Global Media Tech Regulation Tracker – 28th July

Welcome to the FIPP regulation tracker! Updated weekly, this live article provides an international, regional, and country-by-country view of the latest goings-on in BIG tech. From Facebook and Twitter on Capitol Hill, to Google’s battle with publishers in Australia, and beyond to the latest legislative updates in individual markets, we’ll be keeping track of the latest development in media tech as they occur.

Got a regulatory story to share? Contact us here.

International

  • 27th July: Facebook has announced that it is changing the way that advertisers can reach young people on its platforms, and starting in a few weeks, will only allow advertisers to target ads to people under 18 (or older in certain countries) based on their age, gender and location, and not based on interests or activity. The move comes after the social media giant was criticised by groups including Reset Australia, who recently demonstrated that alcohol companies can reach teens by advertising on its platforms. Meanwhile, Digiday reports that after a delay, Facebook has now finally launched its audit.  
  • 21st July: Twitter says that it has signed an agreement with the Media Rating Council (MRC) for a Brand Safety pre-assessment, which will assess the company’s compliance with certain standards when serving ads in environments including Home timeline, User profiles, Search results, and its Amplify pre-roll product. 
  • 21st July: Twitter may reportedly be working on a new Google sign-in integration, but when it comes to FLoC (Google’s cookie killing third-party tracking alternative), it seems the social network is less keen to do business. As discovered by Researcher, Jane Manchun Wong, and reported by TechRadar, despite having initially trialled integration of FLoC, Twitter has now removed the code that enables it.   
  • 20th July: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket has launched its first human flight into space, inclusive of the Amazon Founder himself. The achievement marks not only a significant moment in the development of commercial spaceflight, but also in the private sector’s involvement more generally in what was once the preserve of Government-funded missions. We also reported last week on Richard Branson’s similar achievement with Virgin Galactic.  
  • 20th July: The US, UK, EU, Nato, and a number of other nation states have accused China of carrying out a massive cyber-attack on Microsoft. The exposure of a vulnerability in Microsoft Exchange is said to have allowed hackers to access email accounts remotely. China has officially denied the accusations: “The US has mustered its allies to carry out unreasonable criticisms against China on the issue of cybersecurity,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Zhao Lijian, told reporters.

Africa & Middle East

Cross-Continent

  • 20th July: According to a new report by Twitter and analysed by Quartz’ East Africa Correspondent, Carlos Mureithi, five African governments including Kenya, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo made information requests to Twitter in the second half of last year. In the article, Mureithi also cites data collected by privacy protection company, Surfshark, which states that “more than half of African countries have blocked access to social media platforms since 2015.”  
  • 24th June: An opinion piece in USNews.com by Rose Namayanja, Ugandan lawyer, author, and former Uganda information minister calls on social media giants to do more to ‘regulate hate content across Africa’. The piece cites US News statistics, which shows that appetite for media tech regulation in Africa is relatively low, compared with the global average. On an international level, 74% of respondents said that they thought the power of big should be limited, with that number raising to 80% in the US. In Africa however, the numbers were lower: South Africa (64%), Nigeria (58%), Kenya (57%). 
  • 1st June: The FT’s Southern Africa Correspondent, Joseph Cotterill, has published an article titled, ‘Africa races to establish better high-speed connections’ in which he looks at digital infrastructure across the continent. Africa has some of the fastest growing internet markets in the world, but “currently accounts for barely 1 per cent of the world’s data centre capacity.” 
  • 7th May: Facebook is expanding its Express Wi-fi platform across 12 African countries in partnership with satellite operating company, Eutelsat. The companies will provide broadband services via satellite across several Sub-Saharan regions spanning countries including: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Egypt

  • 16th May: Netblocks, a watchdog organization that monitors cybersecurity and the governance of the Internet, reports that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are now back up and running fully, having been blocked in parts of the country on Monday. The incident comes amid renewed international condemnation over the Tigray conflict and postponement of elections.

