Pompous 'International Grand Committee' Signs Useless But Equally Pompous 'Declaration On Principles Of Law Governing The Internet'

from the they're-really-going-all-in-on-this dept

So just a few weeks after a bunch of countries (and companies and organizations) signed onto a weird and mostly empty Paris Call for Trust and Safety in Cyberspace, a group of nine countries — Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Ireland, Latvia, Singapore and the UK, have declared themselves the “International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News” and signed onto a Principles of the Law Governing the Internet. If that list of countries sound familiar, that’s because it’s the same list of countries that put on that grandstanding inquisition of Facebook that produced fake news in its own way, by falsely claiming that Facebook had discovered Russians extracting 3 billion data points via its API back in 2014 (it wasn’t Russia, it was Pinterest; it wasn’t 3 billion, it was 6 million; it wasn’t abuse of the API, but using it correctly).

The Declaration makes some grand pronouncements:

Noting that:? the world in which the traditional institutions of democratic government operate is changing at an unprecedented pace; it is an urgent and critical priority for legislatures and governments to ensure that the fundamental rights and safeguards of their citizens are not violated or undermined by the unchecked march of technology; the democratic world order is suffering a crisis of trust from the growth of disinformation, the proliferation of online aggression and hate speech, concerted attacks on our common democratic values of tolerance and respect for the views of others, and the widespread misuse of data belonging to citizens to enable these attempts to sabotage open and democratic processes, including elections.

Affirming that:? representative democracy is too important and too hard-won to be left undefended from online harms, in particular aggressive campaigns of disinformation launched from one country against citizens in another, and the co-ordinated activity of fake accounts using data-targeting methods to try manipulate the information that people see on social media.

Believing that:? it is incumbent on us to create a system of global internet governance that can serve to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of generations to come, based on established codes of conduct for agencies working for nation states, and govern the major international tech platforms which have created the systems that serve online content to billions of users around the world.

Okay. So what does it all mean? Well, here are the details of the “declaration”:

i. The internet is global and law relating to it must derive from globally agreed principles;
ii. The deliberate spreading of disinformation and division is a credible threat to the continuation and growth of democracy and a civilising global dialogue;
iii. Global technology firms must recognise their great power and demonstrate their readiness to accept their great responsibility as holders of influence;
iv. Social Media companies should be held liable if they fail to comply with a judicial, statutory or regulatory order to remove harmful and misleading content from their platforms, and should be regulated to ensure they comply with this requirement;
v. Technology companies must demonstrate their accountability to users by making themselves fully answerable to national legislatures and other organs of representative democracy.

Of course, in the context of the committee who created this Declaration having now been revealed to have created “fake news” itself, this kind comes off pretty… weak. But also, the whole thing is kind of meaningless. The companies do recognize their “power” and have been trying to deal with this issue. Yes, perhaps they didn’t grasp the severity of the issue in the past, but they certainly have more recently. But simple declarations and pronouncements don’t really do anything useful in “solving” those issues. That’s because much of it is a human nature issue, and expecting tech companies to “take responsibility” for human nature is… well… nonsense.

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Comments on “Pompous 'International Grand Committee' Signs Useless But Equally Pompous 'Declaration On Principles Of Law Governing The Internet'”

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22 Comments
Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: 1-4

Every government considers itself supremely sovereign. Other governments disagree. If one or the other does so too strenuously, it creates a casus belli and that frequently leads to more…vigorous…debate.

What I’ve never been able to understand is how, given the incredibly repetitive nature of the above process throughout human history, why it is that government officials continually fail to recognize what they are setting into motion.

Anonymous Coward says:

> Noting that:— the world in which the traditional institutions of democratic government operate is changing at an unprecedented pace;

They should then go on to say that government need to adapt themselves to the increased democracy that the Internet enables. Instead they are determined to control it to protect their own privileges.

The privileged classes failed to control the printing press, though their efforts resulted in a century or so of conflict. Can’t the politicians learn from history, it is up to them to adapt to social changes, rather than fight them to preserve their privileges.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Supergood Doublespeak

If they define disinformation the same way that Trump defines disinformation, then anything they don’t like will be disinformation, whether it is or isn’t. Then how are they going to rightously defend “…representative democracy is too important and too hard-won to be left undefended from online harms…” and not lose the concept of democracy?

Oh, and whose notion of free speech (an underpining of democracy) are they going to use? One where the ‘right to be forgotten’ is a viable thing? One where ‘they’ decide what is good speech and which is bad? One where non-democratic governments decide which speech is good (and since this is about democracy but they address every nation and not all nations are actual democracies despite what they claim for example the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also known as North Korea)?

Ah, got it. Like Trump, anything they don’t like will be vile and disinformation (aka fake news), but unlike Trump the ‘democratic’ nosey Fourth Estate in the various entities will not be able to bring anything other than ‘their’ truth to the table. Situation Normal, All Fucked Up (aka SNAFU), and by design.

