News-in-Transition

31 March 2017

- Get ready to explore your lawmakers' checkered search histories.

Republicans in Congress voted this week to gut a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) privacy rule that would sell everyone out to Internet Service Providers (ISP). The push will give ISPs the right to sell customer data to marketers, insert ads in your traffic, and insert tracking cookies in HTTP traffic that can’t be deleted or traced.

Repealing the FCC guidelines is a huge blow to online privacy. So Adam McElhaney, an activist based in Chattanooga, Tennessee who cares about privacy and net neutrality set up a GoFundMe page to collect donations to buy the internet histories of everyone who voted to repeal the FCC’s privacy protections.

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13 September 2016

facebook-israel-990x556 - Last week, a major censorship controversy erupted when Facebook began deleting all posts containing the iconic photograph of the Vietnamese “Napalm Girl” on the ground that it violated the company’s ban on “child nudity.” Facebook even deleted a post from the prime minister of Norway, who posted the photograph in protest of the censorship. As outrage spread, Facebook ultimately reversed itself — acknowledging “the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time” — but this episode illustrated many of the dangers I’ve previously highlighted in having private tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google become the arbiters of what we can and cannot see.

Having just resolved that censorship effort, Facebook seems to be vigorously courting another. The Associated Press reports today from Jerusalem that “the Israeli government and Facebook have agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on the social media network.” These meetings are taking place “as the government pushes ahead with legislative steps meant to force social networks to rein in content that Israel says incites violence.” In other words, Israel is about to legislatively force Facebook to censor content deemed by Israeli officials to be improper, and Facebook appears eager to appease those threats by working directly with the Israeli government to determine what content should be censored.

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