Evgeny Morozov: Hello every­body, and thank you very much for com­ing. I’m very hap­py to back to Stockholm. To be hon­est, I’ve been some­what sur­prised to have been invit­ed to this con­fer­ence, most­ly for two rea­sons. First of all I’ve seen on the web site that you’ve been promised inspi­ra­tional keynotes. And the very last thing that I’ve ever been accused of is pro­vid­ing inspi­ra­tion. Usually it’s bouts of depres­sion that fol­low my talks. So I have warned you in advance.

And sec­ond, it’s also a bit odd for me to be talk­ing at an event that has Internet” in its title, in part because I’ve become some­what noto­ri­ous over the last few years for actu­al­ly chal­leng­ing the idea that talk­ing about the Internet in abstrac­tion from the cor­po­rate and gov­ern­ment forces that have so far defined its exis­tence is a good way to start the conversation.

So the rea­son why I am often accused of being a skep­tic or a crit­ic or some kind of a techno­phobe is not because I reject tech­nol­o­gy or reject mobiles or reject any­thing that has dig­i­tal com­po­nents in it. It’s because I am deeply skep­ti­cal over where the bal­ance of pow­er between cor­po­ra­tions, the states, and the cit­i­zens lies at this point in his­to­ry. And I think that what we are see­ing with the fur­ther advance­ment of dig­i­ti­za­tion is an even fur­ther shift of pow­er from cit­i­zens to cor­po­ra­tions and part­ly gov­ern­ments, most­ly in its nation­al secu­ri­ty and sur­veil­lance com­po­nents. While cit­i­zens actu­al­ly do not see their own dis­em­pow­er­ment, believ­ing that that tech­nol­o­gy empow­ers them in ways that they have nev­er seen before.

So this is sort of the ide­o­log­i­cal and polit­i­cal back­ground from which I come. So I don’t think of myself as a tech­nol­o­gy skep­tic. So, I do think that we have to for­mu­late a response to the chal­lenge and to the offer, which is very tempt­ing, that Silicon Valley—and at this point I think it’s the cut­ting edge of what tech­nol­o­gy can accom­plish today—we have to make an offer and a coun­terof­fer to the pro­gram that Silicon Valley has put in front of us.

So let me say a few words about how I see that offer. Why I think a lot of gov­ern­ments are actu­al­ly quite on board with it. Why they’re so eager to get in bed with a lot of tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies. And what we as cit­i­zens and as social move­ments and as peo­ple who do not entire­ly want to see the trans­for­ma­tion of our world into a world run entire­ly by American cor­po­ra­tions can still do to pre­vent that.

So, if you look at the appeal that Silicon Valley has to a lot of us, and to a lot of pub­lic insti­tu­tions espe­cial­ly, I think you can under­stand that the rea­son for that appeal is very sim­ple. They can offer ser­vices that work, that work in a very effec­tive man­ner, and that are offered more or less either very cheap or are most­ly offered for free, right. And we know where that tech­ni­cal, nom­i­nal free­dom comes from. It comes from the fact that they have found a way to con­vert that data that is gen­er­at­ed in the con­text of using those plat­forms and ser­vices into some­thing valu­able that can then be sold on the adver­tis­ing market.

That explains how a lot of the ser­vices of the infor­ma­tion sec­tor, whether it’s search, whether it’s email, whether it’s any­thing that involves some kind of exchange of data, can be offered either below their cost or actu­al­ly for free. That’s at the heart of the busi­ness mod­el of Facebook. That’s at the heart of the busi­ness mod­el of Google and so forth. 

That means that if you try to think about what would an alter­na­tive non-corporate mod­el for the pro­vi­sion of those ser­vices look like, or what it looked like before, you’d prob­a­bly arrive at a very dif­fer­ent mod­el, right. And we knew it from oth­er insti­tu­tions that we had before. Libraries, the post office, and so forth—previous insti­tu­tions that sought to pro­vide some kind of an alter­na­tive func­tioned on a very dif­fer­ent log­ic. When it came to com­mu­ni­ca­tion their mod­el was very dif­fer­ent. It’s either that we paid for those with our taxes—and you’ll know the sto­ry rel­a­tive­ly well in Sweden. Or we paid for them with some kind of oth­er con­tri­bu­tions like stamps in the case of the post office, and so forth.

