The first week of October brings more tech policy news, ranging from energy grid security and data privacy, Facebook moderation, TikTok guidelines and Net Neutrality. All of this and more in this week’s Protego Press Weekly Round Up.
In Case You Missed It: Earlier this month, the news broke that the U.S. has been stepping up attacks on Russia’s electric grid to put pressure on President Vladimir Putin. As cyber warfare continues to develop and our adversaries improve their own capabilities, the likelihood of an organized attack on our energy infrastructure and electric grid increases. Sarah Hunt, co-founder and CEO of the Joseph Rainey Center for Public Policy, writes it is time to take grid security more seriously.
In Case You Missed It II: There is a global standoff going on about who stores your data. At the close of June’s G20 summit in Japan, a number of developing countries refused to sign an international declaration on data flows – the so-called Osaka Track. Jacqueline Hicks, a Marie-Curie Skłodowska Fellow at the University of Nottingham, writes part of the reason why countries such as India, Indonesia and South Africa boycotted the declaration was because they had no opportunity to put their own interests about data into the document.
Facebook’s Moderation Guidelines: This week, Facebook made clear that content posted by politicians on the platform won’t be fact-checked or flagged even if that content is false, misleading or violates the site’s community standards for decency. YouTube announced a similar strategy this week. Twitter did so back in June but said it would warn users if a tweet has violated the company’s policies. This is the latest answer by social media companies to the ongoing debate about how they address their role in political discourse. Not everyone is impressed, including Dave Willner, Facebook’s former head of content standard, who wrote the social network’s new stance was “foolish, wrong, and a significant betrayal of the original democratizing ideals of Facebook.”
Accessing Suspect’s Facebook and WhatsApp Messages: WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms will be forced to disclose encrypted messages from suspected terrorists, paedophiles and other serious criminals under a new treaty between the UK and the US.
Priti Patel, home secretary, will sign an agreement next month that compels US social media companies to hand over information to the police, security services and prosecutors. The data access agreement, which marks the culmination of four years of intense lobbying by the UK, is seen by Downing Street as an essential tool in the fight against terrorism and sexual abuse.
TikTok’s LGBT Ban: TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media app, has banned any content that could be seen as positive to gay people or gay rights, down to same-sex couples holding hands, even in countries where homosexuality has never been illegal. The rules were applied on top of the general moderation guidelines, first reported by the Guardian on Wednesday, which included a number of clauses that banned speech that touched on topics sensitive to China, including Tiananmen Square, Tibet and Falun Gong. ByteDance, the Beijing-based company that owns TikTok, says the moderation guidelines were replaced in May.
Net Neutrality: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said on Tuesday that the Federal Communications Commission cannot bar states from passing their own net neutrality laws, adding that the agency must review some key aspects of its 2017 repeal of rules set by the Obama administration. However, in a nearly 200-page decision, judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals largely sided with the FCC and its Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, over their decision two years ago to unwind Internet rules that required AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and other service providers to treat all Web traffic equally. The judges found “unconvincing” the arguments of a collection of tech companies, consumer advocates and government officials that had challenged the repeal.