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Breaking the Chains: How Governance Can Make or Break Technology Advancements

Anna Tambini, Web Specialist
July 19, 2023

In today's rapidly evolving technological landscape, the role of governance in shaping technology advancements cannot be understated. Effective governance has the potential to foster innovation, create an enabling environment for technology-driven progress, and drive societal transformation. On the other hand, governance that fails to adapt, respond, or adequately support technology can impede growth, stifle innovation, and hinder a nation's competitive edge. In this article, we delve into the critical relationship between governance and technology advancements, exploring how it can either make or break the trajectory of technological progress.

Governance plays a crucial role in shaping technology-friendly advancements by setting a clear vision and establishing priorities. Leaders who recognize the transformative potential of technology can drive policies and initiatives that foster an environment conducive to innovation, research, and development. By prioritizing technology in their agenda, governance creates a foundation for accelerated advancements.

One key aspect of governance's role is creating supportive policies and regulations. By crafting frameworks that encourage investment, foster collaboration between public and private sectors, protect intellectual property, and ensure fair competition, governance can nurture technology advancements. Forward-thinking regulations that strike a balance between innovation and responsibility are essential in fostering a thriving technological ecosystem.

Another crucial role of governance is in promoting digital infrastructure and connectivity. Investments in high-speed internet, telecommunications networks, and data centers are vital for technological progress. Strong governance recognizes the importance of digital infrastructure as a backbone for innovation and actively promotes its development to bridge the digital divide and unlock opportunities for all.

Fostering research and development (R&D) is another area where governance plays a significant role. By allocating resources, providing incentives, and fostering collaboration between academia, industry, and research institutions, governance enables breakthrough innovations and technological leaps forward. Investing in R&D creates an ecosystem that fuels knowledge exchange and drives progress in technology-driven sectors.

Proactive governance also embraces emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and the Internet of Things. By acknowledging their potential and implementing strategies to leverage them, governance can stay ahead of the curve, enable experimentation, and drive the adoption of transformative technologies. This adaptability ensures that a country remains competitive in the rapidly evolving global technology landscape.

Lastly, governance plays a critical role in ensuring ethical and responsible technology use. By establishing guidelines for data privacy, cybersecurity, and responsible AI deployment, governance safeguards individuals and society as a whole. Prioritizing ethical considerations builds trust and confidence in technology, enabling sustainable advancements.

To further illustrate the impact of effective governance on technology advancements, consider the example of electric vehicles (EVs). In countries where leadership has actively supported the transition to EVs, significant progress has been made in this innovative technology. For instance, Norway has implemented a range of policies and incentives to promote EV adoption, including tax exemptions, toll discounts, and free parking for EV owners. As a result, Norway has one of the highest EV adoption rates in the world, with electric cars accounting for a significant portion of new vehicle sales. The supportive governance and forward-thinking policies have created a favorable environment for EV manufacturers, charging infrastructure development, and overall technological advancements in the field of sustainable transportation. This real-world example demonstrates how effective governance can drive technology innovation and shape industries for a more sustainable future.

Image Source: Flickr, Gut in Free The internet rally
Image Source: Flickr

Here are ten real-life examples of countries where leadership has hindered technology innovation and some of the actions they took:

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India and Facebook's Free Basics: India's regulatory authority blocked Facebook's Free Basics initiative, which aimed to provide free access to a limited set of internet services. The decision was made to protect net neutrality and ensure equal access to all online content, but it limited the potential for technology innovation through differential internet access.

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Germany and Airbnb: In several major cities in Germany, including Berlin, strict regulations have been put in place to restrict short-term rentals through platforms like Airbnb. These regulations aim to protect the traditional hotel industry but have limited the growth and innovation of the sharing economy in the country.

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Russia and Telegram: The Russian government has banned the popular messaging app Telegram due to concerns about encrypted communication. This action has not only limited the availability of the app but also hindered the development of encrypted communication technologies within the country.

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Australia and Data Encryption: The Australian government passed legislation known as the Assistance and Access Act, which requires technology companies to provide access to encrypted user data. This has raised concerns among privacy advocates and could stifle the development of robust encryption technologies within the country.

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Israel and Uber: Israel has not allowed Uber to operate widely within its borders due to opposition from the country's taxi industry. This has limited the growth of ride-sharing services and hindered the innovative disruption that Uber has brought to transportation in many other countries.

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Brazil and WhatsApp: Brazil has blocked access to the messaging app WhatsApp on multiple occasions due to disputes over data privacy and criminal investigations. These actions have disrupted communication for millions of users and created uncertainty for technology companies operating in the country.

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United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): The UAE has implemented strict regulations that limit the use of VoIP services like Skype and WhatsApp calling. This has hindered the development and widespread adoption of internet-based communication technologies within the country.

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United States and Huawei: The United States government has imposed restrictions on the Chinese tech giant Huawei, citing national security concerns. These restrictions have limited Huawei's access to US technology and hindered its ability to innovate and compete in the US market.

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South Korea and Google Maps: South Korea has imposed restrictions on Google Maps, making it difficult for the service to provide detailed mapping and navigation features within the country. This has hindered the availability and functionality of location-based services that rely on accurate mapping data.

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Iran and Social Media Platforms: The Iranian government has implemented strict controls and censorship on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. These restrictions have limited access to global social networks and hindered the development of local social media innovations.


Effective governance promotes innovation and fair competition, rather than protecting specific technologies or unsuccessful business models.


What can we do About it?

To address the impact of governance on technology advancements, proactive steps can be taken. Advocacy and engagement with policymakers and government officials are crucial to promote technology-friendly policies. Educating leaders and policymakers about the potential of technology through workshops and seminars can bridge the knowledge gap. Collaboration and partnerships between public and private sectors, academia, and research institutions foster innovation. Reforming policies to embrace emerging technologies and facilitating agile decision-making is essential. Increased investment in research and development drives technological progress. International collaboration and knowledge exchange with global initiatives fuel mutual progress. Establishing ethical guidelines and frameworks ensures responsible technology development and deployment. Public-private partnerships drive innovation and create an ecosystem for technological advancements. These actions collectively contribute to overcoming limitations and driving positive change in technology advancements through effective governance.