Article Source: MIT Technology Review

How democracies can claim back power in the digital world

Technology companies have taken many aspects of tech governance from democratically elected leaders. It will take an international effort to fight back.

Should Twitter censor lies tweeted by the US president? Should YouTube take down covid-19 misinformation? Should Facebook do more against hate speech? Such questions, which crop up daily in media coverage, can make it seem as if the main technologically driven risk to democracies is the curation of content by social-media companies. Yet these controversies are merely symptoms of a larger threat: the depth of privatized power over the digital world.

Every democratic country in the world faces the same challenge, but none can defuse it alone. We need a global democratic alliance to set norms, rules, and guidelines for technology companies and to agree on protocols for cross-border digital activities including election interference, cyberwar, and online trade. Citizens are better represented when a coalition of their governments—rather than a handful of corporate executives—define the terms of governance, and when checks, balances, and oversight mechanisms are in place. . . .

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