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EC Initiative on Disinformation Must Not Curb Free Expression

The European Commission has, as expected, published a Communication on “Tackling Online Disinformation: A European Approach”. The Communication comes on the back of a public consultation and a report from a “High-Level Group on Fake News”. But we worry that the speed with which the Commission wants to proceed, and the lack of clarity regarding the scope of the problem it wants to address, will push online service providers, aided by technology tools and fact checkers, to curtail free expression, political debate and access to information.

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Congress Should Take "Filtering Practices of Social Media" Seriously

Tomorrow, the House Judiciary Committee will host what’s likely to be a wide-ranging discussion of how social media companies moderate content, in its hearing on Filtering Practices of Social Media Platforms. While the hearing is sure to include some spectacle and grandstanding, make no mistake: This is a deeply serious issue that deserves thoughtful consideration by policymakers, companies, and users alike. Here are a few key themes we hope members of the committee will consider.

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Companies Finally Shine a Light into Content Moderation Practices

The recent publications and greater operational transparency from both YouTube and Facebook are welcome news. Transparency, however, is not itself an end. Rather, it is a means to an end: creating and fostering responsible digital platforms that truly empower their users to express themselves, shape their own communities, and access information of all kinds.

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The Zuckerberg Hearings: Hits, Misses, and Unanswered Questions

The House and Senate grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for a total of ten hours this week, covering privacy, content policy, and election interference. The hearings didn’t reveal new information about Facebook’s practices, but they suggested that many members of Congress are ready to move on from the status quo of weak privacy protections and unfettered data collection by companies in the U.S.

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It’s All Downsides: Hybrid FOSTA/SESTA Hinders Law Enforcement, Hurts Victims and Speakers

The hybrid FOSTA/SESTA would strip away some of the protections in Section 230 that make it possible for platforms large and small to host user-generated content. And website operators aren’t the only ones who will suffer: no internet user, website operator, trafficking victim, law enforcement officer, or other individual will be immune to the consequences of and fallout from this legislation.

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We'll See You in Court! (Again.)

Earlier this week, CDT filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission over the agency’s plans to repeal net neutrality. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because CDT has been litigating this topic for years. Ensuring that all internet traffic is treated equally is good for both consumers and business, and CDT will continue working to protect an open internet.

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Who Needs Courts? A Deeper Look At the European Commission’s Plans to Speed Up Content Takedowns

Today, the European Commission released its “Recommendation on measures to effectively tackle illegal content online”, which presents the Commission’s ideas for how to speed up removal of allegedly illegal content. The Recommendation includes a number of departures from the traditional court-order process, which provides both substantive and procedural protections for individuals whose speech is challenged under the law. Instead, the Commission relies on several approaches to speedy censorship that circumvent the courts and provide the public with no way to hold the government accountable for declaring that someone’s speech violates the law. We provide a closer look at these alternative censorship models, which have been gaining traction in Europe over the past few years.

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EC Recommendation on Tackling Illegal Content Online Doubles Down on Push for Privatized Law Enforcement

The European Commission published its “Recommendation on measures to effectively tackle illegal content online”, which puts forward a number of non-binding guidelines and principles for online platforms and hosts of user-generated content. These recommendations go beyond the ill-defined approach the Commission took in its “Communication on Tackling Illegal Content Online”. While we recognize the Commission’s interest in seeking effective enforcement of national law, we continue to have significant concerns about the Commission’s overall approach and a number of its specific recommendations.

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CDT’s Response to EC ‘Fake News’ Consultation: How to Tackle the Issue and Protect Free Expression?

On 23 February, CDT filed its response to the European Commission’s Consultation on Tackling ‘Fake News’. Commissioner Gabriel should be commended for launching this initiative, and we are hopeful it contributes solid European data and analysis, without which it is impossible to make recommendations for policy. However, CDT worries that the group generally lacks participation from NGOs and experts focused on protecting free expression, which brings up broader questions.

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