Tech Firms Are Not Sovereigns

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
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It is increasingly common to hear that the sovereigns that reign over the Internet are Internet firms—the companies that set user policies and wield enormous influence over the day-to-day functioning of the Internet. The user base of these firms can be larger than many countries. They have foreign policy teams and have even engaged in experiments with user-driven self-governance. In many ways, they look like states. But firms are not sovereigns.  Some public-facing Internet firms may find it expedient to resist some states, some of the time on some issues. But this does not mean that Internet firms are a serious and lasting threat to state sovereignty. Treating them as such is a distraction from the real problem: determining how and with what limits states—sovereign nations—ought to be able to achieve their aims online.

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