Protego Weekly Roundup – February 20, 2019

Source: Toni Hou/Creative Commons

Welcome back!  Hopefully you return rested and ready after a President’s Day long weekend.  Between the role of AI in human rights violations, a new “Digital Gangster”, copyright laws killing the internet, robocalls and tech disclosure, we’ve got enough to catch you back up to speed in this week’s Protego Press Roundup.

In Case You Missed It: Trooper Sanders wrote a piece focusing on the implications and ramifications for technology companies when their AI advancements are used in human rights violations or genocide.   Trooper goes on to lay out several steps that companies deploying AI might consider to measure, manage, and mitigate the risks that their new AI-powered products, services, and business models could undermine human rights as well. Read more here.

Washington Post Adds New Tech Policy Editor: Mark Seibel has been named The Washington Post’s new technology policy editor. According to the Post, Mark will help supervise their expanded coverage of technology, focusing on the intersection between tech companies and government regulation, privacy and election security.  Mark joins the Post from BuzzFeed News, where he was the national security editor, having been awarded three Pulitzer Prizes, three George Polk awards and three Overseas Press Club awards.

The New Digital Gangster: After investigating Facebook’s role in spreading disinformation for the past several months, UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee issued a new report on Sunday.  The report found that “Facebook intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws” in the UK.  The report also calls for more regulation for Facebook, claiming the company can no longer govern itself, and described the company as “digital gangsters” for how it handles its users’ data.

National Policy at the Speed of Technology: In an op-ed for the SF Chronicle, Betsy Cooper, the director of the Aspen Tech Policy Hub, writes that “Silicon Valley and Washington can do more together than debate the effects of technologies on our lives. They can work together to reform the process of policy innovation itself: by incubating policy ideas.”  Can tech and policy come together? We at Protego Press believe so!

EU’s New Copyright Rules: The European Union reached an agreement on its updated Copyright Directive this week, after proposing changes to the directive last fall, reviving the debate over intellectual property rights, censorship and competition in the internet economy.  The EU’s new copyright laws will force all websites to check all posts to see if anything ever published might be a copyright violation. That will include photos, videos, words, tweets, memes, source code — you name it.  Think tanks like Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation roundly condemned the updated Copyright Directive, arguing the changes will cause censorship and reduce competition between tech platforms, citing the virtues of a “free and open internet.”

Robocall Under Fire: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has ordered phone companies to adopt new anti-robocall tech in 2019, or be prepared for “regulatory” action if carriers don’t use Caller ID authentication.  Specifically, Pai stated: “I applaud those companies that have committed to deploy the SHAKEN/STIR framework in 2019. This goal should be achievable for every major wireless provider, interconnected VoIP operator, and telephone company—and I expect those lagging behind to make every effort to catch up. If it appears major carriers won’t meet the deadline to get this done this year, the FCC will have to consider regulatory intervention.

EU targets Tech Firms with Disclosure Rules: Google, Amazon and other tech firms will have to tell companies how products are ranked on their platforms under new European Union rules agreed to Thursday.  The policy is reportedly intended to stop unfair practices among digital platforms and is targeted at Google Play, Apple App Store, Microsoft Store, Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Fnac Marketplace. Various social media companies and search engines, such as Facebook, Instagram, Skyscanner and Google Shopping, Google Search,, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, Bing, are also covered under the rules.  The regulations include prohibiting discriminatory trade practices, requiring companies to set up internal mechanisms to deal with complaints and allowing businesses to collectively sue online platforms, according to the news service.