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Internet Free Speech All But Dead

Internet Free Speech All But Dead

Postby smix » Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:14 pm

Internet Free Speech All But Dead
American Free Press

URL: http://americanfreepress.net/internet-f ... -but-dead/
Category: Politics
Published: June 7, 2019

Description: Unelected, unnamed censors are operating across the Internet to suppress “unapproved” content.
The Internet was originally promoted as a completely free and uncensored mechanism for people everywhere to exchange views and communicate, but it has been observed by many users that that is not really true anymore. Both governments and the service providers have developed a taste for controlling the product, with President Barack Obama once considering a “kill switch“ that would turn off the Internet completely in the event of a “national emergency.” President Donald Trump has also had a lot to say about fake news and is reported to be supporting limiting protections relating to the Internet. In May, a “net neutrality” bill that would have prevented service providers from manipulating Internet traffic passed in the House of Representatives, but it is reported to be “dead on arrival” in the Senate, so it will never be enacted. Social networking sites have voluntarily employed technical fixes that restrict some content and have also hired “reviewers” who look for objectionable material and remove it. Pending European legislation, meanwhile, might require Internet search engines to eliminate access to many unacceptable old posts. YouTube has already been engaged in deleting existing old material and is working with biased “partners” like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to set up guidelines to restrict future content. Many users of Facebook will have already undoubtedly noted that some contacts have been blocked temporarily (or even permanently) and denied access to the site. Google now automatically disables or limits searches for material that it deems to be undesirable. If Google does not approve of something it will either not appear in search results or it will be very low on the list. And what does come up will likely favor content that derives from those who pay Google to promote their products or services. Information that originates with competitors will either be very low in the search results or even blocked. Google is consequently hardly an unbiased source of information. In May 2017 Facebook announced that it would be hiring 3,000 new censors, and my own experience of social networking censorship soon followed. I had posted an article entitled “Charlottesville Requiem” that I had written for a website. At the end of the first day, the site managers noticed that, while the article had clearly attracted a substantial Facebook readership, the “likes” for the piece were not showing up on the screen counter, i.e., were not being tabulated. It was also impossible to share the piece on Facebook, as the button to do so had been removed. The “likes” on sites like Facebook, Yahoo! news comments, YouTube, and Google are important because they automatically determine how the piece is distributed throughout the site. If there are a lot of likes, the piece goes to the top when a search is made or when someone opens the page. Articles similarly can be sent to Coventry if they receive a lot of dislikes or negative marks, so the approvals or disapprovals can be very important in determining what kind of audience is reached or what a search will reveal. In my case, after one day my page reverted to normal, the “likes” reappeared, and readers were again able to share the article. But it was clear that someone had been managing what I had posted, apparently because there had been disapproval of my content based on what must have been a political judgment. A couple of days later, I learned of another example of a similar incident. The Ron Paul Institute (RPI) website posts much of its material on YouTube (owned by Google) on a site where there had been advertising that kicked back to RPI a small percentage of the money earned. Suddenly, without explanation, both the ads and rebate were eliminated after a “manual review” determined the content to be “unsuitable for all advertisers.” This was a judgment rendered apparently due to disapproval of what the institute does and says. The ability to comment on and link from the pieces was also turned off. Dissident British former diplomat Craig Murray also noted in April 2018 the secretive manipulation of his articles that are posted on Facebook, observing that his “site’s visitor numbers [were] currently around one-third normal levels, stuck at around 20,000 unique visitors per day. The cause [was] not hard to find. Normally over half of our visitors arrive via Facebook. These last few days, virtually nothing has come from Facebook. What is especially pernicious is that Facebook deliberately imposes this censorship in a secretive way. The primary mechanism when a block is imposed by Facebook is that my posts to Facebook are simply not sent into the timelines of the large majority of people who are friends or who follow. I am left to believe the post has been shared with them, but in fact it has only been shown to a tiny number. Then, if you are one of the few recipients and do see the post and share it, it will show to you on your timeline as shared, but in fact the vast majority of your own friends will also not receive it. Facebook is not doing what it is telling you it is doing—it shows you it is shared—and Facebook is deliberately concealing that fact from you. Twitter has a similar system known as ‘shadow banning.’ Again, it is secretive and the victim is not informed.” More recently, pressure to censor Internet social networking and information sites has increased, coming both from government and from various interested constituencies. In late May, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss how to eliminate “hate speech” on the Internet. The two men agreed that the United States Internet model, in spite of already being heavily manipulated, is too laissez faire, and expressed an interest in exploring the French system where it is considered acceptable to ban unacceptable points of view. Zuckerberg suggested that it might serve as a good model for the entire European Union. France is reportedly considering legislation that establishes a regulator with power to fine Internet companies up to 4% of their global revenue, which can in some cases be an enormous sum, if they do not curb hateful expressions. So unelected, unnamed censors are operating all around the Internet to control the content, which I suppose should surprise no one, and the interference will only get worse as both governments and service providers are willing to do what it takes to eliminate views that they find unacceptable—which, curiously enough, leads one to consider how “Russiagate” came about and the current hysteria being generated in the conventional media and also online against both Venezuela and Iran. How much of the anger is essentially fake, being manipulated or even fabricated by large companies that earn mega billions of dollars by offering under false pretenses a heavily managed product that largely does what the government wants? Banning hate speech will be, unfortunately, only the first step in eliminating any and all criticisms of the status quo.
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The EU Will Be The End Of Free Speech Online

