Lawmakers see the way to harness tech, but it's not easy

WASHINGTON – “Facebook and Big Tech are facing a Big Tobacco moment,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut this week...


WASHINGTON – “Facebook and Big Tech are facing a Big Tobacco moment,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut this week. a whistleblower testified on how the company’s social media products have hurt teens.

“I think that’s an appropriate analogy,” Wyoming Republican Senator Cynthia Lummis later added.

The whistleblower’s testimony and the thousands of internal documents she shared with lawmakers generated unusual bipartisan bonhomie in a divided Washington. Senators said it was time for Congress to rally around new regulations to curb the business and perhaps the tech industry as a whole.

But if what faces Great technology is something like what happened to Big Tobacco – a calculation of the damage the industry has done to society, and children in particular – what lies ahead will likely be a complicated multi-year path to new rules and regulations, without guaranteed result.

Washington is weighing many proposals to restrict the industry and hold it more accountable. Some lawmakers have urged reworking a law that protects tech companies from lawsuits, amending it so that companies can be held accountable if their software amplifies harmful speech. Another idea would force social media companies to share a lot more information about their software, which is often a black box, and data about how people interact with their services.

Lawmakers have proposed creating a new federal agency dedicated to overseeing tech companies, or expanding the power of the Federal Trade Commission. They have imposed stricter laws for the privacy and safety of children and to regulate the behavioral advertising business models of Facebook and Google. And a handful of bills to revise antitrust laws, in an effort to make the public less dependent on a small number of tech companies, have come out of a House committee.

But passing any of these options is a steep climb. Tech companies swim in wealth and use it to influence lawmakers, building the largest army of lobbyists of any industry in Washington. Dozens of privacy and speech protection bills have stalled in Congress in recent years.

The issues are also complex. Sharing much more data with researchers, some argue, could invade people’s privacy. Attempts to even tightly regulate content on platforms like Facebook run into free speech issues.

Perhaps the best chance for a crackdown on the industry is for President Biden and his administration to act with force. He has yet to put his weight behind the bills, but has placed some of the industry’s top critics in top regulatory positions. Lina khan, the president of the FTC, and Jonathan kanter, the candidate for the head of the Antitrust division of the Justice Department, has promised to hamper corporate power.

“Facebook has taken a hard hit this week, but they are capable of taking many hits just like the tobacco industry,” said Allan Brandt, a Harvard professor and expert on the rise and fall of the industry. tobacco.

It took more than 50 years from the first published research into the dangers of cigarettes, and more than a decade after a whistleblower shared internal documents proving tobacco companies were hiding their knowledge of the ailments of their people. products, before there is a meaningful government. regulation, he said.

“There will be regulation for Facebook and other tech companies,” Mr. Brandt said, “but I’m skeptical of a path to successful regulation anytime soon.”

The European Union has for years been more aggressive against technology companies than the United States, on issues such as antitrust and data privacy. Facebook whistleblower testimony from last week, Francoise Haugen, intensified calls adopt proposals that would impose stricter rules on how Facebook and other internet companies monitor their platforms, and add tighter competition rules in an effort to reduce their dominance in the digital economy. The laws could be passed as early as next year.

But in Washington, a major obstacle to legislation is that Democrats and Republicans view issues of technological power and social media rhetoric differently. Democrats want to tackle the spread of disinformation and the amplification of nefarious political rhetoric, while Republicans argue that Facebook, Google, Twitter and other social media platforms censor conservative views.

And when it comes to whether to dissolve companies, many Democrats see antitrust measures as a way to slow down the most powerful tech platforms and fight privacy, security and disinformation. Datas. Some Republicans say there is a lot of competition in the industry, and breaking up companies would be an example of government overtaking.

“Just because we hold the hammer of antitrust law in our hands doesn’t mean we have to treat every concern like a nail, lest we risk bludgeoning our entire economy,” Republican member Christine Wilson recently told Congress. of the FTC.

Facebook, Google and Twitter have said they welcome increased government surveillance, signaling their support for stricter data privacy rules and a dedicated agency regulating the tech sector. But they also warn that many state and federal proposals to strengthen antitrust laws, restrict data collection and hold companies accountable for damaging speech could backfire.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the whistleblower’s claims that the company prioritized profits over security were “deeply illogical.” The company also rejected comparisons with the tobacco industry.

