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Category Archives: Big Tech

Hawley to introduce bill to ‘bust up’ Big Tech, targeting companies like Google and Amazon – Fox News

Posted: April 19, 2021 at 7:17 am

Sen. Josh Hawley on Monday will introduce a billto "bust up" Big Tech, which willtarget massive companies like Google and Amazon, includingby banning them from simultaneously running an online marketplace and selling goods on that marketplace.

The bill, titled the Bust Up Big Tech Act,follows a bill Hawley introduced last week that would ban mergers of companies worth more than $100 billion, which was targeted more broadly than just at the tech industry.

Hawley's new, more focusedbill would also ban companies that ownonline marketplaces or search engines from owning online hosting services, Hawley's office told Fox News.

"Woke Big Tech companies like Google and Amazon have been coddled by Washington politicians for years. This treatment has allowed them to amass colossal amounts of power that they use to censor political opinions that they don't agree with and shut out competitors who offer consumers an alternative to the status quo," Hawley said in a statement. "It's past time to bust up Big Tech companies, restore competition, and give power back the American consumers."

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., plans to introduce a bill Monday that would ban major tech companies from selling products on an online marketplace that they run. (AP)

JOSH HAWLEY REVEALS PLAN TO BREAK UP BIG CORPORATE POWER: 'NO CORPORATION' SHOULD CONTROL POLITICS

Hawley's office provided two specific examples of what the Bust Up Big Tech Actwould do if enacted. It would ban Amazon from being able to sell Amazon-branded products on Amazon Marketplace, where its competitors also do business. The bill would also ban Amazon from simultaneously owning a large amount of the cloud computing services that many online companies use and continuing to run its ubiquitous retail business.

The bill would also give the Federal Trade Commission authority to monitor compliance with the law and allow state attorneys general and individual citizens to sue tech companies they believe are in violation of the law.

There are multiple other efforts in Congress to rein in the power of Big Tech, including from Democrats. It's unlikely Hawley's bill will be passed on its own without amendment, especially with Democrats in control of the House and Senate. But Hawleysaid he's open to working with Democrats where their interests align in battling tech companies.

"I'm willing to work with her and anybody of any party and any background," Hawley told Reuters last week when asked about a bill proposed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., that is similar to his previous legislation banning mergers for certain companies.

Amazon's dominance in both online cloud computing and online retail is being targeted by a new bill from Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. (Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Some,however, are suspicious of Hawley's efforts to regulate the tech industry, a sector that's revolutionized how Americans live.

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"[H]is claims that the industry, hasnt been a success for the American economy, dont ring true for so many Americans that are employed by or invested in these economic powerhouses, not to mention the millions of consumers who enjoy tech products,"Jessica Melugin, the director of theCompetitive Enterprise Institute's (CEI) Center for Technology and Innovation, said of Hawley's merger-banning legislation.

CEI Senior Fellow Ryan Youngcalled Hawley's broader anti-tech efforts "feel-good populism" that is "just another culture war issue."

Hawley, meanwhile, frames his effort as one aimed at bringing balance back to the American economy.

"[Amazon] should be broken up," he tweeted last week,"no one company should be able to control e-commerce AND privilege its own products on the same platform AND control the cloud."

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We need a Herbert Hoover to reel in Big Tech | TheHill – The Hill

Posted: at 7:17 am

The radio industry roared onto the American scene a century ago, filling the nations airwaves with music and news, but also with commercials, wave piracy, and technological chaos. Radio quickly affected all corners of society, changing the nature of the national conversation, how products were marketed, and speeding up cultural trends with its instantaneous reach. Radio no doubt helped make the Roaring Twenties roar. Virtually nobody listened to radio in 1920. By the late twenties, practically all Americans were tuned in.

Concerns grew for what this newfangled medium meant for the nation. Nobody really knew what kind of power was suddenly in the hands of the booming radio corporations. Into this setting rode President Coolidges Secretary of Commerce, Herbert Hoover. Hoover had a background in engineering and was fascinated by the new medium. He was also concerned about the potential influence of the electronic media and its unregulated growth.

Hoover invited scientists, educators and public service leaders to a series of conferences to study radio and its influence. These conferences set the stage for Congress to pass the Radio Act of 1927 and establish a federal agency (todays Federal Communication Commission) to oversee electronic media. The foundation of the legislation was the impact rationale, the notion that mysterious and powerful media could be so influential that the government should necessarily take a role in overseeing them on behalf of the public. Even today, radio and television broadcasters are mandated to serve the public interest, convenience and necessity.

The nation could use a Herbert Hoover today to take on Big Tech and to look out for the interests of average Americans.

Hoovers regulatory designs for the electronic media of that era were far from perfect, but at least there was some mechanism to confront technological forces on behalf of the citizenrys interests, rather than letting huge corporate interests throw their weight around with impunity.

Hoovers regulatory structure has withstood court scrutiny and the test of time. Regulations to referee political advertising on radio and TV, for example, remain today, along with controls regarding ownership. The public interest standard has been watered down, to be sure, but the FCC still rides herd on broadcasters, despite the waning influence of that industry.

Today, the Big Tech and social media giants rummage around in the nations politics and culture, getting fat financially and running amok with consumer privacy. These giants were set up largely as public forums and got the government to shield them from legal liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Thus, these tech firms avoid the responsibility of being considered publishers, as a newspaper or broadcast station would be. The problem is these Big Tech giants do act as publishers, making content decisions and anointing themselves as supreme deciders of who speaks and about what.

The Big Tech behemoths are exactly what the impact rationale was designed to corral.

Finding a regulatory framework with which to address Big Tech influence will be much more difficult than what Hoover faced in the early days of broadcasting, but somebody has to grow some guts and begin the process. Hoover, too, went into uncharted territory, unafraid to address the fast and furious influence of radio.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence ThomasClarence ThomasWe need a Herbert Hoover to reel in Big Tech Trump-era grievances could get second life at Supreme Court Joe Biden's surprising presidency MORE has issued an invitation for the next Hoover to emerge and take on Big Tech. Thomas wrote a concurring opinion as the Court recently tossed out a lower court ruling about then-President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham: 'I could not disagree more' with Trump support of Afghanistan troop withdrawal GOP believes Democrats handing them winning 2022 campaign Former GOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer resigns MORE blocking people on Twitter. He wrote about the unprecedented and concentrated control of so much speech in the hands of a few private parties. He went on to warn, We will soon have no choice but to address how our legal doctrines apply to highly concentrated, privately owned information infrastructure such as digital platforms.

