Who wants to make cooperatives out of IT giants

Earlier, we wrote about “reverse perestroika” – the initiatives of supporters of left and left-wing radical movements aimed at making IT infrastructure and the Internet “common”.

But besides hardware, web services and the IT companies that develop them are part of the network. We discuss who proposes to nationalize them, and why is it not such a good idea.


A photo – John t – Unsplash

It was yours – it became ours

Representatives of the left increasingly suggest tightening control over large IT companies. One striking example is law about network neutrality. At the end of 2018, the California authorities, left-wing, worked on it to prohibit providers from blocking access to sites and differentiate traffic, giving priority to any type of content.

Even the leaders of the businesses themselves do not stand aside. Last year, Mark Zuckerberg, notedthat for the effective operation of the world wide network, a “common global program” is needed, covering the problems of the distribution of malicious content and the protection of user data.

This picture is complemented by the “concern” of regulators, which indicate that corporations and IT media accumulate large volumes of PD and create risks associated with leaks and the spread of fake news. But all this is only part of the trend.

Proponents of the left movement believe that such measures are not enough and a more radical approach is needed. So, as a first step, US presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, left-wing activist of the Democratic Party, proposed to sharel Amazon, Google and Facebook to smaller firms to simplify the work of regulators.

Jason Prado, author of the Venture Commune Newsletter and member socialist election headquarters Bernie Sandersoffers a close approach. is he considersthat online services with one hundred or more millions of users become “indistinguishable from the state” in terms of their influence. Therefore, they must be managed by democratically elected representatives and adjust the vector of development of companies in the interests of citizens.

Activists of the “cooperative platform” movement are already testing this approach in practice. The right to make managerial decisions in such organizations belongs to the company’s employees or key shareholders. For example, the Green Taxi Cooperative Taxi Service in Denver is successfully managed by taxi drivers themselves. Despite fierce competition with Uber and Lyft, in 2016 the organization held 37% share in the city’s taxi market. The company continues to work today.


A photo – Kevin laminto – Unsplash

There are similar projects in Europe – so, management German marketplace Fairmondo carried out by shareholders in accordance with the principle: “one person – one vote”. The company has been operating safely for seven years and has even entered the UK market.

As an “alternative” to cooperatives, politicians propose to increase the “transparency” of internal business processes – for example, the processing of personal data. This point of view is held by representatives of the authorities of different countries, including those who are far from leftist movements. The head of the Federal Communications Commission in the United States Ajit Pai at the end of 2018 drew attention to the secrecy (in matters of processing PD) of corporations such as Google, Twitter and Facebook.

But not so simple

Not everyone is convinced that transferring control to the state is a good idea. As a main argument, opponents of this approach cite gloomy future scenarios described in many dystopias as an example. But if you do not take them into account, the fact remains: government organizations are at least too bureaucratic. This alone can negatively affect the business processes of new IT firms and, as a result, the quality of services.

A photo – Levon vardanyan – Unsplash
Many of us have encountered difficulties that have arisen in the housing and communal services sector – in order to solve a problem in a management company, we have to fill in a lot of papers and move from window to window several times. No one would like to encounter a similar attitude when working with an email service or Slack, not to mention some kind of Tinder.

Professor Benjamin Peters of Tulsa University in his book, “How Not to Network a Nation: The Uneasy History of the Soviet Internet“Notes that it is the bureaucracy prevented the active development of Internet infrastructure in the Soviet Union.

In the USSR, it was not possible to implement large IT projects, including due to the fact that at each stage, specialists had to coordinate their actions.

In the case of nationalization, history can repeat itself if large businesses “divide” among themselves several government structures at once, whose interests, by the way, may not coincide. Industry representatives understand this, and many are against tightening regulation.

Two years ago, the UK government started to work out standards for online content and penalties for offending companies. Then Richard Allan, vice president of Facebook, objectedthat services and media should be responsible for the quality of content only to the audience. On the whole, this point of view coincides with the ideas of the libertarians, who are on the other side of the political spectrum. They are convinced that the state should stay away from digital businesses and allow the market to grow naturally.

Will a compromise be found

The complete openness of the information promoted by some left-wing activists has its drawbacks. Professor of Ethics at Delft University of Technology Jeroen Van den Hoven notesthat transparency and privacy are the foundations of democracy. The first helps to control the controllers, and the second – preserves the freedom of the individual. The bias in favor of transparency can damage the privacy and even security of users. how writes colleague van den Hoven, Marijn Janssen, disclosure of data from the social. networks will allow you to monitor the actions of individual individuals, which will certainly take advantage of attackers.

Today, corporations are holding large amounts of personal data, which creates certain cyber risks. But the nationalization of companies and their infrastructure clearly will not become a universal solution to the problem of IT monopolies. On the other hand, a dialogue between them and representatives of various political movements could help to look at the problem from different points of view. And, in the future, to work out a compromise solution that will suit both the business and the authorities, and, most importantly, the developers of the services themselves and their users.


In our 1cloud.ru there is corporate blogdedicated to IaaS and IB. We recently told how to remove yourself from most popular services.


Also we lead Telegram channelin which we publish cloud industry news, insights and analyze cases.


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