“It’s an absurd comparison,” said Andy Stone, spokesperson for Facebook. “Social media helps people connect and small businesses thrive. Instead of making false equivalents, the focus should be on updated regulations to address privacy, data portability, content standards and elections. “

But many lawmakers said the comparison of industries was not hyperbole and was in fact informative.

State investigators uncovered tobacco company RJ Reynolds’ secret marketing plans to use cartoon mascot Joe Camel to turn kids into smokers, a finding that has helped substantiate lawsuits against the company and urge legislators to act.

Some of the internal documents Ms Haugen shared with lawmakers showed that many teens felt bad about their body image after spending time on Instagram, Facebook’s photo-sharing app, sometimes to the point of express plans to harm oneself. Other documents showed the company was investigating how it could market even younger children.

Mr Blumenthal, who successfully led a lawsuit against Big Tobacco in the 1990s as a Connecticut attorney general, said the importance of the documents immediately struck him.

“It was a light bulb, and all memories came back from the strategy papers drafted by the tobacco companies to reach college kids,” he said. “It was as if you could just rearrange the words and replace them with ‘tobacco’.”

He also noted that the technology is not exactly like the tobacco industry. The technology has broad legal protections that prevent state attorneys general from suing companies the way it has.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law passed in 1996, protects businesses from most lawsuits for comments, photos and other content that users post on their sites. As a result, if someone is hurt by what a user posts, the public – and the government – have little recourse against the companies.

Mr. Blumenthal supports the revision of this law to reduce these protections. He pushed for a bill that would destroy the shield if services allowed the dissemination of child abuse images. Other lawmakers have proposed eliminating legal protection when corporate algorithms amplify – by promoting, recommending, and automatically ranking high – content that violates certain anti-terrorism and civil rights laws.

Ms Haugen said such changes, resulting in the possibility of lawsuits, would force Facebook and other social media companies to stop using software that prioritizes engaging and promoting the most damaging content.

But Mr Blumenthal appeared to recognize that any change would not happen quickly.

“This battle will not take place in the courtroom,” he said.

“Congress must act,” Lummis said. “I keep all options on the table, but even in this polarizing environment, I am encouraged by the bipartisan concern we have here.”

Source Link

COMMENTS

Name

Africa,893,Americas,4274,Art & Culture,15649,Arts,6700,Arts & Design,1824,Asia,3495,Automobile,508,Baseball,751,Basketball,590,Books,4110,Business,5570,Celebrity,2633,Cricket,648,Crime,158,Cryptocurrency,1896,Dance,632,Defense,836,Diplomatic Relations,2496,Economy,1277,Editorial,260,Education,1399,Elections,308,Energy & Environment,3119,Entertainment,23318,Environment,3835,Europe,4434,Faith & Religion,235,Family & Life,817,Fashion & Style,3518,Finance,21024,Food & Drink,3991,Football,1194,Games,97,Gossip,10289,Health & Fitness,4340,Health Care,954,Hockey,242,Home & Garden,920,Humour,994,Latin America,49,Lifestyle,17997,Media,527,Middle East,1657,Movies,1931,Music,2856,Opinion,3651,Other,12666,Other Sports,5309,Political News,11324,Political Protests,2324,Politics,18337,Real Estate,2118,Relationship,106,Retail,3116,Science,2842,Science & Tech,10734,Soccer,319,Space & Cosmos,394,Sports,12962,Technology,3663,Tennis,664,Theater,1853,Transportation,313,Travel,2734,TV,3890,US,1137,US Sports,1481,Video News,3531,War & Conflict,1069,Weird News,998,World,17544,
ltr
item
Newsrust - US Top News: Lawmakers see the way to harness tech, but it's not easy
Lawmakers see the way to harness tech, but it's not easy
https://static01.nyt.com/images/2021/10/10/business/10facebook-dc-print1/merlin_195854901_0b87d1eb-8cc1-4857-b332-e921de2f228d-facebookJumbo.jpg
Newsrust - US Top News
https://www.newsrust.com/2021/10/lawmakers-see-way-to-harness-tech-but.html
https://www.newsrust.com/
https://www.newsrust.com/
https://www.newsrust.com/2021/10/lawmakers-see-way-to-harness-tech-but.html
true
732247599994189300
UTF-8
Loaded All Posts Not found any posts VIEW ALL Readmore Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS PREMIUM CONTENT IS LOCKED STEP 1: Share to a social network STEP 2: Click the link on your social network Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy Table of Content