Welcome to our highlights of net political news from Germany, week 46.
EU to strengthen consumer protections while introducing contested blocking measures.
The European parliament has passed a bill to protect European consumers with last-minute additions of contested net block censorship measures. Meanwhile, privacy activist Maximilian Schrems‘ class action suit against Facebook, to shore up consumer rights, is declared ineligible by the European Attorney General. Still, the Attorney General negated Facebook’s assertion that Schrem is not acting as a consumer.
In the mysterious case of disappearing followers on the Facebook profile of Turkey critical academic Kerem Schamberger problems with Facebook remain. He has been unable to download his data using the platforms own tools. Our crowd research shows that other profiles with even higher numbers of friends and followers are all available in a reasonable time.
Aimed at social-networking giants like Twitter and Facebook, the far-reaching Network Enforcement Bill (NetzDG), also called the hate speech law will be fundamentally revised according to information from federal coalition negotiations (since failed). Restrictions of freedom of speech inherent in the NetzDG may finally be addressed.
Freedom on the Net in decline globally
The current Freedom House Freedom on the net report discerns that disinformation and manipulation are on the increase globally just as mobile use of the Internet is more and more restricted.
Perhaps this comes as no surprise in view of self-censorship such as practised by scientific publisher ‚Springer Nature‘ which rejected papers critical of China or concerned with topics like the Tiananmen Massacre.
Scientists in Germany fill some gaps in the literature with a survey clients of ISPs after the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) determines only one in eight users get the advertised bandwidth.
EU to regulate sale of dual-use spy software
In an op-ed,Daniel Moßbrucker reports on ‚dual-use‘ software being sold by European companies to governments that use it to spy on opposition parties. An initiative by the Eu Commission to increase control in the trade is encountering resistance from industrial associations and some member states, including Germany.
Apropos weapons, another current subject of international negotiations, autonomous killer bots!. A UN commission of experts is consulting over a ban. Rules of international law are required for effective enforcement of a ban on autonomous weapon systems. It is a great challenge for a commission to accomplish in the face of the veto powers.
While we watch developments in international cyber warfare, the city of Kassel, home to the Documenta Art Exhibition, plans to extend surveillance in the inner city without citing any plausible grounds. Crime is at a long time low.
Algorithms as tools for manipulation
We report in German on the TED-Talk „We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads“ . The potential for misuse stemming from network surveillance techniques developed to create more effective advertising is staggering. Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci addresses the things which need to change.
Konrad Lischka also discusses an ethics of algorithms in in an interview netzpolitik.org conducted at our 13th „This is Netpolitics“ conference.