Freeing Information To Stop Big Tech, Revive Innovation, and Empower Society
Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge
How do we legitimize – and limit – the power of knowledge?
Control over information in a data-driven world is shifting in favor of those who generate, store and analyze information flows on their digital platforms. This isn’t a new issue – since the days of Benjamin Franklin, information power has been turned upside down. But today, data colonialists in America and Asia rule the rest of the world.
To counter the power imbalances that are increasing as a result of these power shifts, we have to prise open access to data, information and knowledge. We need much more broadly-based access to data to advance scientific, social and economic progress in the service of sustainable development. Concentration of information power is good for a few, but bad for innovation, cooperation, and for each and every one of us.
In Access Rules, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge offer a clear, concise and compelling response, arguing that if we disrupt the monopoly power of superstar companies with open access to data, and create a level playing field, digital innovations can emerge to the benefit all. When everyone has access to the informational riches of the data age, the nature of digital power machines will change. Information technology will find its way back to its original purpose: empowering all of us to use information so we can thrive as individuals and as societies.
Published by University of California Press
Praise for Access Rules
“Openness is the absolute key to innovation. Read this book on how to kick-start data-driven innovation and rein in Big Tech monopolies.”
—Katharina Borchert, former Chief Innovation Officer at Mozilla and Cofounder of Equilibrio
“Access Rules is a manifesto for mandating broad access to data—or open data. Freeing data from today’s digital monopolies, the authors argue, will increase transparency, empower small producers, and accelerate innovation. This powerful vision deserves the attention of scholars, policymakers, and anyone interested in democratizing access to information.”
—AnnaLee Saxenian, Professor, School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley
“Data protection in the style of General Data Protection Regulation produces warm feelings and also stifles innovation. Access Rules call for greater access to data, which will better for those living on the margins.”
—Rohan Samarajiva, former Chair of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka and Data, Algorithms, and Policy Lead at LIRNEasia
“Highly readable, engaging, and important, Access Rules explores why we need to compel tech giants to make the data they collect freely available. A must-read for anyone wanting to understand the future of the global information economy.”
—Beth Simone Noveck, Director, The Governance Lab
“Access Rules is simultaneously a practical guide to taming Big Tech’s power and a profound contribution to the political economy of digitalization. Written in a brisk and accessible style, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in a positive-sum future for global information flows.”
—Frank Pasquale, author of The Black Box Society: The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information
“This book is an urgent and provocative call for bold, creative thinking about asymmetries of power and the source of power—data itself. It should occupy scholars and policy makers around the world as we debate the best ways to curb some of the most dangerous monopolists we have ever let grow.”
—Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy