Looking at a Shadowrun Future — By political parties delegating censorship powers to corporations

A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take from you everything you have.
Gerald R. Ford

There’s an old role-playing game called Shadowrun. It plays in a future in which corporations have more power than states. Yeah, there are other aspects in that future, but let’s focus on that aspect.

Looking at the power of companies like Google, Apple, and (for now) Facebook, I think we’re heading in that direction. Even worse is how states are willing to give power to these companies, and we accept it.

It’s not the state anymore who controls what we can and cannot say, it’s delegated to companies. In the US to bypass the first amendment, in Germany for a similar reason. Officially, censorship does not happen, unofficially, companies are pressured to remove vaguely defined content (so-called “hate speech”) or face high fines.

At first, I thought it was a “clever” way for the political parties in power to enforce censorship. But I now see it more like government hand-outs. A clever way to draw people in. In case of delegated censorship, it’s not only censorship that is delegated, but also power. Companies are reinforced for censoring public opinion. And once they get good at it — and they are forced to become good at it or fold — they will likely use their power to influence politics. After all, they already know how to suppress some opinions and support others.

Next up, they’ll prop their own candidates — to a far higher degree than they did before. Lobbying is one thing, censoring opposing candidates something else.

In a way, it will be interesting to see how this will turn out. Whether the political parties are really that stupid to delegate this kind of power. And whether the public will let them. At the moment, it looks like it.

But it does not have to be this way.