an Internet Firewall?

Twitter under pressure. Gig workers get insurance. And the SAFE TECH bill. (RC13)

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening: the Indian government told Twitter to shut some accounts down or else find its employees behind the bars. Twitter refused to remove journalists’, activists’, and politicians’ accounts but blocked some other accounts. Accounts of critics of the government.

Government silencing critics. Banning accounts. Perhaps soon banning platforms that don’t ban those accounts. And Indian copies of those platforms popping up (Koo, an Indian copy of Twitter). These are all symptoms of a Chinese disease: an Internet firewall. And it’s worse than coronavirus.


Need To Know

1/ Jeff Bezos is the latest to follow his passion. Later this year, he will step down from being the CEO to Exec Chair “to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions.”

  • Andy Jassy, the current CEO of AWS, Amazon’s Web Hosting business will take over as the CEO of the whole company.

2/ After 18 months, the 4G internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir is finally lifted. Although it was already partially lifted last year in 2 of the 20 districts, the speed was limited to 2G. And that was when the Supreme Court found this ban unwarranted and demonstrated “abuse of power” by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government.


Good for Gig-workers

Over a dozen companies including Amazon, Zomato, Ola and Uber have contributed ₹500 crores to Govt’s Social Security Fund, which is 1-2% of their revenue.

This money will provide health insurance to one million gig workers in India. (Gig workers are people working on a contract and are not treated as employees. Like Zomato’s valets, Uber and Ola drivers, Amazon delivery guys.)

With this in place, gig workers can now enjoy more facilities which were previously only provided to employees.

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SAFE TECH Act Bill.

Backdrop: There’s a law called Section 230 in the US which says a platform cannot be held sued if a user posts something on it that’s illegal. So if someone spreads violence through Twitter, you cannot sue Twitter, you can sue that user.

This caused problems: Because again and again someone misused a platform, and the platform would throw their hands up in the air saying don’t look at me.

But this law is important: Without this law, the internet wouldn’t exist. If you could go and tweet anything you like and Twitter is held responsible for it, Twitter can’t exist.

This is exactly why this law is also called “the 26 Words That Created the Internet.”

"No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

Enter SAFE TECH Act: It’s a middle land between removing section 230 and keeping it. This bill means:

  • Platforms cannot claim safety from Section 230 for cases of civil rights violations, antitrust laws, cyberstalking or actions regarding wrongful death.

  • Section 230 will not apply to paid speech like ads.

  • And, this act limits Section 230 to only speech, not all behaviours. (Illegal gun selling, for example)

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Cool To Know

1/ Mark Zuckerberg showed up at The Good Time Show on Clubhouse. And it’s surprising because interviews like this are rarely his thing. He talked about FB Reality Labs and AR and VR with hosts of the show, Sriram Krishnan and his wife, Aarthi Ramamurthy. And given the growth of Clubhouse and Facebook’s nature, Facebook will build a similar app/feature to compete.

2/ People from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China are now discussing political system and human rights on Clubhouse. And that means the app’s ban in the country might be imminent.

3/ Remember Parler? That app was banned from everywhere because Trump used it to encourage the Capitol Hill attackers and the platform did nothing to stop him. Parler offered Trump’s organisation to buy a 40% stake in the platform for making whatever Trump says exclusive to Parler. People say Trump was never a part of the discussion.

4/ Google paid $6.7 million for Bug Bounties (aka for people who found out bugs on Google’s products)


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