your base are belong to us. A
leaked memo circulating among Senate Democrats contains
a host of bonkers authoritarian proposals for regulating digital
platforms, purportedly as a way to get tough on Russian bots
and fake news. To save American trust in "our institutions,
democracy, free press, and markets," it suggests, we need
unprecedented and undemocratic government intervention into online
press and markets, including "comprehensive (GDPR-like) data
protection legislation" of the sort enacted in the E.U.
"Potential Policy Proposals for Regulation of Social Media and
Technology Firms," the
draft policy paper—penned by Sen. Mark Warner and leaked by
an unknown source to Axios—the
paper starts out by noting that Russians have long spread
disinformation, including when "the Soviets tried to spread 'fake
news' denigrating Martin Luther King" (here he fails to mention
that the Americans in charge at the time did the same). But NOW
IT'S DIFFERENT, because technology.
tools seem almost built for
Russian disinformation techniques," Warner opines. And the ones to
come, he assures us, will be even worse.
how Warner is suggesting we deal:
location verification. The paper
suggests forcing social media platforms to authenticate and
disclose the geographic origin of all user accounts or posts.
identity verification: The paper
suggests forcing social media and tech platforms to authenticate
user identities and only allow "authentic" accounts ("inauthentic
accounts not only pose threats to our democratic process...but
undermine the integrity of digital markets"), with "failure to
appropriately address inauthentic account activity" punishable as
"a violation of both SEC disclosure rules and/or Section 5 of the
[Federal Trade Commission] Act."
labeling: Warner's paper suggests
forcing companies to somehow label bots or be penalized (no word
from Warner on how this is remotely feasible)
popular tech as "essential facilities." These
would be subject to all sorts of heightened rules and controls,
says the paper, offering Google Maps as an example of the kinds of
apps or platforms that might count. "The law would not mandate
that a dominant provider offer the serve for free," writes Warner.
"Rather, it would be required to offer it on reasonable and
non-discriminatory terms" provided by the government.
proposals include more disclosure requirements for online
political speech, more spending to counter supposed cybersecurity
threats, more funding for the Federal Trade Commission, a
requirement that companies' algorithms can be audited by the feds
(and this data shared with universities and others), and a
requirement of "interoperability between dominant platforms."
paper also suggests making it a rule that tech platforms above a
certain size must turn over internal data and processes to
"independent public interest researchers" so they can identify
potential "public health/addiction effects, anticompetitive
behavior, radicalization," scams, "user propagated
misinformation," and harassment—data that could be used to "inform
actions by regulators or Congress."
course— these include further revisions to Section 230 of the
Communications Decency Act, recently amended by Congress to
exclude protections for prostitution-related content. A revision
to Section 230 could provide the ability for users to demand
takedowns of certain sorts of content and hold platforms liable if
they don't abide, it says, while admitting that "attempting to
distinguish between true disinformation and legitimate satire
could prove difficult."
proposals in the paper are wide ranging and in some cases even
politically impossible, and raise almost as many questions as they
try to answer," suggested Mathew Ingram, putting
it very mildly at the Columbia
abortion test sanctioned by FDA. "A nonprofit
group is testing whether it's safe to let women take abortion
pills in their own homes after taking
screening tests and consulting with a doctor on their phones or
computers," notes Politico.
group, called Gynuity Health Projects, is carrying out the trial
in five states that already allow virtual doctors to oversee
administration of the abortion pill, and may expand to others.
If the trial proves that allowing women to take the pill at home
is safe—under a virtual doctor's supervision—the group hopes the
FDA could eventually loosen restrictions to allow women to take
pills mailed to them after the consult.
FDA took that step, it could even help women in states with
restrictive abortion laws get around them, potentially blurring
the strict boundaries between abortion laws in different states
if—as is likely—the Senate confirms a high court justice who is
open to further limits on Roe.
a rapidly increasing number of state attorneys general are suing
over whether its safe to let people print guns in their own
homes, after the group Defense Distributed
posting of 3D-printed gun plans online.
rights activist and former judge Faya Rose Touré, 73, "is facing
charges of fourth-degree theft and attempting to elude a police
officer after she led cops on a four-block chase through the
city," reports The
Appeal. "Touré was the first Black female judge in
Alabama and founder of the National Voting Rights Museum and
Institute in Selma."
publisher of an upcoming
book by renowned journalist Bob Woodward is
promising that it "reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing
life inside President Donald Trump's White House and precisely
how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies."
a person seeking 'substantive change,' [Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez] insisted, she was bound to be told 'you're crazy'
or 'you don't know anything,'" writes
Charles C.W. Cooke. "Perhaps she was. But do you know who
else is told they're crazy and don't know anything? Crazy people
who don't know anything."
former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel
department is under investigation for
allegedly hiring "college friends and women he encountered on
online dating sites, and then, he is accused of transferring
some of those women into departments where his friends worked,
so that his friends could have sex with them."