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Technology 8 March 2021

The Week in Internet News: Lawmakers Point to ‘Extremist’ Content on YouTube

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

Extreme video: A group of Democratic lawmakers in the U.S. has demanded that YouTube explain its policies related to dealing with extremist content, Yahoo News reports. “Incendiary content that indoctrinates, radicalizes, and mobilizes extremists continues to flourish” on YouTube, the lawmakers wrote.

Blaming encryption: Meanwhile, a new government report on possible extremist attacks on the U.S. Capitol says information on future plans are becoming harder to find because militia groups have shifted to encryption tools, Axios reports. U.S. law enforcement authorities appear to be trying to resurrect their calls for encryption backdoors even as extremist groups post information on public websites like YouTube.

Blaming the website: The U.S. isn’t the only government looking to hold websites more responsible for user-generated content. India’s information technology ministry has finalized a set of rules intended to make online service providers more accountable for their users’ bad behavior, Brookings.edu notes. The Brookings blog post suggests that this effort, mirrored by a similar debate in the U.S., will be a grave threat to free speech and privacy rights.

Clamping down: Meanwhile basic rights in 10 African countries are threatened by a trend toward digital authoritarianism, according to a study from the African Digital Rights Network reported on by Reuters. Governments in these countries “used a plethora of measures over the last two decades to stifle people’s ability to organize, voice opinions and participate in governance online,” the story says.

Techno-nationalism: An opinion piece at World Politics Review raises concerns about the rise of tech-focused nationalism and a trend toward politics injecting itself in the architectural layers of the Internet. There’s “trouble in paradise,” the article says, with an international debate over underseas cables pitting the U.S. against China and Huawei Marine. “But the insertion of politics into the physical infrastructure layer poses its own security threats and could even hasten a fragmentation of the internet along national lines.”

How will a policy, technology, or trend impact the foundation that makes the Internet work for everyone? The Internet Impact Assessment Toolkit starts with five questions.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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