The key for the Supreme Court will be to assess the First Amendment rights of Big Tech bullies to control and manage the flow of information in a democracy versus the rights of regular Americans to have a true public sphere in which citizens fuel the dialogue of the nation. Jumping into this fray is Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, who announced this month he is investigating how Big Tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter may be harming Indiana consumers through practices Rokita calls abusive and unfair. Rokita, a Republican, is mostly concerned with the suppression of conservative points of view, of course, but his concern for the interests of tech consumers is noteworthy.

Rokita will need a bigger army to make any headway. One Attorney General from a Midwestern state will have trouble finding traction. But Justice Thomas has helped set the stage for the battle against Big Tech. He just needs to find enough would-be Hoovers to throw some punches, knowing they will probably be de-platformed in the process.

Jeffrey McCall is a media critic and professor of communication at DePauw University. He has worked as a radio news director, a newspaper reporter and as a political media consultant. Follow him on Twitter@Prof_McCall.

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OPINION | Congressional probe reveals Big Tech deception | Op-Ed | livingstonparishnews.com – The Livingston Parish News

Posted: at 7:17 am

Big Techs battle against disinformation can start with a long look in the mirror.

While tech executives have often warned that unfounded claims on social media damage our democracy, theyve been the loudest peddlers of misinformation against Parler, an up-and-coming social media platform.

Corporate executives at Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook all claimed Parler did nothing to stop the riots at the United States Capitol. This was their justification for effectively de-platforming Parler and its 15 million users. These claims even became the foundation of a Congressional investigation into Parlers role during the riots.

The investigations findings so far are bad for Big Tech and vindication for the small startup.

In a letter to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Parler revealed that it was monitoring users to identify potential threats, despite claims from Big Tech executives that Parler failed to moderate content. Not only did Parler identify dangerous content, but it also warned the FBI more than 50 times about potential threats against the Capitol.

Parler also highlighted the arrest records from the Department of Justice showing that Facebook was mentioned by alleged rioters nearly 11 times more often than Parler. YouTube, a product of Google, and Instagram, a product of Facebook, received more than double the mentions of Parler, as did Twitter.

The reality is the opposite of the narrative that Big Tech corporations quickly spun after Jan. 6. At the time, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg speculated -- without evidence that small platforms like Parler were the platforms of choice for the rioters. Google and Apple cited Parler's alleged failure to moderate content as the justification for its removal.

Why did these corporations each take steps to disparage and de-platform Parler when their own platforms were just as culpable if not more?

There are both profit and ideological motives. Big Tech, which overwhelmingly donates to left-wing politicians, could kill two birds with one stone by snuffing out the platform of choice for many conservatives.

Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon each spread disinformation about Parler to justify its elimination from the internet. Yet Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are all still on the Apple app store. (YouTube, conveniently, has returned to the top of the charts.)

As a reminder: The decisions to purge Parler were made in a single weekend. Somehow, three massive tech companies, their lawyers, and public relations staff each managed to make these independent decisions within 48 hours. Coincidence or conspiracy? We may never know.

We can, however, find out if there are better ways to prevent social media from being used to coordinate riots in the future. But we can only find these answers if the largest social media websites are investigated by Congress, as well. Parler asked Congress to include Facebook, Google, and Twitter in its investigation. Congress should follow the advice.

If Big Tech wants companies to be punished for failing to moderate content, then lets have that discussion. Google-owned YouTube failed for years to adequately moderate creepy comments on child videos. The New York Times called the platform an open gate for pedophiles. Twitter was sued in January for failing to remove child pornography. A full accounting of Big Techs culpability on this and other matters is needed.

If the Democrat-led House Oversight Committee wants to prove its investigation into Parler is a serious effort to stop future misdeeds rather than a punitive exercise against a right-leaning company based on misinformation from its competitors, it must expand its investigation to include Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Then, perhaps, we can find a fair standard that we can apply to all companies big and small.

Richard Berman is the executive director of the American Security Institute, a nonprofit responsible for ChallengeCensorship.com.

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OPINION | Congressional probe reveals Big Tech deception | Op-Ed | livingstonparishnews.com - The Livingston Parish News

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From Privacy To Antitrust, Regulatory Scrutiny Of Big Tech Is Growing. What Does This Mean For Digital Advertising? – Forbes

Posted: at 7:17 am

Digital Ethics & Privacy

Despite the United States seeing an overall decline of over 32% in economic growth in 2020, share prices among tech giants soared and profits saw a boost compared to the year before. And yet, antitrust concerns and a growing emphasis on privacy have proliferated, leading to probes, lawsuits, and infrastructural changes.

To understand the implications this holds for the future of digital advertising, I spoke with Gowthaman Gman Ragothaman, Chief Executive Officer at Aqilliz, a first of its kind technological infrastructure that ensures privacy-compliant personalization.

In addition to his time at Aqilliz, Gman cemented his career in the traditional advertising industry for over two decades at the WPP group of companies. Leveraging his passion for privacy and his expertise, we also looked at new data from Prosper Insights & Analytics 2021 survey on privacy attitudes and concerns among US consumers which involved over 17,000 respondents segmented across boomers, gen-X, millennials, and gen-Z.

Gary Drenik: Much has been said about the dominance of big tech in the digital advertising ecosystem. Tell us more about the market dynamics in this area.

Gowthaman Ragothaman: What were seeing today is a very crowded content landscape where consumers are constantly bombarded with marketing messages. Brands then rely on personalization to get in front of the right audiences at the right time. To gain access to these audiences, brands and advertisers have come to rely on platforms which has led to the rise of walled gardens. However, regulators are enacting new frameworks that demand a more stringent approach to how consumer data is collected, used, and shared with and by advertisers.

Meanwhile, consumers then contend with uncannily accurate ads or irrelevant marketing messages. In fact, according to a survey from Prosper Insights & Analytics, disdain was equally expressed among boomers, gen-X, millennials, and gen-Z consumers in response to whether they liked it when advertisers used their personal data for audience targeting and personalization. Boomers and gen-X consumers expressed the most negativity with over 80% and over 63% respectively, against the practice.

Prosper - Advertisers Who Buy Personal Data

There are two fallouts from these developments, which are now seeking a correction:

Drenik: Walled gardens are distinguished for their large-scale repositories of consumer data. Is there a future for digital advertising without the dominance of these players?

