Data has become the world’s most important resource. Now Silicon Valley giants want to keep government from standing in the way of profits
One hundred and sixty years ago, the first transatlantic telegram traveled from Britain to the United States along a rickety undersea wire. It consisted of 21 words – and took seventeen hours to arrive.
Today, the same trip takes as little as 60 milliseconds. A dense mesh of fiber-optic cables girdles the world, pumping vast quantities of information across the planet. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that 543 terabits of data are flowing across borders every second. That’s the equivalent of roughly 13 million copies of the complete works of Shakespeare.
Tech giants are drawing political fire over fake news and Russian meddling
Nicholas Terry understands the internet’s darker side better than most. A history lecturer at Exeter University, Terry is an expert on antisemitism and runs a blog examining Holocaust denial and its dissemination online.
“You’ve got three separate phenomena converging,” he says. “One is the fake news stuff, promulgated by the likes of Facebook and Twitter, which is trying to promote specific false stories in real time for immediate impact; second, there’s the ideological bubble – people only reading leftwing or rightwing news sites; and then there’s this effort by fringe movements on Holocaust denial to make their websites look respectable and to hoodwink readers into thinking what they’re reading is OK.”