Technology

When the control of the world is in the hands of Big Tech


The world will be a better place where Big Tech has interests and vice versa.

The world will be a better place where Big Tech has interests and vice versa.

“Hello kids, let’s start class today,” teacher Emmanuel Ntaji told students in an online classroom at home in Lagos city, on the south coast of Nigeria.

Sub-Saharan Africa has enjoyed an astonishing degree of technological proximity in recent years, with half a billion people using mobile services and more than 272 million Africans connecting to the Internet via mobile phones.

In this emerging market, it is not surprising that giants such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft or Apple have set their footprints there, approaching at the right time when the infrastructure is already relatively complete while lacking. technology applications.

Emmanuel Ntaji teaches through online teaching software due to quarantine due to Covid-19.

The tech giants that are collectively known as Big Tech have helped not only Africa but the whole world to remain afloat in a new normal amid the pandemic.

But when people get used to a world run by Big Tech, the tech giants create a kind of soft power that makes it impossible for anyone in the US to escape from Big Tech’s “golden circle”. , including Donald Trump when he was at the head of the White House.

A fragile good world

As Covid-19 raged around the world, Big Tech played the hero in the public eye. In 2020, Amazon recruits half a million new workers to provide non-stop goods to every corner of the world despite the epidemic.

And Microsoft has launched an initiative to help 25 million people equip themselves with digital skills, especially in the Middle East and Africa region, through e-learning.

Google and Facebook quickly built maps and official information pages about Covid-19, removing billions of fake news related to viruses and vaccines.

Big Techs also contribute to anti-epidemic achievements through frontline support, donating vaccine research funds, donating money to non-profit organizations or donating materials and machines, building mining applications. Medical report/vaccine passport…

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The gross profit of the Big Tech group in 2020 is 244 billion USD, both increasing compared to 2019 despite the global situation of the Covid-19 epidemic.

But that is only a small part of the good that Big Tech brings. In a year when the US was struggling because of the epidemic, Big Tech generated $ 1,200 billion in revenue with a profit of about $ 244 billion. By transferring prices to ‘tax havens’, Big Tech causes governments to lose revenue while creating injustice for businesses that pay taxes in full.

The surplus that Big Tech creates is used to “swallow” potential startups, creating a monopoly position that is difficult to shake. Statistics show that the Big 4 group including Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook has acquired 178 companies in the same industry and 431 companies in other industries since its establishment. Microsoft alone contributes to this number more than 200 companies.

Big Tech also created a form of surveillance capitalism, a theory introduced by professor Shoshana Zuboff of Harvard Business School in 2014. This theory identifies personal information as the means of production that people have. freely provided to Big Tech, thereby forming a product that helps Big Tech to orient the market.

For example, using big data, machine learning, deep learning, artificial intelligence, Big Tech identifies users who want to buy a book and immediately recommends the title with the highest advertising bid.

That title is fed with fake reviews intended to mislead buyers. As a result, Big Tech reaps economic benefits despite the core value of the product and turns users into digital slaves.

If there is nothing to prevent, Big Tech is increasingly expanding with a nice shell that is full of technological algorithms to manipulate user behavior, control the world in its own way.

What to do to stop Big Tech?

As mentioned above, with more revenue but less tax payment, it is Big Tech that indirectly causes governments of countries to face more difficulties, especially during a stressful epidemic period.

A report by human rights organization ActionAid indicates that the world’s leading economies (G20) lose $ 32 billion in taxes a year from Big Tech. This is enough to cover two doses of Covid-19 vaccine for everyone on Earth.

ActionAid’s proposal is to introduce a minimum tax rate of 25% on Big Tech where revenue is generated to close any loopholes that lead to transfer pricing and tax evasion.

Finally, on June 5, the Finance Ministers of the group of the world’s largest economies (G7) reached a historic agreement to impose a minimum corporate tax rate of 15%.

This agreement will pave the way to fight against the problem of “tax havens” that have been agonizing for years, which has been fully utilized by Big Tech to report losses where revenue is generated, while transferring revenue to customers. import to countries with preferential tax rates such as Iceland, the Cayman Islands or the British Virgin Islands.

But that was just the opening shot for the fight for justice. On June 25, the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives passed six bills to send to the House of Representatives in an antitrust effort with Big Tech.

While it is difficult for these bills to get through the doors of lobbyists, who are supported by Big Tech, it is also an indication of a new age where Big Tech is no longer at the center. of all things is no longer so far away.

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Big Tech contributes to the loss of tax revenue in many countries around the world, amounting to tens of billions of dollars.

In Vietnam, the basis for tax arrears Big Tech already has is based on the contractor tax that cross-border companies are obliged to pay when generating revenue in our territory, according to the guiding documents of the Ministry of Finance. Finance.

Personal data of Vietnamese people generated from cross-border business activities of companies such as Big Tech must also be stored in Vietnam, according to the Cybersecurity Law that took effect from 2018.

However, in practice, there are still many difficulties and embarrassments when the tax industry still does not have enough documents and data to determine the revenue generated in Vietnam by cross-border companies.

Meanwhile, Google and Facebook alone have generated more than 900 million USD in revenue from advertising in our country, as of 2018 according to a report of the State Bank. More recently, in early June 2021, the Japanese newspaper revealed shocking information when Vietnam was the largest revenue generator in Southeast Asia for Facebook.

This shows that it is necessary to take stronger measures from the management agency to take advantage of the consensus of the G7 and G20 countries, such as forcing cross-border companies to set up representative offices or branches in Vietnam. If it doesn’t stop providing services, apply a penalty mechanism according to a percentage of revenue… From there, making a claim to force Big Tech in particular and cross-border companies in general to comply with sovereignty, all territorial integrity and the law of Vietnam.

Phuong Nguyen

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