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Why the World Is Drawing Battle Lines Against American Tech Giants (nytimes.com)
69 points by JumpCrisscross on June 2, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 165 comments



I found this article really frustrating.

The US government forces American tech companies to spy on users, so US companies are to blame?

These services are so useful and well-liked around the world that they should be considered a threat?

The author is amazingly willing to accord French bureaucrats the right to regulate the cultural consumption of Frenchmen. How is this defensible? Should we knock Netflix because it makes it harder for French social engineers to impose their preferences on their own citizens?

Companies like this don't come out of Europe for a reason.


The article starts by asking you to view things from another perspective. It's not asking you to "knock" Netflix, it's inviting you to consider the point of view of people who do.

American media is subtly hegemonising. All media carries with it the culture of those who produce it, but US media also carries a very strong assumption of "defaultness": that everyone is a (mostly white) American at heart. What effect does this have on the viewer, especially on kids who grow up with a diet American cartoons and action movies? The normalisation of American values in the use of violence to deal with threats and crime. Kids learning US (view of) history instead of their own local history. People learning American alongside their own language, while Americans (and Brits) don't learn another language: that makes the cultural exchange more one-way. Americans don't have to worry about French culture seeping in and erasing American cultural values, notwithstanding the occasional panic about "freedom fries".

If you're not American, you run the risk of becoming an underrepresented minority even in your own country. The problem is even worse for local ethno-linguistic minorities such as Gaelic and Welsh in the UK. Ironically France is only as homogenous as it is due to centuries of centralisation and standardisation deliberately driving out regional linguistic variation.

The popular HN view is probably going to be that minority languages can and should "fail in the market" and die out, leaving only English. Like endangered species. But with every language dies a culture and a literature.


American media is subtly hegemonising.

One could easily say that most of world culture has come about because of "subtle hegemony." The French and Spanish languages wouldn't exist in their present forms without the "subtle hegemony" of the Roman Empire's cultural exports. Most of East Asian culture would be vastly different without the "subtle hegemony" of the Chinese culture.

The problem is even worse for local ethno-linguistic minorities such as Gaelic and Welsh in the UK...Like endangered species. But with every language dies a culture and a literature.

I'm well aware of this phenomenon. However, history clearly shows that human beings will always make more culture. That said, there are compelling reasons for maintaining diversity. If you've ever played around with Genetic Algorithms, you have experienced what happens when the "winners" get to seed their information too freely -- evolution hits a local maximum, stamps out the diversity that might enable it to jump out of the local maxima, then grinds to a halt. Evolution works best with many distinct pools of information that still have a little bit of interchange. In a very meaningful way, diversity is wealth.


The irony is that for there to be diversity there must be protectionist policies and xenophobia to preserve it.


Policies maybe, but not necessarily xenophobia. Xenophobia starts where multiculturalism fails. IMHO European multiculturalism has failed not in its idea, but in its implementation.


Xenophobia starts where multiculturalism fails. IMHO European multiculturalism has failed not in its idea, but in its implementation.

Then implementation of multiculturalism is always in a state of partial failure. I guess it always has "bugs?" Intolerance always seems to seep in, even from the most vocal proponents of tolerance. In fact, there seems to be a correlation between how stridently one advocates tolerance and how much intolerance seeps in with it.


Yes, there will always be some intolerance, whatever the "norm" and "deviation" are. Let's see it as a necessary part of diversity, which in turn is a necessary part of evolution.

Even xenophobia, as an extreme form of intolerance, has its roots, often far in the past, when it was somehow relevant for that particular society.


It is not ironic at all it is factual and even obviously the case in any capitalist society (the policies, at least, there is no evidence of any xenophobia in the scope of the article or discussion here).


None of the issues you cite are the fault of American media. They are at best due to lack of sufficient quantities of local production, and at worst due to local production just not being very interesting.

Given that everyone learns English, material made in that language has a bigger market and can naturally be higher budget. But that's not anyone's fault per se and cannot be fixed with bureaucratic interventions. Anyone can make local content in English and some European artists do exactly that.


I think 'fault' is wholly irrelevant here. If we try to understand the position of the French ministers, etc, we observe changes which are destroying their culture. They are fighting to preserve it. The fact that the destruction wasn't intentional or the fault of google, facebook, amazon, etc doesn't really come into the picture.

And there are a number of reasons you can give for why people tend to prefer these behemoths: network effects, production quality (i.e. enormous infusion of cash to make things flashy and glossy and shiny with no real valuable content), youth tend to rebel against their culture and adopt an alternate culture only to, as they age, realize they lost a part of themselves and reclaim it, etc.

At least try to put yourself in their position and understand their argument.


I have put myself in their position and I do understand their arguments: despite that, I think their arguments suck. Because what do they boil down to, really? It's this:

Bureaucrat: You should watch what I like and not what you like, because my taste in entertainment are superior to yours

This is not an argument worthy of much attention, regardless of what fancy pseudo-intellectual babble is used to justify it (of which "shiny with no real valuable content" is a prime example).


As 'wfo' says, speaking of it in terms of fault is meaningless. But it certainly can be an undesireable side-effect of market outcomes which absolutely can be counterbalanced by bureaucratic intervention.

It's not entirely an accident that US media supports US foreign policy, either.


That doesn't seem to be true. Bollywood is thriving. So are Mexican telenovelas. Chinese influence in culture and technology is on the rise - witness the attempts by the west to clone WeChat. Japanese influence on western movies is so common as to be unremarkable.

Maybe the problem with Gaelic, Welsh and French language movies/etc is that they just suck.

People learning American alongside their own language, while Americans (and Brits) don't learn another language: that makes the cultural exchange more one-way. Americans don't have to worry about French culture seeping in and erasing American cultural values...

Americans and British are both worried about external cultural influence - just not French influence. The French are now culturally irrelevant, but that doesn't mean the Anglosphere is somehow a global monopoly.


French movies don't generally suck, just like not all US produced movies are great. Some are considered classics, for example the work of Godard. A lot of Hollywood movies objectively suck, yet they are billion dollar enterprises. There are plenty examples, such as most of the 4th of July Disaster movies, Transformers, a lot of the super hero movies, etc.. They are objectively trash, yet have a huge impact on young people all over the world.


They are objectively trash, yet have a huge impact on young people all over the world.

Like comics. Comics are simply a hot mess. However, they influenced generations of young people, who are now working and running things. Now we are overrun by comic book movies. (Disclosure: I am a comics person.)

I think Theodore Sturgeon got it right. 90% of everything is shite. Humans will still go on creating timeless works of truly great media and art, however. We need to live for the 10%.


I don't know what you mean by "objectively suck".

If they make a billion dollars it sounds like someone enjoys watching it. The fact is that people want to watch Spider Man's Teenage Heartbreak (or whatever that last Spider Man movie was called). I may not enjoy it, but so what?


>The problem is even worse for local ethno-linguistic minorities such as Gaelic and Welsh in the UK. Ironically France is only as homogenous as it is due to centuries of centralisation and standardisation deliberately driving out regional linguistic variation.

