Speech Police: vital, critical look at the drive to force Big Tech to control who may speak and what they may say

David Kaye (previously) has served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since 2014 -- a critical half-decade in the evolution of free speech both online and offline; in Speech Police: The Global Struggle to Govern the Internet a new, short book from Columbia Special Reports, Kaye provides a snapshot of the global state of play for expression, as governments, platforms, and activists act out of a mix of both noble and corrupt motives to control online discourse. Read the rest

Big Tech: "If the USA enforces antitrust laws against us, it means China will win!"

Mark Zuckerberg offered to let Chinese premier Xi Jinping name his firstborn (seriously), Apple purged the Chinese App Store of privacy tools at the request of the politburo; Google secretly built a censoring search-engine for use in China, but America's Big Tech companies are sounding the alarm that they will no longer be able to promote America's global dominance if any of the US Big Tech breakup plans are executed. Read the rest

To chase out low-waged workers, Mountain View is banning overnight RV and van parking

Mountain View -- home to some of Silicon Valley's most profitable companies, including Google -- is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, thanks to the sky-high wages commanded by techies, who have gone on to bid up all the real-estate in the region. Read the rest

Los Angeles! Come see me at Exposition Park library tonight talking about Big Tech, monopolies, mind control and the right of technological self-determination

From 6PM-730PM tonight (Thursday, May 23), I'm presenting at the Exposition Park Library (Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Regional Library, 3900 S Western Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90062) on the problems of Big Tech and how the problems of monopolization (in tech and every other industry) is supercharged by the commercial surveillance industry -- and what we can do about it. It's part of the LA Public Library's "Book to Action" program and it's free to attend -- I hope to see you there! Read the rest

TOSsed out: EFF catalogs the perverse ways that platform moderation policies hurt the people they're supposed to protect

TOSsed Out is a new project from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that catalogs the myriad of ways in which Big Tech platforms' moderation policies backfire spectacularly, like the anti-terrorism policies that delete evidence of war-crimes needed by investigators and prosecutors. Read the rest

Europe's top trustbuster thinks it'll be impossible to break up Facebook

Margrethe Vestager (previously) is the EU Commissioner responsible for handing out billions in fines to Big Tech to punish them for monopolistic practices. Read the rest

Co-founder of Facebook calls for breakup of Facebook

Chris Hughes co-founded Facebook with Mark Zukerberg, and describes Zuckerberg in warm terms as a friend, but in a long op-ed for the New York Times, Hughes calls for the breakup of Facebook and identifies Zuckerberg's shortsighted prioritization of "clicks" instead of "security and civility" for the platform's toxicity, blaming the company's unusual share structure (which gives Zuckerberg an absolute veto over all matters of company policy despite holding a minority of its shares) for a situation in which Zuckerberg is surrounded by yes-men who never check his worst impulses. Read the rest

Big Tech is deleting evidence needed to prosecute war crimes, and governments want them to do more of it

War crimes are among the most grisly and difficult-to-prosecute crimes; and yet, ironically, the criminals have made it easier for prosecutors, by uploading videos celebrating their atrocities to Big Tech platforms like Facebook and Youtube, where they can act as recruiting tools for terrorists and extremists. Read the rest

FTC asks Congress to create national privacy law to regulate big tech's use of personal data

Members of the United States Federal Trade Commission (FCC) on Wednesday asked Congress to create a national privacy law that would regulate how technology giants like Facebook and Google gather, store, and share the personal data of users. Read the rest

How the diverse internet became a monoculture

I appeared on this week's Canadaland podcast (MP3) with Jesse Brown to talk about the promise of the internet 20 years ago, when it seemed that we were headed for an open, diverse internet with decentralized power and control, and how we ended up with an internet composed of five giant websites filled with screenshots from the other four. Jesse has been covering this for more than a decade (I was a columnist on his CBC podcast Search Engine, back in the 2000s) and has launched a successful independent internet business with Canadaland, but as he says, the monopolistic gentrification of the internet is heading for podcasting like a meteor. Read the rest

Apple's growth strategy is a textbook case of antitrust abuse

Apple bought between 20 and 25 companies in the past six months, according to CEO Tim Cook, who also said that this was business as usual for the company. Read the rest

AOC endorses Elizabeth Warren's Big Tech breakup plan

Elizabeth Warren wants to break up Big Tech, a thoroughly excellent idea with many devils in the details: AOC backs her play: "Facebook as a basic communications platform while also selling ads and also being a surveillance platform. Those functions should be broken up, but how that gets levied and how that gets approached is what we need to take a fine-tooth comb at." Read the rest

The platforms suck at content moderation and demanding they do more won't make them better at it -- but there ARE concrete ways to improve moderation

Concentration in the tech sector has left us with just a few gigantic online platforms, and they have turned into playgrounds for some of the worst people on earth: Nazis, misogynists, grifters, ultranationalists, trolls, genocidal mobs and more. The platforms are so big and their moderation policies are so screwed up, and their use of "engagement" algorithms to increase pageviews, that it's making many of us choose between having a social life with the people we care about and being tormented by awful people. Even if you opt out of social media, you can't opt out of being terrorized by psychopathic trolls who have been poisoned by Alex Jones and the like. Read the rest

Big Tech's addiction to illegal, overreaching NDAs protects wage discrimination, sexual harassment, and other evils by "terrorizing" employees

NDAs were once used exclusively to protect bona fide trade secrets, but today's Big Tech companies force new hires to sign far-ranging NDAs that exceed the law in many ways (for example, by banning employees from discussing illegal workplace conditions), as a means of "terrorizing" employees into keeping their mouths shut, lest they face threats from the company's high-powered lawyers. Read the rest

The Google Cemetery

The Google Cemetery is an online collection of the useful stuff Google has made (or replicated) and then destroyed. An elegy to things we should never have given over to it in the first place, a lament for the lessons never learned. Read the rest

Illinois almost passed a bill that banned devices that record you without your consent -- and then Big Tech stepped in

This week, Keep Internet Devices Safe Act was gutted by the Illinois senate: it would have allowed people sue manufacturers if they determined that a device had engaged in remote recording without notifying its owner. Read the rest

The Chinafication of the internet continues as the UK proposes blocking any service that hosts "illegal" or "harmful" material

Last year the US Congress passed SESTA/FOSTA, an "anti-sex-trafficking bill" that has resulted in the shuttering of all the services formerly used by sex workers to vet their johns, massively increasing the personal physical risk borne by sex-workers and reinvigorating the dying pimping industry, as sex workers seek out protectors. Read the rest

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