Ethiopia

  • 15th July: Journalism.co.uk has published an article on HaqCheck – a local and multilingual fact-checking group formed inside Addis Zeybe’s newsroom. Osama Gaweesh, who is also Editor-in-Chief at EgyptWatch and Presenter at Alhiwar.tv, writes that ‘Facebook is pretty much the equivalent of the internet and the main source of digital news’. The journalist says that HaqCheck is currently applying to become one of Facebook’s official third-party fact-checkers, and also has plans to build a training centre for journalists who want to fight misinformation and work on public media literacy
  • 23rd May: The EU has raised concerns about press rights in Ethiopia, following the killing and expulsion of journalists. “The EU is seriously concerned about the shrinking space for freedom of the media and harassment, arrests as well as restrictions imposed on Ethiopian and international journalists in Ethiopia,” said an EU spokesperson in a statement

Ghana

  • 28th July: The Washington Post runs with a worrying story that ‘Lawmakers in Ghana have proposed a bill that would punish displays of same-sex affection and advocacy for LGBTQ rights with up to a decade in prison,’ including on social media. The ‘Proper Human Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill 2021’ has been submitted for consideration and debate in the Ghanaian Parliament. 
  • 25th April: The BBC updates on Twitter’s decision earlier this month to select Ghana as the location of its African HQ. The selection of Ghana shocked many on the continent, including Nkemdilim Uwaje Begho, CEO of Lagos-based digital marketing firm FutureSoft, who said of the Nigerian media tech industry: “Across sectors we’ve seen regulators step in to regulate after technology companies have disrupted the market. While regulation is good, what it sometimes means is that you’re creating barriers to entry by creating high licence fees for example. Regulators need to think about the bigger picture and the long-term impact of these regulations and policies.”

Israel

  • 14th July: Artificial Intelligence company Trenario has launched an AI-driven news channel called Nooz. Digital presenters are delivering automated news bulletins created automatically by the company’s software, and drawing upon visuals available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. 
  • 14th May: A number of outlets including Sky News report that Twitter placed a “media manipulation” message on a tweet sent by a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, before it was deleted. The post is emblematic of a reported sea of fake news being pushed by social media users in both Israel and Palestine, as the conflict between the two factions continues.
  • 27th April: ‘Social Media Giants Deleted 159 Anti-vaxxer Posts at Israeli Cyber Unit’s Request’, reports Haaretz. Beginning in December 2020, the Israeli Health Ministry and State Prosecutor’s Office Cyber Unit began working to identify and request the takedown of harmful antivax posts on social media. Since that time, Facebook and other social media companies have accommodated 87% of the Unit’s requests, which are only made in relation to posts constituting a criminal act. 

Mauritius

  • 20th April: The Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) has released a consultation document about the government’s plans to give it more power to censor social media, reports AllAfrica. The proposal is a highly controversial one, as it would give authorities in the country the power to access citizens data, identify and remove specific social media posts, and track down the users who posted them.

Nigeria

  • 27th July: According to the Netblocks Cost of Shutdown Tool, and reported by Africanews, Nigeria has lost at least US$243m since the government’s decision to ban Twitter in June. 
  • 27th July: Speaking at the Annual Roundtable on Cultural Orientation (ARTCO), the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has offered clarifications on the government’s stance on social and wider media, reports The Nigerian Tribune: “The media is an indispensable institution in modern and democratic societies. As the fourth estate of the realm and watchdog of society with constitutional backing, media has a pivotal role to play in the progress and well-being of society… Contrary to insinuation in some quarters, this government has no plans to muzzle the media. It appreciates the media as a strategic partner in our determination to foster the socio-economic and political development of our nation.”
  • 7th June: The Nigerian Government had suspended Twitter indefinitely. In a statement, cited somewhat ironically here on Twitter, the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Nigeria. said: “The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday, citing the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” Many people in the country pointed out that they could simply login using a VPN, which has further angered the Nigerian Government. Additionally, there are those that say that the real reason behind the ban was retaliation for Twitter’s removal two days previous, of a post from President Muhammadu Buhari, which threatened to punish secessionists.
  • 31st May: Amnesty International Nigeria has launched #TalkYourTruth – a campaign to secure the Right to Freedom of Expression, as critics, journalists and individuals who express dissenting views face intimidation, threats and sometimes arrest by security forces. “It is unacceptable that in Nigeria those who exercise freedom of expression through critical opinions sometimes face threats, verbal and physical assault, indiscriminate arrest, torture, detention and prosecution through trumped-up charges and abuse of the Cybercrime and Anti-Terrorism laws. Nigerians must be free to express opinions without fear,” says Osai Ojigho, Country Director, Amnesty International.
  • 17th May: The National Information Technology Development Agency of Nigeria (NITDA) has issued a public advisory on the use of WhatsApp by citizens of the country, signed by the organisation’s Head of Corporate Affairs and External Relations, Mrs Hadiza Umar. Within its paragraphs, the statement says that the “NITDA, with stakeholders, is exploring all options to ensure Nigerians do not become victims of digital colonialism.”