It was a direct exchange of mon­ey and cash. Data was not involved. Advertising was not involved. There was no way to basi­cal­ly link our con­sump­tion of infor­ma­tion at a local lev­el with the glob­al finan­cial and adver­tis­ing mar­ket. It was impos­si­ble to link what was hap­pen­ing at the lev­el of your local post office with the inter­ests of giant cor­po­ra­tions oth­er than by the means of exchang­ing money.

Right now, that prob­lem has been solved. Virtually every sin­gle act, vir­tu­al­ly every sin­gle trans­ac­tion that we engage in can be linked to the glob­al finan­cial mar­kets, glob­al adver­tis­ing mar­kets, and so forth. And com­pa­nies like Google and Facebook are exploit­ing it quite well. So basi­cal­ly if Google was asked to serve as an alter­na­tive to the post office six­ty or eighty years ago, their mod­el of ser­vice pro­vi­sion would be very dif­fer­ent and might scare some of us and some of us might embrace it. They would just come and say, Well, if you want to send a let­ter, great. You don’t need to buy the stamps. We’ll just open the let­ter, have a robot read it, insert the rel­e­vant adver­tis­ing into it, put your let­ter back into the enve­lope, and for­ward it to its recipient.” 

That’s more or less the mod­el on which many of the ser­vices work today. And for var­i­ous rea­sons— And the main rea­son I would argue is that the state or oth­er alter­na­tive pub­lic social com­mu­nal insti­tu­tions have with­drawn from the sec­tor alto­geth­er. Silicon Valley at this point is the only play­er capa­ble of offer­ing these ser­vices. So we are more or less stuck with this new mod­el which engages and involve 247 sur­veil­lance and the abil­i­ty to con­vert the data gen­er­at­ed in the con­text of the use of those plat­forms into some­thing that can then pay for their provision.

I would argue that as we move on and dig­i­ti­za­tion of soci­ety advances, so that sen­sors appear in vir­tu­al­ly all oth­er parts of our exis­tence— Whether its our homes, whether it’s our cities, whether it’s our cars, whether it’s our ther­mostats, you name it. Virtually every sin­gle aspect of our exis­tence soon­er or lat­er will be cap­tured, dig­i­tized, ana­lyzed, and so forth. As those process­es hap­pen, what we are going to see is that the same mod­el that cur­rent­ly under­writes our email and our search will also start under­writ­ing (from a finan­cial per­spec­tive) the pro­vi­sion of those oth­er services.

So I think it’s not entire­ly unrea­son­able to expect that these com­pa­nies will become the key inter­me­di­aries when it comes to the pro­vi­sion of oth­er ser­vices. Healthcare, edu­ca­tion, trans­porta­tion, you name it. Anything that involves some kind of data-intensive ser­vice pro­vi­sion (And at this point it’s hard to think of key sec­tors like edu­ca­tion, health, trans­porta­tion, ener­gy con­sump­tion as being any­thing oth­er than a data-intensive ser­vice.), we will see these new cor­po­rate, American, dig­i­tal inter­me­di­aries grab­bing a big chunk of the pie and offer­ing a lot of ser­vices which tech­ni­cal­ly look free, right? And which offer to us some basic diag­nos­tics, but they offer it on a very dif­fer­ent mod­el than the pre­vi­ous mod­el of health­care, edu­ca­tion, and ener­gy that we knew in Europe before. 

And again I don’t want to get into a very long dis­cus­sion about the ben­e­fits and the down­sides of the wel­fare state, which in the case of Sweden would be a very com­pli­cat­ed dis­cus­sion. But let me just say that in the case of Silicon Valley, the mod­el on which the entire sys­tem oper­ates is very sim­ple. It’s very indi­vid­u­al­is­tic in its char­ac­ter in that the only data that more or less is being gath­ered, ana­lyzed, and trad­ed (for finan­cial rea­sons) is data about indi­vid­u­als. So your own per­son­al lifestyle behav­ior is being analyzed. 

If you think for exam­ple about all these health­care apps which seek to ana­lyze how [much] exer­cise you do every day, how many steps you take, what food do you eat, how much phys­i­cal ener­gy you burn and so forth. The only actor that’s present in this ana­lyt­i­cal frame­work is the indi­vid­ual cit­i­zen. And it’s our behav­ior that’s being ana­lyzed, and then tin­kered with, through all sorts of com­plex nudges and oth­er types of behav­ioral mod­i­fi­ca­tions that are served to us by those apps, while oth­er actors, in oth­er parts of the sociopo­lit­i­cal milieu, if you will, are being slow­ly kind of fad­ed out and dis­card­ed from the analy­sis altogether.

