4 Jan. 2022 20:52 clock
The promises of the Internet such as barrier-free access to news and knowledge – not controlled and censored by states or companies – and the free exchange of opinions could soon be a thing of the past. Giants like Google, but also other transnational, financially strong technology corporations, largely unnoticed by the public, are buying up crucial parts of the Internet’s infrastructure or creating their own structures. The science and politics blog has taken note of this development tkp.at attentive at the turn of the year did.
This is actually not a very new development. For many years, Google and other IT companies have been investing heavily in their own data networks that connect the continents.
Global networks of submarine cables
As early as 2014, a new transpacific submarine cable was launched by Google announced, which connect Japan with the US west coast and which should complement Google’s transpacific network, which has been in existence for several years. At the time, along with other large companies, the Japanese NEC group, which had more than 30 years of experience in laying underwater cables – with a total length of over 200,000 kilometers, was also involved. At the time, Google’s transpacific cable project was advertised as “making the Internet faster and more reliable for users in Asia” – according to Urs Hölzle, who was “Senior Vice President for Technical Infrastructure at Google” in 2014. Hölzle continues:
“At Google, we want our products to be fast and reliable.”
In 2022, these and the following words of the former “Executive Vice President” of Google eight years ago will get a new sound:
“This requires a great network infrastructure, regardless of whether it is for more than a billion Android users or for developers who create products for Google’s cloud platform.”
In the 2010s, Google not only invested in undersea cables, but also relied on the US fiber optic cable network on land:
“The search engine company requires detailed information, such as maps of the existing pipelines as well as the water, gas and power lines, in order to be able to optimally plan the course of the fiber optic route.”
Land data networks
Several years ago, the tendency was to obtain information about the public infrastructure, with the argument – which is certainly understandable for the time being – that in order to lay the privately operated data cables, you need to have precise knowledge of the location of the public lines.
The creeping assumption of public tasks (and, in the future, the infrastructure) by the tech companies was also reflected in the fact that ten percent of the world’s undersea cables, like the portal, were under the control of Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon as early as 2019 WinFuture reported.
For this purpose, Google operated many of the large data centers three years ago, and the trend was to link the data centers to the “backbones” (the backbone of the Internet, so to speak), i.e. the lines, and to take possession of them. Next multiple lines under the Atlantic For Google, the Pacific plays a special role in this strategy – not only for connections to Asia, but also to South America, for example from California to Chile.
The four big operators of Internet cloud structures have been relying on taking possession of the pipeline network or laying their own pipelines, whether underwater or on land (to be literally celebrated by the media at this point) soaring Projects of an Elon Musk to be silent). And as far as ownership of the networks is concerned: What is not supposed to apply to some privately planned and built natural gas pipeline projects in Europe will be granted to undersea data routes without further ado. The Viennese Standard said in 2018:
“Google sees the main advantage of its own cables in the fact that you can determine where you want to go ashore. […] Another advantage: You get a guaranteed bandwidth that can be factored in over the entire lifetime of such a cable. “
The service life of a submarine cable is loud Standard Incidentally, 15 to 25 years (it should be noted, just to avoid entering into the comparison of the regulatory practice of data lines and pipelines, that the Nord Stream 2 natural gas line has a service life of 50 years intended is).
“Metaverse” – a new Internet?
But back to the latest plans from Google and Co. There has been a lot of talk lately that the industry has to reinvent itself. One wants to build the “Metaverse” or “Metaverse”, like Facebook full-bodied announced, and “three-dimensional play and connection” should be possible in this new cyber space. What sounds so beautiful and people-friendly doesn’t necessarily have to be. The specialist portal Wired summed up in addition dry:
“It’s a new name for the growing power and reach of Silicon Valley. And it’s made for businesses, not people.”
The development from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 already proceeded, like Wired wrote, as a process of concentration towards fewer and fewer companies that merged to form “titans”. What remains are “a few supermassive actors” who “control and appropriate the movements of billions of users” in supposedly open cyberspace. Wired continues with the description of a, so to speak, completely Google-centric everyday life, as it had set itself after the first great Internet euphoria:
“After interest in these open source metaverses waned, the tech industry was obsessed with the ‘total service environment’ for a decade, with Gmail in the morning and data in Google Sheets in the afternoon spends time, takes a break on the Android phone and then navigates to a new pub with Google Maps or watches YouTube all night next to the Nest smart home device. “
The current “hype” about the “Metaverse” is simply a marketing strategy with which “Big Tech is promoting its extensive product range”. Actually, this catchphrase would only describe the “next level of Internet consolidation”. The hallmark of this development is “the growing reach and power of Big Tech. It will be Big Tech – just as problematic as it is now, but bigger.”
But the new metaverse will not be that open and limitless. Rather, it is made up of many smaller metaverses that operate according to the rules and standards of the companies that created them. “Proprietary is the key word”, like Wired the development characterizes what translated means as in – private – property, that is precisely not open.
Lack of separation of network and content
And transferred to the network structures, this meant that the large IT and tech corporations are trying to bring ever larger parts of the hardware of the Internet under their control. As tkp.at continues to write, so far:
“The networks were and are still dominated by the classic telecommunications providers. The establishment and operation of local and international connection networks is their core competence.”
But this should change, according to the will of the IT giants:
“A massive boom in submarine cables began in 2016, and this time buyers are content providers. Companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon seem to share Google’s drive to dominate the ocean floor.”
This trend is “really worrying”. Similar to the Android software and devices, Google is now trying not to leave the business to its competitors alone. You want to do the hardware business yourself – the PC market is used as a comparison. The aim is not only to offer their own mobile phones, but to have the complete network structure and to control them, so that Google, but also the other tech giant corporations, have all devices and services, from hardware to software to content , can offer from a single source. Peter F. Mayer sums it up:
“It’s the same old compromise that consumers make: more convenience for less control – and less privacy. And as has been shown in the last two years, censorship follows dominance on the foot. Unpopular users are excluded, YouTube banned and deletes channels with hundreds of thousands of subscribers if they could even remotely jeopardize their own business interests – and those of the pharmaceutical industry. Search results are now heavily censored. Everything that has to do with COVID, Corona and pandemic is very heavily filtered. “
Dangers of the privatized data networks
In contrast to a commercial gas pipe, however, the privatized data networks threaten the users with considerable dangers in terms of the diversity of the media on offer and the free exchange of opinions. Much of the content previously offered “for free” is likely to disappear.
“Unpleasant or unprofitable content is throttled. If a website loads slowly, all the videos that cannot be viewed from YouTube are jerky, the customers are redirected to the performa[n]other services, the content[l]I have what the tech companies want to offer. “
And finally, the private group providers could read content just as the secret services are already doing today.
A conglomerate of financial, pharmaceutical and tech companies will be, so the fear of tkp.at, “directing public opinion through a few media” and in this way “being able to create one’s own truth and define the ‘state of the art'”.
Mayer’s article ends with an appeal to “[m]Consumers willing to “stop using Internet services,” who exercise censorship and who have acquired or want to acquire monopoly positions. “Citizens and users should” exert pressure “on politics so that it prevents monopolies – and if they have already emerged, monopolies to smash again.
more on the subject – Google and Facebook again fined heavily in Russia