South Africa

  • 13th July: Non-profit fact-checking organisation Africa Check has identified a number of false or misleading videos that are being shared without verification, in relation to unrest in the country. One video was identified to actually be showing protest footage from Venezuela more than three years ago, while another was from South Africa but actually taken during lockdown in 2020. According to a source quoted by Arab News, a group of ministers are “monitoring all social media platforms and we are tracking those who are sharing false information and calling for civil disobedience.”
  • 7th July: News24 has published an opinion piece written by the Film and Publication Board’s (FPB) Abongile Mashele and Laurie Less. In it, the two ask the question, ‘Who has the power to decide what content is left up or taken down?’ and call for a sensible approach to global media tech regulation: “Having regard to our recent past of thought control, censorship and enforced conformity to governmental theories, freedom of expression, the free and open exchange of ideas, is no less important than it is in the US or globally. It could actually be contended with much more force that the public interest in the open marketplace of ideas is all the more important to us as South Africans because our democracy is not yet deeply embedded… However, technology has enabled easy sharing and access of inappropriate media, making this an extremely difficult aspect to regulate and mitigate” You can read the article in full here
  • 30th June: a new report published by Ornico in collaboration with World Wide Worx has delved into the current state of the South African social media landscape. The report ranks the leading social media platforms in South Africa, and examines emerging regulatory issues including in the influencer marketing space: “Increasing legislation and guidelines governing the advertiser and influencer relationship, such as the South African Advertising Regulatory Board’s Social Media Code (2019), now enforces that any promoted posts be identified as such – by using terminology such as #AD, #Advertisement, #Sponsored.” You can download the report in full here

Turkey

  • 27th July: The debate around social – and indeed wider media – regulation in the country is heating up.Pro-government newspaper, The Daily Sabah, reports that ‘Turkey reviews Germany’s model for social media regulation’ and says that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) is looking at a number of EU country models for social media regulation, before it submits its own plan to Parliament in October. Meanwhile, Voice of America (VOA) reports that ‘Turkey’s Independent Media Brace for New Crackdown’ following the announcement of impending new legislation and controls on the foreign funding of social media in Turkey. 
  • 26th April: Turkey is to introduce ‘a comprehensive regulatory framework’ around cryptocurrency over the coming weeks. Reporting on a televised interview that Central Bank Governor, Sahap Kavcioglu gave to Turkish broadcasters on Friday, the Financial Times and a number of other outlets report that despite increased regulatory measures being introduced, the country has “no intention” of prohibiting cryptocurrency outright.

Asia-Pacific

Cross-Region

  • 28th July: Nikkei has published a deep-dive piece into Facebooks’ actions across the Asia-Pacific region, focussing on the current state of play for the company in countries including India, Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia, and China. The article also includes comment from Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook Data Scientist who – fired in 2020 – penned a 6,600 word memo about the company: “Facebook is more willing to defy certain countries than others — and about certain matters than others.” 

Australia

  • 21st July: Reset Australia is demanding greater transparency on how Facebook’s algorithms work, after new research from NewsGuard provided to the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that Facebook was recommending new conspiracy groups, including anti-mask and 5G themed pages. The lobby group has also recently been vocal in calling for greater protections for children across Facebook platforms, which the social media giant has subsequently made a further announcement on
  • 19th July: Former UK reality star turned far-right commentator, Katie Hopkins, has been deported for boasting on social media of her intention to break the country’s Covid-19 quarantine rules. In a now deleted Instagram video, Hopkins said that she planned to greet the hotel staff bringing her meals, “naked with no face mask”. 
  • 1st June: Rod Sims, Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), has told the Financial Times that the country is on course to deliver a media owner-tech platform ecosystem that is looked upon favourably by all parties: “We are on track for deals all around. It’s been a big success,” he told the publication
  • 25th May: An inquiry chaired by Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, has found that the country needs to strengthen press freedom laws, and offers 17 recommendations. The inquiry reports that public interest journalism needs further legislation to protect it, while an overall culture of greater transparency should be promoted. 
  • 28th April: A new report from the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has found that the dominance of Apple and Google’s app stores is impacting competition and consumers, and says that measures are needed to address the situation. “Apple and Google don’t only run the app marketplaces, they also compete within them with their own apps. They have the ability and incentive to promote their own apps over others, and they control the terms that their competitors must comply with to gain access to their stores,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

