Silicon Titans Worried about Obama Policies, Internet Balkanization

Written by David Michaelis

Silicon Valley titans are concerned about Obama’s Internet privacy speech. The lack of action could lead to the balkanization of the Internet. — Silicon Valley titans have expressed great disappointment in President Obama’s recent Internet privacy speech. The coalition is made up of Silicon Valley’s top companies — AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo. They met with the President a few weeks ago at the White House. Two main issues, encryption and creating backdoors, were not mentioned at all by the President and are paramount to the tech companies’ reputation.

It seems Obama is not worried about the financial impact of international business distrust, which ties the government and the tech giants together. Silicon Valley soft power will march on. Rather than his suspicion of corporate entities, Obama’s concerns are focused on the apparent (and real) distrust of the government.

No Spying

Image credit:

Reaction from Silicon Valley and the Trust in American Business

After the speech a group of tech’s largest companies issued a diplomatic statement:

Crucial details remain to be addressed on these issues, and additional steps are needed on other important issues, so we’ll continue to work with the Administration and Congress to keep the momentum going and advocate for reforms consistent with the principles we outlined in December.”

The Silicon coalition fears that distrust on a global level will ruin business. This distrust, taken to an extreme, could lead to the balkanization of the Internet — which would mean separate Internet agencies altogether, or an American Internet separate from an EU Internet.

The LA Times highlights the concerns:

Alex Fowler, head of public policy for Mozilla, the nonprofit that created the Firefox browser, said Friday that he has even greater concerns. He warned that ‘expansive government surveillance practices have severely damaged the health of the open Internet. Overall, the strategy seems to be to leave current intelligence processes largely intact and improve oversight to a degree.’ Fowler also said, ‘We’d hoped for, and the Internet deserves, more. Without a meaningful change of course, the Internet will continue on its path toward a world of balkanization and distrust, a grave departure from its origins of openness and opportunity.’ “

Privacy is a major point for European citizens, and this important topic was not mentioned in Obama’s speech. While the EU holds different regulations than the U.S., our government’s actions help to define the world approach to cyber-security and protocol.

What Obama did choose to talk about was Silicon Valley’s data-gathering techniques. Obama said, “Corporations of all sizes track what you buy, store and analyze our data.” Corporate America, in is his opinion, is part of the global USA soft power. But, NSA security interests trump commercial interests, which all trump concepts like privacy in global markets.

The Eight CEOs of Silicon Valley’s top companies — AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo — recently wrote to President Obama, demanding the reformation of government surveillance. But their protestations have had little-to-no effect. Obama believes and supports the reigning attitude — the consumer is an open book for all Silicon Valley companies. So, they should not complain. Meanwhile the citizen should be protected from the government and trespasses of privacy. The citizen, not the consumer, has the Constitution on his or her side. 

Breaking up the global structure of the Internet is harmful to all. The world’s issues with spying and privacy, not simply those of the U.S. people, or U.S. companies, need to be addressed. The question is when Obama will take action, or if he ever will.

For, I’m David Michaelis.

Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him at