Ragothaman: Consumer consent is the new mantra. More than a future beyond the dominance of big walled gardens, the focus should be self-regulation. With the incoming elimination of third-party cookies by 2022 on Google Chrome, brands have been forced to rethink their targeting strategies. With Apples latest IDFA updates on its mobile devices, one would expect that Android would follow suit as well.

In anticipation, were already beginning to see the formation of publisher-driven first-party data pools. In an ideal scenario, publishers will work together as part of a broader consortium, allowing brands to address ethically obtained first-party data points rather than navigating disparate data repositories.

Drenik: Google announced that it would not be supporting "independent user level identifiers". What will this mean for brands and consumers?

Ragothaman: In my view, Googles announcement to move to aggregated insights via cohorts rather than user-level identifiers are a step in the right direction. However, we still dont know how this will play out. For one, it was recently revealed that Googles Federated Learning of Cohorts model couldnt run in countries where GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive are in effect. Despite this being an alternative that supposedly offers greater privacy for users, regulators are arguing that it isnt enough.

We need to strike a balance between privacy and profit, and this trade-off significantly varies between markets therein lies the challenge for platforms in developing common standards and technologies. Theres also the issue of the omnichannel customer journey. In fact, Prosper Insights & Analytics found that across all generations, the opposition to the use of cross-channel data to personalize ads is significant. Despite their preference for authentic messaging, even 56.3% of gen-Z consumers stated they were against the practice, along with 64.7% of gen-X consumers.

Prosper - Attitudes Towards Use of Personal Data

There are new terms like Privacy Budget that are being talked about but one thing is for sure: independent user level identification will give way to cohort level communication for a large part of advertising unless and until there is explicit consent from that individual that he or she would like to receive promotional communications and they can be tracked.

Drenik: Is there a promising "universal ID" solution out there that can be adopted just yet?

Ragothaman: The concept of a universal ID is a big one. Cookies were free and they did not carry any liability on behalf of the participants in the digital supply chain on consumer preferences or consent. They were just free and open source. What is expected now is a universal ID which is not free and is capable of capturing and carrying consumer consent across the digital supply chain. At Aqilliz, we are working on a solution to address this - providing an approach to cookieless identifiers for a collaborative, compliant data sharing network.

Drenik: Should brands and advertisers better communicate their privacy-oriented initiatives to consumers?

Ragothaman: Information asymmetry on privacy is still an issue. According to a recent Prosper Insights & Analytics survey, an average of 66.6% of consumers across all generations are in favor of legislation that prevents technology companies selling their personal data to advertisers. Among them, boomers felt most strongly about the issue with almost 80% of all respondents in favor of more privacy-oriented measures.

I wont be surprised if some brands decide to take a high ground on this and self-regulate themselves by declaring their privacy standards. As such, were beginning to see an approach similar to nutrition labels which brands can provide to keep their customers informed.

Drenik: Theres been several data collection initiatives as part of public health strategies during the pandemic. Why do you think some people have been hesitant to part with their personal data for this, yet we all seem content to share our information online?

Ragothaman: Privacy is poorly understood. The language around consent is often hidden in greatly overlooked terms and conditions. Beyond accessibility barriers, theres also significant variations in cultural understandings of privacy which results in fragmented regulatory guidelines in disparate geographies. What this shows is a dire need for standardization in this space. In my view, when such initiatives are structured properly with concerted outreach to educate the consumer, there has been very little resistance.

Drenik: Thank you, Gman this was certainly an eye-opening discussion on the challenges that brands, consumers, and platforms are all contending with in an increasingly digital-first age. As new regulatory milestones continue to unfold across the globe, American businesses need to take these into account given the borderless nature of the digital landscape. To read my previous Forbes articles on changing consumer behavior, predictive analytics, machine learning, data privacy and more, please click here.

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How Big Tech’s disruption of finance is a threat to us all – MarketWatch

Posted: at 7:17 am

BERKELEY, Calif. (Project Syndicate)In 2009, in the midst of the global financial crisis,Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve chair, famouslyobservedthat the only socially productive financial innovation of the preceding 20 years was the automated teller machine. One wonders what Volcker would make of the tsunami of digitally enabled financial innovations today, from mobile payment platforms to internet banking and peer-to-peer lending.

Volcker might be reassured: like the humble ATM, many of these innovations have tangible benefits in terms of lowering transactions costs.

But as a critic of big financial firms, Volcker presumably also would worry about the entry of some very large technology companies into the sector. Their names are as familiar as their services are ubiquitous: e-commerce behemoth Amazon AMZN, +0.60% in the United States, messaging company Kakao 035720, in Korea, online auction and commerce platform Mercado Libre MELI, -0.48% in Latin America, and the Chinese technology giants Alibaba BABA, -0.17% and Tencent 700, -0.79%.

In an old parable about banks and regulators, the banks are greyhoundsthey run very fastwhile the regulators are bloodhounds, slow afoot but faithfully on the trail. In the age of the platform economy, the bloodhounds are at risk of losing the scent.

These entities now do virtually everything related to finance. Amazon extends loans to small and medium-size businesses. Kakao offers the full range of banking services. Alibabas Ant Financial and Tencents WeChat provide a cornucopia of financial products, having expanded so rapidly that they recently became targets of a Chinese governmentcrackdown.

The challenges for regulators are obvious. Where a single company channels payments for the majority of a countrys population, as does M-Pesa in Kenya, for example, its failure could crash the entire economy. Regulators must therefore pay close attention to operational risks. They must worry about the protection of customer datanot just financial data but also other personal data to which Big Tech companies are privy.

Breaking news: Partisan battle brews over granting crypto, other firms new fintech banking charters

Moreover, the Big Tech firms, because of their ability to harvest and analyze data on consumer preferences, have an enhanced ability to target their customers behavioral biases. If those biases cause some borrowers to take on excessive risk, Big Tech will have little reason to care if it is merely providing technology and expertise to a partner bank. This moral hazard is why Chinese regulators now require the countrys Big Techs touse their own balance sheetsto fund 30% of any loan extended via co-lending partnerships.

Governments also have laws and regulations to prevent providers of financial products from discriminating on the basis of race, gender, ethnicity, and religion. The challenge here is distinguishing between price discrimination based on group characteristics and price discrimination based on risk.

Traditionally, regulators require credit providers to list the variables that form the basis for lending decisions so that the regulators can determine whether the variables include prohibited group characteristics. And they require lenders to specify the weights attached to the variables so that they can establish whether lending decisions are uncorrelated with ethnic or racial characteristics once conditioned on those other measures.

