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Updated: Social media influence...

Facebook and Twitter censors an expose of Hunter Biden seemingly in support of Joe Biden's election campaign


Link Here16th October 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA
Facebook and Twitter censored a controversial New York Post article critical of Joe Biden, sparking debate over social media platforms and their role in influencing the US presidential election.

In an unprecedented step against a major news publication, Twitter blocked users from posting links to the Post story or photos from the unconfirmed report. Users attempting to share the story were shown a notice saying:

We can't complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.

Users clicking or retweeting a link already posted to Twitter are shown a warning the link may be unsafe.

Twitter claimed it was limiting the article's spread due to questions about the origins of the materials included in the article. Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter, said the company's communication about the decision to limit the article's spread was not great, saying the team should have shared more context publicly.

Facebook, meanwhile, placed restrictions on linking to the article, claiming there were questions about its validity.

The social media censorship drew swift backlash from figures on the political right, who accused Facebook and Twitter of protecting Biden, who is leading Trump in national polls.

Update: Censors caught red handed

16th October 2020. See article from bbc.co.uk

Twitter has updated a censorship policy which led it to block people from sharing a link to a story from the New York Post about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

The article contained screenshots of emails allegedly sent and received by Hunter Biden, presidential candidate Joe Biden's son. It also contained personal photos of Hunter Biden, allegedly removed from a laptop computer while it was undergoing repairs at a store.

Twitter's Vijaya Gadde has now said posts will be flagged as containing hacked material, rather than blocked. She tweeted:

We tried to find the right balance between people's privacy and the right of free expression, but we can do better.

Empowering people to assess content for themselves was a better alternative for the public.

 

 

The Online Content Policy Modernization Act Is an Unconstitutional Mess...

Another internet censorship bill in the US


Link Here 2nd October 2020
Full story: Internet Censorship in USA...Domain name seizures and SOPA

EFF is standing with a huge coalition of organizations to urge Congress to oppose the Online Content Policy Modernization Act (OCPMA, S. 4632 ). Introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the OCPMA is yet another of this year's flood of misguided attacks on Internet speech ( read bill [pdf] ). The bill would make it harder for online platforms to take common-sense moderation measures like removing spam or correcting disinformation, including disinformation about the upcoming election. But it doesn't stop there: the bill would also upend longstanding balances in copyright law, subjecting ordinary Internet users to up to $30,000 in fines for everyday activities like sharing photos and writing online, without even the benefit of a judge and jury.

The OCPMA combines two previous bills. The first--the Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act ( S. 4534 )--undermines Section 230, the most important law protecting free speech online. Section 230 enshrines the common-sense principle that if you say something unlawful online, you should be the one held responsible, not the website or platform where you said it. Section 230 also makes it clear that platforms have liability protections for the decisions they make to moderate or remove online speech: platforms are free to decide their own moderation policies however they see fit. The OCPMA would flip that second protection on its head, shielding only platforms that agree to confine their moderation policies to a narrowly tailored set of rules. As EFF and a coalition of legal experts explained to the Senate Judiciary Committee:

This narrowing would create a strong disincentive for companies to take action against a whole host of disinformation, including inaccurate information about where and how to vote, content that aims to intimidate or discourage people from casting a ballot, or misleading information about the integrity of our election systems. S.4632 would also create a new risk of liability for services that editorialize alongside user-generated content. In other words, sites that direct users to voter-registration pages, that label false information with fact-checks, or that provide accurate information about mail-in voting, would face lawsuits over the user-generated content they were intending to correct.

It's easy to see the motivations behind the Section 230 provisions in this bill, but they simply don't hold up to scrutiny. This bill is based on the flawed premise that social media platforms' moderation practices are rampant with bias against conservative views; while a popular meme in some right-wing circles, this view doesn't hold water. There are serious problems with platforms' moderation practices, but the problem isn't the liberal silencing the conservative; the problem is the powerful silencing the powerless . Besides, it's absurd to suggest that the situation would somehow be improved by putting such severe limits on how platforms moderate; the Internet is a better place when multiple moderation philosophies can coexist , some more restrictive and some more freeform.

The government forcing platforms to adopt a specific approach to moderation is not just a bad idea; in fact; it's unconstitutional. As EFF explained in its own letter to the Judiciary Committee:

The First Amendment prohibits Congress from directly interfering with intermediaries' decisions regarding what user-generated content they host and how they moderate that content. The OCPM Act seeks to coerce the same result by punishing services that exercise their rights. This is an unconstitutional condition. The government cannot condition Section 230's immunity on interfering with intermediaries' First Amendment rights.

