French politicians want to add an ag-gag rule to the country's sweeping online hate speech proposal

One of the arguments against hate-speech laws is that once the state starts dividing expression into "allowed" and "prohibited," the "prohibited" category tends to grow, in three ways: first, because company lawyers and other veto-wielders err on the side of caution by excising anything that might be in the "prohibited" bucket; second, because courts respond to these shifts in the discourse by finding more and more edge-cases to be in violation of the law; and finally, because lawmakers are tempted to shovel any speech they or their campaign donors don't like into the "prohibited" bucket. 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

After Christchurch shooting, Australia doubles down on being stampeded into catastrophically stupid tech laws

Australia leads "developed democracies" in the adoption of poorly thought-through, dangerous tech laws, thanks to its ban on working cryptography, rushed through in late 2018; now, with no debate or consultation, the Australian Parliament has passed a law that gives tech companies one hour to remove "violent materials" from their platforms with penalties for noncompliance of up to 10% of annual global turnover. Read the rest

German Data Privacy Commissioner warns at new Copyright Directive will increase the tech oligopoly, make EU companies dependent on US filter vendors, and subject Europeans to surveillance by US companies

Ulrich Kelber is the German Data Privacy Commissioner, and also a computer scientist, and as such, he is uniquely qualified to comment on the potential consequences of the proposed new EU Copyright Directive, which will be voted on at the end of this month, and whose Article 13 requires that all online communities, platforms and services block their users from committing copyright infringement, even if the infringing materials are speedily removed after they are posted. Read the rest

Citing terms of service and "bad actors," Facebook locks out tools that catalog ads and ad targeting

Propublica is one of many organizations, mainly nonprofits, whose "ad transparency" tools scrape Facebook ads and catalog them, along with the targeting data that exposes who is paying for which messages to be shown to whom. Read the rest

Don't just fine Big Tech for abuses; instead, cut them down to size

My latest Locus Magazine column is Big Tech: We Can Do Better Than Constitutional Monarchies, and it's a warning that the techlash is turning into a devil's bargain, where we make Big Tech pay for a few cosmetic changes that do little to improve bullying, harassment, and disinformation campaigns, and because only Big Tech can afford these useless fripperies, they no longer have to fear being displaced by new challengers with better ways of doing things. Read the rest