Friday Tech Policy News (Feb 5, 2021)


Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism, and Consumer Harms Act (SAFE TECH Act)
My quick analysis: SAFE TECH Act would amend 230 to carveout immunity from any service that has accepted payment to make speech available (so any service that is funded by ad revenue? AWS?). Creates (c)(1)(B) to provide for an affirmative defense only if the service can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the content at issue is third-party. Carveouts for injunctive relief (no monetary relief), Civil Rights laws, antitrust, stalking/harassment/intimidation laws (this will be easily weaponized by hate groups), International Human Rights laws, and wrongful Death Actions. READ MORE
The Old Media and the New Must Work Together to Preserve Free Speech Values
EFF Civil Liberties Director David Greene delivered the following as a keynote address on March 6, 2020, at the Media Law and Policy in the Digital Age: Global Challenges and Opportunities symposium hosted by Indiana University’s Center for International Media Law and Policy Studies and its Barbara Restle Press Law Project. READ MORE
No, Section 230 Has Nothing To Do With Horrific NY Times Story Of Online Stalker Getting Revenge For Decades’ Old Slight
If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend Kash Hill’s incredible NY Times story about a clearly disturbed individual, who admits to “suffering from severe mental health illnesses,” who filled the web with horribly defamatory information about a random guy and everyone in his family. It turned out that the reason appeared to be that nearly 30 years ago, the guy’s father had fired the woman from her job in a real estate office. The story is all too familiar to anyone who has experienced harassment online. READ MORE
Must Carry Reforms Won’t Fix the Internet, But They Could Destroy It
Last year, the twenty-six words that created the Internet were threatened by twenty-six proposals to destroy it. This year will be no different. Congress has made it clear they’re willing to do something about Section 230. That “something” could look like Rep DesJarlais’ (R-TN) Protecting Constitutional Rights from Online Platform Censorship Act; another “must-carry” bill that aims to punish websites for their content moderation efforts. READ MORE
Removing Civil Rights Law From Section 230 Will Create Many New Problems, While Failing To Fix Existing Ones
We’ve covered so many bad faith bills that are attempting to undermine Section 230 for silly and disingenuous reasons. However, I expect we’ll be seeing many more bills coming up that actually mean well, and have good intentions underlying the bill… but are still problematic and may make things worse. A new example of this is a not-yet-introduced bill from Rep. Yvette Clarke, along with Rep. Mike Doyle. They’ve released a “discussion draft” of the bill which they’ve dubbed the Civil Rights Modernization Act of 2021… READ MORE
Ditching Section 230 Would Make Free Speech Worse for Wear
The digital fallout from the Capitol riots was considerable. We’ll likely be dealing with their effects for most of 2021. In the wake of the event, Americans of all stripes strongly condemned the events that transpired, loudly speaking out against the violence, intimidation, and property damage that occurred. The most notable fallout from the Capitol riots thus far has been social media sites suspending President Trump’s accounts on their platforms, citing concerns that his antagonistic rhetoric incited the day’s events… READ MORE


Facebook’s new ‘supreme court’ overturns firm in first rulings
Google And Apple Have Caved To Pakistani Pressure To Take Down Apps Made By This Persecuted Religious Minority
Over the last two years, the government of Pakistan has forced Google and Apple to take down apps in the country created by developers based in other nations who are part of a repressed religious minority. READ MORE
Myanmar military government orders telecom networks to temporarily block Facebook
Myanmar’s new military government has ordered local telecom firms to temporarily block Facebook until February 7 midnight, days after the military seized power in the Southeast Asian nation in a military coup. READ MORE
Why Twitter Blocked Accounts Linked to Farmers’ Protests in India—Only to Reverse Course
Twitter blocked access to accounts associated with farmers protesting against the Indian government on Monday, in a localized blackout of some 250 accounts and tweets. READ MORE
Issue #14 “The internet is a mirror on our society”
An Interview w/Eric Goldman: The way I describe it is that one model of the internet is basically a mirror on our society. When we look at the internet we’re seeing ourselves with all of our flaws and faults. And so as you’re describing, when we see all these “alt-right” activities online what we’re just seeing is the fact that that’s how people feel and we just normally wouldn’t see it because they’re not in my local community. If you draw a five-mile radius there’s probably only a handful of people who feel that way whereas in other parts of the country that might be the dominant norm and I won’t see it except through the internet. READ MORE
No, Getting Rid Of Anonymity Will Not Fix Social Media; It Will Cause More Problems
There’s an idea that pops up every so often among people who are upset about misinformation online but don’t actually understand the realities of online communities and the dynamics of how it all works: it’s the idea that “anonymity” is the root cause of many of the internet’s problems. We’ve spent years debunking this, though it’s been nearly a decade since there was a previous focus on this issue — and it’s now coming back. READ MORE


Navigating the Tech Stack: When, Where and How Should We Moderate Content?
This is an older article but it may become relevant per the AWS/Parler controversy. READ MORE

The Least Dangerous Branch … of Facebook
Yesterday was a big day—the day that the Facebook Oversight Board released its first decisions. Quinta Jurecic spoke with Evelyn Douek, cohost of Lawfare’s Arbiters of Truth podcast series on disinformation and a lecturer at Harvard Law School, and Lawfare deputy managing editor Jacob Schulz. They discussed everything you need to know about the Oversight Board, including those most basic but crucial of questions: What exactly is it, anyway? What’s in the decisions? And why should we care? READ MORE

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