When the Internet Redefines Boundaries

Posted on Jul 4, 2022, 11:00 AM

The Internet has changed geography. Geography makes history. We are witnessing profound upheavals in our world, our societies, and our personal, economic and institutional environments. Our way of waging war is also changing.

While his Frontières.com was published on March 30, so he could not mention the attack by Vladimir Putin on his neighbor, Nicholas Arbagian, who specializes in strategic issues in electronic space, describes in one way or another what we see every day in Ukraine: the civil and military worlds that It integrates, strategic importance to control satellite ties, comprehensive presence of social networks, the main role of connected technologies such as drones, surveillance cameras, Google Earth photos, citizens’ pictures on their mobile phones, etc. .

Corporations replace or dominate states

The intensification of digital uses has also made the boundaries built by social organizations porous. Corporations are displacing states – indeed dominating them – in many areas. There will be, all over the world, a few thousand super-powerful companies that are exploiting a near-planetary monopoly thanks to digital technology.

We especially know Gafam, Elon Musk or Alibaba, but they are far from alone. Faced with the deployment of these new actors, states have only two options: accept their “excessive power” and come to terms with it by trying to recover some subsidies (risking becoming a puppet of only the most important holders of the ability to invest), or affecting their development by imposing actions and controlling their decisions The strategy.

Neither the current US administration nor the Trump administration appears capable of splitting Google or Facebook as its predecessor did with Standard Oil a century ago. Europe is struggling and trying to impose new regulations.

The intensification of digital uses has made the boundaries used in structuring social organizations porous. Dr

But in fact, only Beijing is beginning to bring giants to its heels: Xi Jinping has at most canceled the initial public offering of Ant Group, the financial sector of Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba. Since the entrepreneur seemed to stand up to him, it forced him to restructure his activities and even reconsider his investments in the media. Everything is easier when you do not have to respect the rules of the rule of law!

They never deviate from each other

To focus more on the political spectrum, digital champions know how to set aside their competing priorities to form a monolithic lobby. For example, in Asia, the Asia Internet Alliance, which brings together all the big players – Airbnb, Amazon, Booking.com, Facebook, Rakuten, SAP, Twitter, Yahoo … – does not hesitate in July 2021 to threaten the authorities very directly from Hong Kong to leave their territory if they can not reach an agreement on data protection legislation.

Nicholas Arpagian insists that “their social goals thus transcend the purely commercial dimension to assume a political role for normative production in the heart of the city”. Suffice it to say that it would be futile to hope that digital leaders end up neutralizing each other, even if they also appear to be competing fiercely with each other, such as Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos) and Space X (Elon Musk) in the space sphere, which It was previously reserved for state organs.

Their symbolic encroachment continues to expand and is now affecting the particularly sensitive health sector. In this area, trust is supposed to prevail: it is necessary to be able to ensure that decisions made in the interest of the patient are guided by the only medical interest, far from any marketing rationale.

However, last year Amazon announced the imminent opening of its AmazonCare platform, which allows day and night doctor contact, with end-of-appointment delivery of prescription medications. A network of trucks equipped with hospital technology can step in at home if additional testing is needed. As you can imagine, the customer/patient consumption history will then make it possible to create a profile…

Long live Public Health Service

In China, three e-commerce companies (Alihealth, JDHealth and Ping An Good Doctor) have become health actors in their own right with hundreds of millions of online medical consultations every year. We understand, of course, the interest of these services in medical deserts, but only on the condition that we accept that medicine becomes a monetizable commodity like the others. Long live the original spirit of Public Health Service!

With this activity, the digital giants, who already know your food purchases, your athletic performance or your weight changes (thanks to buying clothes) will have enough to make a full assessment. Even enough to “estimate” the terms of your care by the internal medicine profession, if, incidentally, your grocery purchases showed unreasonable purchases of alcohol or an excess of potato chips and peanuts. Orwell would surely love this world without border.com!

Frontières.com, Numérique: How do you survive the upcoming confusion? by Nicholas Arbajian. Editions de L’Observatoire, 266 pages, €21.

Leave a Comment