Global Media Tech Regulation Tracker – November

Welcome to the FIPP Global Media Tech Regulation Tracker! This live doc is updated monthly, bringing you the latest policy, regulatory, and legal updates from around the media tech world.  


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International

Nov 15th: Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter has sparked a flurry of stories as to how the entrepreneur’s revamped social media platform might fall foul of global regulators. TechCrunch has a story on how Musk could be on a collision course with the EU. An internal source has suggested that Twitter is no longer fulfilling key obligations required for it to claim Ireland as its so-called main establishment under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Like many major tech firms with customers across the European Union, Twitter currently avails itself of a mechanism in the GDPR known as the one-stop shop (OSS). This is beneficial because it allows the company to streamline regulatory administration by being able to engage exclusively with a lead data supervisor in the EU Member State where it is “main established” (in Twitter’s case, Ireland), rather than having to accept inbound from data protection authorities across the bloc.

However, under Musk’s chaotic reign — which has already seen a fast and deep downsizing of Twitter’s headcount, kicking off with layoffs of 50% of staff earlier this month — questions are being asked over whether its main establishment status in Ireland for the GDPR still holds or not.

Nov 14th: Turkish authorities imposed a temporary ban on media coverage of the Istanbul bombing on Sunday 13th November the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) said. Arab News reports that the ban prohibited media outlets from making live broadcasts from the explosion site on Istiklal Caddesi street, releasing investigation-related information, citing unofficial sources, and sharing images or video footage of victims.

According to RTUK, the ban was implemented to prevent public panic and rioting, as well as the sharing of information that could aid terrorist groups. Turkish authorities also required the media to observe information distribution principles prescribed by law.

The explosion, which rocked a bustling pedestrian street, killed at least six people and injured 81 others. Authorities later deemed the explosion a terror attack.

Nov 10th: Forbes has kicked off its round of predictions for 2023 by asking entrepreneurs what they see as the key trends for the advertising industry. David Boehl, TravelSite.io stresses how changing data regulations are set to impact advertisers.

With data regulations being rolled out state by state instead of at the U.S. federal level, a huge challenge in 2023 and beyond will be data regulation compliance. Brands often rely on third-party data consent tools, but these are often not updated quickly enough to be compliant. Get ready to be challenged with keeping your customer data systems compliant under the shifting sands of regulation.

Nov 10th: The Verge is claiming that Elon Musk has already bypassed standard data governance processes and is heading for a run-in with US regulators. It alleges that Twitter’s privacy and security teams are in turmoil and that a company lawyer is encouraging employees to seek whistleblower protection “if you feel uncomfortable about anything you’re being asked to do.”

In a note posted to Twitter’s Slack and viewable to all staff that was obtained by The Verge, an attorney on the company’s privacy team wrote, “Elon has shown that his only priority with Twitter users is how to monetize them. I do not believe he cares about the human rights activists. the dissidents, our users in un-monetisable regions, and all the other users who have made Twitter the global town square you have all spent so long building, and we all love.”

Australia

Nov 10th: Australia’s competition regulator, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has apparently run out of patience with digital platforms such as Google and Facebook and has recommended new laws to clamp down on scams, address consumer complaints and rein in anti-competitive behaviour.

Releasing its fifth progress report on digital platforms since it began an inquiry in 2017, the ACCC has called for industry-specific legislation, saying it has identified “widespread, entrenched and systematic” consumer and competition “harms”. It also wants digital platforms to be required to provide user-friendly processes for alerting to scams, noting losses reported to Scamwatch from schemes on social networking and mobile apps almost doubled to $92m in 2021.

Nov 6th: Chinese social media platform Tik Tok could be heading for a showdown with Australian regulators over its gambling policies. In a change to previous practices, TikTok is allowing betting company Sportsbet to advertise to its Australian users, despite having previously banned betting promotions on its platform.

A TikTok spokesperson said the company was running an Australian-first “strictly controlled advertising pilot” with Sportsbet, a move experts have labelled “concerning”.

The platform said the advertisements would be monitored to ensure users had a “safe experience” and contained the “gamble-responsibly messaging” required under law. Under the “limited trial”, the platform said the ads were shown only to users over 21 years old, although experts said this would be hard to enforce. TikTok also said the frequency of the ads was capped and an “opt-out feature” was being rolled out.

Brazil

Nov 12th: Supporters of former Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, who are refusing to accept his recent electoral defeat are allegedly being removed from social media platforms. Bloomberg reports (paywall) that several protestors who are claiming that President-elect Luiz Inacio da Silva’s Oct. 30 victory, was a fraudulent one have had their accounts frozen.

