After a tussle with the tech giants and rounds of discussion, the Government of Bharat has developed a new set of guidelines for social media and OTT platforms. Considering the experiences of earlier non-compliance of Twitter related to the fake news in the USA and Bharat and Facebook fighting out the Australian stand on news sharing, the social media giants are not going to accept such restrictions easily. They will, of course, try to raise the argument of ‘innovation and freedom’ defined by them. Similarly, OTT platforms will also find it difficult to digest a regulatory mechanism. Instead of complaining about growing concerns shown by various nations, these internet-based service providers should introspect their own behaviour.
The internet fundamentals are rooted in the Cold-War logic – containing the adversary through accessing confidential information or creating misinformation. Then, this innovation was part of the military strategy. Eventually, the private players, who got access to the same technology, used it for commercial gains and became new poles in the global dynamics. The innovation and freedom enabled them to be dominant players in using the data as the new source of capital generation. This same data is being manipulated to create monopolies. The mindless data-capitalism created new monsters who would like people to be more ‘data-dependent’. As Yuvl Noah Harari argued, all competing political or social structures can be seen as data processing units. All tech giants are trying to monopolise data, undermining the powers of Nation-States, the fundamental units of the legal and political framework in international relations. So the friction is inevitable.
As Harari predicted, human beings will eventually give algorithms the authority to make the most critical decisions in their lives. That is what intermediaries, like Facebook or Twitter have started doing. Instead of free sharing platforms, they have become content manipulators. With the ideology of dataism, their essential purpose is to increase the data-flow for which they seek to influence consumers’ behaviour. Algorithms created to promote or shadow-ban certain things is not just business but an ideology in itself that is against the spirit of democracy and freedom.
Lack of transparency, accountability and lack of respect for individual rights and indigenous cultures are common concerns worldwide while dealing with the tech-giants. How can these platforms not take any responsibility when content is used for the recruitment of terrorists, circulation of obscene content, the spread of disharmony, financial frauds, incitement of violence, public order, etc.? How come they selectively show their power only for the democratic and tolerant societies to undermine the same ethos? Who does any nationalist thought is countered through systematic data manipulation by these practitioners of dataism?
These questions suggest that these data giants are not just challenging the States’ legal authority and freedom of other emerging players but also undermining local traditions and ethos. Civilisational states like Bharat can create natural hurdles to dataism. As Swami Vivekananda said, “Science can only give worldly prosperity, whilst spiritual science is for eternal life.” Dataism is nothing but the ultimate form of materialism. It has to be managed and controlled. As the existing legal mechanisms are not sufficient to deal with the giants, newer frameworks are necessary. Encouraging new innovators to carve out their share in the big data and evolving frameworks to manage the dehumanising dataism are the only options for taming the tantrums of tech giants.