Posts tagged corporatism
2016 leaked document from Coca-Cola showing the regulations from the EU they intend to “Prepare” for “Monitor” or “Fight Back”
The war for the open internet is the defining issue of our time. It’s a scramble for control of the very fabric of human communication. And human communication is all that separates us from the utopia that thousands of generations of our ancestors slowly marched us toward — or the Orwellian, Huxleyan, Kafkaesque dystopia that a locked-down internet would make possible.
By the end of this article, you’ll understand what’s happening, the market forces that are driving this, and how you can help stop it. We’ll talk about the brazen monopolies who maneuver to lock down the internet, the scrappy idealists who fight to keep it open, and the vast majority of people who are completely oblivious to this battle for the future.
In Part 1, we’ll explore what the open internet is and delve into the history of the technological revolutions that preceded it.
In Part 2, we’ll talk about the atoms. The physical infrastructure of the internet. The internet backbone. Communication satellites. The “last mile” of copper and fiber optic cables that provide broadband internet.
In Part 3, we’ll talk about bits. The open, distributed nature of the internet and how it’s being cordoned off into walled gardens by some of the largest multinational corporations in the world.
In Part 4, we’ll explore the implications of all this for consumers and for startups. You’ll see how you can help save the open internet. I’ll share some practical steps you can take as a citizen of the internet to do your part and keep it open.
Another artist-in-consultance model that, importantly, did not take place in California, managed to fluctuate between all three outcomes. As Claire Bishop wrote, this project seriously put forth the idea “that art can cause both business and art to re-evaluate their priorities,” or precisely what I mean by dismantling.5 This was the UK’s Artist Placement Group, or APG, founded by the artists Barbara Steveni and John Latham in 1966 and active until 1989. Calling itself an “artist consultancy,” a “network consultancy,” or a “research organization,” APG arranged “placements” for artists within both public and private organizations for limited contract periods.6 Including the British Steel Corporation, the Ocean Fleets shipping company, and the Department of the Environment, selected host organizations allowed the artist to essentially roam free within their confines according to agreed-upon terms of service (rendered in remarkably authentic bureaucratic language in a huge volume of correspondence mostly written by Steveni, which is a body of artwork in itself). The projects ranged from art education, on-site installations, public outreach, and creative uses of technology to, in some cases, direct critical reflection on company management and policy. Many of these collaborations dead-ended or became as superfluous or antagonistic as the above-mentioned projects. But a critical mass of them proved challenging, fruitful, and even tangibly beneficial to humans within and without the company. The success can be chalked up to the role, as carefully defined by APG, of the artist working in nonart contexts. Latham coined the term “Incidental Person” (IP) to account for this role.
Local businesses in Crickhowell are turning the tables on the likes of Google and Starbucks by employing the same accountancy practices used by the world’s biggest companies, to move their entire town “offshore”. Advised by experts and followed by a BBC crew, family-run shops in the Brecon Beacons town have submitted their own DIY tax plan to HMRC, copying the offshore arrangements used by global brands which pay little or no corporation tax.
When Hansen testified before a Congressional committee in 1988, the atmospheric level of CO2 was just passing 350 parts per million. Now we’ve gone beyond 400 ppm, we’ve seen the rapid melt of the Arctic, the acidification of the planet’s oceans, and the rapid rise in extreme weather events. (Just lately: “thousand-year-rainfalls” in South Carolina and Southern California so far this month, and now a typhoon dropping a meter or more of rain on the Philippines.) Thanks to Exxon’s willingness to sucker the world, that world is now a chaotic mess. We’ve finally begun to see the rise of a movement large enough to challenge the power of the oil companies, and that means that Paris will come out better than Copenhagen, but the quarter-century wasted will never be made up.
So the fact is that our experience of the world will increasingly come to reflect our experience of our computers and of the internet itself (not surprisingly, as it’ll be infused with both). Just as any user feels their computer to be a fairly unpredictable device full of programs they’ve never installed doing unknown things to which they’ve never agreed to benefit companies they’ve never heard of, inefficiently at best and actively malignant at worst (but how would you now?), cars, street lights, and even buildings will behave in the same vaguely suspicious way. Is your self-driving car deliberately slowing down to give priority to the higher-priced models? Is your green A/C really less efficient with a thermostat from a different company, or it’s just not trying as hard? And your tv is supposed to only use its camera to follow your gestural commands, but it’s a bit suspicious how it always offers Disney downloads when your children are sitting in front of it.
