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Category Archives: Censorship

Social Media: Threat to or Tool of Authoritarianism?

HBR – “…Given the growing weight of social media’s influence on society, the key question is whether social media will become a sentinel against systematic oppression and injustice, effectively posing a serious challenge to authoritarian regimes. In the case of China, while social media may not have the power to cause a regime change, it will, in coming years, challenge the government’s ironclad authority and lack of accountability to its people. This clearly manifests in times of crisis, most recently, with the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak…Automated censorship driven by cutting edge research in machine learning and artificial intelligence can be just as counterproductive. Contrary to popular opinion, Chinese surveillance is not the black-and-white image of evil, oppression, and ruthless efficiency suggested by George Orwell’s dystopian totalitarian state in his book, 1984. Human ingenuity in using allusions, abbreviations, and other linguistic devices has allowed criticisms of the government to get past censors: a simple example is “Wuhan,” a censored word on some platforms which replaced with an abbreviated form,“wh,” can no longer be detected. Just as veiled critiques of the government have filtered through censoring software,  articles and videos spreading misinformation about the virus have utilized similar techniques in getting past censors. Thus the wreckage left behind by censorship procedures is a combination of frustration and mistrust…”

How the World Missed COVID-19’s Silent Spread

The New York Times – “…Interviews with doctors and public health officials in more than a dozen countries show that for two crucial months — and in the face of mounting genetic evidence — Western health officials and political leaders played down or denied the risk of symptomless spreading. Leading health agencies including the World… Continue Reading

John Bolton’s Book That Trump Wanted to Stop Is Spreading Widely on Piracy Sites

Motherboard: ‘The Room Where it Happened’ is tearing up the charts on sites where people download the book for free. Former National Security Advisor John Bolton’s memoir The Room Where It Happened is set to release tomorrow, but it’s already a huge hit on pirate sites. According to Torrent Freak, The Pirate Bay, Google Drive,… Continue Reading

Complaint: Trump Sues John Bolton Over His Memoir

Law.com – “…This is a civil action by the United States to prevent Defendant John R. Bolton, a former National Security Advisor, from compromising national security by publishing a book containing classified information,” the Justice Department said in its complaint Tuesday in Washington. The Trump administration on Tuesday went to court in Washington in an… Continue Reading

The Economist Democracy Index 2019

“The twelfth edition of the Democracy Index finds that the average global score has fallen from 5.48 in 2018, to 5.44. This is the worst average global score since The Economist Intelligence Unit first produced the Democracy Index in 2006. Driven by sharp regressions in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, four out of the five… Continue Reading

Voter Registration: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress

CRS report via LC: Voter Registration: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress. June 10, 2020: “…The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) expanded registration opportunities by creating a federal mail-based registration form and requiring states to provide voter registration opportunities alongside services provided by departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) and at other agencies. NVRA… Continue Reading

Section 230 and the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship

CRS Legal Sidebar via LC – Section 230 and the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship – June 3, 2020: “On May 28, 2020, President Trump issued the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship (EO), expressing the executive branch’s views on Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. As discussed in this Legal Sidebar,… Continue Reading

Trump’s order to curtail power of social media giants faces legal challenge

Legal Insider: “Mayer Brown has filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump on behalf of non-profit digital rights group Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), alleging that his recent executive order to curtail the protection of social media giants such as Twitter violates the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech. The lawsuit alleges that… Continue Reading

AG Barr on DC protests – expect increased law enforcement in the region

@ABCNewsPolitics: “Attorney General Bill Barr releases statement on protests in Washington, D.C., saying, “there will be even greater law enforcement resources and support in the region tonight…” Meanwhile our area remains under surveillance overhead by military helicopters, planes and drones. Via Wired – The Feds Are Now Using ‘Stingrays’ in Planes to Spy on Our… Continue Reading

Bad state data hides coronavirus threat as Trump pushes reopening

Politico – Test counts inflated, death tolls deflated, metrics shifted: “Federal and state officials across the country have altered or hidden public health data crucial to tracking the coronavirus’ spread, hindering the ability to detect a surge of infections as President Donald Trump pushes the nation to reopen rapidly. In at least a dozen states,… Continue Reading

How to Preserve Civil Liberties in a Pandemic

POGO – “As the coronavirus pandemic continues, our country faces numerous challenges that will require not only extraordinary responses, but extraordinary vigilance to prevent the abuse of power during this crisis. And as unprecedented as many of these challenges are, the fear the virus provokes is not entirely novel. Accordingly, responses to past crises—most notably,… Continue Reading

Trump signs order that may impact how social media manage content

Washington Post – “President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that could open the door for the U.S. government to assume oversight of political speech on the Internet, a broadside against Silicon Valley that a wide array of critics derided as a threat to free speech. The new directive seeks to change a federal… Continue Reading