The world’s major societies are now wrestling with the enormous social power wielded by the Internet‘s “platform companies“.In Europe they speak of “GAFA“: Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Twitter, Uber and other aspirant companies hover just out of the main ring.Governments everywhere see them as rivals to their power and also invaluable allies. India and its government too face immense challenges, but also an extraordinary opportunity, if GoI can lead India in the right direction.Essentially, three basic approaches to deal with the power of these American data miners have emerged.
First, the US government sees them as pillars of post-industrial American power, and as an immense national security intelligence resource. It is therefore their strategically.
Second, proponents of “digital sovereignty“, mostly autocracies, have chosen to build national search engines and social media structures, favouring domestic private market entrants (as has happened in Russia and China), and by exercising control over national telecommunications networks to block the US companies. Third, the European Union has attempted to control the companies’ behaviour by regulation and litigation.
India has a golden opportunity to find a fourth way . The market in Internet services that is, information technology for use by people in their daily lives is now dominated by companies that provide “free“ services in return for massive privacy invasion. This model, in which the consumer is the product, is doing enormous harm to the human race and destroying our privacy environment completely , in order to provide people supposedly “free“ email and other forms of social communication, calendaring and similar services “in the cloud“.
India’s greatest advantages in 21st century global economic competition are the intelligence and education of its people. Software and network-based service industries are core components of any Digital India economic strategy.
Indian industries, providing state-of the-art cloud services social networking, email, travel, calendaring, on-line retailing everywhere, etc could very profitably, given Indian cost structures, compete to provide those services to everyone in the world who has seen the error of “free“ services based on privacy invasion, and wants an alternative she can pay for, with confidence in the privacy technology that is all open source, and works in their interest rather than someone else’s.
This is “for-profit, pro-privacy IT for humanity .“ And because of the economies of scale in this business, industry will be able to provide Indians with deeply subsidised or no-cost services, based not on invading or selling their privacy to multinationals, but as a consequence of the re-distributive effect of selling first world consumers their data privacy as an export industry .