Hey everybody, I’m Joe Miller and here’s what’s going on in the world of tech law & policy this week.
So the White House confirmed earlier this afternoon that it had shot down another object floating 40,000 ft. above Alaska. No word yet on whether it’s part of China’s balloon festival, but this one was much smaller than the one they shot down last week. Feds are investigating.
Americans want privacy legislation but – as Colorado Attorney General Phill Weiser noted to the Washington Post with quite a bit of frustration – there doesn’t really seem to be a lot of governance coming from Congress. A new study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School found most Americans simply do not understand how companies use their data. I’d venture to guess that many tech companies want to keep it that way.
For example, eighty-two percent of those Americans surveyed reported that they had no idea that the Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act (HIPPA). I didn’t even know that, if I’m being honest with you.
And TSA is collecting facial data at more and more airports – with the Washington Post reporting that some 16 major U.S. airports collect facial recognition data.
At Tuesday’s State of the Union, President Biden ardently called for action from Congress to do more to protect kids online, as the current minimum age to advertise to kids is currently just 13. And the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said that 13 is too young. Republican Senator Josh Hawley is calling for 16 to become the minimum age for kids to be allowed to join social media networks.
Meanwhile, over at Twitter, Elon Musk says cleaning up the platform of child abuse content is his top priority. But plenty of that material is still showing up, according to a New York Times exposé. This coincides with these repulsive individuals who were once banned, now being reinstated. And the Center for Digital Hate released a report saying these accounts spreading vile hate speech make millions for the company. And major brands’ advertisements are still showing up next to hate speech – with Fiverr, NFL, Amazon, & Apple TV among them.
The University of Exeter reports an Eight-fold increase of misogynistic, dehumanizing content posted by incels on Twitter. Incels, as you may recall, are men who are “involuntarily celibate” and are furious at women for not genuflecting before them. Ofcom, the communications oversight agency in the UK is calling for amending the online safety bill to further protect women by putting a code of practice in place. This is happening as women struggle with defending themselves against all sorts of monsters on the internet creating deepfake porn using their likenesses. And a new Pew report on online dating found that some 38% of online daters, mostly women, reported receiving unwanted, sexually explicit material.
And the New York Times reports that a District Court in Louisiana is now considering whether the government should have any discretion at all when it comes to putting any measures in place to combat disinformation. It is Republicans who primarily oppose any government intervention to combat harmful information, even though former Twitter employees reported that that company kept Republicans’ requests to remove progressive speech, including requests from former President Trump, whom Meta reinstated to Facebook and Instagram last week.
In Turkey, victims of the horrifying earthquake that killed10s of thousands of people weren’t able to get on Twitter at all to ask for help. That’s because the Turkish government has a long history of blocking access to Twitter.
So that’s what’s going on! It is astonishing how much has changed in only the last few weeks.
To go deeper, you can find links to all of these stories in the show notes. Stay safe, stay informed, and have a great week. Ciao.