But as Big Tech companies artificial intelligence-based algorithms replace loan officers, the variables and weights will be changing continuously with the arrival of new data points. Its not obvious that regulators can keep up.

In algorithmic processes, moreover, thesource of bias can vary. The data used to train the algorithm may be biased. Alternatively, the training itself may be biased, with the AI algorithm learning to use the data in biased ways. Given the black-box nature of algorithmic processes, the location of the problem israrely clear.

Finally, there are risks to competition. Banks and fintechs rely on cloud-computing services operated by the Big Tech firms, rendering them dependent on their most formidable competitors. Big Techs can also cross-subsidize their financial businesses, which are only a small part of what they do. By providing a range of interlocking services, they can prevent their customers from switching providers.

Regulators have responded with open banking rules requiring financial firms to share their customer data with third parties when customers consent. They have authorized the use of application programming interfaces that allow third-party providers to plug directly into financial websites to obtain customer data.

It is not clear that this is enough. Big Techs can use their platforms to generate large amounts of customer data, employ it in training their AI algorithms, and identify high-quality loans more efficiently than competitors lacking the same information. Customers may be able to move their financial data to another bank or fintech, but what about their nonfinancial data? What about the algorithm that has been trained up using ones data and that of other customers? Without this, digital banks and fintechs wont be able to price and target their services as efficiently as the Big Techs. Problems of consumer lock-in and market dominance wont be overcome.

In an old parable about banks and regulators, the banks are greyhoundsthey run very fast. The regulators are bloodhounds, slow afoot but faithfully on the trail. In the age of the platform economy, the bloodhounds are going to have to pick up the pace. Given that only three central banks report havingdedicated fintech departments, there is reason to worry that they will lose the scent.

This commentary was published with permission of Project SyndicateThe Challenge of Big Tech Finance.

Barry Eichengreen is professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former senior policy adviser at the International Monetary Fund.He is the author of many books, includingThe Populist Temptation: Economic Grievance and Political Reaction in the Modern Era.

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How Big Tech's disruption of finance is a threat to us all - MarketWatch

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Big Tech is pushing states to pass privacy laws, and yes, you should be suspicious – The Next Web

Posted: at 7:17 am

Concerned about growing momentum behind efforts to regulate the commercial use of personal data, Big Tech has begun seeding watered-down privacy legislation in states with the goal of preempting greater protections, experts say.

The swift passage in March of a consumer data privacy law in Virginia, which Protocol reported was originally authored by Amazon with input from Microsoft, is emblematic of an industry-driven, lobbying-fueled approach taking hold across the country. The Markup reviewed existing and proposed legislation, committee testimony, and lobbying records in more than 20 states and identified 14states with privacy bills built upon the same industry-backed framework as Virginias, or with weaker models. The bills are backed by a whos who of Big Techfunded interest groups and are being shepherded through statehouses by waves of company lobbyists.

Meanwhile, the small handful of bills that have not adhered to two key industry demandsthat companies cant be sued for violations and consumers would have to opt out of rather than into trackinghave quickly died in committee or been rewritten.

Experts say Big Techs push to pass friendly state privacy bills ramped up after California enacted sweeping privacy bills in 2018 and 2020and that the ultimate goal is to prompt federal legislation that would potentially override Californias privacy protections.

The effort to push through weaker bills is to demonstrate to businesses and to Congress that there are weaker options, said Ashkan Soltani, a former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission who helped author the California legislation. Nobody saw Virginia coming. That was very much an industry-led effort by Microsoft and Amazon. At some point, if multiple states go the way of Virginia, you might not even get companies to honor Californias [rules].

Californias laws, portions of which dont go into effect until 2023, create what is known as a global opt out. Rather than every website requiring users to go through separate opt-out processes, residents can use internet browsers and extensions that automatically notify every website that a user wishes to opt out of the sale of their personal data or use of it for targeted advertisingand companies must comply. The lawsalso allow consumers to sue companies for violations of the laws security requirements and created the California Privacy Protection Agency to enforce the states rules.

Setting up these weak foundations is really damaging and really puts us in a worse direction on privacy in the U.S., said Hayley Tsukayama, a legislative activist for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Every time that one of these bills passes, Virginia being a great example, people are saying This is the model you should be looking at, not California.

Amazon did not respond to requests for comment, and Microsoft declined to answer specific questions on the record.

Industry groups, however, were not shy about their support for the Virginia law and copycats around the country.

The Virginia law is a business and consumer friendly approach that other states considering privacy legislation should align with, The Internet Association, an industry group that represents Big Tech, wrote in a statement to The Markup.

In testimony before lawmakers, tech lobbyists have criticized the state-by-state approach of making privacy legislation and said they would prefer a federal law. Tech companies offered similar statements to The Markup.

Google spokesperson Jos Castaeda declined to answer questions but emailed The Markup a statement: As we make privacy and security advancements to protect consumers, well continue to advocate for sensible data regulations around the world, including strong, comprehensive federal privacy legislation in the U.S.

But at the same time, the tech and ad industries have taken a hands-on approach to shape state legislation. Mostly, industry has advocated for two provisions. The first is an opt-out approach to the sale of personal data or using it for targeted advertising, which means that tracking is on by default unless the customer finds a way to opt out of it. Consumer advocates prefer privacy to be the default setting, with users given the freedom to opt in to certain uses of their data. The second industry desire is preventing a private right of action, which would allow consumers to sue for violations of the laws.

The industry claims such privacy protections are too extreme.

That may be a bonanza for the trial bar, but it will not be good for business, said Dan Jaffe, group executive vice president for government relations for the Association of National Advertisers, which has lobbied heavily in states and helped write model federal legislation. TechNet, another Big Tech industry group that has been deeply engaged in lobbying state lawmakers, said that enormous litigation costs for good faith mistakes could be fatal to businesses of all sizes.

Through lobbying records, recordings of public testimony, and interviews with lawmakers, The Markup found direct links between industry lobbying efforts and the proliferation of these tech-friendly provisions in Connecticut, Florida, Oklahoma, and Washington. And in Texas, industry pressure has shaped an even weaker bill.

Protocol has previously documented similar efforts in Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, and Minnesota.

Additionally, The Markup found a handful of statesparticularly North Dakota and Oklahomain which tech lobbyists have stepped in to thwart efforts to enact stricter laws.