China

  • 26th July: The BBC reports that tech stocks are being hit hard due to new regulations being introduced in China impacting tech companies. Shares in Tencent have fallen after the company was ordered to end exclusive music licensing deals, and shares in Didi have now fallen 40% since the ride-hailing company made its NYSE debut at the end of June. 
  • 8th July: dozens of LGBT social media accounts have been deleted on Tencent’s WeChat channel, sparking fears of a tightening control over gay content. As yet, there has been no official explanation as to why the accounts have been removed, but as reported by The Hill US State Department spokesperson, Ned Price, responded to news of the bans during a Wednesday press briefing, telling reporters that the Biden administration is “concerned” that China had “restricted the social media accounts of LGBTQI Plus student groups and NGOs that were merely expressing their views, exercising their right to freedom of expression and freedom of speech.” 
  • 23rd June: The enforced closure of pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, has been described by UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, as “a chilling blow to freedom of expression in Hong Kong.” The news follows the arrest earlier in the month of the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, Ryan Law, along with other directors, in early morning raids. 
  • 6th June: The Wall Street Journal runs with the headline ‘China’s Tech Clampdown Is Spreading Like Wildfire’ and says that “Chinese authorities are targeting hundreds of apps in a push to clean up the country’s fast-growing, freewheeling internet sector,” as the country clamps down on media tech practices across everything from privacy to working conditions. 
  • 1st June: The BBC reports that an update of the Huawei operating system, HarmonyOS, will be installed in a wider range of products, including its smartphones. There has been great excitement ahead of the launch, according to the BBC’s China Media Analyst, Kerry Allen: “Divisions of China’s youth movement, the Communist Youth League, and even fire rescue and official courthouse accounts, have been promoting the new system. In the last week, more than 17 million Weibo users have read posts that include the hashtag ‘TheHarmonySmartphoneSystemIsHere’.”

India

  • 6th July: According to numerous sources, including Al Jazeera: ‘Twitter Inc. no more enjoys liability protection against user-generated content in India… [The country’s] IT ministry told the High Court in New Delhi that Twitter’s non-compliance amounted to a breach of the provisions of the IT Act, causing the US firm to lose its immunity, according to the filing dated July 5.’
  • 30th June: The Indian IT Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, has said that US social media company’s must adhere to domestic laws when operating within the company. In a statement made during the India Global Forum 2021 and reported here by Reuters, the minister said: “You operate in India, you make good money in India … but you will take the position that ‘I will only be governed by laws of America’ … This is plainly not acceptable.”
  • 27th May: WhatsApp has filed a lawsuit in Delhi against the Indian government, according to Reuters. It claims that the country’s new digital rules will force the Facebook-owned App to violate privacy protections, specifically as regards to revealing the identity of the original posters of information deemed to be of legitimate interest to the Indian authorities. Twitter has also expressed concerns over the new laws, while speaking at a recent virtual conference Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, said that the company was committed to complying with local laws, including in India. 
  • 23rd May: Numerous sources including the BBC report that the Indian government has instructed social media companies to remove any content that refers to the “Indian variant” of Covid-19. The Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology is said to have made the request in a government order on Friday, which was not made public but obtained by news agencies including the Press Trust of India.
  • 20th April: CNBC runs a story titled, ‘India wants to cut Big Tech down to size’ examining the backlash that has taken place regarding the country’s new social media legislation. In February, India imposed new rules centred around making social media sites more accountable for content, and the taking down thereof, as well as making it easier for the government to identify the original posters of certain messages. “I do believe the Indian Government has become less accommodative over the years,” Bhaskar Chakravorti, Dean of Global Business at Tufts University’s The Fletcher School, told the publication. 

