Dear Congress: Platform Accountability Should Not Threaten Online Expression

from ACLU Tomorrow, the Senate Commerce Committee is holding a hearing entitled “Does Section 230 Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?” This is just the latest attempt by Congress and the Trump administration to amend, reinterpret, or eliminate Section 230, a key provision of federal law that generally ensures online platforms, including social media, can’t be held liable for the speech and content their users post on these platforms. This law means Yelp can’t be held legally responsible every time one of its users posts a false negative review. The Bed Bug Registry doesn’t have to visit every hotel with a […]

Continue reading

The Plain View

from Plaintext Like any good nonfiction writer, the Majority Staff (i.e., Democrats) of the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law has produced a long-read document distinguished by deep research and an unyielding thesis: Big Tech is too big, too bad, and fights dirty. Sixteen months ago, the subcommittee set out to expose bad behavior in Silicon Valley’s top companies. Empowered with subpoenas, it had little trouble finding it. The docket of whistle-blowing witnesses and damning exhibits uncovered a litany of bullying, self-interested, anti-competitive behavior that justified the exercise, which some thought redundant because of ongoing investigations by the […]

Continue reading

The Alarming Scope of the President’s Emergency Powers

from The Atlantic In the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, President Donald Trump reached deep into his arsenal to try to deliver votes to Republicans. Most of his weapons were rhetorical, featuring a mix of lies and false inducements—claims that every congressional Democrat had signed on to an “open borders” bill (none had), that liberals were fomenting violent “mobs” (they weren’t), that a 10 percent tax cut for the middle class would somehow pass while Congress was out of session (it didn’t). But a few involved the aggressive use—and threatened misuse—of presidential authority: He sent thousands of […]

Continue reading

Minds Is The Anti-Facebook That Pays You For Your Time

from Wired During Mark Zuckerberg’s over 10 hours of Congressional testimony last week, lawmakers repeatedly asked how Facebook makes money. The simple answer, which Zuckerberg dodged, is the contributions and online activities of its over two billion users, which allow marketers to target ads with razor precision. In which case, asked representative Paul Tonko (D – New York), “why doesn’t Facebook pay its users for their incredibly valuable data?” It’s a good question, one that alternative social networks like Minds have attempted to answer. The idea isn’t entirely new—Minds launched in 2015—but the site and others like it feel especially […]

Continue reading

How To Set Up A VPN In 10 Minutes For Free (And Why You Urgently Need One)

from freeCodeCamp Soon every mistake you’ve ever made online will not only be available to your internet service provider (ISP) — it will be available to any corporation or foreign government who wants to see those mistakes. Thanks to last week’s US Senate decision (update March 28: and today’s House decision), ISPs can sell your entire web browsing history to literally anyone without your permission. The only rules that prevented this are all being repealed, and won’t be reinstated any time soon (it would take an act of congress). ISPs can also sell any information they want from your online […]

Continue reading

Republicans Voted To Roll Back Landmark FCC Privacy Rules. Here’s What You Need To Know.

from WaPo House Republicans voted Tuesday to repeal a set of landmark privacy protections for Web users, in a sharp pivot away from the Internet policies of the Obama administration. President Trump is expected to sign the measure. Tuesday’s vote is likely to lend momentum to a broader rollback of Obama-era policies, particularly in the technology sector. And it empowers Internet providers to enter the $83 billion market for online advertising, where the ability to collect, store, share and sell consumers’ behavioral information is directly linked to companies’ bottom line. Proponents of the repeal argue the regulations stifle innovation by forcing Internet providers to abide by unreasonably strict guidelines. But defenders […]

Continue reading

The 265 Members Of Congress Who Sold You Out To ISPs, And How Much It Cost To Buy Them

from The Verge Republicans in Congress just voted to reverse a landmark FCC privacy rule that opens the door for ISPs to sell customer data. Lawmakers provided no credible reason for this being in the interest of Americans, except for vague platitudes about “consumer choice” and “free markets,” as if consumers at the mercy of their local internet monopoly are craving to have their web history quietly sold to marketers and any other third party willing to pay. The only people who seem to want this are the people who are going to make lots of money from it. (Hint: […]

Continue reading

I Dream of the Post Office Buying Twitter

from StartupGrind Yes, it’s a goofy dream. Yes, Congress won’t let them stop Saturday delivery, let alone spend $30 billion on a wobbly and weird social network. Yes, this will never happen. Yes, $30 billion could buy 90 F-35s instead. But: I can’t get this idea out of my head. My mind stumbles on it every other commute. Every news item about Twitter’s sale spurs the notion. Google and Disney are walking away leaving only Salesforce, but oh: they just bought Krux. Maybe there won’t be a suitor. Their market cap is down to less than $15 billion on the news. Hmm, that’s only 44 F-35s… Ok. This won’t […]

Continue reading