The path of Connecticuts bill is illustrative of how these battles have played out. There, state Senate majority leader Bob Duff introduced a privacy bill in 2020 that contained a private right of action. During the bills public hearing last February, Duff said he looked out on a room literally filled with every single lobbyist Ive ever known in Hartford, hired by companies to defeat the bill.

The legislation failed. Duff introduced a new version of it in 2021, and it too died in committee following testimony from interest groups funded by Big Tech, including the Internet Association and The Software Alliance.

According to Duff and Sen. James Maroney, who co-chairs the Joint Committee on General Law, those groups are now pushing a separate privacy bill, written using the Virginia law as a template. Duff said lawmakers had a Zoom one day with a lot of big tech companies to go over the bills language.

Our legislative commissioner took the Virginia language and applied Connecticut terminology, Maroney said.

That industry-backed bill passed through committee unanimously on March 23.

Its an uphill battle because youre fighting a lot of forces on many fronts, Duff said. Theyre well funded, theyre well heeled, and they just hire a lot of lobbyists to defeat legislation for the simple reason that theres a lot of money in online data.

Google has spent $100,000 lobbying in Connecticut since 2019, when Duff first introduced a consumer data privacy bill. Apple and Microsoft have each spent $124,000, Amazon has spent $116,000, and Facebook has spent $155,000, according to the states lobbyist reporting database.

Microsoft declined to answer questions and instead emailed The Markup links to the testimony its company officials gave in Virginia and Washington.

The Virginia model is a thoughtful approach to modernize United States privacy law, something which has become a very urgent need, Ryan Harkins, the companys senior director of public policy, said during one hearing.

Google declined to respond to The Markups questions about their lobbying. Apple and Amazon did not respond to requests for comment.

In Oklahoma, Rep. Collin Walke, a Democrat, and Rep. Josh West, the Republican majority leader, co-sponsored a bill that would have banned businesses from selling consumers personal data unless the consumers specifically opted in and gave consumers the right to sue for violations. Walke told The Markup that the bipartisan team found themselves up against an army of lobbyists from companies including Facebook, Amazon, and leading the effort, AT&T.

AT&T lobbyists persuaded House leadership to delay the bills scheduled March2 hearing, Walke said. For the whole next 24-hour period, lobbyists were pulling members off the house floor and whipping them.

Walke said to try to get the bill through the Senate, he agreed to meetings with Amazon, internet service providers, and local tech companies, eventually adopting a Virginia-esque bill. But certain companies remained resistantWalke declined to specify which onesand the bill died without receiving a hearing.

AT&T did not respond to questions about its actions in Oklahoma or other states where it has fought privacy legislation. Walke said he plans to reintroduce the modified version of the bill again next session.

In Texas, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione first introduced a privacy bill in 2019. He told The Markup he was swiftly confronted by lobbyists from Amazon, Facebook, Google, and industry groups representing tech companies. The state then created a committee to study data privacy, which was populated in large part by industry representatives.

Facebook declined to answer questions on the record for this story.

Capriglione introduced another privacy bill in 2021, but given Texass conservative nature, he said, and the previous pushback, it doesnt include any opt-in or opt-out requirement or a private right of action. But he has still received pushback from industry over issues like how clear and understandable website privacy policies have tobe.

The ones that were most interested were primarily the big tech companies, he said. I received significant opposition to making any changes to the status quo.

The privacy bill furthest along of all pending bills is in Washington, the home state of Microsoft and Amazon. The Washington Privacy Act was first introduced in 2019 and was the inspiration for Virginias law. Microsoft, Amazon, and more recently Google, have all testified in favor of the bill. It passed the state Senate 481 in March.

A House committee considering the bill has proposed an amendment that would create a private right of action, but it is unclear whether that will survive the rest of the legislative process.

Other statesIllinois, Kentucky, Alabama, Alaska, and Coloradohave Virgina-like bills under consideration. State representative Michelle Mussman, the sponsor of a privacy bill in Illinois, and state representative Lisa Willner, the sponsor of a bill in Kentucky, told The Markup that they had not consulted with industry or made privacy legislation their priority during 2021, but when working with legislative staff to author the bills they eventually put forward, they looked to other states for inspiration. The framework they settled on was significantly similar to Virginias on key points, according to The Markups analysis.

The sponsors of bills in Alabama, Alaska, and Colorado did not respond to interview requests, and public hearing testimony or lobbying records in those states were not yet available.

In North Dakota, lawmakers in January introduced a consumer data privacy bill that a coalition of advertising organizations called the most restrictive privacy law in the United States. It would have included an opt-in framework, a private right of action, and broad definitions of the kind of data and practices subject to the law.

It failed 7519 in the House shortly after a public hearing in which only AT&T, data broker RELX, and industry groups like The Internet Association, TechNet, and the State Privacy and Security Coalition showed up to testifyall in opposition. And while the big tech companies didnt directly testify on the bill, lobbying records suggest they exerted influence in other ways.

The 20202021 lobbyist filing period in North Dakota, which coincided with the legislatures study and hearing on the bill, marked the first time Amazon has registered a lobbyist in the state since 2018 and the first time Apple and Google have registered lobbyists since the state began publishing lobbying disclosures in 2016, according to state lobbying records.

A Mississippi bill containing a private right of action met a similar fate. The bills sponsor, Sen. Angela Turner-Ford, did not respond to an interview request.

While in Florida, a bill that was originally modeled after Californias laws has been the subject of intense industry lobbying both in public and behind the scenes. On April 6, a Florida Senate committee voted to remove the private right of action, leaving a bill substantially similar to Virginias. State senator Jennifer Bradley, the sponsor of Floridas bill, did not respond to The Markups request for comment.

Several bills that include opt-in frameworks, private rights of action, and other provisions that experts say make for strong consumer protection legislation are beginning to make their way through statehouses in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. It remains to be seen whether those bills current protections can survive the influence of an industry keen to set the precedent for expected debate over a federal privacy law.

If the model that passed in Virginia and is moving forward in other states continues to win out, it will really hamstring federal lawmakers ability to do anything stronger, which is really concerning considering how weak [that model] is, said Jennifer Lee, the technology and liberty project manager for the ACLU of Washington. I think it really will entrench the status quo in allowing companies to operate under the guise of privacy protections that arent actually that protective.

This article by Todd Feathers was originally published on The Markup and was republished under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license.