Which is hardly a comfort to native speakers of regional languages such as Breton, Basque or Occitan.


>The US government forces American tech companies to spy on users, so US companies are to blame?

The US government is to blame here, the companies are penalized for our governments belligerent behavior. The alternatives (war, sanctions) are much less appealing or viable.

>These services are so useful and well-liked around the world that they should be considered a threat?

In the case of physical goods, this has been happening for YEARS, and in both directions, in the form of import/export tariffs. For years, the tariff on corn going into mexico from the US kept local corn farmers in business, with NAFTA this was no longer in place, and a LOT Of them went out of business.

> Companies like this don't come out of Europe for a reason.

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/wireds-100-hottest-european-s...

Europe has a thriving start up scene, and quite a few major tech players (SAP springs to mind as the largest). Not to mention interesting efforts like Raspberry pi and Arduino.


>These services are so useful and well-liked around the world that they should be considered a threat?

Just because something is well liked, does not mean it is beneficial to society overall. Junk food and facebook come too mind. I love Netflix but part of me feels my life would be better without it too.


> Just because something is well liked, does not mean it is beneficial to society overall.

Granted, but who gets to decide what is beneficial?


It is decided by a slow and deliberate process with many voices.


Slow maybe, but are you sure it is deliberate?


Time and history.


Facebook is beneficial to society, it has dramatically changed how people organize and communicate.

You can always tell the difference between facebook users and non facebook users now.

The non-facebook users don't hang out as much and don't show up to group events as much.

"Why wasn't I invited?"

"I hit everyone in the FB invites"

"Oh I don't have facebook"

"You're not using the tool our entire social group uses to organize our social experience-- there's your answer"


> Facebook is beneficial to society

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't.

That argument hardly obvious enough to take on faith however, the concepts of "widely used, willingly" and "beneficial to society" do not have a 1:1 relationship.


>Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't.

Haha, the philosopher arrives.

OK: Is civilization beneficial to society?

Was stopping hunting/gathering and loading ourselves up with long work hours and unhealthy civilization-required carb diets beneficial?

If you want to play the game of philosophy like this then we can just as easily argue that electricity, the internet, the internal combustion engine, coal-derived electricity, splitting the atom, computers in general, the Green Revolution of agricultural modification, all of this isn't beneficial.

But, if we dive under the clouds and use a bit more grounded definition of benefit, it becomes much harder to dismiss the benefit of real utility.


Have you considered the "non-facebook users" coordinate offline, in-person and can use other technologies like SMS, email, phone calls, IM, chat apps, running into friends at the store, visiting a friend's workplace and "passing the word along" telling friend A who tells friend B?


Your examples aside from chat apps are quite unrealistic. I don't even know when was the last time I invited someone to an event using any of the listed methods, it must have been years.

But even if running into friends at the store was a thing, it doesn't mean that Facebook is not used by a billion people for organising social events and is therefore beneficial to them.


Human population of this planet is over 7 billion. I referred to non-facebook users Unrealistic for you and the other billion facebook users perhaps, yes. Different people use different methods of communicating.


Well even if 6 billion use emails, it is no proof that Facebook is not beneficial to the others. It is at least to me and to the parent.


Wild, I just got invited to join a group for coffee over SMS. And before that, to meet with a technical group on MeetUp. And before that to meet up with my friends on GroupMe.


See my above comment to hellbanner. Aside from that MeetUp and GroupMe are social networks too.

Yes, they are different but I didn't say that Facebook is the end all perfect implementation of a social network.

I just refuse anyone telling me that Facebook isn't beneficial without very good proof, because it is to me and to my social circle.


Pretty much all my invites go out over e-mail. Some of my Googler friends use Google+, but even that gets received via e-mail.

Almost all my friends are on Facebook, but about half don't check it with any regularity, so sending an invite via Facebook means a good chance that they won't get it until after the event.


"and can use other technologies"

The fact that they are not using these technologies to stay in touch after choosing to eschew the primary technology demonstrates reality.

It's not my job to cater to every individual persons tech interests.

If you don't want to use Facebook, thats fine, but you cannot complain when you don't get the benefit of Facebook.

If you don't want to own a car, that's fine, but you cannot complain when you don't get the benefit of a car.

These are personal decisions here. Conformity is disliked but presents great benefit to social cohesion. If you're a nonconformist, you don't get to have your cake and eat it. You have to deal with negative side effects of non-conformity.

They're welcome to use secondary technologies to communicate and stay in touch, but in practice, it takes dramatically more effort and brain space to do this, and as a result, they do not accomplish their goal


> If you don't want to use Facebook, thats fine, but you cannot complain when you don't get the benefit of Facebook.

But I can complain that Facebook has to abide the European data privacy acts since Facebook operates under Facebook Ltd. as an Irish company.


>I can complain about something totally unrelated to a conversation of people being unwilling to use Facebook and expecting everyone to cater to them

OK yeah you can :)


Let's look at it the other way. Launching a movie cost a ton of money. So to keep a diverse culture ( we all agreee diversity is great isn't it?) and diverse way to think, you need to help less mainstream way to think.

You spend years elaborating complex way to let mainstream exists and makes money, without disturbing it too much, but still keep a working amount of culture disruptor and new ideas growing. And you even create way for the mainstream to do that, enabling cross pollination.

Then suddenly, a group that know nothing about your rules and believe that "all rules are bad anyway" come and control the main way to consume mainstream culture, rendering all your organisation void, cutting the money and support for the smallest groups.

Woops, you have to rebuild everything. Except that this time around, you have no grasp on that "mainstream" to get cooperation and build a working ecosystem.

The "market" is well and all. But an ecosystem need rulers and law enforcement. Too much rules is not good and i may agree that France and Europe was a bit too much (is a bit too much) coercive right now. But there is probably a middle ground that can be found.

Well now, i still believe lawmakers and rulers are decade behind the need of today technology. But it is not just "regulating consumption". It is also about future and keeping an healthy pool of new and fresh ideas.


So to keep a diverse culture ( we all agreee diversity is great isn't it?)

No, we don't all agree. Not when the "diversity" is someone looking at the market and saying "there are too many good movies. we need some shit ones". Nobody needs to diversify away from quality, which is essentially what the French laws do.

Don't mistake the bizarre fetishes of a small number of French elite with some kind of natural law or elegant philosophy. The French government have to protect their cultural industry because it produces bad stuff that even the French don't want to watch. There is no justification for this: every attempted justification boils down to sophistry.


There are examples of more difficult media which don't get mass-media popular, not because of their quality, but because of their difficulty. These types of works make up part of the 'secret handshake' of the upper class -- it is how they identify each other.

France has the noble, but mistaken, idea that they can force lower and middle class people to take in high culture, and in so doing, will be able to make their country more egalitarian.

Sorry guys, cultural class isn't something you can just legislate away.

The upper classes (culturally, not economically) have spent generations training themselves to be very critical connoisseurs -- you're not going to undo that with some government-funded arthouse flicks and a Netflix tax.


>Not when the "diversity" is someone looking at the market and saying "there are too many good movies

I take it you are against affirmative action?


