Global Media Tech Regulation Tracker – September

Welcome to the FIPP Global Media Tech Regulation Tracker! From Meta and Twitter on Capitol Hill, to China’s legislative approach to Tencent and Alibaba, and beyond to Google’s relationship with publishers in individual countries… 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

Aug 31stSnapchat has announced that it will cut 20% of its workforce (around 1,200 employees) after a year of disappointing financial results. The company was valued at $130bn a year ago and is now valued at less than $20bn. In reporting the news, the BBC said: ‘Snapchat has also been affected by privacy updates by Apple, introduced last year. The changes have made it more difficult for advertisers to track people on their phones – which makes targeted adverts less focussed. The reason why social media companies can charge so much to advertisers is because they hold so much information about its users. Without that information, advertisers are less willing to spend.’

Aug 30thTwitter Circle is now available to all. The technology, which allows users to limit the audience that sees specific tweets, is designed to provide further frontend options over privacy settings. Meanwhile, in his seemingly perpetual quest not to buy the company, Elon Musk has now cited recent accusations made by former Head of Security, Peiter “Mudge” Zatko, about Twitter’s security practices as grounds for withdrawing his US $44bn offer.

Aug 18th: Google is rolling out a ‘helpful content update’, which is says aims to “better reward content where visitors feel they’ve had a satisfying experience”. Announcing the update on the Google Search Central Blog, the company said that it was part of a “broader effort to ensure people see more original, helpful content written by people, for people, in search results.”

Aug 17thIn what the media is reporting as a ‘rare win’ for Elon Musk in his ongoing battle with Twitter, the court has ordered the company to provide documents relating to former Head of Consumer Product, Kayvon Beykpour. Musk’s legal team had originally asked for bot data from the documents of 22 Twitter employees, and the saga continues…

July 29thAccording to. New study produced by workplace researcher Revelio Labs and published here by Bloomberg, new monthly job postings across all industries with ‘metaverse’ in the title declined 81% between April and June. Bloomberg says that then trend coincides with a broader slowdown in hiring in the tech sector, as employers reassess hiring needs due to recession concerns. 

July 27thGoogle has once again postponed its plans to phase out the cookie, this time until the second half of 2024. In a post published on the Google Blog by Anthony Chavez, VP of Privacy for Sandbox, the exec wrote, “we now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024.”

July 26th: From a meeting of the Joint UK-US Financial Regulatory Working Group, a statement has today been released in relation to – amongst other topics – the future regulation of cryptocurrency. Discussions at the meeting are said to have included the exchanging of views on crypto-asset regulation, the exploration of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and a commitment to continued co-operation to support safe financial innovation.

July 18thNew analysis of TikTok’s source code reportedly shows that the app ‘scours phones for personal information’, with concerns that under Chinese laws, the ByteDance owned platform could be compelled to hand over data. Robert Potter of Internet 2.0 – the company that says it tapped into the TikTok source code – told the Australian Financial Review that TikTok’s operating system was “fundamentally incompatible” with Australian law. 

July 18th: In an interview with the BBC, Lyric Jain, Chief Executive of Logically, a high-tech monitoring firm that uses AI to find fake news and disinformation, has warned that businesses are increasingly looking to social media to proactively discredit their rivals: “We seem to be on the cusp of an era of disinformation against [business] competitors. We are seeing that some of the same practices that have been deployed by nation state actors, like Russia and China, in social media influence operations, are now being adopted by some more unscrupulous competitors of some of the main Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies.”

July 15thA new contributor piece in Forbes argues that the recent ad-deal between Netflix and Microsoft highlights ‘The Rapidly Blurring Lines Between Media & Tech’. In it, Howard Homonoff writes, “It recalls the famous tagline for Certs mints. Is it a breath mint? Is it a candy mint? Why Netflix and Microsoft are two – two – two industries in one!”

Australia

Aug 17th: The High Court of Australia has declared that Google is not a publisher. The judgement, which legal experts say could hold significant ramifications for the general public, means that the company is not responsible for defamatory news articles. “In reality, a hyperlink is merely a tool which enables a person to navigate to another webpage,” a joint statement by Chief Justice Susan Kiefel and Justice Jacqueline Gleeson said.

Brazil

Sep 1st: A number of outlets including France24 report that fake news on social media platforms represents a serious issue ahead of Brazil’s Presidential elections at the beginning of October. The outlet says that Brazil is ‘waging an uphill battle against disinformation wielded as a political weapon’ and that platforms like Telegram and TikTok have been cited as particularly strong areas for concern.  

Canada

Aug 31st: Lawmakers have created two ground-breaking bills aimed at curtailing the negative effects of social media in the country. If successful, the first would require social media companies to their policies on disturbing content public, with detailed insights on exactly how and when they intend to remove it. The second aims to introduce stronger legislation specifically in the area of keeping children safter online. CBS has the full story here.

China

Aug 17thTencent has posted its first ever revenue decline. The $370 billion Chinese tech giant, posted a yr on yr decline of 3%, missing both revenue and profit forecasts. Reporting for CNBC, Arjun Kharpal, said: stricter regulations around gaming in China and a resurgence of Covid-19 in the world’s second-largest economy hit the technology giant.

Aug 16th: Chinese internet giants including Alibaba, Tiktok-owner ByteDance and Tencent have shared details of their algorithms with China’s regulators for the first time, according to the BBC. The move comes as Elon Musk, head of Tesla and SpaceX, becomes the first international contributor to China Cyberspace, the official publication of China’s internet regulator.

Denmark

July 18th: Denmark’s data watchdog has ruled that Google’s handling of international data transfers breaches GDPR, and banned Google Workspace. The ruling from the Danish Data Protection Agency, Datalisynet, means that from August 3rd 2022, public sector organisations including schools will be prevented from using the service, which includes GMail and Google Docs, as well as physical Chromebooks. 

