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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Twitter says ‘Open internet’ at risk more than ever before, outlines principles for regulation

Twitter has published a position paper on ‘Protecting the Open Internet’, where it argues that the open internet is at risk and there are key issues at stake which cannot be ignored.

By: Tech Desk | Pune |
Updated: October 13, 2021 2:38:49 pm
Position Paper by Twitter: Protecting the Open Internet. (Image source : File)

Twitter on Tuesday stated that ‘Open Internet’ is more at risk now than ever before, and argued the need for a coordinated strategy to defend free, and global internet. This development comes as debate rises over content moderation and regulation on social media platforms in India. Twitter in particular has been embroiled in a bitter battle with the Indian government, especially with regard to its compliance with the new IT rules in the country.

In a policy paper, Twitter had said that “governments who seek to defend and expand online freedom cannot stand by while other countries seek to silence critics, censor journalists, and block access to information.” It also called out “the harassment of employees of service providers” as a worrying trend, “accelerated by proposals to require local staff to be liable for decisions rather than the corporate entity.”

The paper says that “as the control of digital infrastructure is increasingly a focus of geopolitical action, these issues cannot be viewed in isolation. It is essential that there is a coordinated, multi-stakeholder strategy to respond to these threats and defend the free, secure, and global Open Internet.”

The paper makes Twitter’s position clear on the need to defend an ‘Open Internet’ and outlines five principles for the same. These principles outlined are as follows:

The Open Internet is global, should be available to all, and should be built on open standards and the protection of human rights. The second is that trust is essential and can be built with transparency, procedural fairness, and privacy protections.

The third is that recommendation and ranking algorithms should be subject to human choice and control. Fourth, competition, choice, and innovation are foundations of the Open Internet and should be protected and expanded, ensuring incumbents are not entrenched by laws and regulations.

Finally, content moderation is more than just leave up or take it down. Regulation should allow for a range of interventions while setting clear definitions for categories of content.

Twitter’s view is that the Open Internet is not something to be taken for granted; and in the coming years, decisions will be made that define its future. “The targeting of independent journalists and activists highlights the willingness of some states and actors to use digital policy and manipulation to control political debate,” it also added.

The company also noted that the 24-hour window for removing content impacts small companies and new services that have more limited resources to litigate or pay fines.

“As has been noted by a range of voices, the combination of significant administrative penalties for individual pieces of content and expected removal in short-time periods – whether one hour or 24 hours – creates a significant corporate incentive to over-remove content, particularly in edge cases, and one that more acutely impacts small companies and new services who have more limited resources to litigate or pay fines,” explains the paper.

It is worth noting that the new Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter must remove content not later than 36 hours after a government or legal order.

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