And so we are to take your definition of "good" and "shit" as gospel -- obviously, we want more movies that you think are good and less movies that you think are shit. Would you like to take the position of cultural czar and pre-review every piece of art to decide if it's worth publishing?

Or perhaps you'd like us to just assume the market is the best judge of what is good art? That was a joke -- the notion is laughable, the market is a clumsy and incompetent tool in almost all human affairs, especially where art is involved.

Every justification boils down to referring to something that is difficult to understand (culture, art, subjectivity, the point of view of another person) which you have chosen to label as sophistry.


Yes, your second interpretation is the right one.

Oh, I'm sorry, you think what people choose to spend their money on is a poor way to judge what's good entertainment?

I suppose you're right - we should let French bureaucrats decide instead. Their tastes are far more exquisite than anyone elses, after all. It goes with the job.


> But there is probably a middle ground that can be found.

There's a common failure mode (of both governments and other decision makers) of assuming that given two positions, the truth must lie somewhere in the middle. Sometimes one position is just wrong, and another is just right; the persistent presumption towards compromise allows wrong positions to chip away at the right one.

If you want to change laws, for instance, you need to provide evidence that the new position is actually better, not just that it's a compromise between what you proposed (and also didn't provide evidence for) and the status quo. Otherwise, the status quo should remain.


> "rendering all your organisation void, cutting the money and support for the smallest groups."

How does Netflix not offering enough French TV shows do that? Did the government just stop giving them money once Netflix showed up?

Also, encouraging Netflix to take on more local content is one thing. I'm sure they'd love to. Forcing them to fund the creation of local content is another thing completely. These governments are looking to require that a foreign company fund domestic businesses to be able to access their markets. Seems like something that would run afoul of the WTO, or similar body.


> These governments are looking to require that a foreign company fund domestic businesses to be able to access their markets

So, like the All-American clause for almost all US govt. contracts?

Or the US punishment for VW, requiring them to produce specific cars in the US?

> Did the government just stop giving them money once Netflix showed up?

Where is the government supposed to get the money from, once they can’t make money with TV anymore?


Netflix isn't filling government contracts

Nor has Netflix lied to governments for years about the efficiency of their products and purposefully built devices to defeat government tests. VW is either facing massive multi billion dollar fines or has to reach other agreements.

VW has had access to the US for decades. Them building electric cars in the US has nothing to do with access to the US market.

Netflix will, in fact, be paying to license domestic content. And the more their customers watch domestic content, the more they will pay the content providers. The government itself will be cut out of the loop and that's really the problem here.


> VW has had access to the US for decades. Them building electric cars in the US has nothing to do with access to the US market.

That’s literally wrong.

The US government continually blocked VW from the US market, including the EPA sometimes taking 3 years for a single emission test.

As soon as a VW plant in the south of the US was built, somehow all that stopped.

> The government itself will be cut out of the loop and that's really the problem here.

Yes, and that’s the entire issue.

We’re getting a world where companies (which are basically dictatorships of the rich) are getting more power over governments. That doesn’t help anyone but the already rich.


Shouldn't it be up to individual French people to decide what they watch on TV or the internet? Why should the coercive authority of the state have any say?


Probably because without these regulations, there would be no visibility for niche productions, no way for them to reach the few people who want to watch them. That may run contradictory to capitalist beliefs, but the system intends to allow existence of films/music/cultural products which (regardless of quality) have too few customers to survive in a non-regulated market.

If you wish to keep having diversity in your cultural industry, that's not a bad thing.


Unfortunately, due to the way broadcast television works, it's just not possible to cater to minority tastes. There's just no way to have the people who enjoy niche productions to pay the creators of those productions directly.

If only there were some sort of global system for distributing niche productions to those subscribers who want to see them. Perhaps some sort of system using minicomputers to transmit the information - we could call it "Minitel".

But seriously, are you really trying to claim that the internet is making it harder for niche producers and consumers to connect?


Broadcast television can and has been catering to minority tastes for many, many years as we all know. It just can't bankroll itself by doing this, so it requires public funds or regulations to prop it up.

But sometimes making room for minority viewpoints/culture/attitudes is worth interrupting the all-consuming capitalist neoliberal worldview for a moment, if just long enough to allow someone to point out its many flaws.


Since you seem to have missed the sarcasm, I'll make it explicit.

There's this thing called the internet. It allows minority producers and minority consumers to connect with each other. For example, if you wish to read fiction about the Death Star's project manager, or My Little Pony characters living in the world of Fallout, or a rationalist-themed fanfic rewrite of Harry Potter, you can do so.

There is even erotic fanfic to the aforementioned Harry Potter fanfic.

It's never been easier for producers and consumers to find each other than today. If the stuff the French are trying to protect can't survive in the age of the internet, it's because no one likes it.


Yes, it lets hobbyists and amateurs connect with each other.

It doesn't help a well-respected cultural tradition of art continue and give it the tools it needs to continue to exist.

And plenty of people like it. The whole point of art is that often, if it's worth anything, the majority of people don't like it. Comparing art to erotic fanfics really quite makes my point for me -- the character of your argument is laid bare, you aren't willing or capable of making the distinction, it's all mindless entertainment and nothing more. The fight the French are fighting against is the lowest common denominator which replaces art -- valueless trash which is entertaining and nothing more. It is seductive and destructive and valuable monetarily but valueless otherwise.


The internet has made it easier than ever for content that only a tiny majority of people like to survive. If 99% of the population hates it and 1% loves it, you've got a viable business.

Discussing the "lowest common denominator" is an outdated argument from the broadcast television era. "Lowest common denominator" doesn't exist anymore due to entertainment becoming fragmented. When it premiered, Seinfeld's ratings were 8.0, making it #14 on TV. Today, the #1 show (Big Bang Theory) has ratings of 8.8.

http://www.thewrap.com/seinfeld-no-14-in-its-debut-season-wo...

http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/top10s.html

Lets face it - the problem with the stuff that you are defending is that it's enjoyed by fewer people than erotic meta-fanfic.


Actually yes we agree essentially -- it's not because it's enjoyed by fewer people, it's the ratio of cost to produce per person who will enjoy it.

The market isn't an effective vehicle for supporting art of any real value, it always has been.


> For example, if you wish to read fiction about the Death Star's project manager, or My Little Pony characters living in the world of Fallout, or a rationalist-themed fanfic rewrite of Harry Potter, you can do so. There is even erotic fanfic to the aforementioned Harry Potter fanfic.

Which all is only tolerated but not allowed by copyright laws.


His point was that the internet allows for much more diversity, rather than less. The example he chose is a little unfortunate. Copyright issues surrounding fan fiction are not relevant to the matter at hand.

I'd argue that the goal with the French cultural protectionist laws is not to allow diversity, but to choose winners and losers by constraining choice.


>But sometimes making room for minority viewpoints/culture/attitudes is worth interrupting the all-consuming capitalist neoliberal worldview for a moment, if just long enough to allow someone to point out its many flaws.

