As Elon Musk continues his erratic behaviour, which has become all too public thanks to his takeover of the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, it is starting to cause concern not just in the tech world, but also among some of the most powerful world leaders.
In a new report by The New York Times, it claims that a number of politicians and military leaders around the world are growing anxious due to Starlink. The satellite internet service, offered by Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company, has become the world’s biggest satellite internet provider with tens of thousands of his satellites currently in orbit around Earth. With little competition in the scene as well as minimal regulatory scrutiny, these world leaders are becoming worried that Musk might have too much power now, especially considering his erratic behaviour.
“This is not just one company, but one person. You are completely beholden to his whims and desires,” – Dmitri Alperovich, Silverado Policy Accelerator think tank co-founder, as quoted by New York Times
The most notable concern comes as a result of Ukraine’s growing dependance on Starlink in light of the Ukraine-Russia war. The New York Times article, which you should check out too, highlights the concerns of military leaders of both the United States as well as Ukraine, with the war-torn country trying to get the US to assure them that the satellite internet service would continue to be available for them to use—something US officials weren’t able to guarantee due to Musk’s ‘combustible personality’.
Just last year, Musk tweeted out his grandiose plans for a Ukraine-Russia peace plan, which was quickly criticised. SpaceX also publicly admitted to restricting the Ukrainian military from using Starlink to control its drones. Musk had even outright denied Ukraine from using Starlink near Crimea. It has led to Ukraine looking at tapping onto other satellite internet providers, but at the moment none have the reach that Starlink can offer.
The US and Ukraine aren’t the only ones with concerns over Musk and Starlink though. China is another major world power concerned over Starlink and Musk, along with Taiwan and the European Union. It has rocked the latter enough that the EU has already made plans for their own ‘sovereign’ satellite constellation to launch in the coming years.
“Space has become a highly contested domain where the European Union must safeguard its vital interests. The E.U. cannot afford to be reliant on others,” – Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market of the European Union, as quoted by New York Times
Starlink in Malaysia
Despite the global concerns over the rise of Starlink, that hasn’t stopped Malaysia from bringing in the satellite internet service. After conducting a video call with Musk for instance, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim then called on his government to order 40 Starlink satellite broadband kits for our schools and colleges.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) then quickly gave Starlink the green light to operate here, even as a 100% foreign-owned entity for now. This has led to some concerns in Malaysia too, as there’s still a lack of clarity over Starlink’s operations in Malaysia.
Starlink Internet Services Malaysia Sdn Bhd was granted the NFP/NSP licence on 17 July 2023, with the company having been incorporated in June 2021. It’s currently being owned fully by Starlink Holdings Netherlands based in Amsterdam. With no details on whether they plan to build a ground station in Malaysia at the moment, it does bring about the question of whether Malaysian internet traffic is being rerouted overseas with Starlink.
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