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Protego Press Weekly Round Up: June 27, 2019

It’s the last week of June, and almost the halfway point of the year. And, even though we’re 494 days from the 2020 general election, the Democratic debates are surfacing conversations about the role of tech in society, from the value of your data to what content moderation might look like going forward.  All this and more in this week’s Protego Press Roundup.

In Case You Missed It: In response to Senator Josh Hawley’s, R-MO, bill that would radically challenge the business models and immunities under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act currently enjoyed by the big tech companies, Zach Graves and Will Upton write that, in the post-Trump era, tech will need to build stronger bridges to hold back the growing tide of anti-tech populism. Read more here.

Tech Companies Face Questions On Hate Speech: Executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter faced questioning by a House panel Wednesday on their efforts to stanch terrorist content and viral misinformation on their social media platforms. Lawmakers and tech industry executives are concerned that the debates could be targeted by Russian or other hostile parties to foment political conflict using social media, as happened in the 2016 election.  The Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., asked the tech companies how they intend to monitor and restrict content on their platforms, as well how each platform intends to limit or minimize hate speech and misinformation from being distributed.

How Much Is Your Digital Data Worth? The Designing Accounting Safeguards to Help Broaden Oversight And Regulations on Data (DASHBOARD) Act, which was introduced on Monday by Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Josh Hawley, R-Mo., goes to the heart of the tech giants’ lucrative business model: harvesting data from platform users and making it available to advertisers so they can pinpoint specific consumers to target. According to the press release by the bill’s sponsors, the DASHBOARD Act would seek to require commercial data operators (defined as services with over 100 million monthly active users) to disclose types of data collected as well as regularly provide their users with an assessment of the value of that data and would require commercial data operators to file an annual report on the aggregate value of user data they’ve collected, as well as contracts with third parties involving data collection.

Zuckerberg’s Take On Facebook: Yesterday at the Aspen Ideas Festival 2019, Harvard Professor Cass Sunstein talked to Facebook Founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg about some of the biggest questions facing the internet — including government regulation, shifts to privacy, and innovation. When it comes to misinformation or inaccuracy, Facebook has given its users a lot of room to make false statements without having their posts taken down. But deepfakes might be different. Zuckerberg went on to say that “There is a question of whether deepfakes are actually just a completely different category of thing from normal false statements overall and I think there is a very good case that they are.”  Zuckerberg also commented that it will take the government to tighten election security for the social-media giant, saying “that type of work is a little above our pay grade. As a private company, we don’t have the tools to make the Russian government stop. We can defend as best as we can, but our government is the one that has the tools to apply pressure to Russia, not us.”

Quick Hits:

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security confirmed for the first time that it is aware of unauthorized cell-site simulators, the surveillance tools often called stingrays or IMSI Catchers, in various parts of Washington DC.

HuffPost dives into the world of pornographic deepfakes in: Here’s What It’s Like To See Yourself In A Deepfake Porn Video. The takeaway: There’s almost nothing you can do to get a fake sex tape of yourself taken offline.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has added Huawei and ZTE to a trade blacklist. But such a much may backfire, as detailed in Foreign Affairs article: Why Blacklisting Huawei Could Backfire.