So affirmative action for ideas? If you can't win, maybe you can win by forcing people to listen to you?


> The author is amazingly willing to accord French bureaucrats the right to regulate the cultural consumption of Frenchmen. How is this defensible?

They don't have to defend it to you. You have American values, they have French values. The whole point is that they don't want Americans coming in and imposing their values over theirs.


American values tend to actually be genuinely shared by Americans and thus do not need to be enforced by the government. The USG does not force its TV stations to play specific content in order to promote American values, they arise spontaneously from the culture.

When it comes to pop culture, "French values" are something the French government wishes were actual shared values, but which aren't, hence the need for subsidies and laws mandating that local content which supposedly embodies these values are played. It's a simple propagandistic switcharoo: a few lawmakers claim "French values" must be protected, but who asked the French themselves? Well, in a sense the market did, and the French weren't interested.

The flip side of this is that there are definitely non-media related French values that really do arise from the people, like socialist values and the value of striking.


But... no one's imposing. The people of France are choosing to consume cultural artifacts provided by netflix, et. al.

The French bureaucracy is basically telling the people that "no, we know better than you what you want." Which is absurd.


How is it not problematic when American tech form an oligopoly on internet services? Especially when these services need to bend to the whims of American government.


If the current crop of tech companies can supersede MS, AOL, Yahoo, MySpace, etc. Why can't companies from other parts of the globe do it as well? It just takes one company to do something different and build inertia. That's all.

What is keeping European companies from toppling Google or FB or Twitter?

Edit: Keyboard fail.


Here's a brief list: difficulty for funding or capitalization, an existing concentration of tech talent on a few hubs, smaller market sizes that are less attractive as first launch sites, costs of translation into said markets (not just textual translation, but brand, intention, marketing, etc).

The examples of the companies you mention have been superseded for the most part, but that's also been due to the fact that new players managed to get huge amounts of cash through funding. Believe it or not cash is not just that liquid globally that you can fundraise like it's SV anywhere else.


There are definitely companies from other countries that do well. For example, Skype, Spotify, Shazam, and Soundcloud are all European.


Don't forget SAP.

Clearly, the key to succeeding as a tech firm in Europe is to start your company's name with an S.


Software AG too :).


Because competing in internet services gives a tremendous advantage to the first mover who can amass the largest network. Metcalfe's Law states that the value of a network (and, implicitly, how hard it is to topple) is proportional to the square of the number of connected users.

https://stratechery.com/2014/uber-fights/


I don't disagree. But, there are examples that counter. MySpace was popular then FB happened. Motorola was king of cellphones, then the iPhone happened.


I'd certainly agree with the second half of the problem; jurisdiction is a growing concern. No matter what service you use, you need to be concerned about what legal systems have (or claim) jurisdiction over them.

Regarding the first half, though: if you want to stop people from using a particular service, build a better service that everyone wants to use instead. If no such service exists, people will use what exists.


> "Especially when these services need to bend to the whims of American government."

In what way are they doing that today? How is Netflix bending to the whim of the US government?


> How is Netflix bending to the whim of the US government?

National security letters.


Netflix has received those? Nope, they haven't.


It isn't allowed to talk about for a company when they received an NSL. So does Netflix at least have a warrant canary online?


> How is it not problematic when American tech form an oligopoly on internet services?

They are the best so they won. I have no problem with that and I don't think anyone should have as long as there's no abuse of power.

> Especially when these services need to bend to the whims of American government.

This is what I have a problem with.


They didn't win because they are the best, unless you mean they are the best at winning for arbitrary reasons, like random market forces.


It doesn't look random to me when the biggest IT companies all originate from a small area in or near San Francisco.

The US government spent a massive amount of money over decades in infrastructure and in government contracts which in combination with the right legal framework (and capitalism) created this dominance.


Right, because it's not a level playing field.

I could start a company in a small European country for €X but tackling the US market would cost me 10 times that, which I haven't got and can't raise. However, the comparable US company can invade my market not by raising 10x more money but by raising 10% more.

Even if you're successful, like Spotify, a big American company can start up years later with an inferior product, like Apple, and probably put you out of business. Spotify money is, by Apple's standards, chump change.

And if the American company can't knock you out, then it can just buy you.

America's home market size and the availability of capital make it very hard to compete, even if you have the talent. And the fact that SV imports almost all the best overseas talent as well as having its own tremendous talents makes things even harder.

It's easier with virtual goods than with physical goods, but look at social networking websites for an illustration of the same problem. Sure, you can be the biggest in France or Germany or Italy or whatever, but Facebook just knocked out all the local successes except Russia and China.

The only way to play it is to open a small US office and pretend to be American, so you can get US capital and US media promotion. But if you succeeded that way, just how French (or German, or Italian) would you be in the end?


> However, the comparable US company can invade my market

Again talk about "invasion", I'd suggest you don't be so emotional so we can have a fruitful discussion.

Aside from that nobody owns the market.

You may feel it is an invasion because the barriers are low to do business as a foreigner, but this goes both ways.

I successfully sold products in the US as an EU citizen without having an office there, so it is possible.

And there are many tech companies from the EU that do the same on a much larger scale.

Our problem is really the legal framework, getting loans for starting businesses, getting investments from private investors (this is getting better though) and bureaucracy.

In the US you can fail and rebound from it, in most EU countries your life is destroyed because you'll be burdened with debts till the day you leave this earth. (or you lose all wealth you have accumulated to this point)

If we in the tech sector weren't so lucky to be able to start businesses with low capital investment I would have never started one because I don't have the rich parents/family that could help me if things go bad.

This is the problem from my perspective that we face here and no amount of protectionism will change that.

On the other hand I'm truly amazed what risks people take to start businesses in more capital intensive sectors in the EU. I wouldn't have the stomach to do this, to me these people seem almost insane.


All of which may be true but misses the point. The size of the US market, and the availability of venture capital, means that there is no level playing field, and it's therefore almost impossible for most non-US tech companies to compete.

For various reasons, this may not wholly apply to Russian and Chinese companies, for example, but it certainly applies in Europe.

There are no European tech companies with the size and power of Google , Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, Apple etc. Indeed, there are no European tech companies with the size and power of BMW, VW, and Fiat etc. Nokia, briefly, was a notable exception.

If a non-US company is successful, it frequently gets taken over. Nokia, PayPal, Skype, and Minecraft are examples.

> no amount of protectionism will change that.

I wasn't suggesting protectionism. I was merely pointing out the facts of life in the tech market.

Incidentally, none of this is new: it's been happening for decades. US companies also wiped out the European mainframe, minicomputer and PC companies before we got to the point where they are wiping out the internet companies.

From the array that included companies such as Siemens, Nixdorf, ICL, Bull, Olivetti, Norsk Data, Acorn, Sinclair and dozens more, really only Siemens has survived, and that's because of its broad industrial base.


Do you think that Comcast and Verizon have won because they're the best? The best service providers, or the best at killing competition and bribing politicians?


This happens in every sector in every country and should be persecuted. But I just can't believe that the Silicon Valley tech sector dominates the West just because they are somehow the best at bribing politicians.