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Which of the 5 Biggest Tech Companies Is the Best Buy Now? – The Motley Fool

Posted: at 7:17 am

When it comes to big-cap tech stocks, there are five companies that tower over the rest:Apple(NASDAQ:AAPL),Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN),Facebook(NASDAQ:FB),Microsoft(NASDAQ:MSFT), andAlphabet(NASDAQ:GOOGL)(NASDAQ:GOOG). In thisFool Livevideo clip,recorded on April 8, Fool.com contributors Matt Frankel, CFP, and Jason Hall, along with chief growth officer Anand Chokkavelu, discuss why each is such an impressive business now.

Anand Chokkavelu: I'll take the first one with Facebook. We talk a lot about the power of investing in platforms, and quite simply, Facebook may have the largest platform in the world. With Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram, as the No. 1, No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 social media networks in the world. Only Alphabet's YouTube at No. 2 breaks its ranks. With those platforms, Facebook can and does layer on things like sub-communities, person-to-person transactions, small business support, e-commerce, and with Oculus virtual reality. It's a buffet of monetization options as we go along. Matt, I think you've got Apple.

Matt Frankel:Yeah. These are five companies that really don't need introductions. When it comes to consumer electronics, it's really Apple, and then there's everyone else. There are over a billion people around the world that use the iPhone. Apple practically invented the tablet-computing market. Did you know that there are less than 200,000 tablets sold worldwide in total before the iPad, and seven million in the iPad's first year? They pretty much invented that market. The Apple Watch and the Mac laptops and desktops are pretty much considered to be the best in their respective product categories. The service business, it's just strengthening their ecosystem so much over the past few years and still has a ton of room to grow. With almost $200 billion in cash and investments, Apple has a ton of money to either innovate or acquire as it sees fit. Their numbers are just staggering, over $100 billion of revenue in the last quarter. So Apple and everybody else is really how I would categorize most consumer electronics companies.

Chokkavelu:Right on. Jason, you've got Amazon.

Jason Hall: Amazon, I think it's hard to not describe it as just a really interesting company, because we think of them as this massive e-commerce brand, which they are. They're one of the largest e-commerce companies in the world. The data looks like they recently became America's largest clothing retailer, which for a lot of us came out of nowhere. They're one of America's largest supermarket chains when they bought Whole Foods, and they've continued to expand their offerings there. They're one of America's largest Cloud services providers. But I think one of the interesting things about Amazon's secrets to success and to growth is the company's found that by being its own first best customer, it can unlock lots of other things. You think about Fulfilled by Amazon. This is a service that works well for its third-parties and also works well for Amazon, because it's its first best customer and its fulfillment centers. Then you think about Amazon Web Services, it's the same thing. Amazon was its best customer for cloud services, and now we have AWS. I think when you look at Amazon's future and you think about its potential, things like telehealth. If telehealth is going to work out for Amazon as a big commercial bet, it's going to be because Amazon becomes its own first best customer for its internal needs, and then is able to leverage that for meaningful profit. I think to me that's the big thing that really sums up Amazon.

Chokkavelu:Matt with Microsoft.

Frankel: Without Microsoft, you probably wouldn't be seeing me right now. I'm doing this on a Windows PC, and I'm reading my notes off of a Word document. So this wouldn't be going on right now if it weren't for Microsoft. They're famous, like I said, for their Windows operating system and its Office productivity tools, both of which are dominant in their markets and are really almost insulated from competition risk at this point. Microsoft, they also have the LinkedIn social network, they have the Azure Cloud platform, which is gaining market share on Amazon. Anyone who gains market share on Amazon is pretty impressive in my book. Also a large presence in the gaming industry with their Xbox consoles, a lot of other computing hardware they offer such as their tablets. Very profitable company. Currently has over $130 billion of cash. Like Apple, really deep-pocketed company to grow through acquisitions or innovation as they see fit, and expecting over $160 billion of revenue. What can you really say about Microsoft? Out of all the viewers, I'm willing to bet that over half of them are watching this using Microsoft products.

Chokkavelu:Right on. The last one before we get to the really fun stuff, Jason with Alphabet.

Hall: Most people know what is Google. Do you guys believe it's been over five years ago now since the company changed its name to Alphabet? But that's still the core business, it remains really important, generated over $100 billion in revenue last year. But you also have YouTube, which interestingly enough, a lot of people might not remember back, YouTube was an acquisition that originally Google made, but you combine it, and that's $124 billion in revenue between Google and YouTube, and its ad revenues that continue to drive this business. You also have Google Cloud. It's been surprising how late to the party Google has been, Alphabet has been, in terms of Cloud services, because this is a company that was built in the Cloud. This was maybe the first Cloud company in terms of the kind of scale that we think about, but they've really seemed to have turned on the engines there to be a real player in the Cloud. Google Cloud and YouTube are really fast-growing. They have a lot of ground to make up to make them as relevant as Google search is. But the end of the day, you think about Google, you're thinking about "other bets," you're thinking about its ability to find something that's going to be the something next. Do we think it's going to happen? We hope so. I know management hopes so, because that's where the company is trying to find its new big winners. Honestly, it's been a long time since they came out with the next big winner.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the official recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. Were motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Section 230 Under Assault: Its Not Just a Big Tech Problem – JD Supra

Posted: at 7:17 am

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) is once again at the center of a major political debate, with momentum building for an overhaul of the statute that many view as having served a critical role in the rise of big tech and social media. On March 25, the heads of the big tech trio Facebook, Google and Twitter testified before the House Commerce Committee, defending their Internet platforms against fierce attacks from lawmakers on both sides on the companies content moderation policies and practices. While the Democrats and Republicans may differ on the nature of the shortcomings of Section 230, there appears to be a growing consensus among lawmakers that Congress should take action to make big tech accountable for conduct taking place on their platforms.

Section 230, which was passed in 1996 when the Internet was still in its infancy, provides online platforms, such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, immunity1 against a range of laws for third-party user-generated content (UGC) hosted or published on their platforms. It was the intent of Congress to promote the free exchange of information and ideas over the Internet and to encourage voluntary monitoring for offensive or obscene material. Carafano v. Metrosplash.com, Inc., 339 F.3d 1119, 1122 (9th Cir. 2003). Congress recognized that online platforms did not serve the function of a publisher itself, but were merely the conduit for such information. Congress was concerned that tort-based lawsuits could chill speech and innovation in the new and burgeoning Internet medium and that imposing tort liability on intermediaries was simply another form of intrusive government regulation of speech. Zeran v. America Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir. 1997).

