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Telecom Companies Need To Challenge Governments Over Internet Shutdowns: Advocacy Groups

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Screenshot from the webinar

March 13, 2021 – Internet shutdowns by governments around the globe are impacting their connectivity-dependent segments, including education and business, and citizens should pressure telecom companies to take action against the authors of those blackouts, experts said Tuesday.

Internet blackouts in countries like Myanmar, India, Iran, China, Hong Kong, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam has put into focus how the practice of silencing dissent by cutting off social tools has become normalized and is depressing critical educational and business tools.

That’s according to panelists hosted by the Aspen Institute, which were tasked Tuesday with discussing the impacts of the practice.

Adrian Shahbaz, director of non-profit democracy advocate Freedom House, said his agency has tracked a ten-year decline in internet freedom across categories including obstacles to accessing the internet, limits on content, and as violations to user rights.

He said restrictions on social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, go beyond social interaction, as it has significant collateral implications for those who use those tools to access educational materials and to engage in business with customers and suppliers, among other critical functions.

Sophie Schmidt, founder and CEO of global tech reporting publication Rest of World, said shutdowns are increasingly happening in places that tech literacy is a challenge, adding journalists have been a crucial part of increasing knowledge in these places to improve understanding of what they are up against it.

The more widespread the shutdowns happen, however, the more normal it is, she added.

Felicia Anthonio, a campaigner for digital advocacy non-profit Access Now, said one way to potentially combat shutdowns is for the subject population to pressure the telecom companies to fight against governments on the basis that shutdowns are breaches of contract.

Such a precedent exists: in India, service providers have taken the government to court for violating their terms of service for forcing them to switch off.

Section 230

Facebook, Google, Twitter Register to Lobby Congress on Section 230

Companies also want to discuss cybersecurity, net neutrality, taxes and privacy.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

March 13, 2021 – Internet shutdowns by governments around the globe are impacting their connectivity-dependent segments, including education and business, and citizens should pressure telecom companies to take action against the authors of those blackouts, experts said Tuesday.

Internet blackouts in countries like Myanmar, India, Iran, China, Hong Kong, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam has put into focus how the practice of silencing dissent by cutting off social tools has become normalized and is depressing critical educational and business tools.

That’s according to panelists hosted by the Aspen Institute, which were tasked Tuesday with discussing the impacts of the practice.

Adrian Shahbaz, director of non-profit democracy advocate Freedom House, said his agency has tracked a ten-year decline in internet freedom across categories including obstacles to accessing the internet, limits on content, and as violations to user rights.

He said restrictions on social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, go beyond social interaction, as it has significant collateral implications for those who use those tools to access educational materials and to engage in business with customers and suppliers, among other critical functions.

Sophie Schmidt, founder and CEO of global tech reporting publication Rest of World, said shutdowns are increasingly happening in places that tech literacy is a challenge, adding journalists have been a crucial part of increasing knowledge in these places to improve understanding of what they are up against it.

The more widespread the shutdowns happen, however, the more normal it is, she added.

Felicia Anthonio, a campaigner for digital advocacy non-profit Access Now, said one way to potentially combat shutdowns is for the subject population to pressure the telecom companies to fight against governments on the basis that shutdowns are breaches of contract.

Such a precedent exists: in India, service providers have taken the government to court for violating their terms of service for forcing them to switch off.

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Section 230

Companies May Hesitate Bringing Section 230 Arguments in Court Fearing Political Ramifications: Lawyers

Legal experts say changing views on Section 230 will make platforms less willing to employ that defense in future cases.

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Carrie Goldberg, founder of C.A. Goldberg law firm

March 13, 2021 – Internet shutdowns by governments around the globe are impacting their connectivity-dependent segments, including education and business, and citizens should pressure telecom companies to take action against the authors of those blackouts, experts said Tuesday.

Internet blackouts in countries like Myanmar, India, Iran, China, Hong Kong, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam has put into focus how the practice of silencing dissent by cutting off social tools has become normalized and is depressing critical educational and business tools.

That’s according to panelists hosted by the Aspen Institute, which were tasked Tuesday with discussing the impacts of the practice.

Adrian Shahbaz, director of non-profit democracy advocate Freedom House, said his agency has tracked a ten-year decline in internet freedom across categories including obstacles to accessing the internet, limits on content, and as violations to user rights.

He said restrictions on social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, go beyond social interaction, as it has significant collateral implications for those who use those tools to access educational materials and to engage in business with customers and suppliers, among other critical functions.

Sophie Schmidt, founder and CEO of global tech reporting publication Rest of World, said shutdowns are increasingly happening in places that tech literacy is a challenge, adding journalists have been a crucial part of increasing knowledge in these places to improve understanding of what they are up against it.

The more widespread the shutdowns happen, however, the more normal it is, she added.

Felicia Anthonio, a campaigner for digital advocacy non-profit Access Now, said one way to potentially combat shutdowns is for the subject population to pressure the telecom companies to fight against governments on the basis that shutdowns are breaches of contract.

Such a precedent exists: in India, service providers have taken the government to court for violating their terms of service for forcing them to switch off.

Continue Reading

Section 230

Head of Big Tech Lobby Group Says Repealing Section 230 Unconstitutional

CTA CEO said abolishing intermediary liability protections violates private industry protections against government interference.

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on

Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association

March 13, 2021 – Internet shutdowns by governments around the globe are impacting their connectivity-dependent segments, including education and business, and citizens should pressure telecom companies to take action against the authors of those blackouts, experts said Tuesday.

Internet blackouts in countries like Myanmar, India, Iran, China, Hong Kong, Russia, Turkey, and Vietnam has put into focus how the practice of silencing dissent by cutting off social tools has become normalized and is depressing critical educational and business tools.

That’s according to panelists hosted by the Aspen Institute, which were tasked Tuesday with discussing the impacts of the practice.

Adrian Shahbaz, director of non-profit democracy advocate Freedom House, said his agency has tracked a ten-year decline in internet freedom across categories including obstacles to accessing the internet, limits on content, and as violations to user rights.

He said restrictions on social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, go beyond social interaction, as it has significant collateral implications for those who use those tools to access educational materials and to engage in business with customers and suppliers, among other critical functions.

Sophie Schmidt, founder and CEO of global tech reporting publication Rest of World, said shutdowns are increasingly happening in places that tech literacy is a challenge, adding journalists have been a crucial part of increasing knowledge in these places to improve understanding of what they are up against it.

The more widespread the shutdowns happen, however, the more normal it is, she added.

Felicia Anthonio, a campaigner for digital advocacy non-profit Access Now, said one way to potentially combat shutdowns is for the subject population to pressure the telecom companies to fight against governments on the basis that shutdowns are breaches of contract.

Such a precedent exists: in India, service providers have taken the government to court for violating their terms of service for forcing them to switch off.

Continue Reading

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