miércoles, 18 de enero de 2017

Are we facing the tip of a failed state?

As times goes by, it looks that the trend of outsourcing the censorship digital news is being consolidated. I am not a fan of any kind of censorship in any media, but for those case if is needed I see it as a mission that should be under severe control of governments. However, what started with the "right to be forgotten", later was extended with the "Code of Conduct on illegal online hate speech". In both cases, digital platforms are the final court for deciding on the retirement of contents from the network.

The collaboration with the platforms is probably a pragmatic approach, but what scares me it is the lack of transparency on the process. From time to time, Google publishes results of the application of the "right to be forgotten", and as fas as I know there is not an independent review of the report. Recently, during the review on the compliance of the code of conduct on illegal hate speech the results were criticised by the European Commission due to its dissapointing results, but the report was not completely published neither we have data from the platforms on the issue.

Outsourcing the patrolling of contents have also other downsides. Although the code of conduct has a wide scope, combating "public incitement to violence or hatred directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined on the basis of race, colour, descent, religion or belief, or national or ethnic origin", the platforms could pick and choose their favourite targets. For instance, a couple of days after the review they team up to develop automatic solutions to combat the spread of terrorism apology, but no other form of illegal hate speech.

Therefore, it seems governments are unable to combat illegal hate speech and reinforce freedom on the network, while at the same time the help of the industry is far from be effective in all the areas. And the same it´s happening with other kind of illegal activities. Furthermore, the help of platforms to combat all these illegal activities is reduced to those areas they like to combat. We are growingly missing the tools to make effective parts of the law in the network.

A failed state is defined as a state “whose central government is so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations and sharp economic decline”. Some thinkers are begining to ask themselves if the Internet has not become a failed state. And it is the right question. What is the same as as asking for the sustainaibility of the network because no failed state could last.

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