Protego Weekly Roundup- February 27th

Here are the stories we’re following at Protego this week:

Take a look into the abyss of Facebook content moderation. For The Verge, Casey Newton delivers 7,000 words on the lives of poorly paid contract workers who spend their days policing questionable content on the world’s largest social media platform. Employees struggle with the trauma of encountering harmful content- ranging from violence to child pornography- and how to rationalize a high stress work environment as second-class citizens to the better paid Facebook employees for whom they manage the dirty work.

The US takes a swipe at Russian disinformation. Perhaps to send a signal, the United States military reportedly blocked internet access for the Russian Internet Research Agency– the famous troll farm that creates disinformation campaigns targeting Americans- on the day of the midterm elections. The move, reportedly approved directly by President Donald Trump, is seen as sending a message to the Russians that there will be a cost to election interference.

Microsoft employees reject defense work. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is in the unusual position of defending a $500 million Army contract for augmented reality hardware and applications- from critics at his own company.Reminiscent of employee pushback over defense work at companies including Google, Microsoft is under fire from employees developing the augmented reality headset Hololens. “We did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used,” an employee letter to Microsoft’s leadership reads.

Lawmakers bash technology executives on data privacy. In hearings no doubt overshadowed by the spectacle of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s appearance before the House Oversight Committee, technology executives and their representatives were slammed by lawmakers in the Senate Commerce Committee. “Much of the hearing revolved around the debate over ‘pre-emption’ – whether a federal privacy law would override state privacy laws, including California’s recent landmark law requiring websites to offer more transparency and control to users,” reports The Hill. Technology executives seemed largely in favor of the idea.

German Marshall Fund launches Digital Innovation & Democracy Initiative. At an event attended by Senator Mark Warner, GMF kicked off a new program to consider the effects of new technologies on democracy and society. “As we approach new frontiers of technology, including artificial intelligence, robotics, 5G, the Internet of Things, and bioengineering, that offer enormous societal advancement, it is critical that we also safeguard against their misuse,” the announcement read.  The program is led by Ambassador Karen Kornbluh, Senior Fellow and Director, Digital Innovation & Democracy Initiative, The German Marshall Fund of the United States and a member of the Protego masthead.

-JH

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