What do AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and some others have in common?
Well, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?
They’re American companies and big players in the Internet industry. As a matter of fact, some dominate the Web in their respective segments. Just look at the 1.1 billion Facebook users worldwide. Incidentally, only 169 million of these users, i.e. 15%, are located in the US.
How secure is the personal data of this increasingly global, non-US, audience on US servers?
Bad news, because for as long as the Patriot Act is active and not amended, US secret services will have access to that data in one way or another. According to media reports, British intelligence has mined data as well.
Besides the privacy issues, the lack of international competition in the Internet industry is a major problem for users in this context. Let’s look at Europe for a second. Where are the true alternatives to these extremly popular services offered by US firms?
In my view, European nations don’t need new data protection laws, which wouldn’t be applicable in the US anyhow. But they do need to invest heavily in the Internet industry.
Competition – the more the better – is great for users, because it gives them real alternatives to choose from. It’s also good for business, because fierce competition promotes innovation leading to new and better products as well as services.
Global competition on a global platform prevents hegemony and is therefore imperative.