Weekly Roundup 6 July, 2022
The Taiwan National Communications Commission has approved the draft Digital Intermediary Service Act, legislation which would require platforms to improve content moderation, transparency, and localization. The Act creates a mechanism for users to request content removal, requires platforms to submit to external audits of content moderation and make advertising algorithms more transparent, and facilitates data sharing of takedowns with a public repository. The law would also require platforms to be represented by a local agent.
Such a law would be a significant step forward for content moderation. For Taiwan, the integrity of the information sphere is an existential threat as China amplifies disinformation as part of its efforts to reclaim the island. If approved by the Taiwanese Parliament, this law would apply to platforms with more than 2.3 million active users. The Asia Internet Coalition, a lobby group which includes large platforms and has regularly argued that similar proposed regulations would be bad for innovation, has indicated plans to respond to the draft act. However, some of the draft Digital Intermediary Service Act parallels the European Union’s Digital Services Act, and the similar timing of their releases may provide both the EU and Taiwan with more power over platforms.
Gender and Inclusion
- Amazon has drawn withering criticism after it defended its decision to block purchases and searches for LGBT-related products in the UAE. The tech company claimed that it had an obligation to be compliant with the UAE’s local laws, which explicitly criminalize same-sex relationships.
- Facebook and Instagram have begun to remove posts mentioning abortion pills in the U.S. after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Dobbs vs. Jackson last Friday. Meta defended these moves as being in line with their prohibition on the sale of certain items, such as drugs and pharmaceuticals.
Global Tech Policy
- Brazil is the latest country to consider enforcing a universal USB-C requirement for all smartphones, tablets, and digital cameras sold in the country. Brazilian regulators cited recent European and American policies as inspiration for the proposed change.
- SpaceX is warning U.S. regulators that if 5G providers are permitted to use certain bands of spectrum, users will no longer have access to the company’s Starlink internet service. The conflict posed by 12GHz is just the latest challenge in fully implementing a 5G infrastructure, with other critics concerning the technology's potential to interfere with commercial planes.
- The EU has moved to aggressively clamp down on the volatility of the cryptocurrency market after the precipitous crash earlier this year. The Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) law will be the first comprehensive crypto regulation to date, putting pressure on US and UK lawmakers to follow suit.
- The Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG) moved to shut down 36 sites associated with hack-for-hire groups in Russia, India, and the UAE. Hack-for-hire groups essentially act as mercenaries for clients to target activists, government agencies, and journalists critical of their activities.
- Russia has launched a new disinformation campaign targeting the legitimacy of the EU in response to Ukraine and Moldova’s recent candidacy to the economic bloc. False narratives present the EU as enslaving member states, using the two eastern European countries as political tools, and as a Romanian plot to annex Moldova are currently being propagated by Russian state media outlets.
Data Protection and Privacy
- In response to mounting U.S. criticism, TikTok recently penned a letter to Republican lawmakers detailing how the app will keep American users’ data secure from ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company headquartered in China. Lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned that TikTok, a widely used and popular platform in the United States, could be sharing user data directly with the Chinese government.