Postby smix » Fri Jun 07, 2019 6:38 pm

The EU Will Be The End Of Free Speech Online
Forbes

URL: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleeta ... ch-online/
Category: Politics
Published: June 6, 2019

Description: The early years of unfettered free speech online, where citizens could openly discuss topics like democracy and freedom and condemn dictatorships, was long predicted to end in the hands of those very dictators. Countries like China and Russia were to be the villains that rid the internet of free expression in order to suppress dissent. Instead, it is the EU that has emerged as the single greatest threat to global digital freedoms. Its latest foray into digital repression comes courtesy of an EU Court of Justice advocate general, who argued that the EU should be granted the right to suppress free speech globally, censoring any discussion in any country with which it disagrees. One of the greatest dangers with the EU’s movement towards greater legislative intervention in the digital realm is that to date its attempts have all backfired spectacularly. GDPR not only rolled back most of the continent’s previous protections, including permitting facial recognition for the first time, but built so many loopholes and exemptions into its enforcement that it has become nothing more than empty words rather than an actual enforceable law. In fact, the EU Commission itself perhaps put it best last month. When asked what it saw as the benefits that GDPR has brought to the EU’s citizens, the Commission offered only silence. If the EU Commission cannot think of a single benefit that GDPR has brought, it speaks volumes to the reality that the economic exploitation of EU citizen personal data is simply too valuable to the EU economy for lawmakers to risk upsetting social media companies. The EU’s latest attempt to curb Internet freedoms, involves the case of an EU lawmaker who became aware of a Facebook post criticizing the official political policies of her party. An anonymous citizen had shared a news article about those policies on Facebook and made three comments criticizing the policies. The post made no personal attacks on the lawmaker nor any reference to a protected class. It was what in the United States would be considered a mundane social media post criticizing the policy of a political party. Like many politicians across the world, this particular lawmaker wished to have such negative commentary censored. However, rather than banned only in their own country, the lawmaker wished for the power to suppress any similar criticism of their policies by anyone globally. A US citizen residing in the US expressing similar sentiments should have their post deleted according to this interpretation. One of the EU Court’s advocate generals agreed and this week issued nonbinding guidance to the Court that the EU should force Facebook and other social media platforms to grant EU lawmakers the right to suppress negative commentary about themselves globally in all countries. If the EU succeeds in its quest, it is almost guaranteed that every government around the world will demand the same rights, permitting the repressive regimes of the world to censor global dissent. This raises the question of how the EU views the benefits of its own lawmakers being able to censor global criticism of themselves versus the risks of the world’s repressive governments obtaining the same powers. To examine the EU’s perspective on these implications, the EU Commission was asked for comment on three key concerns raised by this opinion. The first was that if the EU were to obtain global censorship powers, “repressive governments from China to Russia would be almost guaranteed to demand similar rights, with China being able for example to censor all discussion of Tiananmen Square globally [and thus] why does the EU feel that the ability of countries to expand their censorship globally is not problematic?” The second was that “the EU would not pursue global censorship powers without weighing the risks of empowering governments like China and Russia to obtain similar powers to censor all discussion of their governments globally. Has the EU published any of this deliberation? Can you comment on why you feel the benefits outweigh the risks in this case?” Finally, given the substantial tension between the EU and Russia, the EU Commission was asked “Would the EU support the ability of Russia to obtain similar powers to censor criticism of its leaders on Facebook by EU citizens? If not, why does the EU believe only it should have that power?” Asked for comment on these implications, the EU Commission noted that it does not comment directly on advocate general opinions. Asked to set the advocate general opinion aside and simply answer in the general case, completely independent of that opinion, would the EU Commission support the right of governments of China and Russia to censor all criticism of their lawmakers globally and what research it had conducted on this issue regarding the risk/reward tradeoff of new censorship powers. The Commission declined to answer. It is telling that the EU Commission would not comment on its adversaries gaining the powers it itself seeks and that it also could not point to research on the risk/reward tradeoff of the EU gaining new powers that will also confer onto its adversaries. Therein lies perhaps the greatest challenge of the globalized Web. Every country wants the right to exert its control globally without granting the same rights to its adversaries. The problem is that in a globalized Web, if the EU’s courts grant it the right to force Facebook to censor content globally that it disagrees with, it will set a legal precedent that other countries will follow, giving Facebook little choice but to comply with similar court orders in other countries. In short, if the EU gains the right to censor criticism of its government by Russian citizens, Russia will also gain the right to censor criticism of its government by EU citizens. The problem is that EU lawmakers once again are failing to consider the unintended consequences of their actions: in a globalized world with globalized companies, the censorship rights one government gains are the censorship rights that all governments gain. Putting this all together, as governments across the world increasingly seek to censor global speech to force the entire world into compliance with their own perspectives on acceptable speech, it is increasingly unclear how the Web might survive this growing conflict without fragmenting.
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‘Principled’ Rightists Have Forgotten What the Principles Are.

