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Millions of Europeans, daily, from the time they get up until they go to bed, many even while they sleep connected to wristbands or smartphones that monitor their sleep, fill in the huge databases of the big Internet monopolies.
The new empires on the other side of the ocean extract the gold of the digital era that goes straight to their coffers without the need for galleons. The Guatemalan activist and director of the NGO Cuidadanía Inteligente, Renata Ávila, denounced last Friday in the IAM Weekend of Barcelona the new digital colonialism. The global invasion of powerful companies that have not needed another weapon than the screens to achieve a planetary power comparable to that of the colonial powers. The platform capitalism of which the professor speaks Nick Srineck that tomorrow he will be in Madrid in a event organized by this newspaper.
The GAFA empires (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) dominate the digital earth with the sole competition of their Chinese BAT twins (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) in the new war of dopamine, that of addiction to their ubiquitous platforms. GAFA against BAT to determine a new world order in which the center of the world map no longer passes through the meridian of Greenwich but through the Strait of Malacca.
With this new order, Europe is no longer the center of the map but the periphery. The Iberian Peninsula is once again the end of the world. The old continent is irrelevant and its inhabitants are not even the product in this new platform economy. We are, as Shoshana Zuboff affirms in her indispensable The age of Surveillance, the shell of that product: our data.
Is there something we can still do? Is there any possibility, however small, of decolonizing the Internet? Srineck suggests regulations that nationalize the platforms with measures such as those used in the past to break natural monopolies such as rail, telecommunications or utilities.
Avila proposes instead activism in the form of global citizenship and suggests that Europe should seek new allies beyond its traditional American friend. Latin America and Africa can save Europe. The collaboration of the new and the old peripheries. A 21st century version of non-aligned nations can battle monopolies. Global citizenship against the new empires of the digital age.