Myanmar

Taiwan

  • 10th May: Taiwan will work with the European Union and other democracies to ensure a more “resilient supply” of crucial goods like semiconductors, reports Reuters. The news agency was reporting on a speech made by Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, after which she tweeted: “Taiwan stands with democracies around the world in the face of authoritarian expansion. As long as we work together, our shared values of freedom, human rights & the rule of law will prevail.” 

Europe

EU

  • 28th May: The international symposium on ‘The Impartiality of Judges and the Use of Social Media by Judges’ was held today, with a view to elaborating on the topics of the impartiality of judges and the use of social media by exchanging international knowledge and experience on these topics. The symposium started with the opening remarks of Mr Osman Atalay, Chair of the Human Rights Commission and President of the 1st Criminal Chamber of the Court of Cassation, Mr Cristian Urse, Head of the Council of Europe Programme Office in Ankara and Mr Mehmet Akarca, First President of the Court of Cassation of Turkey. 
  • 26th May: The EU Commission has presented new guidance to strengthen the Code of Practice on Disinformation. Established in October 2018, the code calls upon tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to help directly tackle disinformation spread online. Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market, said: “We need to rein in the infodemic and the diffusion of false information putting people’s life in danger. Disinformation cannot remain a source of revenue. 
  • 24th May: Imperial College London has hosted a debate between leading experts on the EU’s upcoming AI regulation, which aims ‘to turn Europe into the global hub for trustworthy Artificial Intelligence (AI)’. Melissa Heikkilä, AI Correspondent for POLITICO Europe, chaired the event, and was joined by: Dr Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science at Imperial; Karen Melchior, Member of the European Parliament; Professor Fraser Sampson, UK Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, and Nathalie Smuha, Assistant Lecturer in Law and Ethics of AI and Technology, KU Leuven. You can find out more here
  • 30th April: The EU today states that Apple’s App Store has broken competition rules, after a complaint from Spotify: “Our preliminary finding is that Apple exercises considerable market power in the distribution of music streaming apps to owners of Apple devices. On that market, Apple has a monopoly,” said Margrethe Vestager, Head of Competition Policy in the EU.
  • 28th April: The European Parliament has voted through a new law to address ‘the dissemination of terrorist content online’. It says that terrorist content must be removed within one hour, but ‘content uploaded for educational, journalistic, artistic or research purposes, or used for awareness-raising purposes, will not be considered terrorist content’. Some have criticised the move, arguing that over-zealous algorithmic filters could inadvertently hinder free speech.

France

  • 13th July: France’s competition regulator has fined Google 500 million Euros (US $592 million) for failing to negotiate in good faith with French publishers. France’s competition regulator has threatened further fines in two months time, if the media tech giant fails to find a way to properly compensate news agencies and publishers for their content. In a statement quoted by the Associated Press (AP), Google said it was “very disappointed” by the decision
  • 7th June: France’s competition watchdog, L’Autorité de la concurrence (ADLC), has handed a €220 fine to Google for favouring its own services in the online advertising sector. On its website, the ADLC said: “Google, which did not dispute the facts, wished to settle with the Autorité, which granted its request. Google also proposed commitments, accepted by the Autorité, that will change the way its advertising service DFP and its sales platform AdX function.”

Germany

  • 27th July: Google has announced that it will take legal action against the government over the extension of its network enforcement law, citing privacy concerns. In comments posted on the official YouTube Blog, Sabine Frank, Head of Government Affairs and Public Policy YouTube for the German-speaking countries as well as Central and Eastern Europe, said: “The fight against hatred and hate speech on the Internet is of the utmost importance to us. However, the protection of our users’ data remains a central concern.”
  • 7th June: As the European copyright for press publishers enters into force in Germany today, upday has confirmed its commitment to pay all providers whose content is available on upday a fair remuneration in line with the new regulation. This sees the news aggregator make a direct contribution to independent journalism in the digital era, supporting it in its entire breadth and diversity. More here
  • 4th June: The Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s national competition regulator, has initiated a proceeding against the Google News Showcase. The examination is mainly based on the authority’s new competences under the new legal provisions applicable to large digital companies. In this respect it follows up on the proceeding against Google which the Bundeskartellamt initiated on 25th May to determine a paramount significance for competition across markets within the meaning of Section 19a of the German Competition Act, GWB. In the past months, apart from the proceeding against Google, the authority had already initiated proceedings against Facebook and Amazon based on this new competition law tool. More here
  • 17th May: Axel Springer and Facebook have signed a letter of intent to engage in joint global cooperation. Content produced by the publisher will be distributed via various Facebook offerings, including ‘Facebook News’. As part of the deal, the media brands involved will also ramp up the sharing of video content on the network. The agreement explicitly excludes the future ancillary copyright for press publishers. The initial focus will be on Germany and the US, expanding out into wider territories going forward. 

