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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.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 23, 2021 - Technology

China's new privacy law leaves U.S. behind

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

While China's sweeping new data privacy laws have left tech companies confused about how to comply, they also put the U.S. even further behind in the global race to set digital standards.

What's happening: China enacted its Personal Information Privacy Law earlier this month, following Europe as the second major international player to have its own sweeping data privacy regulations.

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.