So we’re no longer talk­ing about the prob­lem of big phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies in shap­ing the health agen­da. We’re no longer talk­ing about the pow­er of big food cor­po­ra­tions in actu­al­ly shap­ing what we eat and what you don’t eat. We’re no longer talk­ing about how our cities are designed to facil­i­tate or not facil­i­tate walk­ing, pub­lic trans­porta­tion, and so forth. All of those issues sud­den­ly are los­ing in impor­tance as vir­tu­al­ly all of the impor­tance and all of the efforts are attached to gov­ern­ing just one part of the sys­tem, which is the individual.

I would argue that this kind of offer is very amenable and very pleas­ant for a lot of gov­ern­ments to receive, in part because they are fac­ing very tough prob­lems when it comes to actu­al­ly financ­ing the pro­vi­sion of many of these ser­vices. You’ll know the sit­u­a­tion very well in Northern Europe and in Europe as a whole. It’s no longer afford­able to keep the kind of health, edu­ca­tion, and oth­er social wel­fare sys­tems that we had before with­out doing some major alter­ations in it. In part because its soci­eties are aging, there’s an influx of new peo­ple com­ing in, part­ly because of the human­i­tar­i­an crises that we are hav­ing. There are a lot of oth­er costs that sud­den­ly could not be cov­ered because the pub­lic mon­ey has gone else­where because of the aus­ter­i­ty agen­das, bud­get cuts, and so forth.

So sud­den­ly, we find our­selves in a sit­u­a­tion where we have a lot of gov­ern­ments who are keen to make deals and alliances with a lot of these tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies for the sole rea­son that it will allow them to basi­cal­ly pro­vide some kind of resem­blance to the same health and edu­ca­tion and trans­porta­tion ser­vices that they offered in the past, while con­tin­u­ing with the project of pri­va­ti­za­tion that they them­selves are very keen on to advance for oth­er ide­o­log­i­cal reasons.

So we end up in this high-tech, inno­v­a­tive cap­i­tal­ism where­by more and more of the ser­vices are pulled into the hands of pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions. Individuals are being told that they’re being empow­ered because sud­den­ly they can mon­i­tor their health, they can mon­i­tor every sin­gle aspect of their lifestyle—energy con­sump­tion and so forth—while at the same time play­ers who might actu­al­ly be respon­si­ble for the prob­lems that cur­rent­ly exist and sur­round us get away scot free. All of the lob­by­ists, cor­po­ra­tions, politi­cians, and so forth that I mentioned. 

And for me this is a very trou­bling devel­op­ment which I think needs to be coun­tered. And it needs to be coun­tered very strate­gi­cal­ly and sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly. And the only way to do that is by actu­al­ly ana­lyz­ing how come all of these com­pa­nies in Silicon Valley (and we see a few of them emerg­ing in Europe as well, but at some­what slow­er pace when it comes to the pro­vi­sion of those ser­vices) how come all of those ser­vices enjoy such giant val­u­a­tions on the finan­cial mar­kets with­out actu­al­ly own­ing or pro­duc­ing any­thing by way of phys­i­cal assets?

You look at a com­pa­ny like Uber, it’s worth, on what­ev­er day you look at it, some­where between six­ty and sev­en­ty bil­lion dol­lars US, with­out own­ing any cars, with­out actu­al­ly employ­ing any dri­vers, and with­out own­ing much by way phys­i­cal assets. And we have to under­stand where does val­ue in these com­pa­nies come from. And in a lot of them, a huge chunk of the val­ue I would argue comes from the fact that they’re sit­ting on tons of data that they have accu­mu­lat­ed from our use of their ser­vices. And I would argue that unless we man­age to polit­i­cal­ly and the­o­ret­i­cal­ly under­stand what role does user data that have already been accu­mu­lat­ed by the likes of Google play in the pro­vi­sion of their ser­vices and in the high val­u­a­tions that they enjoy, we would nev­er be able to under­stand where would new forms of exploita­tion in this new hyper­cap­i­tal­ist econ­o­my come from.

