US-Style Digital Hegemony Is the Biggest Obstacle to Global Connectivity


For some time now, the United States government, think tanks, media and others have repeatedly made unfounded accusations against other countries, based on an ideological bias, for their reasonable practices with respect to internet management and data security, among other things. In fact, the United States, always one to distract attention from its own shortcomings, has all along been engaged in “digital hegemony.” By undermining the level playing field of global cyberspace and preventing cooperation and innovation in the communications industry, it is the biggest obstacle to global connectivity.

The United States claims to advocate for network transparency and the free flow of information, but in reality, it is the world’s top-ranking “Matrix” nation, having for many years invested vast amounts of money and resources to develop and deploy technology for monitoring and controlling online communications. In so doing, it has treated global cyberspace like its own back yard and run roughshod over the data privacy rights of its own citizens, and even over those of citizens of other countries.

The PRISM surveillance program, which was exposed in 2013, had already triggered strong reaction from people in the United States and abroad, and public opinion in many countries expresses strong doubts and dissatisfaction with American monitoring of global networks. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, as several scandals have come to light since 2013 that have revealed the United States’ unscrupulous behavior in cyberspace. For example, the German government has reported that former Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone may have been tapped by U.S. intelligence agencies, and the media have also revealed that the United States National Security Agency made use of Denmark’s data cables to monitor the contents of text messages and phone calls of officials from countries such as Germany, France, Norway and Sweden.

The digital hegemony of the United States is not only reflected in the many ways it conducts network surveillance, but also in how it uses its industrial edge and market position to employ double standards with regard to industries involved in data communications and internet services, in hitting out at multinational corporations from emerging economies, and in safeguarding its dominance over cyberspace.

Mobile communication technology is important in furthering the improvement and popularization of the global internet. During the construction of fifth-generation mobile communications technology or 5G, the United States has been doing its utmost to pressure other countries into excluding Chinese companies from the construction of 5G networks on grounds of national security but offering no substantial evidence. Countries thus pressured often pay a heavy price and face delays in the deployment of 5G, and it is ultimately the interests of local businesses and consumers that suffer.

Where next-generation mobile technologies (6G) are concerned, the United States persists in this way of thinking, roping in allies to form research and development cliques, excluding China, and completely ignoring the crucial role of global industrial cooperation in communications technology innovation and standard-setting.

The United States’ one-sided bullying even extends to entertainment-oriented, online short-form video platforms. After rising to popularity among young Americans as a short-video platform, TikTok, the overseas version of China’s Douyin, quickly attracted the attention of the U.S. government and became the target of groundless censorship. Such overt and politically motivated suppression of legally operating foreign internet companies runs counter to the most basic free market fairness.

Since its inception, the internet has been the driving force in giving rise to a host of digital technologies and services that are continually integrated into every aspect of our lives. At the same time, countries everywhere are becoming increasingly aware of the value of data, and whether they are developed or developing, all are in the process of strengthening relevant legislation and controls to promote the orderly and beneficial development of the internet and big data. The United States, however, has not only trampled on the inclusive nature of the internet for its own personal gain, but has made unwarranted accusations against other countries’ network management and has obstructed innovative exchanges, thereby worsening the global digital divide.

If the global internet is to develop in a healthy manner, it will be necessary to say “no” to the United States’ digital hegemony. Countries around the world will need to join hands to create and enter into a new phase of digital cooperation, construct new patterns of cybersecurity, form a more inclusive framework for internet management and sustainable digital transformation, and build a community with a shared future in cyberspace.

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About Matthew McKay 23 Articles
A British citizen and raised in Switzerland, Matthew received his honours degree in Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford. Following a 15-year stint in the corporate sector, he went on to earn his MA in Chinese Languages, Literature and Civilization at the University of Geneva, and is both a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, and a Career Affiliate of the Chartered Institute of Linguists. Apart from Switzerland, he has lived in the UK, Taiwan and Germany, and his hobbies include literary translation, language teaching, and getting creative in the kitchen.

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