I just take a look at Google or Apple products and then compare it to the competition. Sorry to say it, but the US counterparts are far better in almost every way.

That's why we in the EU mostly copy stuff we see in the US and not the other way around. Of course everyone copies ideas, there's nothing bad about that, but to win you also have to be innovative. I miss that here in the EU tech sector.


Google and Apple are impressive both as companies, and in terms of many of their products, absolutely. They are not the norm, just the biggest.


The US government forces American tech companies to spy on users, so US companies are to blame?

We still, to this day, don't know the extent to which PRISM and BULLRUN participation was forced, voluntary, or completely opaque. We have Marissa Meyer claiming USG threatened charges of treason, and we have Google denying involvement full-stop.

I doubt if we'll ever know.


We do have an idea though. Industry experts have said they think that PRISM was a dark fiber hack between data centers (even the name implies it).

Most tech companies have closed the exploit by encrypting data over dark fiber.


You're thinking of MUSCULAR. MUSCULAR was a fiber hack between data centers. (Not really dark; if it was "dark" fiber the lines wouldn't be carrying any data.) That's the one tech companies are really pissed off about, which got them to start encrypting data between DCs.

PRISM is FISA. It's the NSA codename for data collection under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act. That's why the tech companies had no idea what the press was talking about. When the NSA goes to execute PRISM, they have a lawyer contact the appropriate tech company and say "We have a lawfully-obtained warrant for search terms X, Y, and Z under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, please hand over your logs for those terms", and because it's all done legally, the tech companies have to comply. Once the data is handed over, there is apparently a whole storage & search mechanism within the NSA for handling that data, and that is what PRISM refers to.

BULLRUN is the NSA decryption effort, and it involves them systematically inserting backdoors into various encryption algorithms. It operates at a lower level than what most people think of as "American tech"; if there were companies involved, it'd be Cisco and Juniper, although all the evidence I've seen so far indicates that the NSA managed to hide flaws in the algorithms in plain sight, even as they underwent public review.


Thanks - you're right. I was mixing PRISM with MUSCULAR. Wasn't PRISM still limited to data around high-interest individuals? (i.e. not a blank check to all data)

Was BULLRUN what ATT room 641a was involved with?


Uncertain; that was my initial understanding as well, but the Wikipedia article on PRISM indicates that certain search terms are fair game as well.

Also uncertain about the relationship between BULLRUN and AT&T room 641A. My understanding is that BULLRUN is different, focusing on influencing encryption standards so that the government could break them, but I'm not sure.


BULLRUN appears to be an umbrella term for all efforts to crack encryption directly, not just efforts to influence standards. For instance their VPN cracking systems probably fall under BULLRUN.

I think it was never entirely clear what PRISM is: the only slides that covered it were vague and were directly contradicted by the testimony of the relevant CEOs.


It's pretty clear from a couple of the slides:

https://nsa.gov1.info/dni/prism-slides/PRISM-tasking%20proce...

https://nsa.gov1.info/dni/prism-slides/prism-conclusion.jpg

Note the presence of FAA Adjudicators and FISA Oversight & Processing in the collection pipeline in the first slide, and the direct reference to "FAA 702 collection = PRISM program providers" in the last.

The director of national intelligence also confirmed it in response to the leaks:

https://www.dni.gov/index.php/newsroom/press-releases/191-pr...


> The US government forces American tech companies to spy on users, so US companies are to blame?

In a case like this, "to blame" is somewhat irrelevant. No matter how unwilling the companies are, US spying is a reason to regulate or avoid them. This isn't a moral judgement (though the article does offer one), but when you can't trust the security of US-produced hardware and software that's a reason to act against US-headquartered companies regardless.


> The author is amazingly willing to accord French bureaucrats the right to regulate the cultural consumption of Frenchmen. How is this defensible?

By the virtue of those bureaucrats being democratically elected officials responsible to implement the will of said Frenchmen.

Not to say that the situation is perfect, but while there are many things wrong with Europe, but the democracy does work better than it does in the States.


> ... so US companies are to blame?

Blame is irrelevant. These countries are choosing to backlash against a product problem.

> ... they should be considered a threat?

Yes. Unless, in the long term, they want to become level-B American citizens. Believe me I know - I'm Canadian and we are close.

> Companies like this don't come out of Europe for a reason.

New tailored products will grow and gain success when the old behemoth products are gone.


That's only like 10% of the issue.

Many of these tech firms are so big that many countries perceive a threat to their sovereignty. SV acts with such impunity that pushback should be no surprise.


Corporations and state are interlinked. For all intents and purposes, there's no clear boundary between them. (Especially since corporations are creations of the state, and heavily influence state policy.)

I agree the French government example seems weak. Maybe due to not being able to use truly cutting arguments in the US's agenda-setting newspaper.


> The US government forces American tech companies to spy on users, so US companies are to blame?

It's not the government, it's the establishment.


Didn't Osama bin Laden write a declaration about culture invasion from the West?


That's not just a funny coincidence -- the American left has for decades been slowly allying themselves against the West.

That's why no one on the left batted an eye when Google chose Yuri Kochiyama for their Google Doodle, despite that she said in 2003:

"...I consider Osama bin Laden as one of the people that I admire. To me, he is in the category of Malcolm X, Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Fidel Castro.... I thank Islam for bin Laden. America's greed, aggressiveness, and self-righteous arrogance must be stopped."


> American left has for decades been slowly allying themselves against the West.

The US, including both parties, has been shifting rightward for decades, so it makes sense that leftists are feeling alienated.


Progressives move forever more to the left, and then accuse the right of "moving right" because we didn't move to your new definition of center fast enough. Excuse me, conservatives have not actually managed to get signed any major conservative initiative in the US in 50 years, because of that line.

Our government is bigger than it has ever been:

-we haven't privatized schools or gotten vouchers,

-we haven't abolished any major departments of governments,

-we haven't been able to abolish any major social program,

-we haven't been able to cut costs in the welfare state,

-we haven't abolished government marriage,

-we haven't opened immigration to wealthy foreigners,

-we have only lost ground on gun rights and religious rights,

-we have not been able to slow the judicial activism of the courts,

-we have only gotten passed minor deregulation efforts,

-we have not limited the unions,

-abolished the minimum wage, ended zoning laws, and so on.

To a conservative of the Goldwater years the Republican party of today would look like a bunch of socialist fascists. The closest Republicans get to doing anything conservative these days is to slow your guys roll.


So you list a number of hyper-extremist radical points, many of which even HAVE happened (vouchers and charter schools are everywhere, immigration is open to wealthy foreigners, unions have been devastated and barely exist, gun control barely exists, the welfare state has been cut enormously, by Bill Clinton in fact! because the left has shifted so far to the right the Democrats are accomplishing your radical tasks for you!), all of which almost no other country in the world even considers, most of which were at no time in American history even close to politically viable, and then when you don't get your insane libertarian wish list fulfilled you complain the country is leftist?


>"So you list a number of hyper-extremist radical points [...] then you complain the country is leftist?"

