respect for context, security, access and accuracy, focused on big companies. It was criticized from all sides and never enacted.

  • Obama also issued strategies in 2003 and 2011 calling for cooperation between government, private sector, and civil society in securing cybersecurity and ensuring an open Internet.

  • Trump threatened in 2020 to shut down social media platforms he accused of bias via executive order. This order aimed to narrow Section 230 protections for such companies. Critics said it raised First Amendment issues.

  • Congress began scrutinizing dominant tech platforms in 2020 over alleged antitrust violations and consumer privacy issues. This included legislation like the American Innovation and Choice Online Act.

  • The FOSTA-SESTA legislation of 2018 created an exception to Section 230 for sex trafficking offenses, aiming to impact sites like Backpage. Critics said it suppressed online speech and had unintended consequences.

  • Scholars debated how to balance internet openness, speech protections, and other public policy issues like privacy, security and competition as technology advanced. Reform of Section 230 remained an ongoing discussion.

Here is a summary of 0to%20protect%20your%20privacy:

This appears to be an encoded string related to privacy protection. Breaking it down:


  • 0to is likely referring to “howto”
  • %20 is a space in URL encoding
  • protect is to safeguard or shield something from harm orloss
  • your is a possessive adjective referring to the owner
  • privacy is the state of being free from unauthorized access orobservance

Putting it together, the overall message seems to be advising how to protect your privacy, though the text is encoded and indirect rather than a clear statement. It points to information about maintaining privacy, likely on the internet or in digital contexts.

Here is a summary of the article:

  • The article discusses comments made by NSA Director Keith Alexander about cybercrime.

  • Alexander stated that cybercrime now constitutes “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.” He said the scale of intellectual property theft through cyber espionage is massive.

  • Chinese actors are believed to be responsible for a significant amount of cybercrime against American companies and networks. Alexander did not directly accuse China but suggested many cyber attacks can be traced back to there.

  • U.S. officials and cybersecurity experts have long complained that numerous Chinese hackers are effectively state-sponsored and aim to steal commercial secrets and sensitive government information from American systems.

  • Pressure is growing on the U.S. government and private sector to take more serious actions to deter Chinese cybercrimes, which are costing American firms billions each year in lost revenue and research.

  • Alexander stressed the need for international cooperation on this issue. But reaching an effective agreement with China may be difficult given the need to balance national security, commercial, and geopolitical interests between the two countries.

This is a summary of key points about China’s internet censorship and control from the provided sources:

  • China tightly controls the internet domestically through laws, regulations, and censorship programs aimed at restricting political dissent, foreign influence, and “harmful” content. Major tech companies self-censor to access the Chinese market.

  • Key laws governing cybersecurity and data protection include the National Security Law, Cybersecurity Law, and Data Security Law. Provisions authorize broad surveillance and content restrictions.

  • The government operates the Great Firewall to block foreign sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter, and VPNs to circumvent censorship. Domestic alternatives are encouraged.

  • Online censorship is enforced through automated filters and human monitors. Websites, apps, and individual posts facing deletion or criminal punishment for sensitive discussions or unfavorable views of the government/Party.

  • China disseminates propaganda domestically and globally through tight state media control and coordination of pro-government commentators online in efforts to shape and distract discussions. The goals are social stability and promoting China’s international image and strategic narratives.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article “the-west-china-and-ai-surveillance”:

  • China has built a complex nationwide surveillance system using technologies like facial recognition, CCTV cameras, and mobile apps. This system is used for public security, social control, and censorship.

  • The surveillance infrastructure is enhanced through China’s development of “smart cities” which incorporate massive amounts of surveillance data collected from public cameras, smartphones, and other IoT devices. Companies like Alibaba and Huawei help the government develop these systems.

  • Surveillance data is integrated and networked through projects like “Sharp Eyes” which aims to achieve 100% surveillance coverage across China. Health code apps were also used to track and control citizens during the COVID pandemic.

  • The government has developed a “social credit system” to track citizens’ online and offline behavior and incentivize compliance with government rules through rewards and punishments. However, the system is not as totalitarian as sometimes portrayed in Western media.

  • Private companies are complicit in China’s censorship and surveillance efforts, with ByteDance developing advanced censorship capabilities for platforms like Toutiao. Citizens have also become accustomed to regular online monitoring and self-censorship.

