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Offsite Article: California's war on internet freedom...


Link Here19th September 2022
Full story: Internet Censorship in US...Left leaning media companies cancel the right
New state laws claiming to protect children will infantilise us all. By Norman Lewis

See article from spiked-online.com

 

 

Offsite Article: The Political Fixation With Shifting The Blame Onto Porn...


Link Here 5th June 2022
In the desperation to find something to blame apart from the obvious, sexual expression is always a go-to distraction.

See article from reprobatepress.com

 

 

The Kids Online Safety Act...

Is a US version of the UK Online Safety Bill forcing Platforms to Spy on Young People


Link Here27th March 2022

Putting children under surveillance and limiting their access to information doesn't make them safer--in fact, research suggests just the opposite. Unfortunately those tactics are the ones endorsed by the Kids Online Safety Act of 2022 (KOSA), introduced by Sens. Blumenthal and Blackburn. The bill deserves credit for attempting to improve online data privacy for young people, and for attempting to update 1998's Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). But its plan to require surveillance and censorship of anyone under sixteen would greatly endanger the rights, and safety, of young people online.

KOSA would require the following:

  • A new legal duty for platforms to prevent certain harms: KOSA outlines a wide collection of content that platforms can be sued for if young people encounter it, including "promotion of self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, and other matters that pose a risk to physical and mental health of a minor."

  • Compel platforms to provide data to researchers

  • An elaborate age-verification system, likely run by a third-party provider

  • Parental controls, turned on and set to their highest settings, to block or filter a wide array of content

There are numerous concerns with this plan. The parental controls would in effect require a vast number of online platforms to create systems for parents to spy on--and control--the conversations young people are able to have online, and require those systems be turned on by default. It would also likely result in further tracking of all users.

ights organizations agree have a greater need for privacy and independence than younger teens and kids. And in contrast to COPPA's age self-verification scheme, KOSA would authorize a federal study of "the most technologically feasible options for developing systems to verify age at the device or operating system level." Age verification systems are troubling--requiring such systems could hand over significant power, and private data, to third-party identity verification companies like Clear or ID.me . Additionally, such a system would likely lead platforms to set up elaborate age-verification systems for everyone, meaning that all users would have to submit personal data.

Lastly, KOSA's incredibly broad definition of a covered platform would include any "commercial software application or electronic service that connects to the internet and that is used, or is reasonably likely to be used, by a minor." That would likely encompass everything from Apple's iMessage and Signal to web browsers, email applications and VPN software, as well as platforms like Facebook and TikTok--platforms with wildly different user bases and uses. It's also unclear how deep into the 'tech stack' such a requirement would reach -- web hosts or domain registries likely aren't the intended platforms for KOSA, but depending on interpretation, could be subject to its requirements. And, the bill raises concerns about how providers of end-to-end encrypted messaging platforms like iMessage, Signal, and WhatsApp would interpret their duty to monitor minors' communications, with the potential that companies will simply compromise encryption to avoid litigation.

Censorship Isn't the Answer

KOSA would force sites to use filters to block content--filters that we've seen, time and time again, fail to properly distinguish"good" speech from "bad" speech. The types of content targeted by KOSA are complex, and often dangerous--but discussing them is not bad by default . It's very hard to differentiate between minors having discussions about these topics in a way that encourages them, as opposed to a way that discourages them. Under this bill, all discussion and viewing of these topics by minors should be blocked.

Research already exists showing bans like these don't work: when Tumblr banned discussions of anorexia, it discovered that the keywords used in pro-anorexia content were the same ones used to discourage anorexia. Other research has shown that bans like these actually make the content easier to find by forcing people to create new keywords to discuss it (for example, "thinspiration" became "thynsperation").

The law also requires platforms to ban the potentially infinite category of "other matters that pose a risk to physical and mental health of a minor." As we've seen in the past, whenever the legality of material is up for interpretation, it is far more likely to be banned outright, leaving huge holes in what information is accessible online. The law would seriously endanger access to information to teenagers, who may want to explore ideas without their parents knowledge or approval. For example, they might have questions about sexual health that they do not feel safe asking their parents about, or they may want to help a friend with an eating disorder or a substance abuse problem. (Research has shown that a large majority of young people have used the internet for health-related research.)

KOSA would allow individual state attorneys general to bring actions against platforms when the state's residents are "threatened or adversely affected by the engagement of any person in a practice that violates this Act." This leaves it up to individual state attorneys general to decide what topics pose a risk to the physical and mental health of a minor. A co-author of this bill, Sen. Blackburn of Tennessee, has referred to education about race discrimination as " dangerous for kids ." Many states have agreed, and recently moved to limit public education about the history of race , gender, and sexuality discrimination.