And for me it’s clear that if future move­ments that would like to con­test this new mod­el— And that is very lit­tle to like about it, by the way. If you look at a com­pa­ny like Uber— And I know that it’s some­thing that Europe still thinks they can sort of push away— And I think that will be a very tough fight because in Europe there are two almost schiz­o­phrenic parts fight­ing for dom­i­nance. You have a lot of politi­cians who would actu­al­ly be very hap­py with the American mod­el of dereg­u­lat­ed finan­cial, infor­ma­tion­al cap­i­tal­ism, where you have free flow of data between dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ments, between dif­fer­ent nations-states, between dif­fer­ent local­i­ties and so forth on infra­struc­ture that is run by a hand­ful of pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions, and peo­ple who can only con­ceive of them­selves as indi­vid­ual entre­pre­neurs— I mean there are such politi­cians in Europe and in Sweden, and you prob­a­bly know who they are. 

And then there are oth­ers, who under the pres­sure of trade unions and all sorts of oth­er insti­tu­tions, includ­ing by the way a lot of European com­pa­nies who are not hap­py with Silicon Valley, are try­ing to push back. Not nec­es­sar­i­ly to cre­ate some kind of alter­na­tives in the inter­est of cit­i­zens or the peo­ple, but sole­ly to kick the American giants away from Europe and to make sure that they can­not oper­ate in places which are cur­rent­ly dom­i­nat­ed by oth­er kinds of com­pa­nies, be that car man­u­fac­tur­ers, banks, media com­pa­nies, and so forth. All of whom have final­ly dis­cov­ered and under­stood that unless they take dras­tic action they stand to be dis­rupt­ed much in the same way that pub­lish­ers had been dis­rupt­ed thir­ty years ago. If you talk to car man­u­fac­tur­ers, if you talk to man­u­fac­tures of many oth­er prod­ucts, if you talk to ener­gy com­pa­nies and oth­ers, all of them are extreme­ly sen­si­tive, all of them are extreme­ly con­cerned about smart ther­mostats, smart cars, and prod­ucts like that.

So we end up in a sit­u­a­tion where we have this some­what schiz­o­phrenic response in Europe where one part wants to con­tin­ue this inte­gra­tion with Silicon Valley, Washington, and trade agree­ments and what­not. And the oth­er part would like to some­what mod­i­fy them to pre­serve the pow­er of incum­bent cor­po­ra­tions. What I think we need to do is to try to artic­u­late what a third way would look like that would actu­al­ly be in the inter­est of cit­i­zens and inter­est of the gen­er­al pub­lic. And the only way to do that, as I’ve said, is to prob­lema­tize the sta­tus of data. And we have to under­stand that if data real­ly is the source of both com­pet­i­tive advan­tage and of val­ue to a lot of these companies… 

And by the way, I do not think that right now you can dis­rupt a com­pa­ny like Google with bet­ter algo­rithms. To me it’s clear that much of the val­ue that Google gen­er­ates to indi­vid­ual users comes from the data on indi­vid­ual users that they have already accu­mu­lat­ed. You can be build­ing an algo­rithm a day in your garage on a dai­ly basis, and you will nev­er out­com­pete Google because it sits on ten years of user data which allows them to per­son­al­ize search results and pro­vide them in a way that no inno­va­tor could poten­tial­ly even com­pete with.

So I mean, there are also com­pet­i­tive aspects here which I think we need to con­sid­er. But the basic point again I would like to empha­size is that we have to under­stand that if that data has a lot of val­ue, and if that data cur­rent­ly gen­er­ates a lot of mon­ey to those com­pa­nies part­ly because of var­i­ous alliances between gov­ern­ments and cor­po­ra­tions that have pro­duced this rather anti-competitive field, we have to start move­ments and we have to start par­ties and we have to start at least think­ing if we can­not do it on an insti­tu­tion­al lev­el, about how we can erect some kind of bar­ri­ers, enclo­sures, how­ev­er you want to call it, to pre­vent that data from being sucked in and being treat­ed as a com­mod­i­ty in these giant databases. 

Because this is the data that we are pro­duc­ing in a rather com­mu­nal man­ner very often. If you think about how data’s pro­duced by com­put­ers using pub­lic trans­porta­tion sys­tems. I’m sure that with­in a cou­ple of years, Uber, Google, what­ev­er com­pa­ny you would like to pick, will find a way to take that data from the sen­sors and inte­grate it into their prod­uct that they will then go and pitch to what­ev­er city is look­ing for a smart city solu­tion to their trans­porta­tion ser­vice. But I’m not sure that that data should belong to them.

