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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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 28 Nov 2018 @ 1:39pm

    1-4

    Aren't items i and iv contradictory?

    If the internet should be governed by global principles, how can it uphold every local law?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 28 Nov 2018 @ 3:59pm

      Re: 1-4

      Details, details...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Bergman (profile), 28 Nov 2018 @ 9:42pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Nov 2018 @ 1:45pm

    > 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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Nov 2018 @ 2:23pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard M (profile), 28 Nov 2018 @ 2:47pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Nov 2018 @ 2:51pm

      Re: Solving problems is not the goal...

      And a subset of that is re-election, which means staying in the power they created for themselves.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Grand Poobah, 28 Nov 2018 @ 2:50pm

    Fake!

    I am the Grand Poobah and I declare this 'International Grand Committee' to be fake!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonmylous, 28 Nov 2018 @ 2:59pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, 28 Nov 2018 @ 3:49pm

    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/wa tch?v=ie3NinwlX6A&feature=related

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Gary (profile), 28 Nov 2018 @ 5:49pm

      Re: Idiots Rule*

      Ooooh - someone doesn't respect Jane's copyrights!

      Thanks to 230 Mike is safe - but Personanongrata owes $150k us dollars for the infraction!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Nov 2018 @ 5:32pm

    And at least half of those countries went back home and promptly went back to surveillance, blocking, censorship and blaming others for their problems.
    It's not like the declaration did anything about the real issues.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    stderric (profile), 28 Nov 2018 @ 5:40pm

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

    We certainly wouldn't want people being allowed to vote on something until they've all agreed to cast their ballots the same way on it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 28 Nov 2018 @ 6:12pm

    '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!'

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Nov 2018 @ 6:53pm

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

      Seems like the parallel to witch trials applies. Dunk them and see if they float. If they do, kill them, they are witches, if they don't, then what's the problem?

      What do you mean I have that backwards?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Nov 2018 @ 6:30am

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

        She changed me into a newt!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Annonymouse, 29 Nov 2018 @ 11:28am

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

          I see that you got better.
          Not like the honourable members of parliment who were turned into jackasses.


          What?
          They were always that way?
          Nevermind?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    oliver, 28 Nov 2018 @ 11:41pm

    There is only one solution....

    NUKE it from orbit. That's the only way to be sure!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 29 Nov 2018 @ 2:45am

    Similarly, McDonald's shouldn't be allowed to serve hamburgers unless everyone--by majority vote, mind you--agrees that it's OK.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Nov 2018 @ 12:12pm

    iv is censorship, you will remove what we decide you will remove.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Nov 2018 @ 2:36pm

    It's perfectly sensible if you remember that "democracy" means "government by well-connected autocrats and financiers". Free expression and the ability of people to raise awareness of corruption and criminality in high places IS hostile to "democracy" in that sense.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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