Sen. Graham has also used the OCPMA as his vehicle to bring back the CASE Act, a 2019 bill that would have created a new tribunal for hearing small ($30,000!) copyright disputes, putting everyday Internet users at risk of losing everything simply for sharing copyrighted images or text online . This tribunal would exist within the Copyright Office, not the judicial branch, and it would lack important protections like the right to a jury trial and registration requirements. As we explained last year, the CASE Act would usher in a new era of copyright trolling , with copyright owners or their agents sending notices en masse to users for sharing memes and transformative works. When Congress was debating the CASE Act last year, its proponents laughed off concerns that the bill would put everyday Internet users at risk, clearly not understanding what a $30,000 fee would mean to the average family. As EFF and a host of other copyright experts explained to the Judiciary Committee:

The copyright small claims dispute provisions in S. 4632 are based upon S. 1273, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2019 (CASE Act), which could potentially bankrupt millions of Americans, and be used to target schools, libraries and religious institutions at a time when more of our lives are taking place online than ever before due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Laws that would subject any American organization or individual -- from small businesses to religious institutions to nonprofits to our grandparents and children -- to up to $30,000 in damages for something as simple as posting a photo on social media, reposting a meme, or using a photo to promote their nonprofit online are not based on sound policy.

The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to consider the OCPMA soon. This bill is far too much of a mess to be saved by amendments. We urge the Committee to reject it.

 

 

EFF Urges Senate to Stop EARN IT Act...

Bill curtails Section 230 which will lead to state regulation of online adult content, as well as other censorship


Link Here19th September 2020

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the 30-year-old advocacy group that has been a pioneer in defending digital civil liberties, sent a letter this week to the United States Senate, opposing the controversial EARN IT Act -- which the EFF says will result in online censorship that will disproportionately impact marginalized communities, will jeopardize access to encrypted services, and will place at risk the prosecutions of the very abusers the law is meant to catch.

The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act of 2020, or EARN IT, is designed to roll back protections for online platforms under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. Section 230 is widely considered the First Amendment of the Internet. As AVN reported last month, the law is not only the backbone of open online communications, but for adult content online as well.

Efforts to roll back Section 230 protection will have a significant adverse impact on the adult entertainment industry if passed, First Amendment attorney Lawrence Walters told AVN in August. Any change to Section 230 could result in restrictive content moderation rules or elimination of the platforms themselves.

Platforms would be required to earn the protections currently afforded by Section 230 by following a set of vaguely defined best practices to prevent illegal activities, specifically sex trafficking and Child Sex Abuse Material (CSAM), if EARN IT passes.

Under EARN IT, states will be free to impose any liability standard they please on platforms, including holding platforms liable for CSAM they did not actually know was present on their services, EFF warned in its letter to the Senate. Nothing in the bill would prevent a state from passing a law in the future holding a provider criminally responsible under a 'reckless' or 'negligence' standard.

In other words, under EARN IT, state governments could punish online platforms for almost anything that could be broadly interpreted as CSAM or Sex trafficking, even bringing criminal charges against site operators. The dangers for the adult industry are clear if states are allowed to define a wide range of sexual content as promoting sex trafficking.

But sex worker advocacy groups have also warned that the EARN IT law could lead to increased surveillance of workers in the sex industry. EFF also addresses the surveillance threat in its letter to the Senate.

End-to-end encryption ensures the privacy and security of sensitive communications such that only the sender and receiver can view them, the group wrote. But the EARN IT Act threatens to undermine and disincentivize providers from providing strong encryption.

The EFF compares EARN IT to a previous sex trafficking law, FOSTA/SESTA, which is the only law so far passed that actually curtails Section 230 protections, in cases when sites are deemed to promote online sex trafficking. But that law had the opposite effect from its stated intention.

Instead, it has forced sex workers, whether voluntarily engaging in sex work or forced into sex trafficking against their wills, offline and into harm's way, EFF wrote. It has also chilled their online expression generally, including the sharing of health and safety information, and speech wholly unrelated to sex work.

In the letter, EFF urges the Senate not to fast track the EARN IT bill -- and to vote it down if or when it finally comes before the entire Senate. The bill passed through the Judiciary Commitee in July.

 

 

Time is ticking away for TikTok...

US authorities require that TikTok should no longer be available for download from this weekend


Link Here18th September 2020
Full story: TikTok Snooping...Chinese App comes under fire for snooping on users
Computer security investigators have long held that the TikTok app is a Trojan horse in that it offers a popular platform for sharing short videos whilst aggressively snooping on its users. For instance it was recently found to be grabbing passwords for other applications as they pass through the paste buffer from password managers to apps.

President Trump's administration had set a deadline that the Chinese app be sold to a US company that can sort out the security issues.

TikTok's owners ByteDance have indeed done a deal to partner with the US company Oracle. However the deal does not allow Oracle to get to see or control the app's software and to address US security concerns,

So the US has announced that beginning Sunday, it will be illegal to host or transfer internet traffic associated with WeChat and TikTok. The Trump administration is currently weighing a proposal involving ByteDance, TikTok's Chinese parent, and Oracle, designed to resolve the administration's national security concerns related to TikTok; the deadline for a deal is Nov. 12.


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