A powerful and urgent call to action: to improve our lives and our societies, we must demand open access to data for all.
Information is power, and the time is now for digital liberation. Access Rules mounts a strong and hopeful argument for how informational tools at present in the hands of a few could instead become empowering machines for everyone. By forcing data-hoarding companies to open access to their data, we can reinvigorate both our economy and our society. Authors Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge contend that if we disrupt monopoly power and create a level playing field, digital innovations can emerge to benefit us all.
Over the past twenty years, Big Tech has managed to centralize the most relevant data on their servers, as data has become the most important raw material for innovation. However, dominant oligopolists like Facebook, Amazon, and Google, in contrast with their reputation as digital pioneers, are actually slowing down innovation and progress by withholding data for the benefit of their shareholders––at the expense of customers, the economy, and society. As Access Rules compellingly argues, ultimately it is up to us to force information giants, wherever they are located, to open their treasure troves of data to others. In order for us to limit global warming, contain a virus like COVID-19, or successfully fight poverty, everyone—including citizens and scientists, start-ups and established companies, as well as the public sector and NGOs—must have access to data. When everyone has access to the informational riches of the data age, the nature of digital power will change. Information technology will find its way back to its original purpose: empowering all of us to use information so we can thrive as individuals and as societies.