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February 9, 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.

Online abusers and trolls could be jailed for five years

Newstatesman | Feb 08, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

Sending threatening messages to someone online will become a crime punishable by up to five years in prison, the government has confirmed as it announces changes to its Online Safety Bill.

It is currently being revised by ministers after receiving recommendations from two select committees and from independent body the Law Commission.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has confirmed that several of the recommendations will be added, including three new criminal offences for online behaviour.

These include: threatening content – such as threats to rape, kill and inflict violence – punishable by up to five years in prison; content intentionally sent to cause psychological or physical harm – such as violent or coercive messages sent by domestic abusers – punishable by up to two years in prison; and deliberately spreading false information to cause harm – such as a hoax bomb threat or Covid-19 disinformation – punishable by up to 51 weeks in prison.

The government is considering further criminal offences for cyber-flashing (sending unsolicited sexual images or “dick pics”), encouraging self-harm and intentionally sending flashing images to someone with epilepsy.

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TikTok bans misgendering, deadnaming trans people

NBC News | Feb 08, 2022

Company Listed: TikTok

The social media giant TikTok on Tuesday explicitly banned certain types of anti-LGBTQ content and speech on its platform.

In updated community guidelines, the company noted that it is “adding clarity on the types of hateful ideologies prohibited on our platform," stating that it will ban deadnaming, or using a transgender person’s pre-transition name, and misgendering, using incorrect pronouns.

The platform is also prohibiting “content that supports or promotes conversion therapy programs,” referring to a discredited practice that seeks to stop someone from being LGBTQ.

“Though these ideologies have long been prohibited on TikTok, we’ve heard from creators and civil society organizations that it’s important to be explicit in our Community Guidelines,” Cormac Keenan, the company's head of trust and safety, said Tuesday in a statement. “On top of this, we hope our recent feature enabling people to add their pronouns will encourage respectful and inclusive dialogue on our platform.”

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UK anti-encryption drive meets fierce resistance from privacy, security advocates

PortsWigger | Feb 09, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

The UK government’s anti-encryption campaign amounts to scaremongering, according to 50 security experts and human rights groups.

In an open letter, they claim that the campaign by advertising agency M&C Saatchi – rumoured to have cost the taxpayer £500,000 ($677,000) – is being used to soften up public opinion on changes to the Online Safety Bill that would force tech companies to weaken or remove end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in messaging apps.

The campaign presents this move as a vital part of preventing child sexual abuse online. Some [social media companies] are planning to introduce end-to-end encryption, which scrambles messages so that only the sender and received can see what is being shared,” the campaign website reads.

“This means they will no longer be able to detect child sexual abuse on their platforms and therefore won't be able to report it.”

However, according to the signatories of the letter, which include Access Now, Liberty, the Open Rights Group, and the Internet Society, the campaign is undermining public trust in a critical digital security tool.

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Twitter Bans Freedom Convoy Account From Platform

NewsWeek| Feb 09, 2022

Company Listed: Twitter

The official Twitter account of the Canadian truckers protesting over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other restrictions around the pandemic was suspended by the social media network on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Twitter told Newsweek: "The account you referenced has been permanently suspended for violating the Twitter Rules on ban evasion."

The rules include user not being allowed to circumvent permanent suspensions. This include making a new account to serve the same purpose as an account that has been spending.

According to Twitter's website, it may choose to suspend accounts that violate the network's rules. These include rules around safety, which prohibits threatening or promoting violence, terrorism, child sexual exploitation on a profile. There is a ban on abuse and harassment, hateful conduct, suicide or self-harm, as well as other "sensitive media."

Thousands of truckers are protesting a vaccine mandate for the industry brought in by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whereby lorry drivers will have to be vaccinated to cross the Canadian-U.S. border. The self-styled "Freedom Convoy"—comprising big rigs and protesters—first arrived in the capital on the evening of January 28, clogging up the city's main streets and bringing it to a standstill.

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T&S Policies & Regulations

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

Compare and review T&S Policies for dozens of companies here

Social media regulation, failure to address vertical integration, among Bill C-11's issues: lawyers

CanadianLawyers | Feb 08, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

The federal government’s ability to regulate user-generated social media content and its implications for freedom of expression, as well as the “missed opportunity” in not addressing the anti-competitive tendencies of vertically integrated media companies, are two areas of concern with bill C-11, the recently tabled Online Streaming Act, say lawyers.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage, Pablo Rodriguez, introduced the Online Streaming Act on Feb. 2. The proposed law would amend the Broadcasting Act to put online streaming services — Netflix, YouTube, etc. — under its domain and require them to contribute to the creation of Canadian content.

The Act aims to correct the regulatory imbalance that has accompanied the rise of digital media, says Antoine Malek, director of regulatory affairs at TELUS Communications. Currently, traditional broadcasters and distributors are subject to “significant regulatory obligations and fees” to support Canadian programming and culture, and streaming services are not, he says.

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The Anatomy of Technology Regulation

Project Syndicate | Feb 09, 2022

Company Listed: Social Media

The resulting policy fragmentation is often attributed to differing values and political ideologies within key jurisdictions: the United States, the European Union, and China. In this narrative, the US prefers digital laissez-faire; Europe opts for digital big-state socialism; and China pursues a politically motivated strategy of restricting some technologies and scaling up others to maintain social control.

But while there is evidence to support this narrative, such broad characterizations fail to explain the stark regulatory differences between countries that fall into the same ideological category. For example, consider Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US, and the United Kingdom. These Anglophone liberal democracies with colonial histories have strong ties and belong to a longstanding security and intelligence-sharing pact (The Five Eyes). But each has a unique approach to technology policy.

While Australia is charting its own course on everything from encryption laws and extremist content to power imbalances between digital platforms and older news media organizations, New Zealand is building international partnerships on many of the same issues, such as through the Christchurch Call initiative. Meanwhile, Canada is doing more listening than acting, with its most recent attempt to pass online legislation ensuring that internet-era streaming companies face the same regulations as traditional broadcasters. The US has placed technology embargoes on China, but it has dithered on domestic regulation, even in the face of mounting abuses by Big Tech firms. And the UK is re-aligning with its ex-siblings in the EU.

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TikTok expands its policies against dangerous challenges, misogyny

CNet| Feb 08, 2022

Company Listed: TikTok

TikTok on Tuesday unveiled a slew of changes to its community guidelines that it says are meant to promote "safety, security, and well-being" on the popular social video app.

Among the changes, TikTok is taking a stricter approach to dangerous acts and challenges such as suicide hoaxes. Its policy around such issues, first outlined in November, will now be highlighted in a separate category of the community guidelines to make it easier for people to find. It previously fell within TikTok's suicide and self-harm polices. TikTok is also launching videos that encourage people to "stop, think, decide and act" when they see risky online challenges.

TikTok is also explicitly banning deadnaming, misgendering and misogyny in the update