Following the news that Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak plans to launch so-called “Innovation Zones” where tech companies can create their own cities and governments, privacy advocates are responding with fear and concern.
During his State of the State address in mid-January, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak noted that the state is suffering because of the COVID-19 restrictions and the effect on tourism. Sisolak called on the launch of “Innovation Zones”, a plan aimed at bringing companies working on “groundbreaking technologies” to Nevada and turning the state into the “epicenter of this emerging industry and creating the high paying jobs and revenue that go with it.” However, in these Innovation Zones, corporations are given the power to collect taxes, and essentially, operate as a quasi-independent government.
While the full plan for the Innovation Zones has yet to be released, The Las Vegas Review-Journal obtained a draft copy of proposed legislation which would grant tech corporations previously unheard of powers within the jurisdiction of these zones. The draft of the legislation states that traditional local governments are “inadequate alone to provide the flexibility and resources conducive to making the State a leader in attracting and retaining new forms and types of businesses and fostering economic development in emerging technologies and innovative industries.” In response, the draft calls for an “alternative form of local government”.
This “alternative form of local government” will be built around the use of innovative technologies, including:
- Autonomous technology
- Internet of Things
- Artificial intelligence
- Wireless technology
- Renewable resources
While the zones would at first operate under the authority of the county in which they are located, the legislation describes how tech companies could use Innovation Zones to form their own separate government that would act as the equivalent to a county authority. These zones would have the ability to impose taxes, form school districts and local court systems, and provide government services. The zone would have a board of supervisors with the same powers as a board of county commissioners.