Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy, University of Cambridge
Julia Rone, research fellow, Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy, University of Cambridge
January 31, 2023
The rise of remote work and leisure in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic led to a boom in data centre construction. Tech companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Meta invested heavily in hyperscale data centres to enable digital connectivity and develop ambitious new projects such as the metaverse. But data centre construction has been far from uncontroversial, and we have been seeing greater pushback from local residents.
Take, for example, local citizens’ opposition to data centre projects of Microsoft and Google in North Holland. Under the benevolent eye of the pro-business Dutch government, local executives offered big tech companies lucrative deals with tax breaks, cheap agricultural land, and subsidised energy. But local residents felt that the executives brokered these deals behind their backs, with little opportunity for participation or constructive criticism and input.