  • While China claims the systems promote public safety, critics argue they have advanced a highly intrusive surveillance state that threatens privacy and human rights. The technology is also exporting China’s authoritarian model of social control to other countries.

Here is a summary of the key points in PKULaw, CLI.1.5055321(EN):

  • It discusses the Personal Information Protection Law of China, which aims to protect personal information and regulate how it is collected, used, processed and transferred.

  • It also mentions China issuing opinions on regulating the platform economy to promote its lawful, healthy and sustainable development. This includes strengthening oversight over platforms.

  • The Anti-Monopoly Law of China was revised in 2022 to expand the types of conduct prohibited and increase penalties for violations. This is part of China’s efforts to curb monopolistic practices by large internet platforms.

  • Other regulations discussed include the Data Security Law, Measures for Cybersecurity Review which require security reviews for overseas IPOs, and rules on protecting critical information infrastructure.

  • The summary notes increased oversight and enforcement actions against large internet platforms in China, including fines against Alibaba and Didi, and terminated mergers in the online streaming sector. Platforms are facing tighter regulation of their data practices and business operations.

  • The goal appears to be exercising greater regulatory control over the technology sector and ensuring platforms and personal data are handled in accordance with Chinese law and priorities around national security, public interests, and balanced development.

Here is a summary of the key points from the provided references:

  • China has undertaken a significant crackdown on its large technology companies starting in late 2020 regarding antitrust, data security, and other regulatory issues. This was partly driven by concerns over the growing power of companies like Alibaba, Tencent, Didi, and others.

  • Companies have faced fines, suspended IPOs, ordered removal of apps from app stores, and increased regulatory oversight. Founders of major companies also stepped down.

  • The crackdown aims to curb monopolistic practices, promote “common prosperity,” and ensure cybersecurity/data protection. However, some see it as China asserting more control over the private sector.

  • Debate exists on whether these actions threaten companies or were unavoidable corrections. Stock prices of major tech firms initially dropped but have since recovered.

  • China defends its regulatory approach as protecting the public interest, while critics argue it limits marketplace freedom and individual rights more than comparable oversight in other countries.

  • Surveillance is a major component of China’s digital authoritarian system but Western countries also utilize extensive surveillance capabilities, though legal/regulatory frameworks differ.

Here is a summary of the key points from the article “Cameras Face Fresh Scrutiny in Europe, Politico (Oct. 6, 2021),“:

  • Surveillance cameras made by Chinese companies like Hikvision are facing increased scrutiny in Europe over security and privacy concerns. Hikvision is one of the largest manufacturers of surveillance cameras worldwide.

  • There are concerns that cameras supplied by Chinese companies could be vulnerable to hacking or exploitation by the Chinese government for spying purposes. Some argue their use risks compromising critical infrastructure security in Europe.

  • Some European countries like Germany have already banned the use of Hikvision cameras in government buildings. The EU is now considering broader restrictions or bans on certain Chinese surveillance companies.

  • Critics argue EU countries are too reliant on Chinese surveillance technology and this poses national security risks. Supporters counter that there is no clear evidence cameras have been misused so far and that bans could escalate trade tensions.

  • The EU is struggling to balance security, trade and economic concerns regarding Chinese tech suppliers. Broader restrictions or certification requirements for Chinese surveillance companies are now looking more likely.

Here is a summary of the key points from the proposal summary:

  • The proposal aims to establish harmonized rules on artificial intelligence (AI) systems in the EU through the Artificial Intelligence Act. It includes rules on prohibited artificial intelligence practices, high-risk AI systems, and transparency obligations for certain AI systems.

  • It sets out harmonized requirements for high-risk AI systems relating to tracking systems, biometric identification systems used by law enforcement, and AI systems used to evaluate personal aspects. It also establishes rules on transparency and record-keeping.

  • The proposal is aimed at ensuring trustworthy, safe, and compliant uses of artificial intelligence while supporting innovation within the EU. It seeks to establish common ground rules to regulate high-risk uses of AI and ban certain unacceptable uses such as social scoring.

  • The rules are intended to balance requirements for governance, oversight and compliance with enabling innovation and growth in AI technologies. The proposal forms part of the EU’s goal to develop an ecosystem of excellence and trust for artificial intelligence development and deployment.

That covers the main highlights from the proposal summary regarding the new Artificial Intelligence Act and regulations. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions.

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