Postby smix » Sun Jun 16, 2019 4:25 pm

‘Principled’ Rightists Have Forgotten What the Principles Are.
Human Events

URL: https://humanevents.com/2019/06/15/prin ... iples-are/
Category: Politics
Published: June 15, 2019

Description: The government is no longer the biggest threat to individual liberty. Libertarians must adjust their tactics to deal with Big Tech or risk losing it all.
While it is no secret that Big Tech is blatantly censoring and discriminating against conservative political activity online, many balk at calls for government intervention. On the right side of the aisle, many often cite valid libertarian concerns, such as the importance of safeguard the “free market” against government intervention. But in order to combat Big Tech’s oppressive behavior, the values that led us to these philosophies in the first instance must be protected, too. Western civilization embarked upon a course of protecting the freedoms of the individual. Most of human history has seen incursions along these lines from government. But what about when corporations which are bigger than many governments are assailing individual liberty? About what about when they are monopolies? If the ultimate goal is freedom, then we should be willing to adjust our thinking when we’re losing.
TAKING A NAP.
Libertarianism is based largely around the Non Aggression Principle (NAP), the notion that aggression against individuals or their property is inherently wrong. This principle resonates because of the fundamental truth that the absence of aggression results in human prosperity. The goal is objective goodness, active respect for humanity, and the progression of society. There is an armchair libertarianism that is fundamentally flawed, and has abandoned the NAP altogether, where total value is placed on the ability of the market to function free of government interference. Unfettered capitalism is held up as an example of the absence of economic aggression, and it is true in most cases that limiting government influence over private transactions achieves success. Laissez-faire capitalism has created more human prosperity than any other system. Limiting government generally leads to economic prosperity because individuals are allowed to flourish economically. But many liberty lovers today have fallen into a trap. Some of us have become so attached to minimizing government power we have mistaken it for a value in and of itself. Some have allowed themselves to get so wrapped up in the fact that this rule of thumb is so often true, that they have forgotten why it is true. The practical tenets of libertarianism find moral validity in their stance against aggression from the offenders, not because of who those aggressors are. In America we’re lucky to be able to say our government is a creation of (and a function of) its people. Advocates for limited government in this country are constantly reminding one another the only valid function of government is to protect the natural rights of the people. It is agreed upon in such circles that these rights include the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom from violence or physical harm, and the right to property. Why then, when the assailant of those rights becomes huge, multinational corporations, do we have such a hard time allowing government to perform its supposed proper function? Proponents of liberty have been conditioned to believe government is the sole proprietor of oppression. For some time this was true. But the playing field looks incredibly different today. In the past few years a new reality has emerged where a handful of corporations have virtually complete control over public conversation. This includes elections, the disbursement of information, news, and everything in between. Protected by the rights of “private companies” these entities control who gets to say what, and who sees it. Protected also by mercurial and ever-changing “Terms of Service” agreements, companies scam Americans out of private information in exchange for the promise of free expression and open communication. When those companies decide to pull the plug on individuals for such reasons as “dangerous” speech, the individual’s information is already in use, has already been sold, and is no longer private. They have no need to live up to their end of the bargain. They already have what they need from you. The “free market” economic solution appears to be for those who don’t like this reality to not use the products. Leave social media, build a new Twitter, and further asinine and unrealistic commentary. But alternative services are blocked by the distributors of smartphones. Apple blocks single channels on Telegram that include conversations the tech giant doesn’t approve of. Recently, Project Veritas revealed Pinterest is actively censoring pro-life content. Twitter responded by suspending Project Veritas’ account, and YouTube removed the video containing the investigative report. This all happened within hours. Our fight is one against a web of huge corporations with common goals, including control of the national political conversation. In order to build your own Twitter, you must build your own iPhone and your own App Store. Oh, you also need your own Verizon. And probably your own Mastercard too. All in order to freely communicate. In an effort to remain “consistent”, it is easy to forget the principles behind libertarianism are not based in a blind hatred of government action. That’s not a principle. They are based in values such as individual liberty. Freedom is a value. Peace is a value. Keeping government small is not a value. It is a way of protecting the above. While freedom and liberty are valid and important principles to hold dear, for one’s entire ideology to be based around nothing more than freedom from government intervention is flawed. In order to be intellectually honest, we must focus on freedom from all aggression, no matter the source. Government has historically been the largest culprit. This is no longer the case. When our enemies change, we must adjust our tactics.
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