In particular, the Section 230 debate centers on two substantive provisions:

(1) Section 230(c)(1) states that a provider or user of an interactive computer service (e.g., an online platform or, Internet service provider) is not deemed to be the publisher or speaker of UGC. In essence, this removes the legal responsibilities that would ordinarily fall on publishers shoulders with regard to third-party content, such as claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, negligence, false advertising and unfair competition. See Carafano, 339 F.3d at 1122 (Internet publishers are treated differently from corresponding publishers in print, television and radio).

To put this into present context, in instances where UGC is published online touting fake COVID-19 vaccines or dangerous Tide Pod challenges, or promoting violence and hate speech, the online publishers essentially bear no civil responsibility for publishing such content. And, indeed, this lack of accountability is giving lawmakers heartburn. Your platforms are my biggest fear as a parent, noted Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) during the March 25 hearing.

(2) Section 230(c)(2) states that a provider or user of an interactive computer service shall not be held liable where it voluntarily takes action in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that it considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.

While this seems straightforward at first glance, both the phrases otherwise objectionable and good faith are undefined in the statute and have drawn the ire of many critics, with some arguing that online platforms interpret the statute broadly to justify their politically motivated actions.

The Department of Justice conducted a review of Section 230 in 2020 and recommended, among other things, to (i) replace vague terminology for the catch-all otherwise objectionable language and (ii) clarify the meaning of good faith as it should encourage platforms to be more transparent and accountable to their users, rather than hide behind blanket Section 230 protections.2 In September 2020, the Justice Department submitted draft legislation to Congress on behalf of the Trump administration based on such recommendation.

Courts have grappled with statutory interpretation as well. The Ninth Circuit in Enigma Software Group USA, LLC v. Malwarebytes, Inc. held that providers do not have unfettered discretion to declare online content objectionable and that blocking and filtering decisions that are driven by anticompetitive animus are not entitled to immunity under section 230(c)(2). 946 F.3d 1040, 1049 (9th Cir. 2019).

In contrast, in February, the Second Circuit in Domen v. Vimeo unanimously sided with the defendant for unilaterally removing videos that it deemed to be in violation of the platforms own policy of posting videos that harass, incite hatred or include discriminatory or defamatory speech. Plaintiffs sued under a number of state laws for censorship, and Vimeo obtained dismissal of the claims under CDA immunity grounds. The Second Circuit affirmed the district courts decision, noting that 230(c)(2) is a broad provision that bars liability where online providers restrict access to content that they consider objectionable (emphasis in the original) 2021 WL 922749 (2d Cir. March 11, 2021).

While the recent debate on Section 230 has generally been focused on big techs lack of adequate content moderation or overly aggressive content moderation, brands have a major stake in any Section 230 reforms due to the brands increasing reliance on social media platforms and UGC on their own digital channels to communicate with their customers and promote their products.

First, Section 230 impacts brand safety and awareness. Online platforms earn billions of dollars annually displaying brand advertisements on their sites. Those premium ads may be placed on pages or forums touting fake news, inciting violence or promoting illicit conduct. These practices can harm trusted brands, which consumers may associate with the harmful content. Society takes a hit as well, with consumers believing the content is valid simply because a trusted brand appears to endorse it. Accordingly, changes in Section 230 may impact how brands advertise on online platforms in the future.

Second, brands may be entitled to qualified immunity under Section 230 as a provider of an interactive computer service. When a brand allows its customers to post product reviews on its website or participate in any UGC promotion hosted by the brand, the brand could arguably be deemed to be a provider of an interactive computer service to the extent that it is merely acting as a platform without adopting any content posted by the customers. In fact, in a famous case involving a UGC promotion conducted by Quiznos in 2010, Quiznos claimed Section 230 immunity to combat Subways false advertising claims relating to an online contest hosted on Quiznos website where contestants posted UGC videos comparing the two chains sandwiches. Doctors Associates, Inc. v. QIP Holders LLC, 2010 WL 669870 (D. Conn. Feb. 19, 2010). Subway did not challenge Quiznos claim that it was a provider of an interactive computer service; instead, the dispute centered on whether Quiznos was actively responsible for the creation and development of disparaging representations about Subway in the UGC, which the court said was a question for the jury. The case settled out of court without answering this question.

Section 230 is arguably one of the most important pieces of Internet legislation that has hastened the exponential growth of the Internet and digital advertising. Brands and the advertising industry have both benefited and suffered from the broad immunity available under Section 230. However, with the rising chorus of politicians and consumer advocacy groups demanding Section 230 reforms after a tumultuous year of disinformation and misinformation mayhem online, the future of Section 230 in its current form is uncertain. Any amendments to Section 230 could have a significant impact on how both big tech and brands conduct business as they re-evaluate such risks.

Special thanks to Manatt transactional associate Kendrick Coq for contributing valuable time and research assistance to this article.

1. Section 230(e) expressly provides that its immunity provisions will not apply to (1) federal criminal laws, (2) intellectual property laws, (3) any state law that is consistent with Section 230, (4) the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, and (5) certain civil actions or state prosecutions where the underlying conduct violates specified federal laws prohibiting sex trafficking.

2. Section 230Nurturing Innovation or Fostering Unaccountability? U.S. Department of Justice, June 2020 (available at https://www.justice.gov/file/1286331/download).

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GZERO VIDEO: The climate cost of big tech’s space obsession – The Straits Times

Posted: at 7:17 am

NEW YORK (GZERO MEDIA) - Should wealthy individuals and nations concentrate on the Earth instead of space?

Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert says that technology leaders like Mr Jeff Bezos and Mr Elon Musk should shift more of their focus to fighting for our own planet's survival, instead of space exploration.

"We're doing as much as we can to make life difficult on planet Earth for ourselves. But there's virtually nothing we could do to make it as difficult as life on Mars, where there's, among other things, no oxygen," said Ms Kolbert.

The two tech tycoons have stepped up space exploration efforts at a time when calls for further investments to protect the environment are going up.

According to The Guardian, Mr Bezos has to sell US$1 billion (S$1.33 billion) of Amazon stock annually to fund his space exploration company, Blue Origin, while Mr Musk's SpaceX was this week awarded with a US$2.9 billion contract to put humans on the moon.

