Daniel Greene: Who Owns the Internet?

Emily Davidson - October 13, 2022

A look at the history behind the commercial real estate firms that build, own, and operate the infrastructure at the base of the internet.

When thinking of “the cloud,” it’s easy to imagine the internet as a detached, omnipresent network. In reality, the hardware that houses this resource is based somewhere, but these physical locations aren’t owned by technology firms like Google or Facebook. Instead, these companies lease specialized spaces from commercial real estate firms like Equinix and Digital Realty.

In a recent article, Daniel Greene, Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, dives into the history and ownership of internet landlords. “Under their governance, internet exchanges, colocation facilities, and data centers take on a double life as financialized real estate assets,” he explains. Throughout the article, Greene discusses the quiet influence this commercial relationship has over the development and maintenance of the internet as we know it. “The world-spanning technological ‘stack’ we call the internet is a haphazard assembly of different economic and social interests, sometimes competing, sometimes collaborating,” he adds. 

Read the full article here, published October 3, 2022 by Sage Journals.