US and 23 other countries have passed laws to try to control Internet content, study finds

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  • 24 different countries have created new laws or rules determining how online platforms can handle content, according to a Freedom House study.
  • Internet freedom has declined over the past 11 years around the world, according to the report.
  • This trend can be attributed to issues such as extremism, fraud and criminal activity on the Internet.
  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Authorities in at least 24 different countries, including the United States, have created new laws or rules determining how online platforms can handle content, according to a study.

Freedom House, a Washington DC-based democracy advocacy group, reported that global internet freedom has been in decline for 11 consecutive years.

Freedom House, which publishes its Freedom on the Net report every year, found that at least 48 countries have enforced new rules for tech companies on content, data, and competition in 2020, and 24 countries have created new ones. rules specifically on how content is handled on the Internet. . According to the study, some of the decisions include demands for removal of illegal content, greater transparency and extremes like political and journalistic censorship.

Freedom House says the trend can be traced to issues within society such as extremism, exploitative business practices and criminal activity.

The report said there were “some positive exceptions” to the global pressure to regulate big tech companies, such as dismantling harmful online harassment and manipulative market practices.

“Although a few measures introduced this year have the potential to hold tech giants more accountable for their performance, most simply impose state and even political responsibilities on private companies without guaranteeing more rights to users,” the report said.

Last year, Indian officials pressured Twitter to remove comments related to the protests and stop reporting manipulated content shared by the ruling party. In Nigeria, authorities have blocked access to Twitter nationwide after the social media platform deleted the inflammatory messages from the country’s president.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill to prevent social media companies like Facebook and Twitter from censoring users based on their policies and allows private citizens and the Texas Attorney General to sue tech companies that , according to them, have unfairly kicked someone off a platform, Insider reported.

Two major business groups sued Abbott and Texas over the bill, claiming that in the lawsuit it “will unconstitutionally demand that platforms like YouTube and Facebook broadcast, for example, pro-Nazi speech, propaganda terrorist, foreign government disinformation and medical disinformation ”.

Currently, Twitter does not filter content or remove potentially offensive content, according to the company policy. But targeted abuse or harassment can break Twitter rules.

Facebook, in a white paper released by the company last year, said it wants regulators to create legal standards for content moderation. Earlier this month, a meeting of Facebook executives focused on “if Facebook has grown too big,” Insider reported. Facebook, the world’s largest social network, with nearly 3 billion users, disagreed with the report.



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