European mobile operators lectured over humanitarian cause
US tech companies turned political lobbyists are dictating policy to the European Commission (EC), according to a report by news site Bloomberg. A congress of American IT vendors told the EC that it should ‘boost’ donations of telecom and data centre equipment to Ukraine. The self-appointed officiators are collectively claiming the EC is failing to provide the coordination and funding that the US corporations might expect.
The lecture was delivered by the European lobby group DigitalEurope, which represents nearly 100 companies including the likes of Amazon and Microsoft. It claims that while attention has been focused on humanitarian aid and weapons, “the Russian armed forces are also destroying vital radio and telecoms equipment – critical infrastructure for a modern state to function,” according to a letter seen by Bloomberg.
“There is an urgent need to boost the supply of equipment for telecommunications and data centre infrastructure,” DigitalEurope and eight national digital associations wrote to Commission officials including Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager. “The Commission has the potential to play a much stronger role, to streamline the process and focus the many requests for equipment in a centralized process,” it said.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk has donated more than 12,000 Starlink dishes to provide broadband to areas where the internet has been knocked out. Meanwhile Alphabet is providing spare laptops for ‘remote education’ and Meta Platforms (a Facebook division) used its mobility data to help human rights groups to track refugees.
Tech companies have donated thousands of laptops, servers and cybersecurity software to Ukraine but now they seem to want more say in governing compassion and expect to tell the EU what to do. It started with a lecture on better coordination and funding for more donations as Ukraine’s needs become more complicated and expensive. According to the Bloomberg report, DigitalEurope wants Europe’s mobile operators to carry out more servicing and rebuilding of drones and data centre infrastructure.