– ok, great but what about democracy?

A handful of prominent tech companies come together to form, an initiative to bring internet service to the two-thirds of the global population that are not yet online. Mobile access is key and the goal is to bring the cost down to 1% of today’s. That sounds great and surely if businesses do good things for society we don’t mind that they’re really in it to expand their market. However, this initiative is a part of larger trend that shifts the responsibility for infrastructure away from the public institutions to the private sector. Another example is the internet balloon project from Google (who notably are not among the In first world-countries, large proportions of the internet infrastructure is owned by the public through various institutions (many cases are telephone cable network remains of government monopolies), which gives a potential for democratic influence over the internet. Not that this is often executed, but there is an instinct among tech companies to try to stay away from all sorts of responsibility or government intervention. Building an infrastructure independent of democratic influence covering two-thirds of the world’s population would effectively put the power over the network in the hands of tech companies once and for all.

The video that launches the is a perfect example of the technology self-image that the cable itself brings freedom, democracy, economic growth and peace. Not a small dream, but it is in stark contrast to the realities of NSA-surveillance and the tech giants’ collaborations with various dictators (Nokia/Siemens in Iran, Google in China, Ericsson in Syria, TeliaSonera in Belarus, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan… the list is growing).