Tech Law Policy Blog Tracking the Most Important Research and Developments in Tech Law & Policy

Friday Links: Moar Disinformation


How Taiwan is trying to combat disinformation without “censorship.” What they try to do is monitor social media, spot disinformation early on, and then launch a government counter-narrative to combat the disinformation. It’s an interesting idea, but the Digital Minister acknowledges that, “[t]ruth to be told, it is actually very exhausting.” I suspect this would be difficult if not impossible to do on a larger scale. Also, would you want to be inundated with Trump-sponsored “counter-narratives” (or Bernie-sponsored counter-narratives, or Biden-sponsored counter-narratives)?

Chuck Cosson of CiS makes a similar argument about how to respond to disinformation. “[T]he most reliable forms of defense involve critical and informed users.  Robust resistance to phishing and social engineering, as well as defenses against “fake news” and disinformation campaigns, is unlikely to be fully achieved on the basis of refinements to the tools (including information platforms).  It will require designers and users to, to the extent possible, acquire greater understanding of themselves as sorters and interpreters of information.”

Cass Sunstein argues for a more aggressive approach, one analogous to libel law.

I’m with Sunstein on this. I don’t think education campaigns alone can handle this problem.

Ben Thompson’s analysis of the Wall Street Journal report that Google is under antitrust investigation with the DOJ. Perhaps the most noteworthy observation is that there have been antitrust rumblings with Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and Google now under the Trump administration, and the left has been making even more noise about antitrust with these same companies. Both parties have their targets set on the FANGs (albeit for different reasons). It’s a matter of time before something happens.

Karl Bode at Tech Dirt asks, “If ‘Big Tech’ Is a Huge Antitrust Problem, Why Are We Ignoring Telecom?” He seems to think that the big telecom companies are using their considerable lobbying influence to get antitrust movement against Silicon Valley, when their own businesses are natural monopolies.

Related: The tech policy institute has a new research paper on the anti-competitive effects of the UK’s pro-competition policy. I agree with much in the paper, but the defense of Google and Facebook’s strangehold on the increasingly important digital advertising market seems weak. And, whether I agree with them or not, it certainly seems like antitrust actions and antitrust rumblings against the FANGs will be the norm for the foreseeable future.

MIT Tech Review says Chinese CRISPR babies are at risk of premature death. I’m not an expert on CRISPR or gene manipulation. But whenever I think of CRISPR I think of Dolly the Sheep. I don’t doubt that gene manipulation will one day be an important technology with hugely important ramifications for humankind. But I suspect we’ll have a lot of questionable moments between now and when we arrive at that point.

Law firm Reed Smith’s analysis of GDPR one year in. Theirs is a little more measured and less acrimonious than mine. Still, there’s this: “regulators have signalled that large fines for non-compliance are imminent.”

Once again, with the EU, it is do as I say, not as I do. The EU suffers a data breach and doesn’t tell anyone.

Speaking of which, rumblings that New York might be the next state to adopt a comprehensive privacy policy law.

New law review articles:

Rule by Rules, by Michael Livermore. The author analyzes whether a fully computational legal structure is possible. Possible, sure? .001% chance? .0001% chance? But is it likely? No. Still, an interesting intellectual exercise.

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