No. I listed a bunch of things which were not extreme positions 50 years ago to show that politics is indeed becoming more leftist. The fact that you see these as very extreme positions is exactly my point -- the center has moved left, not right.


Removing the minimum wage is so extreme it's barely even under consideration anywhere outside libertarian-only econ conferences. And it always has been. Your positions (the few that have not already been enacted, because of how far right our system has shifted) are hyper extreme, they have always been hyper extreme, they always will be hyper extreme, even in conservative circles because the vast majority of people simply do not want them to happen and have never wanted them to happen because they would be awful for almost everyone.

The only items on your list you have NOT gotten because of our extreme rightward shift in the last 60 years have been the points about removing pieces of the government wholesale (and removing government-recognized marriage, which near zero percent of the population has ever wanted, which isn't even a conservative position). Because government agencies were created for a reason, to meet a need and those needs have not ceased to exist.

Gun and religious laws have not really changed much. Deregulation has happened massively and destroyed huge sectors of the economy. The only point there that withstands even casual scrutiny is judicial activism.

You could have just replied "Yes".


>"Removing the minimum wage is so extreme it's barely even under consideration [...] And it always has been."

Then you disagree with Eleanor Roosevelt on history, who, speaking of the Republican party's desire to end the minimum wage in 1959 gave the congressional testimony: "The arguments raised against establishing any legal minimum wage were the same as those which have been used by employers over the past 50 years."

And liberal think-tank The National Employment Law Project, who writes: "The criticisms raised by minimum wage opponents display a remarkable consistency over the past 100 years" Source: "100 Years of Broken-Record Opposition to the Minimum Wage"

You can disagree with these positions, but at least have your facts right about basic points of history. Points of history that your party doesn't even disagree with.


> Progressives move forever farther and farther to the left, and then accuse the right of "moving right" because we didn't move to your new definition of center fast enough.

The individual mandate for purchase of private insurance + subsidy system adopted as "Obamacare" was first proposed by the Republicans and insurance industry lobbyists in opposition to healthcare reform efforts under the Clinton administration.

Today, its a Democratic achievement seen as socialism by the Right.

> -we haven't privatized schools or gotten vouchers,

Both traditional public schools and traditional private schools are losing enrollment to homeschooling and public-funded, privately-operated charters -- both of which are things that have been pushed by the right.

(The right's also unsuccessfully pushed vouchers and drastically cutting public school funding, but when your pushing for multiple and mutually-exclusive things, you can't really characterize it as your opponents winning when you get some of the things that your side is pushing for instead of the others.)

> -we haven't been able to abolish any major social program,

Well, in the 1990s you got to abolish AFDC, one of the biggest social programs in the country, and replace it with the more-restrictive TANF.

> -we have only lost ground on gun rights and religious rights,

Actually, the federal "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" and state laws modeled on it have advanced religious rights to discriminate which had previously been found to violate laws which existed prior to those.

And, on 2nd amendment rights, major advances were made by the right in the Supreme Court in D.C. v. Heller (2008) -- holding that the 2nd Amendment created a personal right in federal enclaves -- and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) -- holding that the 2nd Amendment created a personal right incorporated against state restrictions by the 14th Amendment.

> -we have not been able to slow the judicial activism of the courts,

And the left really wishes you would slow the judicial activism of your courts, such as the bizarre ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius that Congress can't set the terms for State participation in a program (Medicaid) which is otherwise within Congress power to establish.

> To a conservative of the Goldwater years the Republican party of today would look like a bunch of Socialists.

Well, we could ask a conservative of the Goldwater years about that, like the one that's the odds-on favorite to the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States in 2016. Well, except someone did, back in 1996 (on NPR, 1/13/1996):

"SCOTT SIMON: I mean, did you ever back in the ’60s, between when — I believe you were a Goldwater girl —

HILLARY CLINTON: That’s right.

SCOTT SIMON: — and whenever you became politically –

HILLARY CLINTON: That’s right. And I feel like my political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with. I don’t recognize this new brand of Republicanism that is afoot now, which I consider to be very reactionary, not conservative in many respects. I am very proud that I was a Goldwater girl."


>"The individual mandate for purchase of private insurance + subsidy system adopted as "Obamacare" was first proposed by the Republicans and insurance industry lobbyists in opposition to healthcare reform efforts under the Clinton administration. [...] I don’t recognize this new brand of Republicanism that is afoot now, which I consider to be very reactionary, not conservative in many respects. "

That's exactly right.

The Republican party of today has found itself only reacting to liberal policies. We're basically forced to put forward alternative, smaller, liberal policies to stave off the big ones. Rather than arguing to draw down Medicare, we're sitting here talking about establishing alternative socialist policies.

>"The right's also unsuccessfully pushed vouchers and drastically cutting public school funding, but when your pushing for multiple and mutually-exclusive things, "

Vouchers are in many cases cheaper than public schools -- they are not mutually exclusive.

>" you got to abolish AFDC, one of the biggest social programs in the country, and replace it with the more-restrictive TANF."

Taking a $22b/yr (out of ~$240b in social welfare programs), and replacing it with a $17b/yr program doesn't seem the big win to me that you make it out to be.

>"Religious Freedom Restoration Act"

That law limited religious freedom. It says that if you can prove a compelling interest, and can prove a law is the least restrictive way to do something, you can do it even though it steps on a person's constitutional right to free exercise.

The pro-religious freedoms version of that law, which would have been supported by a liberal reading of the constitution, would have read "The government may not limit a person's free exercise of religion, unless that freedom kills or maims another human being, or severely damages their personal property."

That was yet another example of a statist law put in place with the hope that it would stop additional statist laws from coming down the pike (of course, to no avail).

>"NFIB v. Sebelius "

Medicaid and Obamacare are not legal programs to begin with in a strictly constitutional sense. Their constitutionality was predicated on a very strange, and wishy-washy reinterpretation of the Commerce clause. (Albeit a popular one, for obvious reasons.)

Commerce, as written, was clearly denoting treaties of trade between governmental bodies (read tariffs and trade restrictions), not saying that the Federal government has a right to establish any new laws they desire, so long as they relate to money -- even requiring someone to purchase something they don't want:

[Congress has the right...] "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." That's all.


> That law limited religious freedom.

Well, sure, in that it allowed powerful private entities to engage in religious discrimination adversely affecting the practical religious freedom of less powerful entities and individuals, but in terms of government power, it limited government action more than it was prior to the law (which is why the right pushed it).

> It says that if you can prove a compelling interest, and can prove a law is the least restrictive way to do something, you can do it even though it steps on a person's constitutional right to free exercise

No, it didn't. It said that if you couldn't do that, you couldn't enforce a law affecting religious exercise; it didn't allow government anything that was previously prohibited. (This, in practice, tightened the standards on government from what had been established in case law.

> Medicaid and Obamacare are not legal programs to begin with in a strictly constitutional sense.