Ireland

  • 5th May: Publishers attending a conference hosted by NewsBrands Ireland, the representative body for print and online national newspapers in the country, have been urged to develop a common digital advertising platform to compete more effectively with Google and Facebook, reports The Irish Times.The publication also reports that discussions between Irish news publishers and Google about potential payment for content on Google News Showcase are at an “early stage”, according to NewsBrands Ireland Chairman, Colm O’Reilly. 
  • 21st April: The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) today launched a public consultation on proposed changes to the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) zone for the Dublin area. Diarmuid O Conghaile, Aviation Regulator/CEO Designate of the Irish Authority said, “Our job is to facilitate the use of drones, which are quickly emerging as a transformative technology.” The development and regulation of this aspect of tech is important in media for two reasons: at macro level, drones are obviously increasingly connected to people’s phones, which brings wider data/privacy concerns into play, and we also looked recently at an impressive drone QR code display in the Shanghai sky, which exemplifies the increasing use of such technology in advertising and events.      

Netherlands

  • 2nd July: New privacy litigation that is being brought against Facebook by two non-profits can go ahead, an Amsterdam court has ruled. The Data Privacy Foundation (DPS) has been looking bring a case against Facebook over its collection of user data since 2019, and has now been joined by the Dutch consumer protection not-for-profit, Consumentenbond. According to TechCrunch, ‘The pair are seeking redress for Facebook users in the Netherlands for alleged violations of their privacy rights — both by suing for compensation for individuals; and calling for Facebook to end the privacy-hostile practices.’

Russia

  • 26th July: Russian authorities have blocked access to imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s website, along with those of dozens of his allies, according to multiple sources including The Guardian. The move comes ahead of the country’s parliamentary election in September. 
  • 24th May: Reuters reports that Russia has given Google 24hrs to delete what it calls ‘prohibited content’ or face fines and a possible traffic slowdown. The news comes just two days after the FT’s Moscow Correspondent, Max Seddon, reported that ‘Google’s entire Russian business [is] in jeopardy’ as the international tech giant finds itself increasingly at odds with the country’s national media laws. 
  • 17th May: The Moscow Times reports that Roskomnadzor, the country’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media, has stepped back from the idea of blocking Twitter, and that the social network has met with 91% of its requests to delete content. However, the media regulator will continue to slow page loading speeds for the social media platform’s mobile app within its borders. 
  • 9th May: Bitcoin.com says that The Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR) has examined three platforms offering crypto-related services, according to the Bank’s 2020 annual report. The projects were tested in its regulatory sandbox in the course of last year.
  • 29th April: Russia has fined Apple RU906m (US $12m), according to numerous sources including Macworld UK. The country’s competition body found that the company had abused its position of distribution dominance in favouring its own apps in the App Store. 

UK

  • 28th July: UK Prime Minister and former Journalist, Boris Johnson, has told LBC that investigative journalists will not be “muzzled” by potential changes to the Official Secrets Act. He told LBC Presenter, Nick Ferrari that the government was aiming to make sure they didn’t do “anything to interrupt the operation of good journalism and bringing new and important works into the public domain.”
  • 23rd July: Press Gazette has written to the Government to express its concerns that the prosed reforms to the Official Secrets Act could lead to journalists being treated as spies and punished for sensitive stories: ‘The proposed reforms to the Official Secrets Act 1989 could make criminals of investigative journalists who expose government wrongdoings through reporting that would necessarily include the dissemination of sensitive material. ‘Onward disclosure’ is more simply known as journalism.’
  • 20th July: A new report commissioned by the 5Rights Foundation and conducted by insight agency, Revealing Reality, investigates how social media and wider digital design is putting children at risk. Writing about the study, Sky News Correspondent Emma Birchley said: “Children are being targeted with graphic online content sometimes within hours of setting up social media accounts.”
  • 19th July: Following the disgraceful end to the Euro 2020 championship last week, British Formula 1 driver, Lewis Hamilton, has now also been subjected to a tirade of racial abuse online, following his win at the British Grand Prix on Sunday. Mercedes, F1 and governing body the FIA condemned the abuse “in the strongest possible terms”, saying in a joint statement that, “These people have no place in our sport.”
  • 12th July: Social media has come under heavy scrutiny again following a grim end to the delayed Euro 2020 tournament. Hate speech was directed at three England players online following a loss in the final to Italy, and has been publicly condemned by the FA, the UK Prime Minister, the Duke of Cambridge, and other high-profile figures, with renewed calls for regulation.

