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February 28, 2022 T&S Newsletter

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T&S Early Warning News

Get ahead of new stories that are impacting the T&S industry

Google temporarily disables Google Maps live traffic data in Ukraine

Reuters | February 28, 2022

Company Listed: Google

Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google confirmed on Sunday it has temporarily disabled for Ukraine some Google Maps tools which provide live information about traffic conditions and how busy different places are.

The company said it had taken the action of globally disabling the Google Maps traffic layer and live information on how busy places like stores and restaurants are in Ukraine for the safety of local communities in the country, after consulting with sources including regional authorities.

Ukraine is facing attacks from Russian forces who invaded the country on Thursday. As missiles fell on Ukrainian cities, nearly 400,000 civilians, mainly women and children, have fled into neighbouring countries.

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Facebook, Apple and Other Tech Giants Face Rising Pressure Over Ukraine

WSJ | February 27, 2022

Company Listed: Facebook Meta, Apple

U.S. tech giants are under pressure from both Russia and the West to respond to the conflict in Ukraine, highlighting their power over global discourse but also escalating a recent trend in which their businesses are squeezed by geopolitical events.

Analysts say the conflict could accelerate the fracturing of the internet, which not so long ago was largely split between China and the rest of the world. Increasingly, big tech companies are beholden to a patchwork of local rules, leading some to believe the “splinternet” is coming closer to reality.

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Social Media Platforms Face a Difficult Situation to Deal with Misinformation

Pymnts | February 25, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Big Tech companies, and in particular social media platforms, face a new situation where content moderation and removal of misinformation will be of utmost importance. The military conflict in Ukraine is yet another situation where digital platforms may have to play an important role.

Companies are better equipped to deal with disinformation and misinformation now than a few years ago, during the 2016 U.S. elections or the Brexit referendum. However, dealing with content moderation in a military conflict like in Ukraine is easier said than done.

There are solid arguments to support the elimination of content that misleads people about the current situation and to prevent the publication of false pretexts to justify an invasion. On the other hand, especially in these circumstances, people also need to have unimpeded access to these channels to be able to document and report everything that is happening and to communicate with their loved ones.

Perhaps the closest situation to this one occurred last year in Myanmar, where after a military coup, YouTube removed channels run by military forces hoping that this would prevent further incitements of violence. In the end, this also resulted in additional problems for the humanitarian and legal efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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T&S Policies & Regulations

Regulatory news and policy decisions impacting the T&S ecosystem.

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UK decides on a new bill and takes action against trolling on the internet

DigitalInformationWorld | February 27, 2022

Company Listed: social Media

The internet is a vast space full of many good as well as bad things. It is mostly a positive place but it can turn into a negative one because of internet trolls whose main purpose is to spread havoc on the internet and make people feel bad about them.

The United Kingdom authorities are now taking actions against these trolls with a bill called the Online Safety Bill. This bill is launched as a plan to regulate the content on the internet. There was an addition made to it which will be the thing that will protect the web users from those internet Trolls.

The main aims of this bill is to protect children from harmful things like underage watching adult content, pro-suicidal videos while also erasing fully illegal and dangerous things from the internet.

But the bill also has critics who are of the opinion that this bill and this new step will destroy free speech on the internet and will separate Britain from the rest of the world. In addition to this the bill will also increase the costs and risks of handling businesses on the internet.

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Competition regulator mulls data transparency for major platforms

ItNews | February 27, 2022

Company Listed: Meta, Google and Apple

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has kicked off the next phase of its digital platforms inquiry, asking what kinds of legislation and rules could apply to major online platforms like Meta, Google and Apple.

The commission today published Discussion paper for Interim Report No. 5: Updating competition and consumer law for digital platform services (PDF), open for comment until 1 April, 2022, with its interim report due in September.

The ACCC wants to know whether new regulatory tools are needed to address digital platforms’ competition and consumer issues; and what options exist for regulatory reform.

Since other countries are also looking at how the major platforms might be regulated, the paper also asks to what extent Australia should align with other jurisdictions.

The discussion paper suggests social media services, private messaging services (like Telegram and WhatsApp), and app marketplaces as potential targets for regulation, and asks whether any other digital platforms should be included. Read more

A new roadmap for reining in social media companies is gaining steam

Union Leader | February 28, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

For years, policymakers have been railing against social media companies for allegedly stoking divisions and facilitating the spread of noxious content on their sites, with little to show for it beyond distant threats of regulation.

These efforts have largely taken a single form with proposals to roll back the protections that shield technology companies from lawsuits over posts by their users, known as Section 230.

But there are signs of growing momentum for a different approach, focused instead on channeling the consumer protection powers of regulators.

It is a strategy that has shaped a slew of recent proposals aimed at cracking down on platforms that mislead users about their practices and policies, or that fail to be sufficiently transparent about their products.

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Data protection bill: Social media firms fear parallel laws

FinancialExpress | February 28, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google and others have approached the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry citing apprehensions that they may face parallel regulations if the Data Protection Bill becomes the law in its current shape. Sources said the I&B ministry has taken up their case as it also feels that bringing intermediaries under the proposed Bill would create confusion as to who would regulate them – I&B as is the current arrangement, ministry of electronics and IT, or a newly designated regulator, Data Protection Authority.

The issue has gained attention and is being debated upon in the government as the joint committee of Parliament (JCP), in its recently submitted recommendations on Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, has encompassed even the social media firms, referred to as intermediaries. This is despite the fact that such firms are already being governed by the Information Technology Act and an added set of rules which came into effect on May 26, 2021.

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