Ruling that either the ACA as a whole or Medicaid was unconstitutional would be, while both radically inconsistent with generations of case law and hard to justify textually, at least coherent. Ruling that it was constitutional for Congress to establish Medicaid, initially set standards for participation, fund it by annual appropriations, and set new standards and funding, but not apply the new standards to states that wanted to continue operating under the old standards and only take the share of funding that was attributed to the caseload which would be covered by the old standards was completely incoherent from any perspective related to applying any kind of Constitutional principal, and clear and unmistakeable arbitrary legislation from the bench.


It, in no unclear terms, says that you can limit free exercise, so long as you live up to two pretty low standards:

--------

"b. Government may substantially burden a person's exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—

(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest;

and

(2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest."

--------

This is much less binding than the first amendment: "Congress _shall make no law_ respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

The constitution provided no exceptions whatsoever. By definition, a law which adds exceptions has moved the bar textually. It is, by definition, unconstitutional.

Again, it was a bad move by conservatives using liberal laws to protect themselves, rather than just pushing for conservative laws.


"only if" is restrictive, not permissive, "if" is permissive, and "if and only if" is both permissive and restrictive.

> This is much less binding than the first amendment:

I understand you view it that way, however, the author's of the bill did it because it was more restrictive on government than the first amendment had been applied by the courts, as it applies to neutral and generally applicable laws with incidental impacts on religious practice.

> The constitution provided no exceptions whatsoever.

OTOH, the constitution provides no qualifications whatsoever on various grants of power to government that it provides, either. The various scrutiny levels (strict, intermediate, and rational basis) serve, at least as regards federal action, to resolve conflicts between unqualified restrictions and unqualified grants of power (its true that other modes of legal interpretation are conceivable -- a strict "newest wins" rule, say, could be applied, in which case the first amendment grants would trump all powers in the "base" Constitution, but all powers granted by later amendments would completely ignore restrictions imposed by the First Amendment. So, say, commerce clause action would be completely prohibited from any impact on religious exercise, but income tax could be deliberately constructed to suppress a given religion with no Constitutional difficulty.)


At least she had a good reason to not trust the US government. The interment camps were a disgrace.


Bin Laden killed many fewer innocent people than were killed and continue to be killed in the American middle eastern wars. Do you feel that Google should deny the doodle to anyone who says anything good about Gerorge W Bush or Barack Obama?


My comment was about the French rejecting Netflix, but okay.


And how it was an non-issue in his opinion, or he would have been attacking Sweden.


Invasion implies use of force and against the will of someone.

Nobody forces you to use Google services, eat hamburgers or listen to US music.


Downvotes for this?

I personally think that many who use the "cultural invasion" angle fail to realize that it often ends up being a two way street. In the US, not many people make a big deal when, say, a French film wins a US Academy Award (example: The Artist) or a French artist tops the US pop charts (example: Daft Punk). It's a global world, after all.

Perhaps there is some scope for protecting the uniqueness of individual cultures that might get lost in the global shuffle. But a lot of people happily stand up for this cause on their own, without any sort of political angle.

Now, the NSA snooping angle with American tech emphasized in the article, that's another story -- I see this as a legitimate concern for any foreign firm. America's spy agencies probably underestimate how much they've hurt American companies in this global world.


I as a citizen of a EU country (Austria) also share the same concerns regarding NSA and invasion of privacy by the US government and I'm highly critical of the wars started/instigated by the US in the last 20 years.

But I have no problem with being fair even if I'm the loser in the end. Google is in it's space better than anyone else by far (in the Western hemisphere), same goes for many if not most other tech companies.

I cringe when thinking about using a German or French search engine and having no other option because the EU commission has imposed a ban on all foreign competition. Sadly we are moving in this direction.

The solution I believe is to change our legal framework to reduce the risks, bureaucracy and costs (taxes) for founders of startups. Currently in many EU countries a failed business means for a founder that he'll lose everything he owns.

And if the founder has some kind of success he'll be tortured by bureaucracy and insane taxes/regulations. (50% just for income tax, in France there was even a 75% tax for a few years)

For example if you employ a handicapped person in Austria you almost have no way of ever firing that person. You have to request this from a government commission but they rarely allow this.

Or you hire a woman that gets pregnant. She gets paid leave for up to 2 or 3 years (the government pays for that, but in the end we pay higher taxes for this) and when she gets back she has the right to be employed by you for 5 years in the same or an equivalent job without any way to fire her.

I get that these laws have been created because employees were abused but this is too much.

Edit: When I talk about firing persons I mean of course bad players that don't do their job well or worse, cause damage to the company. I don't care about a persons background, race or sex as long as the job is done well.


> The US government forces American tech companies to spy on users, so US companies are to blame?

It's not so important who is to blame from a moral perspective, it's still a serious issue.

> These services are so useful and well-liked ... Companies like this don't come out of Europe for a reason.

Some do but mostly you are correct. French authorities in particular are very backwards and Socialist.


The article fails to mention some of the most significant events that have happened in this space: Google news fights.

Multiple countries have tried to force Google to pay to continue operation of Google News. Google was willing to simply stop operating Google News in those countries, rather than paying for the privilege. It turned out that the media companies needed Google more than Google needed them, and they worked quickly to get back to the prior situation (which is what Google wanted).


The best part is that the media companies are now explicitely licensing the content to Google (for free). Google competitors won't have those licenses and won't have the market power to get them for the same conditions, so they made it harder for Google competitors.


This is a bit overblown. Amazon doesn't have the retail sales of Walmart even in the US. Walmart has been able to dictate to manufactures rules for packaging and distribution for a couple decades now. Somehow we survived and now they are being disrupted. Europe may be "vulnerable" to US tech companies but it is not clear they will be as successful in China, India and other parts of the world.


Of all of these companies, Amazon will be by far the most disruptive to these other countries.

The key difference here is that Amazon slowly built and perfected their model here in the USA, allowing domestic competitors time to adapt to the ever growing efficiency and disruption brought by Amazon.

Amazon can then take this perfected model and drop it like a bomb in other countries. (Not that they haven't already done so in certain segments, but wait until Amazon Fresh hits some of these countries)

Eventually, even the US is going to face a HUGE disruption with the advent of self-driving trucks. As bad as that will be in the US, it will be worse in Europe, where wages for truckers are much higher and will incentivize replacement. I predict that Europe will be much, much later to approve self-driving vehicles than the US will for these reasons.


A lot of countries are already very weary of US Tech companies coming in and doing what they do best - drive competition, drive down costs and get people to buy their products.

All you have to do is see how India has been handling Apple, keeping them at bay and out of their country.


I see four parties in play, but the author describes only two:

1. Foreign governments

2. American government

3. American companies

----Not mentioned in the article----

4. Foreign citizens

5. American citizens

Groups 3, 4, and 5 are more-or-less aligned.

Groups 1, 2, and 3 have more conflict than anything else.

Since American companies are doing an end-run around control, governments are frustrated. I'd never expect otherwise, and I wish the American companies all the luck.


Maybe 4 and 5 are not quite so aligned? In democracies, governments should still be viewed as instruments of the voters to a significant extent.

