The biggest tech companies in the world are Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. They all are American and have been created less than 30 years ago: Microsoft – 1975, Apple – 1976, Amazon – 1994, Google – 1998, Facebook – 2004. GAFAM are so powerful that they impact public liberties and generate new challenges against democracy. Those wishing to win declare a war against the “digital imperialism”.
These companies’ revenues are comparable to that of Denmark. This means that these private companies are as powerful as some countries. GAFAM are more and more like “company-states”. These companies participate in fake-news proliferation, give greater opportunities to scams and phishings, violate private information etc. The number of users of these companies is greater than that of real countries and the money that they generate makes than transnational political entities. Moreover, GAFAM are not highly indebted as some countries. In a nutshell, GAFAM are the new dominating powers. Countries may have a hard time handling them.
GAFAM makes business competition harder and harder and even impossible. Thus, GAFAM is “a diffuse monopoly”. These companies are not limited to only produce one kind of a product and they sometimes buy other companies. For example, Facebook bought Instagram, Google bought Youtube etc. This means that there is a polarisation going on: some become more and more rich, powerful and influential, whilst others disappear.
This accumulation of private wealth hinders the states to invest more in collective projects like: research, education, infrastructure, health-care etc. Surely, GAFAM’s CEOs invest in “philanthropy”, but they decide all by themselves where and when to invest, which means that the states have no say on how GAFAM’s CEOs should invest. Moreover, if they decide not to invest, no state will have the right to say anything.
In Europe, France has decided to adopt a law in order to tax GAFAM. This will not solve the problem, but at least it will take back some of the fundamental public liberties and state sovereignty. The law will tax “the digital activities that make money from the French users”.