Speaking toAmerican political scientist Ian Bremmer about the impact of the developing world on climate change, Ms Kolbert said that equity is an enormous issue and one of the great challenges of trying to imagine a way through to 2100.

She added that the United States must lead the way in countering climate change alongside developing countries.

"If we want to meet, for example, the target set by the UN, the changes need to happen in those parts of the world that are the big emitters... The US is the single biggest emitter in a historical sense... And we (America) have to show that there are different ways of developing," she said.

The conversation comes just days ahead of US President Joe Biden's live-streamed virtual Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22 and 23, involving nearly 40 world leaders.

This GZERO media video is being shown here as part of a media partnership agreement with The Straits Times.

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Republican’s ‘Big Tech Accountability’ Platform Calls For Both More And Less Moderation, And A ‘Not Fairness Doctrine’ Fairness Doctrine – Techdirt

Posted: at 7:17 am

from the all-over-the-map dept

It's become quite clear over the past few years that the Republicans' platform these days is "punish those who disagree with us," or, in the shorter vernacular: "cry moar, libs." This becomes blatantly clear as you look at the newly released "Big Tech Accountability Platform" that the Republicans in the House have released (coming from the ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers). The platform actually starts out making some amount of sense, but note that it will ignore all of that within a single page. The principles laid out are actually good ones -- if the plan actually followed them (which it does not):

1. We will protect free speech: Republicans worked hard to repeal the FederalCommunications Commissions Fairness Doctrine and we will not advocate for a newone.

2. We will be mindful of small businesses and entrepreneurship: Any policy we pursuewill balance these essential interests to preserve competition.

3. We will promote American tech leadership and innovation: We will continue topromote American global leadership while working to address issues here at home.

You could build a good platform around those pointers. But, this is not that. On the very next page, it lists out its legislative "concepts" for Section 230 reform, which quickly show how things go off the rails.

Legislative Concept 1: Limit the Right of Exclusion

a. Define Big Tech companies as places of public accommodation and prohibitdiscrimination based on political affiliation and/or viewpoint.

b. Alternatively, define Big Tech companies as places of public accommodation andlimit liability protections to content moderation processes that provide a measureof due process to users.

So, uh, remember that whole thing about respecting free speech and not bringing back the fairness doctrine? This legislative concept is literally bringing back the fairness doctrine. It's also unconstitutional as it attacks the 1st Amendment rights of companies not to be compelled to host speech they don't want to host.

Perhaps even more incredible is that while the first legislative concept is basically "moderate less," the second legislative concept is "moderate more"!

Legislative Concept 2: Require Reasonable Moderation Practices

a. Require Big Tech companies to implement and maintain reasonable moderationpractices to address illegal drug sales; child exploitation, including childpornography and trafficking; targeted harassment or bullying of users under theage of 18; terrorism; counterfeit products and materials sales; and all other illegalcontent on their platforms.

b. Failure to implement and maintain such reasonable moderation practices is aviolation of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act.

c. Such companies may be liable for content decisions related to content includedabove but may assert liability protections if they implement and maintainreasonable moderation practices.

This shows how totally unprincipled and ignorant the Republicans are on this topic. It's kind of the standard response of those who don't even understand the basics of content moderation. The assumption is always that there's some perfect level of moderation -- less moderation of speech we like, and more moderation of speech we dislike. But that assumes everyone agrees on which speech is liked and which speech is not. And that's not how any of this works.

This isn't a Goldilocks fairy tale, in which some moderation is too much, and some moderation is too little, and you can just turn the dials and find the kind of moderation that is "just right." And legislative proposals that pretend otherwise only show their complete disconnect from reality.

And they're not done yet.

Legislative Concept 3: Limit Liability to Protected Speech

a. Modify Section 230 to only provide liability protection for moderation of speechthat is not protected by the First Amendment or specifically listed in the statute.

Uh, yikes? This might depend on what's "listed in the statute," but already listing types of speech that get immunity and that do not would raise serious 1st Amendment issues. But beyond that, it's not even clear what this means? If it means that 1st Amendment protected speech no longer gets 230 protections then, um, won't sites be much, much quicker to pull down all sorts of content? This would mean no 230 protections over abuse, harassment, hate speech, etc. Under such a proposal, you'd think that Republicans spreading disinformation would be at serious risk of having all their accounts banned. I know that the Democrats might like this, but it seems like a bizarre thing for Republicans to suggest.

Legislative Concept 4: Remove Liability Protections

a. Remove liability protection under Section 230 for content moderation decisionsmade by Big Tech companies that discriminate based on political affiliation or

viewpoint.

We've been over this before. It would violate the 1st Amendment and create compelled speech. Why do no politicians seem to understand this?

Legislative Concept 5: Require Appeals Processes

a. Require Big Tech companies to implement and maintain reasonable and userfriendly appeals processes for users to challenge content moderation decisions onconstitutionally protected speech as well as decisions about suspending ordeplatforming users. The appeals process must clearly explain the companyscontent moderation policies and identify the specific provision(s) the content oruser violated and why.

Why? Why is Congress interfering in the ways that private companies run their business? Most companies (and all large companies) do have an appeals process already. But mostly all these kinds of proposals do is serve to make it a lot more costly for websites to suspend bad actors. It's like an "all trolls get to troll" act, and often is used to test the boundaries of what people can get away with. It's a perfect tool for bad actors.

Legislative Concept 6: Carve Out Big Tech Companies from Section 230

a. Carve out Big Tech companies and/or only those that are specifically engaged incertain activities, such as hosting social media platforms and app stores, fromSection 230 liability protections while retaining current liability protections for allnew entrants and small companies.

b. Repeal Section 230 protections for companies engaged in targeted behavioraladvertising.

It's unclear how either of these ideas does anything even remotely useful. I mean, you could carve big companies out of 230 and they'd survive, but all it would likely do is lead to a lot of wasteful litigation. It would also almost certainly lead the companies to be a lot more aggressive in taking down content, and would then rely on the 1st Amendment to protect those decisions. As for connecting 230 to advertising practices, we've seen a few bills that try to do that and no one has ever explained what useful thing that does -- other than basically attack one particular business model.

Nearly every one of these proposals doesn't seem to have any principled argument behind it. There's no policy rationale at all. It's entirely "big tech is bad, big tech likes 230, let's take 230 away from big tech." That's not leading. That's regulating based on perceived grievances.

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyones attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

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Filed Under: big tech, cathy mcmorris rodgers, content moderation, fairness doctrine, free speech, republicans, section 230

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