By now, issues of digital surveillance, government interference online, and programmatic targeting by businesses are common parlour talk. From Snowden to the recent and ongoing cases of government spying in Mexico, these acts have become a reality of the digital age. But what ethical, legal, and political questions and consequences lie at the intersection of digital governance and big data? In a recent article for Business & Society (paywall), Mikkel Flyverbom, Ronald Deibert, and Dirk Matten dig into these pressing questions. This special issue, for which Ron Deibert was a co-editor, focuses on the so-called “Internet-industrial complex”: the relations between business, governance, and the Internet.
The importance of digital technologies for social and economic developments and a growing focus on data collection and privacy concerns have made the Internet a salient and visible issue in global politics. Recent developments have increased the awareness that the current approach of governments and business to the governance of the Internet and the adjacent technological spaces raises a host of ethical issues. The significance and challenges of the digital age have been further accentuated by a string of highly exposed cases of surveillance and a growing concern about issues of privacy and the power of this new industry. This special issue explores what some have referred to as the “Internet-industrial complex”—the intersections between business, states, and other actors in the shaping, development, and governance of the Internet.