Blog Archive

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BKC Policy Practice: Digital Pandemic Response provides practical guidance, expert opinion for decision makers

Public and private policymakers are facing difficult questions about using digital tools and data for mitigating the global COVID-19 pandemic, and they are collaborating with the new BKC Policy Practice: Digital Pandemic Response program at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society to work through them. 

The Digital Pandemic Response team works with decision makers as they navigate this uncharted territory. Recently, for instance, members proposed steps governors should take to improve the current testing delays in the U.S. 

“Dealing with the pandemic is not just a medical issue, or a public health issue, or a technological issue. It’s a leadership issue,” said Jonathan Zittrain,  BKC co-founder and Faculty Director. “Many state and local government officials have been working diligently not only to respond locally, but to coordinate nationally. There are many gaps to fill and new institutional relationships to forge for that to happen.” 

Digital Pandemic Response is

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Turkey to restrict social media

Turkish lawmakers passed legislation Wednesday that would give the government sweeping new powers to regulate social media content.

The bill orders social media platforms with over 1 million daily users — such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — to open offices in Turkey and imposes stiff penalties if the international companies refuse, including slowing the bandwidth of the sites and making them largely inaccessible.

These offices would be responsible for responding to the demands of the government and individuals to block or remove content hosted on their platforms that is deemed offensive. They would have 48 hours to comply and could be fined more than $700,000 if they fail to respond.

The new law, which is expected to go into effect Oct. 1, also requires the social media companies to store user data inside Turkey, raising privacy concerns.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his governing AKP party, having already taken

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UN experts warn of closing digital space amid COVID-19 pandemic – World

GENEVA (30 July 2020) – UN human rights experts today warned of increased patterns of closing of digital spaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

UN Special Rapporteurs* attending the annual RightsCon conference on human rights in the digital age, the first fully online, stressed that “COVID-19 has made us even more reliant on digital technologies and the space they create for civic engagement. With the closing of civic space and restrictions on offline media, access to universal, open, affordable, secure, and stable Internet is vital to save lives, to prevent abuses, to continue to promote and protect human rights and urgently increase access to information”.

“Digital technologies that construct and surround the space in which we conduct our lives during these unprecedented times must not be used by governments or companies to restrict fundamental freedoms, reduce civic space, and target civil society actors, including human rights defenders,” they said.

The independent

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Facebook’s New App E.gg Is Nostalgic for the Old Web

In that context, E.gg is fun to look at, but it also scans as a rhetorical exercise to prove a point. When I reached out to Facebook to hear more about why E.gg was created, I was directed to a recent report—commissioned by Facebook—showing that “about one-third of [the] top 100 most downloaded apps are new entrants each year.” In other words, that there is no monopoly on human attention, and there is plenty of room for creative upstarts. Ime Archibong, the head of the New Product Experimentation team, reiterated this point in an emailed statement, saying, “Last year, the average person had 93 apps installed on their phone and used 41 per month … All of this choice and competition fuels innovation.”

At the hearing, Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado hounded Zuckerberg over the consolidation of the social-media market, listing Myspace, Friendster, Orkut,

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New world disorder: digital attacks on freedom of assembly

The rising tide of protests in 2020 is reigniting discussions on peaceful assembly and association worldwide. With social distancing measures in place, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified challenges to the exercise of these rights in the digital age. Access Now is proud to launch Defending peaceful assembly and association in the digital age: takedowns, shutdowns, and surveillance — our pioneering report on the impacts of technology on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association worldwide. See our report snapshot for a summary.

“It is in an unprecedented  global context the rise of internet shutdowns worldwide, the prevalence of unlawful surveillance, increases in privatization, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that we chose to examine the state of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association from a digital rights perspective,” said Laura O’Brien, U.N. Advocacy Officer at Access Now. “Flourishing facial recognition

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Malaysia opposition condemns applying old video law to social media

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – A decades-old Malaysian law requiring video or film productions to be licensed before being broadcast extends to social media, a minister said on Thursday, prompting an outcry from the opposition over its implications for freedom of expression.

FILE PHOTO: Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia April 23, 2019. REUTERS/Joseph Sipalan/File Photo

Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah told parliament that licences were needed “regardless of whether they are mainstream media agencies or personal media that broadcast films on social media or traditional channels”.

Opposition lawmakers accused the government of trying to cast a wide regulatory net on social media content using a 1981 National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) Act, which predates the internet.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim said the minister’s interpretation was a “worrying development”, saying: “This is unreasonable and backwards. At the same time, the government

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U.S. appeals court blocks Trump appointee Michael Pack’s changes to Open Technology Fund, a U.S. internet freedom group

Pack had fired the technology group’s top officials and bipartisan board since being confirmed June 4 as chief executive of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees Voice of America and four U.S. government-funded news outlets: the Open Technology Fund, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

Seven U.S. senators, including Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), wrote Pack expressing “deep concern” about the staff cuts he has ordered. Republican House members have also aired misgivings, and four existing board members, including two former U.S. ambassadors, filed suit to halt the changes.

A lower court said earlier in the case that international broadcasting sponsored by the United States for nearly 80 years has served as a “trusted and authoritative global news source” and model of journalistic excellence that has helped to undermine and topple some of history’s most oppressive regimes.

“The defendant, Michael

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China Fastest Growing Digital Media Market in the World

LONDON—The growth of the global digital media industry has been significant over the last few years as content consumption on the internet gains in popularity, and nowhere has that been more evident than in China.

According to a report new data from Statista Global Consumer Survey, reported on by GoldenCasinoNews, the world’s five largest digital media markets—the U.S., China, Japan, the U.K. and Germany—are expected to reach $116 billion in value in 2020, an increase of $18.2 billion from the market’s value in 2017 ($97.8 billion). 

The digital media industry includes audio/visual media content distributed over the internet, including digital video content, music, video games and electronically published content.

The U.S. is still the largest market for digital media in the world, expected to reach a value of $51.3 billion in 2020, which is an increase of $6.9 billion since 2017. 

However, China, which is the second largest market,

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Independent Digital Media Is Being Shut Down Around the World, and We’re Being Distracted From It

Amid the current global pandemic (also known as COVID-19), the shut down of independent digital media all over the world has started to become prevalent. Persecution by the government against critical journalists and media agencies are prevalent.

We are all distracted by the news. We seem to accidentally ignore the charges the government gives to its critics, including journalists and media outlets. Widespread criticisms, demands for accountability, and fact-based news – these are what political news websites show its readers. But crackdowns from authorities seem to hold news by the neck. Is this a sign of media shutdown and censorship?

All world leaders (and even celebrities) know that critics are a part of the package. No matter how great, or poor, a leader’s performance can be, there will always be an individual or a group of people who would not share the same visions and provide a critique to any

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Everything you need to know about global digital usage in July 2020

The global digital landscape is still evolving rapidly as we enter the second half of 2020, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continuing to influence and reshape various aspects of people’s daily lives. 

Lockdowns may have been lifted across across the world, but many of the new digital behaviors that people adopted during confinement have endured, resulting in meaningful increases in various kinds of digital activity.

For context, Akamai reports that global internet traffic has grown by as much as 30% this year, while research from GlobalWebIndex shows that we’re still spending considerably more time using connected tech than we were at the start of 2020.

All of this increased activity has resulted in some important milestones and trends in the new Digital 2020 July Global Statshot report, produced in partnership between We Are Social and Hootsuite

Key headlines this quarter include:

  • More than half of the world now uses
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