Conflict and Leadership
Battle of the Technology Platforms: Strengthening Sovereignty or User Convenience?
Valdai Club Conference Hall (42, Bolshaya Tatarskaya, Moscow)
List of speakers

On January 26, the Valdai Club hosted an expert discussion, titled The Battle of the Technological Platforms: Is Multilateral Regulation Possible? together with the presentation of the report International Competition and Leadership in the Digital Environment.7

The moderator of the discussion, Andrey Sushentsov, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club, stressed the acceleration of competition between technology platforms. Countries are moving towards more restrictive measures, compelling users to decide where to store their data and which gadgets to use. Russia, as a country deeply immersed in international technology and communication networks and with its own powerful technology companies, is faced with the problem of how to define itself amid this competition. The dilemma between sovereignty and user friendliness is dramatic and has no easy solutions. Sushentsov emphasised that until now, users had been guided by convenience considerations, but now they will face the prospect of certain platforms being banned.

MGIMO University Professor Andrei Bezrukov, while describing the phenomenon of techno-economic blocs, noted that we are now entering a new technological cycle that is characterised by comprehensive restructuring  not just of the economy and technology, but the entire society. It is poised to determine what the world will be like during this new cycle, and this intensifies competition. Techno-economic blocs have emerged that control large areas of the market; they have a solid economic base, which implies their own currency, and have their own philosophy of development. Such a bloc is now being formed by the United States, and China is also making claims to form its own bloc. Russia  like Brazil, India, and the EU  does not have a complete set of factors that would make it possible to fully compete with them. Actors which are not ready to adhere to other blocs and cannot independently create their own are likely to unite in associations capable of forming new blocs. For the affected countries, this will become a matter of ensuring control over their own critical infrastructure, that is, a matter of sovereignty and national security.

Maxim Suchkov, director of the Centre for Advanced American Studies at MGIMO University, outlined possible prospects for Russia in the current situation. In his opinion, Russia has the resources to create its own techno-economic platform thanks to its own powerful engineering and mathematical school, its own search engine that continues to develop, its own social networks that are still able to compete with foreign ones, and the impressive scale of the digitalisation of the economy. However, there are also serious problems, some of which lie outside the digital domain  in politics, in the economy, and in the legal sphere. Also, there is the impact of the sanctions. Possible solutions include, on the one hand, limited cooperation with European countries that are also worried about their digital sovereignty, and the development of cooperation with the EAEU, and on the other hand, the refusal of attempts to push the initiatives at the global level and the transition to the formation of a digital non-alignment movement in order to form common global rules.