It has begun: Denmark will become the first country to appoint an ambassador meant to interface not with another nation, but with monolithic tech companies that wield awesome amounts of power over user data and the flow of information. According to the Washington Post, the “digital ambassador” role is the country’s attempt to address how powerful tech firms like Facebook and Google have become in the past decade, to regulate them, and — duh doy — to use them to boost the economy. (Apple and Facebook recently signed deals to build data centers in the country.)
The company’s foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen, told the Post, “More than half of the world’s data has been created in the past two years. That’s not just states or intelligence services who have put all this together. No, it’s mainly companies like Facebook, Google, Apple and so-on. That, again, puts us in a situation where we have to ask big questions about individual’s privacy and the situation for states.” The flow of misinformation and hoax-news sites are also growing concerns, especially in Europe where defamation laws are generally more strict.
Depending on your point of view, this sort of measure is either proactive or defensive — “Hey, let’s get some sweet tech $$$$” combined with “We must appease the firms holding the largest caches of blackmail material in the history of civilization.” It’s not too different from what media companies are doing on a smaller scale, hiring people whose primary responsibility is to make sure that tech companies like your site, and maybe reward you with product features and traffic and one of those limited Snapchat Discover slots.