Big Tech and National Security

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  • Multiple scholars and institutions have noted the risk Big Tech posed to America’s national security.
  • Columbia University said the size and dominance of American tech companies were “part of the problem” when it came to the implications of their products on national security. The Carnegie Endowment For International Peace said Big Tech companies had “taken many actions that contravene[d] U.S. interests, then relied on their clout to avoid accountability.” Stratfor remarked that Big Tech was “no more immune to potential espionage and foreign influence” than any business with vast international ties.[1][2][3]
  • Military leaders warned if tech advancements were obtained by adversaries, they could “challenge the U.S. in all warfare domains.” Dan Coats, Former Director of National Intelligence of the United States, has said new technologies could allow adversaries to “more readily develop weapons systems that [could] strike farther, faster” and challenge the United States in all warfare domains. Bob Scher, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy worried private produced technology would not “have the same levels of security” as research done by the government specifically designed to support the military. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace felt Big Tech had “contravened U.S. interest on China.”[4][5]
  • Tech’s advancements were being harnessed by terrorist groups in “increasingly sophisticated” ways. The United Nations said recent history displayed examples of “the increasingly sophisticated use of diverse technologies by terrorist and violent extremist groups. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen told lawmakers she believed Facebook had become a “national security issue” and claimed that Facebook knew its platform harmed U.S. security interests.[6]
  • Big Tech has not only risked national security, but also national well-being and personal agency. The New Yorker wrote we have “entered a world in which our national well-being depends on not just the government but also on the private companies through which we lead our digital lives." Columbia University said big data and AI enabled governments and big tech companies to not only predict but also shape what individuals would do. Media outlet The Diplomat believed we had rapidly entered “a world where the security architecture of everyday life” was built “by an impromptu collection of corporations with occasional and inconsistent oversight." WIRED exclaimed that in the digital era, “power [came] from controlling data, making sense of it, and using it to influence how people behave.” Tech Crunch said data was to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th.
  • Retired Army General Wesley Clark, who served as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO from 1997 to 2000, told a panel of experts that "when a firm gets to a certain scale, it’s so big that it sees itself as beyond American," and that massive tech firms often make compromises to operate in places like China.[7]