Oct 19, 2021 - Technology

Treating tech giants as nation-states

Graph showing tech giants as nation-states.
Image: Ian Bremmer

Tech companies are creating not just the products of the future, but also the future's infrastructure and rules, global analyst Ian Bremmer writes in an article for Foreign Affairs.

Why it matters: That means "it is time to start thinking of the biggest technology companies as similar to states," Bremmer argues.

  • These companies exercise a form of sovereignty over a rapidly expanding realm that extends beyond the reach of regulators: digital space," he writes.

Between the lines: Bremmer makes the case that such companies are already establishing diplomatic relations — whether they choose to be closely tied to one country, such as many Chinese tech firms, or aim to be global players, such as Microsoft, Apple and others.

  • And, he notes, it was the tech companies that acted swiftly after Jan. 6 to preserve democracy in the U.S., with Facebook and Twitter suspending former President Trump's accounts; Amazon, Apple, and Google basically forcing Parler offline; and payments companies like PayPal and Stripe also suspending accounts tied to the insurrection.

Yes, but: Many critics argue Facebook bears significant responsibility for the events of Jan. 6, by providing the digital platform used by some to organize the insurrection and amplifying election-related misinformation.

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