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Imagining a Global Digital Order

In the absence of universal basic standards and rules for how data is used and how digital markets operate, the world risks missing out on potential solutions to global problems that new technologies have to offer. The leading digital powers must recognize that more alignment is in everyone's best interest.

LONDON – Although the digital revolution is now decades old, there still is no global digital economic order. Instead, there are competing visions of digital capitalism, predominantly articulated by the United States, China, and the European Union, which have been developing their models for many years and are increasingly exporting them to developing and emerging economies. Absent more global alignment, the world could miss out on promising technological solutions to shared problems.

The question, of course, is what kind of alternative digital order is possible in today’s world. How can the internet be reclaimed to serve citizens, rather than dominant political and economic interests? Realigning the incentives that drive the digital economy will not be easy. Still, recent policymaking efforts reflect demand for new forms of governance.

The OECD, for example, is leading an effort to tackle international tax arbitrage – a favored practice among US Big Tech firms. At the same time, US President Joe Biden has appointed industry critics to lead key institutions such as the Federal Trade Commission, and he has directed regulators to investigate the problem of undue platform power in digital markets.