It is the duty of states and governments to protect their culture. That’s why they impose quota for the film industry and require radio stations to play more local music. But over the last few years we have seen that a handful of American technology companies have washed away all cultural defenses. In many, many countries just about everything that citizens buy, read, watch or listen to, flows in some way or another through the five big American tech-companies, Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, also known as the frightful five.
Amazon is dominating book sales, while YouTube and Netflix are taking over television and movies. And the smartphone, arguably the most important platform for entertainment in this era, is controlled almost entirely by Apple and Google. This explains why Europe is on the march against American tech giants. European governments have been at the forefront of an effort to limit the reach of tech companies, most often through privacy regulations and antitrust investigations. Now the European Commission is also considering rules that would require streaming companies like Netflix to carry and even pay for local content in the markets they serve.
The European efforts are just a taste of a coming global freak-out over the power of the American tech industry. Over the next few years, we are bound to see increasing friction between the tiny group of tech companies that rule much of the industry and the governments that rule the lands those companies are trying to invade. What is happening in Europe is playing out in China, India and Brazil and across much of the rest of the globe, as well.
The result is fragmentation. Once, not too long ago, many in the tech industry thought that digital technology would bring about the dawn of a new global order. The internet’s structure was decentralized and nonhierarchical; it therefore seemed immune to control by any single government. Under this dream, the network would bridge vast distances and connect cultures, creating a new system of legal norms that were more uniform around the world. But that is not how it has been playing out and the result of the efforts made by the governments to defend their nations against “the frightful five” is a strong fragmentation of the tech companies. They cannot yet impose their laws to everybody. That means also that local regulations and laws and rules stay very important.
As governments are placing ever higher burdens on the tech companies to limit their reach, the fragmentation will continue. That creates for many companies a need of (limited) local presence, for instance in the form a registered office address. HDS gives you all the support you’re looking for in this domain.