Significant quantities of French voters have supported a government that tries to preserve and extend the French language and culture. In some ways, countering the influence of a large American company and the culture it imports can be seen as a legitimate expression of French voters, n'est-ce pas?


> governments should still be viewed as instruments of the voters to a significant extent.

At least in the US at the federal level, certainly not.[1]

[1]: https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/fi...


Does that mean the presidential election's outcome won't make a significant difference for the vast majority of Americans, that whoever is elected - Sanders, Clinton, Trump, et al - will basically administer the Federal government the same way?


I wouldn't say that. The president has a tremendous amount of international influence, and they have control over federal departments and the military to direct a significant amount of their behavior.

They just aren't the people that will change campaign finance reform, build walls, or raise the minimum wage. That is kind of what congress does. So you could elect any president and only see legislation they want passed because either they bargained with the other party in congress or their party had a majority in it already to pass the legislation.

It is only force of habit that most people expect the president's party to go with their policy ideas in congress. If Bernie were president, for example, you would not expect the Dems or Reps in congress to ever support him on anything, because hes anti-establishment.


The study's abstract says, among other things, ".. economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

Toward the end the study notes: "When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy."

At the national level, US democracy is an illusion.





On the cultural control issue, I can grant this. On the surveillance issue (US companies are suspect because of US government behaviors), not so much.

American voters may not love Snowden, but they're largely indifferent-to-opposed on mass surveillance. Since the 70s or so they've had essentially no say in the behavior of intelligence and security organizations - all credible candidates have had broadly-similar views, and it's not even a votable topic when what's being done is only known in retrospect.


Foreign governments have been surprisingly un-wary of American technology. Considering their autonomy of decision-making, their strategic industries' ability to compete for international business, and, to some extent, their sovereignty is at stake, you'd think they would put more resources into shifting the game toward data privacy.


4 and 5 are clearly not aligned. If they were, there wouldn't be the support that there currently is in volume for anti immigration rhetoric and policy.


The reverse is also true. The U.S recently prevented Intel from selling $1 billion worth of chips to China [1], so China is getting to work developing their own supercomputing chips on their own tech.

[1].http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/05/us-supercomputer-chip-ban-d...


Don't mix up France and Europe. Yes, the EU tends to dance to France's tune, but their attitudes are not universal or even dominant throughout the Europe.


Are you saying that the rest of Europe is less anti-America/anti-Capitalism than France?


It's hard to not be, unless your name is Russia :)


At least in Germany there is a lot of suspicion against US companies in particular since the Snowden documents. Surveillance is a very critical topic in Germany since in the 20th century there were two dictatorial regimes on German terrain that used surveillance methods. One of them only ceased to exist for little more than 25 years.


Absolutely!


That's good to know. A lot of what we hear about European opinions are by way of France.


I am not sure I agree with the specifics but I think generally it's healthy for the world to keep multi-national companies in check. So even if it's a stupid law that blocks multinationals the effect will be positive in my view if it fosters a local tech scene.

The big Silicon Valley companies are already killing a lot of innovation so it's better to stop them from reaching more dominance.


How are they killing innovation?


I would say the iphone was a total innovation killer. Apple restricts ideas to only things they like. Maybe we wouldn't have such polished phones but we would have more interesting ideas emerge.


Perhaps by buying out young innovative companies. Once the company is acquired, the competition may lose interest in competing with the giant.


I hope that people will learn that the fact the giants are so big is what the core problem is, even for American citizens. For example, the filter-bubble is real and dangerous, along with operation mockingbird (I'm sure under a new name now) propaganda pushes, and the giants become useful mediums for things like pretending a war or invasion is OK or the banks "need this next bailout of 200zillion dollars".

What we need is to move to decentralized platforms not controlled by any one company of person or government. Centralization is a weakness, not a strength, and decentralization is a strength. These are fundamental lessons of the internet, and it's high time we made sure the fresh geeks who didn't live through the 90's cryptowars are taught it's lessons.

FOSS is where it's at, and I am convinced RMS will be seen a visionary to ahead of his time to be fully understood or appreciated in the capitalist society he spawned in.

When Microsfaceboogleslapple Brain interface comes out and everyone starts plugging in, I will either be using the GPLv6Brain or nothing at all.


The world is slowly learning from China.


Learning how to have slaves for population?

How noble of them. Not really.


I lived in China. Can confirm I was not a slave, at least not in the sense that America had black slaves.


But are you prevented from visiting a wide range of websites?

That is them deciding for you what you can and can't do. If you're not Chinese citizen then it's your choice being there. But if you're a Chinese citizen then all choices are made for you, what qualifies you as a slave.


Of course not being able to access a website you want (and censorship in general) is not good, but comparing that to slavery is absolutely ridiculous.


> Of course not being able to access a website you want (and censorship in general) is not good

Which is the same that the west does (they just call it "copyright laws").


They'd like to, but they mostly not there. You can roam the web regardless of what they think.


Not being able to make choices for yourself is slavery.

Slavery is not about hard work or poor conditions. There were plenty free men who had it harder and some slaves that led cushy life.

Slavery is about not being a master for yourself.


There were plenty free men who had it harder and some slaves that led cushy life. Slavery is about not being a master for yourself.

Truth. There is a difference between privilege and power. When it comes down to it, we are all only slaves or free by degrees in this world. This world, as it is legally formulated, pretty much codifies Mao's observation that all power comes out of the end of a gun. This is not an exaggeration. It's literally how international law works.


Can you point to anywhere where that definition is in common use other than by you?


By your definition, i am pretty sure that you are a slave.


I happen to be, since I live in a country on par with China.


France is a souverain country that uses his legitimate right to create laws that protect french peoples culture, health, etc. It is more recently after companies that use unethical tricks to not pay taxes to the country. This is stealing the french people. Considering the brutality and souless behaviour of creditors to Greece, the behavior of the French souverain country against tax frauds is perfectly legitimate and regretable necessity.

I whish Americans had more consideration and respect for foreign countries.


Aside from taking China's approach to block external services, if a company doesn't have any physical presence in a country (shipping products, office, .fr domain), do they really have any recourse to force the country to do anything? Is there any reason for google to not just shut down google.fr and let french people use google.com. Assuming the media companies are cool with it, is there any reason why netflix would be required to change their behavior in france if they're just using the US version of it?


The French would have far fewer complaints about these companies if they were French, even if they behaved in exactly the same way.

The concerns are real, but the underlying issue is that having foreign firms succeed over local ones upsets people. One needs only listen to how often the politicians mention that the companies are American.


I say we take it further- France should have to support movies in Languedoc and Alsatian and Breton as well. Surely the French nation can only benefit from such diversity. After all, New Guinea has 6000 languages surely such diversity of thought has them only minutes away from conquering the world...


1. Impose tax on corporate revenues, not profits

2. Regulate market capitalization of corporations


3. Profit?


Just once, I'd love to see one of these tech companies call these ridiculous bluffs.

"Fine. You want to try and force us to carry local French TV, and fully pay for the production of said local TV programs? We will be cutting off all Netflix access to France, effective immediately."

It would take less than ten minutes for these cowardly bureaucrats to cave.




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