Oct 28th: Was the result of the Brazilian election tainted by lies circulated via social media? Before the vote, João Brant, a former official in the ministry of culture, told Protocol that Facebook, Instagram, and other social media companies are doing too little to control disinformation about the electoral process in the country — a failure that could result in violence.

Some of the biggest threats Brant said he sees come from the platforms’ failure to take down many posts questioning the integrity of the country’s democracy and elections.

Facebook does ban such ads and some forms of election interference, such as voter suppression in both the U.S. and Brazil — but many critics in the U.S. have said too much gets through, especially when posts don’t focus on particular people or polling places. Brant also criticised the exception to disinformation rules social networks regularly make for posts by newsworthy personalities, which often allows politicians and government officials to spread lies.

Canada

Nov 14th: Hill Times says that there’s no easy solution around confronting the uptick in hate and harassment directed towards Parliamentarians in Canada. MPs and experts say there is no way to completely eradicate the worsening harassment and hate experienced by Parliamentarians and other public officials, but by taking a multi-pronged approach, the situation could be improved. Among the proposals the politicians advocate are Social media regulation, better police coordination says the Hill Times (paywall)

Nov 14th: Twitter plays a ‘significant’ role in Canada’s democracy, and the government must do more to regulate in face of Musk’s ‘roller-coaster,’ say observers.A researcher from an organisation that teaches civic literacy told Hill Times that changes to the verification system on Twitter are one of the ‘most urgent’ concerns. Twitter plays a “significant role in Canada’s democracy,” and the tumultuous fallout stemming from Elon Musk’s recent $44-billion acquisition of the platform highlights “the failure of governments” to regulate these platforms, says Sonja Solomun of McGill University.

China

Nov 14th: East Asia Forum has an in depth discussion of the challenge of Chinese media influence, especially in relation to Australia. It reports that when China’s infamous list of 14 grievances with Australia was leaked in 2018, commentators noted that certain complaints — including ‘unfriendly’ media coverage of China in Australia — were issues that are viewed in liberal democracies as rightfully outside the control of the government of the day. While perhaps unlikely to succeed in Australia’s case, this tactic of putting pressure on foreign governments to reign in negative local media coverage is one that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has employed all over the world, as detailed in a new report from Freedom House.

The report argues that alongside ongoing efforts to ‘tell China’s story well’ through public diplomacy and propaganda, Beijing’s use of coercive and covert tactics to shape the international media environment is on the rise.

Nov 14th: China has become the latest country to firm up regulations that prevent celebrities and social media influencers from endorsing health supplements. Food Navigator Asia reports that the Chinese authorities have again warned about the use of celebrities in this way, in a move which experts say is targeted at a ‘grey area’ for overseas brands.

Nov 14th: China’s top industry planner has released a new action plan for developing virtual reality in China. The action plan outlines key targets for the development of technologies related to the metaverse up until the year 2026 and proposes key tasks and measures for developing the industry. China Briefing looks at the significance of the plan and what the role of foreign investors may be in the future of China’s metaverse.

The Virtual Reality and Industry Application Integration Development Action Plan (2022-2026) (the “Action Plan”), released on November 2, 2022 by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) along with four other government departments, provides the most comprehensive set of policies yet for developing China’s metaverse, with key tasks and development goals for the period up until 2026.

Although the Action Plan does not directly mention “metaverse”, it seeks to develop the core technology upon which the metaverse is built, including various sub-fields of VR, AR, and MR, as well as essential hardware and equipment, industry supply chains, and governmental standards and regulations.

EU

Nov 11th: Twitter Is on a collision course with Europe according to Wired: Layoffs leave only two people in the company’s Brussels office, just as Europe prepares to enforce sweeping new tech rules.

Just like in the US, Twitter’s teams across Europe have suffered heavy layoffs. Staff in Dublin, Ireland’s 1 Cumberland Place office, which used to house around 500 Twitter employees, have been using war terminology to describe the past week’s events.

Dublin is not the only European office to be affected by layoffs. Social media posts show employees in Brussels and London have been let go too. It’s unclear if employees in Twitter’s other European hubs—Hamburg, Madrid, Utrecht, Paris, Berlin and Manchester—have also been affected.

In Europe, a major concern is the fate of Twitter’s six-to-eight person team in Brussels, which worked on European policy and was the main point of contact with regulators working on upcoming legislation that could affect the entire platform. Only two people remain, say two people with knowledge of the matter.

That means Twitter has slashed its team as the European Union introduces landmark new technology rules, says Mathias Vermeulen, director of Brussels-based consultancy AWO. “It’s definitely not a good look at a time when so many obligations are going to be imposed on companies, and at a time where regulators expect meaningful relationships with people based in Brussels.” By comparison, Meta and Google employ between 20 and 30 people each in the city, he says. Twitter did not reply to WIRED’s request to comment.