And unless we as cit­i­zens man­age to artic­u­late an alter­na­tive vision for data that would not reduce data to the sta­tus of com­mod­i­ty to be sold and bought in the mar­kets, we’ll end up in a sit­u­a­tion where our data enslave­ment and our data depen­dence on these com­pa­nies will only con­tin­ue even fur­ther. Which would also mean that any con­tes­ta­tion of their pow­er will be extreme­ly dif­fi­cult and impos­si­ble. Not just because they will strike lock-in deals with city gov­ern­ments, admin­is­tra­tions and so forth—a fight that we have known ever since the fights around open source and free soft­ware. Data at this point becomes as much a field of strug­gle and con­tes­ta­tion and per­haps even moreso. 

And my fear is that we will end up with just two options here. The first option will be com­pa­nies like Google and Facebook telling us that, You can basi­cal­ly leave your data with us and we’ll pro­vide superb ser­vices based on arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence, based on some unique analy­sis of your every­day infor­ma­tion flows, that will make your life eas­i­er by sav­ing you the time.”

If you look at a ser­vice like Google Now, which is Google’s flag­ship ser­vice in autonomous search, what does Google Now do? Google now inte­grates all the streams of data and infor­ma­tion that you’re pro­duc­ing in your every­day life—in you email, in your use of oth­er ser­vices whether it’s Airbnb, Spotify, you name it; a lot of them are Google ser­vices. Google News, YouTube, and so forth. And it seeks to feed your data before you have even real­ized that you have an infor­ma­tion need for it. It’s a way to basi­cal­ly con­stant­ly pre­empt your wants and desires for more infor­ma­tion with infor­ma­tion that’s com­ing from analy­sis of your lifestyle, cal­en­dar, sit­u­a­tion, and so forth. So Google Now will pro­vide you with your trav­el itin­er­aries, weath­er at the des­ti­na­tion where you want to go. It will do cer­tain lit­tle tasks for you, spar­ing you from has­sle in your every­day life and so forth. Which basi­cal­ly means that Google at this point has a very use­ful propo­si­tion to make to many of us and it’s that, Let us mon­i­tor you 24/7, and what you’re going to get an exchange is free time.” 

This is the propo­si­tion. And the propo­si­tion is that sur­veil­lance, you can con­vert it [into] free time, which means that a lot of peo­ple find it very appeal­ing. Because pre­vi­ous­ly where did you used to get free time? Well, you used to get the time if you worked in a fac­to­ry by basi­cal­ly form­ing a trade union and nego­ti­at­ing with your fac­to­ry employ­er to basi­cal­ly give you some more free time. Social strug­gle for free time used to take many oth­er diverse forms which also involved many oth­er diverse politics. 

At this point, you gen­er­ate free time by con­tin­u­ing with the neolib­er­al project of pri­va­ti­za­tion and sur­veil­lance. This is where free time comes from. Let your­self be mon­i­tored as much as you can, and these com­pa­nies will pro­vide ser­vices which will do cer­tain things for you and mon­i­tor every­thing in your life, and thus basi­cal­ly pre­empt many of the things that you will need to do on your own. Which for a lot of peo­ple is a very appeal­ing vision giv­en that oth­er poten­tial move­ments and actors who could have done some of that, whether it’s trade unions or polit­i­cal par­ties, are no longer capa­ble of those fights. So this is option num­ber 1 that comes from Silicon Valley, and I’m not very hap­py with it.

Option num­ber 2 are oth­er small­er star­tups that are not like Google and are not like Facebook. And they basi­cal­ly tell you data is a com­mod­i­ty, but you can own it. So why don’t you start mon­i­tor­ing your­self any­how on a 247 basis, and we will then hook you up with adver­tis­ers and oth­er peo­ple who’d like to buy your data, and they will pay you directly.

So their goal is to turn all of us into entre­pre­neurs who can make a living—again through sur­veil­lance and mon­i­tor­ing our­selves, but essen­tial­ly we will cut Google, Facebook, and some oth­er inter­me­di­aries out of the equa­tion. That vision of the world I also do not like for polit­i­cal rea­sons. Because by assum­ing that the entire­ty of our life­time should be sub­ject to mar­ket rela­tions and the intru­sion of mar­ket log­ic into our com­mu­ni­ca­tions, to me it’s again the very fron­tier and the cut­ting edge of the neolib­er­al ide­ol­o­gy today. The idea that when I go to the show­er and sing a song I should be think­ing about which adver­tis­er for sham­poo would like to pur­chase that song for me is not nec­es­sar­i­ly a healthy trend or healthy devel­op­ment in mod­ern cap­i­tal­ism. And yet I fear that this is where we’re going, not through the intru­sion of sen­sors into our every­day life but through the intru­sion of finan­cial cap­i­tal­ism in our every­day life. 