Recently, Texas' governor directed the state's Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate gender affirming care as child abuse. KOSA would empower the Texas attorney general to define material that is harmful to children, and the current position of the state would include resources for trans youth. This would allow the state to force online services to remove and block access to that material everywhere--not only Texas. That's not to mention the frequent conflation by tech platforms of LGBTQ content with dangerous "sexually explicit" material. KOSA could result in loss of access to information that a vast majority of people would agree is not dangerous, but is under political attack.

Surveillance Isn't the Answer

Some legitimate concerns are driving KOSA. Data collection is a scourge for every internet user, regardless of age. Invasive tracking of young people by online platforms is particularly pernicious--EFF has long pushed back against remote proctoring , for example.

But the answer to our lack of privacy isn't more tracking. Despite the growing ubiquity of technology to make it easy, surveillance of young people is actually bad for them , even in the healthiest household, and is not a solution to helping young people navigate the internet. Parents have an interest in deciding what their children can view online, but no one could argue that this interest is the same if a child is five or fifteen. KOSA would put all children under sixteen in the same group, and require that specific types of content be hidden from them, and that other content be tracked and logged by parental tools. This would force platforms to more closely watch what all users do.

KOSA's parental controls would give parents, by default, access to monitor and control a young person's online use. While a tool like Apple's Screen Time allows parents to restrict access to certain apps, or limit their usage to certain times, platforms would need to do much more under KOSA. They would have to offer parents the ability to modify the results of any algorithmic recommendation system, "including the right to opt-out or down-rank types or categories of recommendations," effectively deciding for young people what they see -- or don't see -- online. It would also give parents the ability to delete their child's account entirely if they're unhappy with their use of the platform.

ould likely cover features as different as Netflix's auto-playing of episodes and iMessage's new message notifications. Putting these features together under the heading of "addictive" misunderstands which dark patterns actually harm users, including young people.

EFF has long supported comprehensive data privacy legislation for all users. But the Kids Online Safety Act would not protect the privacy of children or adults. It is a heavy-handed plan to force technology companies to spy on young people and stop them from accessing content that is "not in their best interest," as defined by the government, and interpreted by tech platforms.

 

 

An end to denying banking services to the morally incorrect...

US financial regulator proposes a new rule to end the policing of morality by denying banking services


Link Here 8th December 2020
US moralist institutions, including the government, have found that a great way to censor people is to control their financial access.

The best example is Operation Chokepoint , a Department of Justice (DOJ) effort that put pressure on the banking system to cut off financial access for politically disfavored industries, such as sex work or porn production.

Under the Obama administration, regulators such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued threatening letters to financial institutions that processed payments for industries such as payday lenders, gun and ammunition firms, and cryptocurrency companies. The message was clear: cut back on business with these industries, or else. Banks got the hint, and affected firms found it harder and harder to find banking partners.

Bullying banks into doing the government's dirty work was a quick and easy way to get the job done. Even better: it was an extralegal method to get rid of businesses the feds didn't like too much anyway. But of course, if something works, then why not extend it to ever more pet peeves.

For example, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed his Department of Financial Services to issue Operation Chokepoint-style warning letters to financial institutions which provided services to the National Rifle Association. Climate change activists have turned similar tactics towards banks who process payments for oil and gas companies .

But help may now be coming from some unexpected quarters: the OCC, which less than a decade ago had led the charge with Operation Chokepoint. Under the leadership of acting director Brian Brooks, the OCC has proposed a rule change that would make government-supported financial suppression much harder legally.

The Dodd-Frank Act was a sweeping financial reform that, among many other things , authorized the OCC to ensure that nationally chartered banks provide fair access to financial services, and fair treatment of customers. The intention was that minority customers be evaluated for creditworthiness on her or her own individual merits rather than the attributes of their broader group. In other words, a creditworthy individual shouldn't be punished because they belong to some group that is considered high risk in the aggregate.

The OCC would like to apply this thinking to industries through the proposed Fair Access to Financial Services rule. The largest banks in the country--those with more than $100 billion in assets--would be prohibited from red-lining politically disfavored industries just as they are prohibited from red-lining politically oppressed populations. Rather, a gun manufacturer or pornography company or payday lender must be evaluated on the terms of their individual creditworthiness.

The rule does not require that all large banks must do business with all, say, fossil fuel companies, just like banks are not required to extend credit to every single member of a protected class who applies for a loan. Rather, it is a nondiscrimination requirement. Large banks will not be allowed to cut off financial access for disfavored industries just because the government or some other powerful group leans on them to do so.

See more details in article from reason.com


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