Big Tech to face higher scrutiny as they may be tagged as publishers
Actions by India and Australia come amid growing calls for new regulations to rein in the powers of technology platforms, including Meta (formerly Facebook), Alphabet Inc, and Twitter.
These companies are increasingly facing antitrust investigations, calls for algorithmic accountability, and new policies on content moderation.
Raising the possibility of additional regulation, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said last week that the new inquiry will have a wide scope, including asking lawmakers to investigate the algorithms used by social media platforms, how the companies verify identification and age, and the extent to which restrictions on these are being enforced.
Earlier in the week, Instagram’s top executive Adam Mosseri clashed with US senators over the photo-sharing app’s impact on young users, during a contentious hearing where lawmakers argued for stricter government oversight of social-media apps. ‘Time for self-policing is over,’ Senator Richard Blumenthal told Mosseri.
India, which is finalising its data protection law, is planning to classify social media platforms as content publishers.
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Social media entities are publishers of content, have to be “accountable” for the content on their platforms and cannot take cover behind their “algorithms” when it comes to online harm, discrimination of users, and spread of misinformation, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Union Minister of State for Electronics and IT told ET in an exclusive interview last month.
The government is alarmed by recent revelations by whistle-blower Frances Haugen, especially about an India experiment where a dummy user’s feed was filled with fake news and hate speech within three weeks of opening the account.
Google and Meta did not reply to emails. Twitter directed ET to its recent position paper where it had cautioned that ‘Open Internet’ was more at risk now than ever before. The microblogging platform said there was a need for coordinated, multi-stakeholder strategy to defend free, secure, and global open internet.
Australia has already implemented tough new laws that make both tech companies pay local media for content, while Canberra has proposed laws that would force them to share the identities of people with anonymous accounts if another person accuses them of defamation. “Big tech has big questions to answer,” Morrison said. “Big Tech created these platforms, they have a responsibility to ensure they’re safe.”
Australian MP Craig Kelly, who has been permanently banned from Facebook and criticised for the online distribution of “seriously misleading” information about Covid-19 vaccines, was appointed to a parliamentary committee looking into social media and online safety.
Kelly has called for social media companies to be reined in, and has argued that Facebook’s move is in contempt of parliament and amounts to improper interference.
(News Source -Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Times Of Nation staff and is published from a economictimes.indiatimes.com feed.)
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