Danger warnings for UK online safety bill

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The UK government on Thursday introduced legislation aimed at “making Britain the safest place to go online,” but its sweeping online safety law also threatens freedom of expression and the business models of big tech companies, critics say.

The bill addresses online harm, from bullying and fraud to child abuse, in an ambitious and controversial attempt to force big tech companies to monitor their networks. Its executives could face jail time if they fail to comply with some elements of the new regime put in place by Ofcom. report Tim Bradshaw and Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe.

The media and telecoms regulator will also have the power to audit the algorithms that determine what consumers see in their Google and Facebook search results and social media feeds.

The bill could become law later this year, but the details of one of its most controversial elements – a requirement for the biggest internet platforms to monitor so-called “legal but harmful” abuses such as racism or bullying – will only be laid out later through secondary legislation.

Additions since the original draft include new obligations to prevent online fraud through paid advertising and criminalizing “cyber flashing,” where people expose themselves to strangers online. Demands to ban anonymous users from major Internet platforms altogether to combat trolls were eventually rejected by the government. Instead, social media users are given the option to ban any account that has not verified their offline identity.

The Open Rights Group, a civil rights activist, described the proposals as an “Orwellian censorship machine” and said the powers to jail social media executives mirrored powers exercised by Vladimir Putin in Russia.

Robert Colvile, director of the Center for Policy Studies, said the scope of the bill remains unwieldy and his proposals mean tech companies would play it safe and remove content, with “potentially disastrous consequences for our public debate by censoring legal content.” , just because they are potentially ‘harmful’. in the eyes of the platforms”.

Daniel Pryor, head of research at the Adam Smith Institute think tank, concluded: “The online security law was an illiberal, incoherent, anti-innovation mess when it was first presented as a white paper in 2019. After almost three years in Parliament, despite debate and scrutiny, it’s still an illiberal, incoherent, anti-innovative mess.”

The Internet of (Five) Things

1. Amazon seals MGM deal and fights Ambani in India
Amazon has finalized its deal to acquire movie studio MGM after US and European competition authorities refused to block despite growing concerns about the size of the e-commerce giant. Meanwhile in India, Mukesh Ambani and Jeff Bezos fight a court case which has the potential to shape the future of retail in the country of 1.4 billion consumers. Here in the UK, a decade after her groundbreaking investigation, Sarah O’Connor returns to the small British town of Rugeley to find out what has changed since Amazon opened its huge warehouse there.

2. Truphone distances itself from the Russian oligarch
The British telecoms group, in which Roman Abramovich has one of his largest UK holdings, has distanced itself from the sanctioned billionaire separate ways with one of its oldest directors. Andre De Cort, an associate of Abramovich, resigned as a director at Truphone on Monday.

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3. Ukraine and the truth about the war
Despite the Russian media crackdown and the passions ignited by the war, the Russian-language Wikipedia page on the current invasion remains fact-filled and comprehensive. In places it deviates significantly from the depiction of the Kremlin, writes John Thornhill. Elsewhere were Russians take farewell to their Instagram accounts is the business finally working together about cybersecurity, and tech entrepreneurs and investors complain that they’re having trouble winning major deals from the Pentagon, writes Richard Waters.

4. Deliveroo pays attention to profitability as Getir raises $800 million
Deliveroo shares rallied Thursday after CEO Will Shu unveiled a plan for the London-based food app achieve underlying profitability by mid-2024. It has just been evaluated by Getir, the fast food delivery service raised nearly $800 million into new funds at a valuation of $11.8 billion.

5. Spotify plans to join the NFT craze
Spotify is building plans to add blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens for its streaming service. Music’s use of NFTs could include selling digital albums or using them to unlock perks at performances, from merchandise to backstage passes. Mark Zuckerberg, Meta boss, said this week that there would be an opportunity to show his NFTs soon on Instagram.

Tech Tools – Spotify’s Car Thing

Spotify has only just gotten to hiring staff for its NFT efforts, but it now has some real hardware for sale in the US in the form of $90 car thing. The mountable unit has a dial for controlling songs, stations and playlists on the display, but is also voice controlled for hands-free operation. The device plays by connecting to your phone, which is connected to your car’s audio system. Four preset buttons provide shortcuts to favorite artists, playlists, stations, or podcasts. Engadget questions its usefulness and says Car Thing is more of a controller for the app on your phone.

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