EU

Sep 1st: POLITICO Europe has today published its ‘Back-to-School policy briefing’, which takes a broad look at impending regulatory updates across different sectors. Inclusive within this are updates in the areas of technology, cyber-security, and competition, with the publication predicting a busy period for the media tech world ahead: ‘In September, the Commission sets out its Media Freedom Act to bolster pluralism and limit political and commercial interference in news media. The law will also seek to limit social media’s ability to remove and downgrade news content on their platforms.’ Full article here.

India

Aug 15thThere is a growing divide among internet companies on setting up a self-regulatory body — to address complaints by social media users — as an alternative to the Centre’s Grievance Appellate Committee (GAC), according to The Indian Express. The Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), as well of individual companies, are currently looking at potential responses to the Ministry of Electronics and IT’s (MeitY’s) proposal to set up government-appointed committees.

July 16th: India Today reports that the government is weighing up changes to its IT laws, in order to make Google and Facebook, amongst others, share revenue with news outlets. Minister of State for IT and Electronics, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, said in a report: “The market power on digital advertising that is currently being exercised by the Big Tech majors, which places Indian media companies at a position of disadvantage, is an issue that is seriously being examined in the context of new legalisations and rules.”

Indonesia

Aug 1stFollowing the introduction of new digital laws, the Indonesian Government has blocked Steam, Epic Games, PayPal, and more. According to PC Gamer and numerous other outlets, the restrictions are the result of such firms failing to register for new licensing under recent digital law changes – ‘It’s not clear in any case if moral objection, or simple ignorance, has caused this situation,’ writes PC Gamers Jonathan Bolding.  

July 19th: A new set of laws, first announced in November 2020 and set to come into play tomorrow, could see media tech giants like Google and Facebook blocked in the country. The new licensing system, which applies to all domestic and foreign electronic service operators, means that the government can order companies to hand over the personal data of specific users if requested by law enforcement or government agencies. Reuters has the latest

South Africa

Aug 24thGoogle Wallet has now launched in the country, making South Africa the first on the continent to see the introduction of the technology. The system is designed to make it easier for users to securely access their payment cards, as well as loyalty cards and boarding passes. In a statement, Google South Africa Country Director, Alistair Mokoen, said: “By including everyone – a dynamic ecosystem of manufacturers, developers and users – we want to make digital wallets accessible to everyone through fast, secure access to their everyday essentials.”

UK

Aug 25thFormer high profile BBC Journalist, Emily Maitlis, has criticised the corporation’s approach to impartiality, citing the outlet’s coverage of Brexit as a clear example of lack of editorial balance. “It might take our producers five minutes to find sixty economists who feared Brexit, and five hours to find a sole economic voice who espoused it. But by the time we went on air, we simply had one of each! We presented this unequal effort, to our audience, as if it was balance. It wasn’t.”

Aug 2ndA new report from the Common’s Health and Social Care Committee says that more needs to be done to legislate commercial content in which body images have been digitally altered. The report also calls for greater legislation around cosmetic procedures, and urges the government to work with the ASA to discourage advertisers and influencers from doctoring their images.

July 18th: In a policy paper presented to parliament by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Nadine Dorries, titled ‘Establishing a pro-innovation approach to regulating AI’, the government has outlined its plans to make the UK ‘the best place in the world to found and grow an AI business’ while taking a regulatory approach to these emerging technologies that is ‘proportionate, light-touch and forward-looking’.

July 15th: The UK’s Online Safety Bill has been put on hold until a new Prime Minister is in place in the autumn. The bill, which is designed to prevent the spread of illegal content and protect both children and adults from harmful content, was originally expected to clear the House of Commons later this month, before proceeding to the House of Lords.

July 13thTom Morrison-Bell, Google’s UK Public Policy Manager, says that paying news publishers for their content to appear in search results could undermine trust in their service. Speaking at the IPPR Oxford Media Convention, he also sought to draw a line between search and social technologies: “Search is not the same as social media. It’s not a social media platform, and it shouldn’t be bundled in in the same way as social media, it performs a different function and it’s trusted better.”

US

Aug 31stThe National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), and the Digital Media Association (DiMA) today announced an agreement on streaming rights up to and including 2027. Per the agreement, the headline royalty rate will be set at 15.35%, which will be phased in over the course of the five year term.

Aug 31stThe Wall Street Journal reports that ‘Google, Meta and Others May Soon Need to Disclose Pay on California Job Listings’. A new bill – now passed to the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom – would require companies with 15 employees or more to include the hourly pay or salary range on job listings within California. It also calls on companies to act with greater transparency as regards the wages of existing employees. Similar legislation is already set to come into play in the state of Washington in January.

Aug 2ndA new SEC filing shows Meta COO, Sheryl Sandberg, officially stepped down from the company yesterday, according to TechCrunch. Her departure has been on the cards since it was announced at the beginning of June, and is now official, with Chief Growth Officer, Javier Olivan, set to take over the reins. The move comes at what is undoubtedly a turbulent time for the company, having just reported its first ever quarterly revenue decline and received widespread criticism over recent Instagram changes.

July 21stA hearing has been told that former US President, Donald Trump, played a chilling role in the Captiol Riot attack of January 6th 2021. The panel presented new evidence which showed that he not only failed to act, but actively chose not to intervene, watching the riot unfold on television and tweeting “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.” CNN has all the latest here.

July 18th: A new survey published by personal finance site Bankrate shows that more than 1 in 3 US adults who are on social media say they have felt negatively about their finances after seeing others’ posts. Such platforms were also shown to make users feel negatively about their appearances (32%) careers (27%) living situations (26%), personal relationships (25%), and hobbies (17 percent). Full report here

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