Big tech companies are succumbing to the wishes of the Indian government


As an indian democracy Under the control of Narendra Modi, social media platforms collapsed day after day, replacing press freedom. As Reporters Without Borders recently pointed out, journalists in India “are at risk of being fired if they criticize the government.”Since Modi came to power in 2014, India’s ranking on the World Press Freedom Index Fall down year after year, Stationary period Between 2020 and 2021, there will be 142 (from 180 countries and regions).

However, through the IT regulations implemented in February, activists and relevant citizens have called for Modi to actually suppress social media as the remaining lifeline Unconstitutional and undemocraticThe new rules give the Indian government more power to manage their views, and technology companies and video content providers are forced to comply. They asked social media platforms to respond to complaints about their online posts, revealing to the government “originator“The content being marked is—essentially end End-to-end encryption.

Complicating this suppression is that American technology companies have increasingly bowed to Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.A few weeks before the rule’s implementation, Twitter pause During the country’s farmers’ protest against the new agricultural law, the accounts of hundreds of opposition reporters, media, and politicians were also blocked from what the government considered “hundreds of pro-farmer tweets.”controversial. Similarly, a 21-year-old climate activist who supported the protest was arrested for editing a Google document resource For the protesters and those who support the protest.When the police found out that she had edited the file Google shared her data.

Technology giants based in the United States have long been developing the so-called southern hemisphere.We have always It is a good source of data, and the company has appeased the authoritarian regime in exchange for this new, highly sought-after capital.

This is simply Digital colonialism: Colonial powers once sought natural resources, now they seek data.

If platform giants do not comply with the new regulations of the Indian government, they may lose a market of 1.3 billion people. And this is obviously something they are not willing to take risks, no matter what the price of Indian citizens pay.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Big Tech began production Grab the right In the global south, this is not just about deepening the existing reliance on technology. This is about expanding the territory by seizing opportunities with local partners.

April 2020, Facebook gets 9.99% of the shares ($5.7 billion) In Reliance Industries’ Jio platform, India’s largest mobile network provider. November, WhatsApp Finally launched Pay in India.While in June This year, Google announced a partnership with Jio to launch an Android smartphone.In the first eight months of the pandemic alone, the wealth of Reliance owner Mukhesh Ambani surged US$22 billion.

However, it is not just money. With the implementation of these new IT regulations, the gap between how large technology companies behave in the West and how they behave in India has widened. In the former case, after the Congressional riots on January 6, Jack Dorsey and others took a hard line against politicians such as Donald Trump.Dorsey defend Trump was banned on the grounds of potential “offline harm.”

In response, the leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party Tweet Support Trump, saying that “if they can do it to POTUS, they can do it to anyone” and “big technology companies are now the new oligarchs.” However, they must know that these companies will succumb to the real new oligarchs. itself.

In India, one more and more (and historically) Tensions between India and Muslims, A politician’s tweet linking Islam to terrorism is Remove only at his request my own governmentSimilarly, the social media head of the Bharatiya Janata Party posted a video on Twitter suggesting that the opposition party “sponsored” a protest against India’s controversial citizenship law-which was found to be Incorrect. That tweet is still There is no label on the platform to mark it as fake.

Why are these inconsistencies? The question cannot be whether the government of a country like India is fully responsible for the state of its democratic country. This view, especially if it is limited to the global South, is naive and culturally imperialist.If the Cambridge Analytica scandal has taught the world anything, it is that data can determine the success or failure of democratic elections Anywhere.


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