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Regulating Big Tech #16

  • Russian voters’ data
  • Facebook and war crimes
  • India’s TikTok ban
  • Google vs media
Published every Friday


‘The state has no right’ Russian state servers are hosting a third-party system that monitors voter turnout

The system uses the website Votely.ru. Formally, it was developed by an IT specialist from Rybinsk named Ivan Petrov and not by government agencies. As it turns out, however, the system is running on servers owned by state agencies in several regions across Russia, including in Chuvashia, the Komi Republic, Bashkortostan, the Krasnodar territory, and the Tambov region.

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Editor’s Note:

This week saw voting in a Russian referendum that could keep Vladimir Putin in power until 2036. Part of the legitimacy of the vote is of course based on turnout, though here Meduza digs into a system for monitoring participation between the government and major enterprises that may violate data laws.


Brazilian Senate passes fake news bill

Amid concerns over freedom of expression online and user privacy, the Brazilian Senate has passed a bill that sets out provisions to tackle the production and spread of disinformation and defamatory content on the Internet.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation

Inside the Invasive, Secretive “Bossware” Tracking Workers

COVID-19 has pushed millions of people to work from home, and a flock of companies offering software for tracking workers has swooped in to pitch their products to employers across the country.

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Foreign Affairs

Facebook’s Flawed Plan To End Antiquities Trafficking

On June 23, Facebook announced that it had updated its community standards to include a ban on “content that attempts to buy, sell, trade, donate, gift, or solicit historical artifacts.”

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Editor’s Note:

Facebook is not just a platform for speech, but also for selling things. Here Amr Al-Azm and Katie Paul discuss and raise questions about deleting evidence that could be used for war crimes tribunals.


Wirecard Is a Humiliation for Germany

The accounting scandal has revealed a void at the heart of the country’s supervisory regime. It’s time for the European Union to step in.

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Competition and Markets Authority (UK)

New regime needed to take on tech giants

The CMA is calling on the government to introduce a new pro-competition regulatory regime to tackle Google and Facebook’s market power.

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Ban on Chinese apps surprises India content makers

India’s ban on more than 50 Chinese apps, including popular ones such as TikTok and WeChat, has left millions of users surprised and disappointed.

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Editor’s Note:

Part of the fallout from clashes at the India-China border has been a ban on TikTok and other Chinese apps by Delhi. Here the BBC digs into the controversy in the ByteDance app’s biggest foreign market.


Parler Speedruns The Content Moderation Learning Curve; Goes From ‘We Allow Everything’ To ‘We’re The Good Censors’ In Days

Over the last few weeks Parler has become the talk of Trumpist land, with promises of a social media site that “supports free speech.” The front page of the site insists that its content moderation is based on the standards of the FCC and the Supreme Court of the United States:

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The Justice Department’s Good Ideas for Platforms Needn’t Be Done

The Justice Department’s recently released plan to reform Section 230 has drawn predictably partisan reactions. Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, for instance, rejected it, saying, “I have no interest in being an agent of Bill Barr’s speech police.”

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Google stymies media companies from chipping away at its data dominance

OAKLAND, Calif. – Alphabet Inc’s Google upended plans by European media companies to block it from harvesting data about their readers and slash some of its dominance in online advertising, seven people involved in the talks said this month.

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