(WhatsApp) Bigtech v/s Governments (Global Case Studies)

1. Power: Global big tech, like FB, are not elected institutions, yet they seem to have amassed enough power to take on *entire governments* – and this is getting worse;

a. WhatsApp rejects Indian Gov request for traceability: https://gadgets.ndtv.com/apps/news/whatsapp-rejects-indian-governments-demand-for-message-traceability-1905337?amp=1&akamai-rum=off

b. WhatsApp pushing back on Anti-encryption laws (India / Australia): www.google.com/amp/s/amp.ft.com/content/8adc2b8c-1a4a-11e9-9e64-d150b3105d21

All these despite mounting evidence that the tool is / can be used to *amplify* criminal or subversion activities at a scale that can seriously destabilise most governments!
2. The platforms appear keen to prioritise technology and profits over human safety or human rights (especially when dealing with the global South).
futurism.com/india-facebooks-whatsapp-violence/amp/
3. The US tech platforms operate as pseudo “world government” entities rather than ordinary business entities. Aggressively imposing *their own* definition of “privacy”, “free speech” and “democracy” upon others. There seems to be an assumed expectation of global cultural homogeneity irrespective of country-level or regional-level Context. 
American platforms don’t seem overly concerned that their tools can be used to trigger civil wars, genocide or coups in fragile / immature democracies. This has led to what looks like credible fears that US Big Tech is turning into a tool for advancing US hegemony.

journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0306396818823172

4. Even Europe (e.g France) is beefing up to indigenous cyber-defense infrastructure by building their own WhatsApp / Telegram clones for government use.
www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/france-whatsapp-security/amp/

When even industrialized *western* nations want to minimise reliance on (or control exposure to) US tech platforms, would it be wise for Kenya want to increase it? Once you are locked in, it will be very costly (if not impossible) to come out. 
Something for government officials to think about. Degradation of security and economic stability should not be the price we pay for “innovation”; Not all technology is beneficial to humanity and it is important to have assertive public-interest policies driven by holistic and strategic analysis of our unique local circumstances and needs.
Have a nice weekend.
Patrick A. M. Maina(Independent Public Policy Analyst – Indigenous Innovations)

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