And to think this is all social medias fault. Not the users, the owners. What are they going to do when they find out it is in fact the users and not the owners? The private prison industry is going to blossom like an atomic bomb. Get your stocks now while they are cheap.

Richard M (profile) says:

Solving problems is not the goal...

” But simple declarations and pronouncements don’t really do anything useful in “solving” those issues.”

Very little of anything politicians do has anything to do with solving problems.

They all have two goals.
1. More power for themselves and their buddies.
2. More money for themselves and their buddies.

Everything they do is based on doing these two things. They do not care about actually solving problems but they do care about looking like they are solving problems to whatever group will help them in their quest for more power and money.

Despite all the political rhetoric politicians of any party do not really care about us. Some of them are more open about it than others but none of them really care about anything other than their own power.

Anonmylous says:

Accords-ing to whom?

I swear I’ve seen something like this before…

  • i. Heroism is global and law relating to it must derive from globally agreed principles;
  • ii. The deliberate intrusion onto foreign soil by Enhanced Beings is a credible threat to the continuation and growth of democracy and a civilising global dialogue;
  • iii. Enhanced Beings must recognise their great power and demonstrate their readiness to accept their great responsibility as holders of said power;
  • iv. Enhanced Beings should be held liable if they fail to comply with a judicial, statutory or regulatory order to act or refrain from action, and should be regulated to ensure they comply with this requirement;
  • v. Enhanced Beings must demonstrate their accountability to Justice by making themselves fully answerable to national legislatures and other organs of representative democracy.
Personanongrata says:

Idiots Rule*

That’s because much of it is a human nature issue, and expecting tech companies to "take responsibility" for human nature is… well… nonsense.

But…. but, what about the children?

Who will keep them safe?

Without a Pompous ‘International Grand Committee’ to protect the children the end is nigh.

*
Thank you Janes Addiciton

Idiots Rule is a Jane’s Addiction song written in 1985.

Lyrics

I got a lie
A fat fuckin’ lie
About a law
Idiots obey
They made it easy
Now cheaters have their way
You hi-di-ho’s
You’re living on your knees
Forget the rule!
Oh – idiots rule!
Forget the rule!
Oh – idiots rule!
Idiot!

Now there’s a time man…
But i say non like now
There’s a time…
Where idiots are bound
If there’s a pole
Planted in your back
Then you’re a fixture
You ain’t a man
Forget the rule!
Oh – idiots rule
Forget the rule!
Oh – idiots rule!

What’s this you mother fucker?
Fuck it!
Suck it!
Damn it!
Ahh!

Idiots!
Idiots rule!
Idiots!
Idiots rule!
Idiots!
Idiots rule!

You know that man
You hate?
You look more like him
Every day everyday
Hi-di-hos!
2 good shoes
Won’t save your soul, yeah
Idiots rule!
Idiots rule!
Idiots rule!
Yeah!

https://janesaddiction.org/songs/janes-addiction/idiots-rule/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie3NinwlX6A&feature=related

That One Guy (profile) says:

'We're the bosses, it's up to you to nerd harder!'

i. The internet is global and law relating to it must derive from globally agreed principles;

How about this one: ‘Governments should not be in, nor place themselves in, a position where they get to decide what is and is not allowed, barring very specific laws relating to very specific actions/crimes, involving specific instances of violations.’

ii. The deliberate spreading of disinformation and division is a credible threat to the continuation and growth of democracy and a civilising global dialogue;

Disinformation according to who is the important counter-question to that. Depending on who you ask what is and is not ‘legitimate’ information rather than falsehoods can vary widely, and as for offense/’division’, well, good luck getting a consistent definition for that that isn’t the absolute most restrictive and thereby stifling.

iii. Global technology firms must recognise their great power and demonstrate their readiness to accept their great responsibility as holders of influence;

For some reason I suspect that what they mean as responsibility’ is likely significantly more expansive than what many others would mean.

Does that ‘responsibility’ include getting rid of trolls? If so, see above point: As defined by who?

‘False’ information? Again, same question.

What about parody, ‘blasphemy’, or The Most Important Thing Ever, Without Which Creativity And Society Itself Would Not Work, also known as ‘copyright’?

iv. Social Media companies should be held liable if they fail to comply with a judicial, statutory or regulatory order to remove harmful and misleading content from their platforms, and should be regulated to ensure they comply with this requirement;

Translation: If we pass stupid laws it’s on them to comply and make it work! Also we should get to decide what is and is not allowed on (theoretically) their platforms.

v. Technology companies must demonstrate their accountability to users by making themselves fully answerable to national legislatures and other organs of representative democracy.

‘If we want to drag you through the coals for a PR stunt you damn well better show up and put on a good show!’

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