Study shows how big tech firms are boosted by trade deals and argues for democratic regulation

January 14, 2021: A new study published by Focus on the Global South maps the rapid global growth of digital technology and trade, and the Big Tech firms that are amongst the world’s largest. US firms Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook dominate global markets but are being challenged by Chinese firms like Alibaba and Tencent, resulting in a technology cold war between US and China.

The study shows how Facebook and Google’s data abuse scandals, anti-competitive practices by Facebook, and Google and Amazon and Apple’s tax avoidance are prompting calls and some government action to regulate these and other abuses.

But trade rules like those in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Singapore Digital Economy Agreement are enabling cross-border data flows and other practices which could impede regulation.

The study also documents the digital divide between low and higher income countries and argues that national governments must retain the right to regulate in the public interest.