And this is what I think a lot of peo­ple mis­un­der­stand. What they think that today we need to be crit­i­ciz­ing is just a bunch of tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies who are act­ing on their own because they don’t under­stand the com­plex­i­ty of human con­di­tion or some­thing like that. This is not at all the case. The only way to make sense of Silicon Valley today… And of the tech­nol­o­gy sec­tor more broad­ly because the tech­nol­o­gy in Europe at this point does not real­ly dif­fer all that much from the log­ic that’s dri­ving Silicon Valley… But the only way to make sense of them is by try­ing to under­stand where it is that they fit into the broad­er scheme of things.

When it comes to things like his­to­ry, when it comes to things like the post-Cold War envi­ron­ment in Europe, when it comes to things like the finan­cial­iza­tion of our economies, when it comes to things like the aus­ter­i­ty agen­da that forces a lot of gov­ern­ments to basi­cal­ly search for technology-based solu­tions because that’s the only way for them to con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the ser­vices that they used to pro­vide in an envi­ron­ment where they no longer have the bud­gets… The only way for us to make sense of the tech­no­log­i­cal nar­ra­tives of today is by rein­scrib­ing them into these more com­pli­cat­ed polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic and his­tor­i­cal frameworks.

The prob­lem is that the very term the Internet” (by attack­ing which I began my inter­ven­tion today) pre­cludes us from that. Because instead of these deeply his­tor­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, and polit­i­cal nar­ra­tives, we end up with a rather sim­plis­tic one which basi­cal­ly tells us that his­to­ry begins thir­ty years ago when the World Wide Web was invent­ed, or TCP/IP is invent­ed, and that oper­ates some­how out­side of the log­ic of gov­ern­ment, out­side of the log­ic of the cor­po­ra­tions, out­side of the his­to­ry of cap­i­tal­ism, out­side of the Cold War. And this is just not the case. Anything from sub­ma­rine cables to sur­veil­lance to com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion of data can be eas­i­ly explained by ref­er­ence points in the his­to­ry of cap­i­tal­ism or his­to­ry of the Cold War, with­out hav­ing to imag­ine that we have entered some kind of new world where the log­ics of cap­i­tal­ism or Cold War have been suspended.

So the only mes­sage I can send in con­clud­ing my talk is that we have to be able to treat the Internet not just as a bunch of infra­struc­ture or not just as a bunch of ser­vices. We also have to under­stand what kind of func­tion, what kind of role does it serve to pro­mote and sus­tain cer­tain ide­o­log­i­cal for­ma­tions, ide­o­log­i­cal move­ments today. And I’m afraid that at this point we have come to a point where the very term the Internet” pre­cludes us from think­ing big­ger thoughts in oppos­ing some of the big­ger socioe­co­nom­ic trans­for­ma­tions that are on the way. Thank you very much.


Discussion

Moderator 1: Thank you.

Evgeny Morozov: Sure.

Moderator 2: Thank you, Evgeny Morozov. I was trying to think of a new name for my ad-by-mail service. Do you think it's a problem that we as users see these services as something that's simply free, and we don't care about the implications? Because when you said that if Google open my mail and they could send it for free if they inserted ads I thought, "That's a great business idea." A lot of users would probably love that.

Morozov: Sure. So I mean look, I come from a school of thought that tries to historicize everything. So for me, there is no use in trying to turn this problem into an ethical or moral dimension where I would say, "Users, stop using this infrastructure." What you should be doing instead as a user is to be asking questions why alternative infrastructures don't exist. Why there is no public money to build those infrastructures. Why the money that exists at the European level through various lobbies goes to fund corporations but not the users.

I mean, for me those are the questions. I do not want to moralize and tell people stop using Google and stop using browsers and don't use your credit card and live like Richard Stallman in his office and pay [with] cash for everything that you buy. Because ultimately that's a way to be defeated. Because ultimately this is not just a question of ethics. We have to understand why certain historical forces have created the situation, then we need to oppose them. You're going to just be opposing the manifestations of those systems rather than the systems themselves.

Moderator 2: Thank you very much.

Moderator 1: Great finish. Thank you.


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