North & South America

Cuba

US

  • 27th July: A TikToker with over 3 million followers is being sued by a car wash in Florida after a rant about the company went viral, reports Insider. In total, ‘Bryan the Diamond’ posted six videos on the subject, which have collectively now been viewed more than 6 million times, in which he said that the business should be “Shut the f*uck down”. He is now being sued for defamation. 
  • 16th July: Speaking to White House reporters, President Joe Biden has ramped up the language against the spread of Covid-19 misinformation on social media, saying: ““They’re killing people. The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated. And they’re killing people.” 
  • 7th July: Former President, Donald Trump, has announced a class action lawsuit against Facebook, Twitter and Google claiming anti-conservative bias. Many publications to report on the news, including the Guardian cited here, have stressed that the action is unlikely to go anywhere, based both on the current legislative environment as well as the former President’s long-established penchant for announcing lawsuits that end up fading away before reaching court. 
  • 24th May: Facebook’s VP of Global Affairs & Communications, Nick Clegg, has penned an op-ed piece for CNBC, outlining 4 key areas in which Congress can adopt a bipartisan approach to ‘break the deadlock on internet regulation’, inclusive of: reform of Section 230, protection against ‘influence operations’, breaking the deadlock on federal privacy legislation, and setting out clear rules on ‘data portability’. 
  • 10th May: This week, the News Media Alliance will host virtual meetings between newspaper executives and their members of Congress to advocate for the passage of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA), also known as the ‘Safe Harbor bill.’ Alliance President & CEO, David Chavern, said: As we have seen in Australia and Europe, the world is moving toward new compensation systems for publishers. A healthy democracy needs quality journalism now more than ever, and we must ensure that the digital ecosystem returns value back to the people who create that journalism.”
  • 5th May: The Facebook Oversight Board, an independent body set-up in October 2020 to rule on content moderation decisions made by the platform, has upheld Facebook’s decision on January 7 to suspend then-President Trump from Facebook and Instagram. However, the board also found that Facebook violated its own rules by imposing a suspension that was ‘indefinite.’ Former UK Deputy Prime Minister and now Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications for Facebook, Nick Clegg, spoke to the FT just hours after the ruling, and also took the opportunity to comment on Apple’s decision to make third-party app-tracking opt-in

Canada

  • 22nd June: Justin Trudeau’s government has passed the controversial Bill C-10, which is designed to subject tech giants to the same requirements as traditional broadcasters.“There are other issues we have to address when it comes to broadcasting and creation, and we will,” Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said during the final debate Monday evening. “Bill C-10 is a first step in that direction.” However, to become law the bill still needs to pass through the senate, and it is still unclear whether it will be successful at that stage of the process. Full story at Bloomberg.com
  • 10th May: Confusion reigns around the country’s proposed Bill C-10, as Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault attempts to clarify the full remit of the government’s updates to the current Broadcasting Act. Having previously stated that the bill could be used to impose discoverability regulations on users who have large enough followings to warrant them, the minister now says that this will not be the case. It’s certainly not a bad question to ask, when Canadian stars Drake and Justin Bieber have 88 million subscribers between them on YouTube alone.  
  • 26th April: The House of Commons Heritage Committee met again today to discuss Bill C-10, an act that would bring about a change to the country’s overarching broadcast legislation and give the government greater control over online content: “The Bill clarifies that the Act applies on the Internet. Clause 1 would add online undertakings as a distinct class of broadcasting,” says the Canadian Department of Justice, while critics claim it will give the authorities too much power over what ordinary citizens can and can’t post online. 

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