Although mauled by critics, The Circle , based on Dave Eggars’ satire concerning a rapacious Google/Facebook type digital platform, made a chilling point.
In the film, the Circle’s gurus – convinced they are doing no evil – persuade government that, because the platform reaches so many citizens, it is the natural partner in civic and political matters too.
Vote through The Circle (sign-up required).
It is not so ridiculous a premise. Governments like quick wins, frictionless solutions and third parties to stump up the cash, run the operation and insulate them from responsibility. Never mind the erosion of rights and the privatisation of personal and state sovereignty.
Back to the real world, broadband companies must be tearing their hair out at the Government’s latest wheeze.
In order to see off rivals and protect its monopoly, Openreach dragged its feet and made life difficult for any other companies that wanted access to culverts and cabinets.
And yet the offer by BT’s Gavin Patterson to offer “voluntarily” to provide infrastructure for 99% of the premises in the UK to get faster broadband speeds has been welcomed by culture secretary Karen Bradley. The sinner repenteth – for a small fee.
It means the Government can shift its 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation off its books and wash its hands of blowback over any implementation shortcomings.
It is yet another example of the doctrine of the status quo – a monopolistic power manoeuvring a supine government into reinforcing and rewarding its dominance – and it is a dead hand on innovation.
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