Why surveillance states and monopolies have a lot in common

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February 18, 2014 by AllKnol


There are several trends in today’s tech landscape that I find worrying, and at first glance they seem to be a varied set: mass online surveillance; the erosion of net neutrality; and web giants that are growing in a seemingly unstoppable way. However, I’ve come to realize they all have something in common.

All of them — including the rise of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) — are anti-competitive in one way or another. In their respective fields, all the trends I’m about to discuss create the potential for a monolithic, monopolistic player to block the rise of new entrants and ensure its long-term dominance. Each case involves an over-concentration of power that becomes deeply threatening to plurality and progress.

The inclusion of state surveillance in that lineup may surprise you, but I believe it fits and I’ll explain why in a moment…

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