Big Brother is Here to Make Sure You Don’t Read Things Which May Hurt You

Admidst all the day’s flag waving and demonstrations of love for the Deep State and loyalty to the First Amendment’s  protection for Freedom of the Press, noticeably absent are at least three issues:

One is journalists willing to stand up for Jullian Assange. Where are they? Anybody want to say why it is OK for RT to be silenced but not say… you or me?

Two is journalists willing to call this what it is: food fight for a reality TV audience.

“The editorials today will likely help Trump whip up support among his base against a monolithic media. But, just as clearly, the establishment media can draw attention away from their own failures, corruptions, and falsehoods simply by focusing on Trump’s.

Big media outlets need not actually report news that affects your life and point to serious solutions for social ills. They can just bad mouth Trump.

And Trump need not deliver on campaign promises that tapped into populist and isolationist tendencies in the U.S. public that have grown in reaction to years of elite rule. He need only deride the major media.

Counter to the lofty rhetoric of many of today’s editorials, the promise of an independent and truth-seeking press frequently is subservient to propaganda, pushing for war and narrow economic interests. “

Three is open discussion and accurate analysis of the policies by politicians on our way to “regulate” Freedom of the Press and our Freedom of Speech. Is this a real democracy or do we just play one on TV? Can we talk about and vote for real solutions instead of flinging coconut oil smoothies and jars of mayonnaise at one another?

Instead, it’s almost like we’re told which side to take, isn’t it? Ds on this side. Rs on that side. Us and Them. Who you got? Trump or the fake news? Mayo or Coconuts?

 

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Now playing in the political theater, a puppet show of manufactured drama. You know this week’s names: Alex “Performance Artist” Jones, Omar-“Reality TV”-osa, John “The Borg” Brennan, Mark “Data” Zuckerberg, and even a cameo appearance by Henry “Atlantic Council” Kissinger.

What is this tragic comedy supposed to distract us from? Same thing as always? What are the powers that be are planning and doing?

For example, what is the actual policy we’re going to be subjected to and told to live with? Let’s talk about that. Maybe we can turn America back into something other than the dystopian land of magical thinking it has become…

“In a policy paper obtained by Axios, Sen. Mark Warner’s office laid out 20 different paths to address problems posed by Big Tech platforms — ranging from putting a price on individual users’ data to funding media literacy programs.

Why it matters: The paper — prepared by Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner’s staff and circulated in tech policy circles in recent weeks — is a window to the options available to U.S. policymakers concerned about disinformation and privacy.

Enacting any of these plans is a long shot in the near-term, but a shift in control of Congress come November could give them more momentum.

The policy paper divides the different proposals along three lines:

  1. Combating disinformation,
  2. Protecting user privacy,
  3. Promoting competition in the tech space.

The details: Options listed in the paper run the gamut from those that are relatively small lifts to more sweeping policy options.

  • New resources and roles for government: The paper raises the prospect of new federal funding for media literacy programs that could help consumers sort through the information on online platforms. It also describes the military and intelligence communities as not adequately prepared for foreign information operations and includes various measures for bolstering their capabilities.
  • New rules for platforms: The paper considers requiring web platforms to label bot accounts or do more to identify authentic accounts, with the threat of sanction by the Federal Trade Commission if they fail to do so.
  • But it also goes further: One idea would be to make platforms legally liable for claims like “defamation, invasion of privacy, false light, and public disclosure of private facts” if they fail to take down doctored video and audio or so-called deep fakes (or fabricated footage), if a victim secured a necessary judgement regarding the sharing of that content.
  • Another would hang an “essential facility” label on certain widely-used tech products, like Google Maps. That would require them to offer access on “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” terms and not engage in “self-dealing or preferential conduct.”
  • New powers for consumers: Warner’s staffers raised the idea of a law mimicking Europe’s GDPR privacy rules in the United States or offering a more limited right for users to consent to the use of their data.
  • The report also suggested that, to increase visibility into competition, platforms could put a monetary value on an individual user’s data.

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The paper acknowledges these policy ideas come with plenty of questions: “In many cases there may be flaws in each proposal that may undercut the goal the proposal is trying achieve, or pose a political problem that simply can’t be overcome at this time.”

What they’re saying: “The size and reach of these platforms demand we ensure proper oversight, transparency, and effective management of technologies that in large measure undergird our social lives, our economy, and our politics. The hope is the ideas enclosed here stir the pot and spark a wider discussion — among policymakers, stakeholders, and civil society groups — on the appropriate trajectory of technology policy in the coming years.”

What they’re not saying: The list doesn’t include the possibility of breaking up any of the large tech platforms — as some activists have called for — or establishing a new federal regulator for digital issues.

“You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.”

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The big picture: Warner, who made his fortune in telecommunications before running for office, has been a prominent critic of major social media platforms from his perch as top Democrat overseeing the intelligence committee’s investigation of Russian election interference. Other members of Congress say they share some of his concerns about disinformation, privacy, and competition.

Reality check: Even with vocal support, major tech policy proposals often fail to reach the velocity needed to actually be enacted.

 

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