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Content policy

2019

The country of Bhutan has launched its first Internet exchange point called the Bhutan Internet exchange (BtIX). According to a publicationin the Kuensel online news platform, the BtIX infrastructure will serve as the single hub to keep all local traffic by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and content delivery networks thereby separating them from expensive and distant third party networks.

According to officials of BtIX, the infrastructure will improve the overall Internet quality experience in Bhutan by reducing delays. It will also reduce the average public delivery cost of Internet service since networks will interconnect directly with each other through the exchange instead of through long-distant third party networks around the world

Facebook removed pages linked to Russian Sputnik news website for having breached the platform’s terms of services. The pages mispresented their identities, pretending they were independent news services or fan pages related to celebrities, regions and food. Facebook found out that at least 75 accounts belonged to Sputnik’s employees and often had posts with anti-Nato, protest and anti-corruption content among pictures of chocolate cakes, food recipes and cats. The platform suspect that it was a strategy to attract an audience interested in this type of content. Not rarely, these pages would post a link to a Sputnik article. The pages had around 700,000 followers. Facebook has struggled to remove illegal content and pages which violate its terms of services after having been charged liable for illegal political ads and content in the last American presidential elections. 

In the proposed amendments to the Information Technology Act 2000, the Indian government recommended modifications on the rules regarding the liability of online intermediaries. The proposal requires that intermediaries, including social media networks, e-commerce platforms and Internet providers, should be expected to proactively remove unlawful third-party content, or face liability for the illegal content. The rules would change the intermediary liability landmark set by the Shreya Singhal case of 2015, which clarified that companies were only expected to remove content when ordered by a court to do so. 

2018

Facebook and France have reached an agreement allowing for the French government to appoint its officials in Facebook offices. For six months, starting 1 January 2019 French officials will perform assessments under French jurisdiction in order to establish ‘smart regulation’ of content and removal procedures of hate speech on Facebook.

The EU has been working on a new copyright directive for the last few years. The proposals for article 13 were criticised by experts for potentially forcing platform intermediaries to implement content matching technology based on a database of copyrighted works to monitor users’ content. Members of the European Parliament, after extensive public pressure, re-debated many controversial aspects of the article. However, a recent Council of Europe (CoE) document revealed that the proposal does not explicit if the existing liability protection is valid under article 13, and that there are no clear exceptions for intermediaries that make an effort to prevent copyright infringements, but inadvertently admit copyrighted content on their platforms.

Freedom House's report Freedom on the Net 2018: The Rise Of Digital Authoritarianism shows key findings that: 

  • Declines outnumber gains for the eighth consecutive year, with almost half of these being election-related.
  • China trains the world in digital authoritarianism.
  • Internet freedom declined in the United States (mostly due to a decline in net neutrality protections).
  • Citing fake news, governments curbed online dissent (17 countries).
  • Authorities demand control over personal data (18 countries increased surveillance).

In his introduction to the report, Fake news, data collection, and the challenge to democracyAdrian Shahbaz said 'Events this year have confirmed that the internet can be used to disrupt democracies as surely as it can destabilize dictatorships'  [...] 'With or without malign intent, the internet and social media in particular can push citizens into polarized echo chambers and pull at the social fabric of a country, fueling hostility between different communities.'

 

                                                                               Changes in Internet Freedom 2018 Freedom House

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