In spite of the political, economic, and ecological crisis of the last few years, the new social forms and categories that have emerged have failed to constitute themselves politically, and it’s hard to fathom what form change could take. In the absence of a collective horizon, the new (second) Industrial Revolution might not lead to the future but to the past, to a Victorian phantasmagoria of sorts, supplemented by consumer gadgetry and semiotic fetishism. A place akin to the Zone in Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker, a sentient environment able to materialize all your dreams—but with a twist.
Alberta artist, Peter von Tiesenhausen, has effectively stopped oil corporations from putting a pipeline through his 800 acre property by covering it with artwork and copyrighting the top six inches of his land as an artwork. Realizing that mining companies can legitimately lay claim to any land underneath private property to a depth of six inches, van Tiesenhausen contacted a lawyer who drew up an intellectual property/copyright claim that said that if the oil company disturbed the top six inches in any way, it would be a copyright violation.
In ‘Maker to Market’ spaces, things can get even messier. Several of the companies on this path depend on ‘open innovation’ models that allow them to engage with keen communities, providing ongoing feedback and mass customisation. This also allows customers to be used as a cheap form of R&D; a practice common in the creative and culture industries, described by Miya Tokumitsu as ‘Do what you love’ where a volunteer workforce works for passion and social capital rather than actual hard cash.
What kind of oligarchy? As Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan explains, Gilens and Page’s findings provide support for two theories of governance: economic elite domination and biased pluralism. The first is pretty straightforward and states that the ultra-wealthy wield all the power in a given system, though some argue that this system still allows elites in corporations and the government to become powerful as well. Here, power does not necessarily derive from wealth, but those in power almost invariably come from the upper class. Biased pluralism on the other hand argues that the entire system is a mess and interest groups ruled by elites are fighting for dominance of the political process. Also, because of their vast wealth of resources, interest groups of large business tend to dominate a lot of the discourse.
The shift to the distorporation comes at the expense of the “C” corporation, the formal name for the familiar limited-liability joint-stock structure that emerged a century ago (see chart 1). The newer structures still protect investors from liability. But the requirement for partnerships to pass through their money blocks the accumulation of earnings. In C corporations retained earnings can be used to fund investment and growth, assuring persistence. Without them, pass-through businesses have to be far more intertwined with investors. Staying alive means routinely inhaling capital, as well as exhaling.
When Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) was thirteen, the US government announced it had launched “Operation Infinite Justice”. Operation Infinite Justice sought to punish the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 attacks, destroy Al Qaeda, and end the reign of the Taliban. Operation Infinite Justice was renamed “Operation Enduring Freedom” after protests from Islamic scholars, who argued that God, not the US government, was the arbiter of justice. But freedom, it seemed, was something the United States could give and take away. When Manning was fourteen, the Bush administration announced that detainees in Guantanamo did not deserve protection under the Geneva conventions and that torture was justified. When Manning was fifteen, the US invaded Iraq in response to fabricated reports that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. When Manning was sixteen, US soldiers tortured and sodomised prisoners in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. When Manning was seventeen, a movement emerged to prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes. Nothing really came of it. When Manning was nineteen, she joined the army.
All disruptive technologies upset traditional power balances, and the Internet is no exception. The standard story is that it empowers the powerless, but that’s only half the story. The Internet empowers everyone. Powerful institutions might be slow to make use of that new power, but since they are powerful, they can use it more effectively. Governments and corporations have woken up to the fact that not only can they use the Internet, they can control it for their interests. Unless we start deliberately debating the future we want to live in, and information technology in enabling that world, we will end up with an Internet that benefits existing power structures and not society in general.
I think it’s time to get back to basics. More and more of my friends are leaving or being forced out of Google+. Some refused to submit a driver’s license just to prove that their legal name was real. Many cannot safely socialize under their real names. Some just value their privacy. Let’s ask this basic question again. Who is harmed by Google’s “real name” policy?
Google’s harvesting of e-mails, passwords and other sensitive personal information from unsuspecting households in the United States and around the world was neither a mistake nor the work of a rogue engineer, as the company long maintained, but a program that supervisors knew about, according to new details from the full text of a regulatory report. The report, prepared by the Federal Communications Commission after a 17-month investigation of Google’s Street View project, was released, heavily redacted, two weeks ago. Although it found that Google had not violated any laws, the agency said Google had obstructed the inquiry and fined the company $25,000. On Saturday, Google released a version of the report with only employees’ names redacted.
So Sweden has granted private corporate interests – the copyright industry – more extensive powers than the Police, in terms of cracking down on the Net and making dissent and civil disobedience dangerous.