Asia-Pacific Region (APR) Countries Turning Anti-Social against Internet Giants

Dr. Jean-Marc F. Blanchard's picture

For the past few years, internet giants such as America’s Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn, Japan’s Rakuten, and South Korea’s Naver have been facing an increasingly turbulent operating environment in the Asia-Pacific Region (APR). Many of the challenges they face are widely known. These include pressures from governments to censor and countervailing movements to protect information freedom, manipulation by individuals, groups, and decision makers of all persuasions to serve their political interests (and denunciation for not doing enough to limit such), laws and regulations requiring data localization and host government access to their data, anxieties about the security of their software and hardware, and criticism for failing to protect consumer privacy rights. Less well known, Australian, Korean, and other APR regulators are accusing some parties of squelching competition, avoiding or underpaying taxes, abusing their market power to gain preferential deals, limiting consumer choice, and deceptive advertising. It is not surprising that internet giants are encountering more attention/problems given the wide range of services they provide. Moreover, several have a domineering presence in the market segments in which they operate. Success can breed contempt by others as well as unwarranted contempt for others. Internet giants need to be much more sensitive about the former while striving hard to avoid the latter. Given the new state of affair, internet giants operating in the APR must develop strategies to balance competing demands and rapidly embrace multi-dimensional and multi-level (global, regional, industry, national, and domestic) strategies including making national and international legal challenges, working cooperatively with regulatory bodies, lobbying governments, regional organizations, and global institutions, expanding public relations, enlarging local partnerships, and deepening corporate social responsibility activities. In the absence of such, mega tech firms are likely to find the operating environment increasingly anti-social, hardly a desirable prospect for social networks or other internet giants.