At a glance.
- Facebook's third way of content moderation finds few takers.
- European tech policy aims at fostering domestic industry as well as promoting security and privacy.
- The US advocates European national champions as alternatives to Huawei, ZTE.
- India establishes a way to restrict Chinese vendors from government telecom contract tenders.
- China expels Wall Street Journal reporters.
Third way? No way.
Facebook's proposals for content moderation, which it dangled before the European Union earlier this week, met with a dismissive reception. Menlo Park would like to see some government regulation (a familiar stance for market-dominating incumbents), ideally placing them somewhere between a telecommunications carrier (that is, not responsible for user-produced content) and a publisher (that is, responsible for whatever it puts out there). It's a safe bet that Facebook would, as the Verge points out, prefer to be closer to the telco end of the spectrum, but the EU's dismissal was so quick that the Verge wonders if the appropriate commissioners even took the time to read the company's proposal.
The social network is facing similar pressure in the US, as Attorney General Barr called for revisions to Federal laws that currently shield Big Tech from liability for the content their platforms carry. The Hill reports that the Attorney General singled out Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act as the principal locus of the problems attempts to control and prosecute child abuse, terrorism, and violent extremism. The tension between legitimate concerns about online enabling of illegal conduct and equally legitimate concerns about freedom of speech are obvious, but it seems increasingly likely that some revisions to Section 230 are in the offing.
European tech policy seeks privacy and security, but also a thriving domestic tech sector.
EU policy is at least as interested in fostering a strong European tech sector, and in reducing the EU's dependence on foreign companies, as it is with ensuring the privacy of citizens' data and the security of the continent's infrastructure, according to the New York Times. Reuters reports that planners see the establishment of a single European data market as the best way toward achieving this. Such a market would take advantage of Europe's long industrial history, and observers think other aspects of tech regulation in the EU, such as those described by the Wall Street Journal, should be seen in the light of data markets.
European national champions are very much to Uncle Sam's taste, too.
Robert Strayer, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber, International Communications and Information Policy, said during a visit to Lisbon this week that everyone needs to get the picture of Huawei as the inevitable supplier of 5G technology out of their minds. As reported by Reuters, Secretary Strayer argued that Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung offered 5G technology that's at least as advanced as anything Huawei can bring. He's said at other times that these vendors actually represent best value, with a lower total cost of ownership than the Chinese companies' offerings.
India lays the groundwork for restrictions on Chinese telecom vendors.
India's Department of Telecommunications has received authority, LiveMint writes, to restrict Huawei and other Chinese companies from bidding on Indian government telecommunications contracts.
Don't like what they're writing? Kick them out. That's what Beijing has done with three Wall Street Journal reporters. There's no mystery concerning what upset the Chinese government: it was a February 3rd op-ed calling China "the real sick man of Asia." The reporters expelled had nothing to do with the piece, but the government is willing to play hardball with outlets that offer criticism.