India

Nov 14th: ABP News reported on the ongoing discussion around the regulation of cryptocurrencies. It noted that cryptocurrencies are currently going through an unprecedented meltdown, sending the price of Bitcoin (BTC) — the oldest and most valued crypto coin — down to a two-year low. The recent dip in prices has once again brought to the forefront discussions on bringing in regulations to protect investors from the adverse effects of the crypto sector’s volatile nature — so much so that crypto regulation will be one of the top priorities for India at the upcoming G20 summit.

Nov 11th: Despite being the IT powerhouse of the world, lack of digital legislation has put the country’s cyber defence under threat. That was a key discussion for Fortune India in an article entitled India’s Digital Policy Paralysis

The story notes that while the country boasts a powerful military force, the safety of a nation’s infrastructure, the lives of its people, and financial stability are compromised when a nation’s cyber defence comes under threat. It points out that most Indian businesses rely on foreign IT infrastructure. Cloud service providers such as AWS and Google Cloud have their servers in the U.S. Any international incident leading to service sanctions can potentially paralyse Indian businesses. The U.S. also has the authority to access data at any point.

Oct 28th: CNBCTV reports on the latest tweaks to India’s social media regulations. Under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2022, those aggrieved by the decisions of social media companies can approach with a Grievance Appellate Committee to be set up by the Centre. Further, the notification said the GAC’s decisions will be binding on the social media companies.

UK

Nov 13th: The Guardian reports that the UK government has been criticised for failing to protect children from online harm. The government is facing mounting criticism from children’s organisations over its failure to protect young people from harmful material online, amid fears that key legislation promised in the Tory party’s 2019 election manifesto to strengthen internet safety could be under threat.

The Observer understands from sources close to the discussions that hugely controversial and sensitive changes to the online safety bill were to have been announced to parliament this week by the culture secretary, Michelle Donelan, after ministers across government had been consulted in recent days.

Nov 9th: The Art Newspaper is reporting that the UK government has launched an inquiry into risks posed by NFT market and crypto. The UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) will be considering the risk posed by the NFT market and whether there is need for greater regulation.

The government launched an inquiry earlier this week, announced on its website, which will also consider the benefits that the blockchain could offer the country’s economy. It requests evidence prior to its review by parliament and submissions “from anyone’” are being welcomed until 6 January 2023.

Nov 3rd: The UK Government has issued a report: Hidden advertising is harmful and illegal: Hidden ads: Principles for social media platforms.

It is a response to the UK’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) conclusions made in 2019 that its consumer enforcement investigation concerns that social media influencers were infringing consumer law by posting hidden advertising online. 16 influencers provided undertakings to the CMA, agreeing to make it clear when they have been paid or otherwise incentivised to endorse a product or brand (as provided in the definitions section.

The CMA subsequently conducted a review of how a variety of social media platforms tackle hidden advertising. Following its review, the CMA has developed six key compliance principles (visit principles section), which in large part build upon similar undertakings provided by Facebook Ireland Limited to the CMA in October 2020. The CMA considers that social media platforms are more likely to comply with the requirements of consumer law and reduce the risk of future enforcement action if they implement these principles. Ultimately only a court is able to decide whether a platform is breaking the law, and platforms should keep this under review as practices, technology and the law continue to develop.

US

Nov 14th: Twitter boss Elon Musk ‘not above the law’, warns US regulator. BBC News reports that a US regulator says it is watching events at Twitter with “deep concern” after the platform’s top privacy and compliance officers reportedly quit. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said new chief executive Elon Musk was “not above the law”.

On Thursday, Yoel Roth, who had been Twitter’s head of trust and safety, updated his profile on the social media platform to indicate that he was no longer in the role.Chief privacy officer Damien Kieran and chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty resigned, according to reports, and the company’s chief security officer Lea Kissner also quit.

The departures may increase the risk of Twitter violating regulatory orders. The firm was fined $150m (£119m) in May for selling users’ data, and had to agree to new privacy rules. “We are tracking recent developments at Twitter with deep concern,” Douglas Farrar, the FTC’s director of public affairs, said.  “No chief executive or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees.”

Nov 4th: A California law taking effect in January imposes new obligations on social media companies to monitor and potentially regulate the spread of false information online. An article in Bloomberg Law focuses on what the new law means for companies and how it might impact other states.

The legislation is designed to improve the state’s understanding of social media content moderation, such as hate speech, misinformation, and foreign political interference. As a result, tech firms face novel reporting requirements, increased costs, and risk of violations. Here’s what they should keep in mind, particularly if other states follow suit with similar legislation.

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