Initiatives of various tech giants like Google, Apple to create a digitized society and business though being laudable, is not free from various concerns.
Today we know that National Health Service (NHS) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have every bit of detail about us. NHS has details about your medical history and details about of each of the general practitioners (GPs) assigned to you at each of the locations in the U.K. The Home Office has all your biometric details through retina scan, fingerprints, and your history of entry and exit of not only in the U.K. but various countries as well. Even your criminal history is also being well documented with the Home Office.
How does this happen? The answer to this question lies in centralization and digitization of information that is available through various sources and documents. Technical companies rather giants, as they are mostly called, like Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and the like have made it all possible through the process of continuous innovations.
Digital Garage to Digitize Young and Old
In a recent initiative, Google set up a drop in centre, calling it a “digital garage” right in the middle of Manchester city to educate people, young and old, about digital world. “Digital Garage” was set up to teach, for free, people about how to use spreadsheets, prepare online business presentations or write a CV.
Ms. Ruth Porat, Chief Financial Officer of Google, laments that half of the world is not online yet and many of the U.K. businesses complain about not finding employees with just the right skills and it then where Google comes in. A noble initiative, indeed.
However, there is a bit of an issue the “digital garage” set up at Manchester. The centre eventually turned out to be one of many of its platforms promoting its products. More than imparting digital knowledge, the centre was seen more of endorsing its products.
A tutorial on how to go online with one’s business turned out to be a training on how to use Google Adwords which is again a chargeable service by Google. Adwords generate US$ 100mn per day for Google. In general, the probability of one’s website, be it a business or a non-business one, depends on the traffic of the website and the keywords used. The more traffic you have on your website, more are the chances of coming up in the first page and on the top. However, if one is using paid service, the website is bound to come on the top, despite the traffic of the website.
Furthermore, Google has been reportedly using its own search engine as an internet shop, promoting its own product. The EU had already penalized Google with a fine of €2.4bn for this. Google has already made an appeal against this.
Moral Responsibility of the Tech Giants
These tech giants are changing our way of life and how we work, what we do with digitization, artificial intelligence and robotics. Artificial intelligence and robotics are sure to revolutionize our lives, yet it is going to render a large chunk of working class jobless.
However, this technical revolution also comes with a tax to pay and the burden is to be borne by the government and the taxpayers as the companies like Facebook, Amazon, Uber, Google deposit its profits in some other part of the world where taxation is at the least or no tax at all.
Flouting tax rules and regulation is not new for the technical companies, however, they remain unapologetic about it whilst enjoying customer loyalty.