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tv   Digital Platforms Users Rights  CSPAN  April 30, 2018 5:00pm-6:31pm EDT

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unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and today we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington dc and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. >>. >> new america released a new study writing major global telecommunications and internet companies on protecting users privacy and freedom of expression. >> -- >> ..
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oti is the institutional home of the independent and independently funded ranking digital rights project which celebrates the launch of its 2018 corporate accountability index. that index measures how well or more often how poorly 22 tech companies around the world protecting the privacy, security and break special rights of their users using a set of 35 objective indicators refined over years of research and consultation. how many years? let me tell you a short story about the development of the index over the years about the impact of one of the indicators used in the index to evaluate the companies. i fondly remember coming to the first major private meeting of experts that rebecca convened in
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america to get feedback on her ambitious goal. it was in the fall of 2012 before i even worked here and from there it was three long years of hard work building, refining and applying the first version of the indicators leading to the publication in 2018. in that first corporate accountability index there is one indicator just one that every single company got a zero on. this was the indicator asking whether the company regularly published data about how much had been down because of its violation of terms of service. at the time of the many companies published data about government demands for information about government demands for takedown and about copyright -based civil demands no one reported anything about the content they were taking down voluntarily based on their own content guidelines even though there was clearly the largest category of takedowns and therefore the category most
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impactful on users free expression rights. no one is doing it. 2013 rer. stake in the ground and made clear that based on the consensus of the stakeholders that they were consulting the companies that weren't issue such reports meaning all of them were not doing enough to provide transparency and accountability to their users. just as importantly they cleared that those who issued such reports would give public credit for doing so. they made a transparency reporting around content moderation around priority but it wasn't one before. they kept pounding on it year after year and index after index. flash forward to today and three years and two indexes later and
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just this week on monday afternoon google via youtube became the first company to issue a detailed transparency report about its terms of service -based takedowns. highlighting over how 8 million youtube videos were taken down in 2017 along with giving details about how many of those were humans versus automated systems and how many violated which content prohibitions and more. on tuesday facebook finally published the details internet guidelines about how it makes decisions about his own takedowns while expanding the appeals process for impacted users both have steps that are also responsive to the free expression indicators. and now that those are first dominoes have finally fallen we are likely to see, cross your fingers, a revolution around content moderation transparency across the industry over the next three years. just like how the first trailblazing steps set the stage for an explosion of reporting across the industry once the students scandal added gasoline to the fire. as an example shows the progress
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from the first demand for new rights protected practice to getting one company to actually do it and then to get a few more committees doing it as a best practice and finally for all companies to be expected to do it is a standard practice that process of driving adoption can take nearly a decade of grinding work and hyperfocus. the drip, drip of water over time on stone. that is the work that rebecca and her amazing team have been doing now. they've been doing it for over half a decade and hopefully will be doing it for many more years teaching that rock up the hill not just on that one indicator but on 34 more and counting. thirty-four morning is to push companies to be better by their users and 34 memories that are dr is we can progress happen slowly, methodically, drip by drip one year at a time.
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it may not be flashy but that is what real change look like. that is why, i think, pound for pound rer baby the most impact the project in the internet space and that is why i'm endlessly proud that rvr calls oti it's home. with that, i would like to congratulate rebecca and her team on issuing their third corporate accountability index and i'd like to invite up to tell you about her findings. then she would be joined by the excellent panelist. [applause] >> thank you so much, kevin, for that fabulous introduction. i will do a credit roll like after the movie so that you can appreciate other people put work into this once you have heard of it more about the index if
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kevin's introduction was not enough. so, we have been doing this, as kevin mentioned, for three iterations but a lot more time in developing the index. i want to talk a little bit about the reasons why we are doing this. of course, if you live in washington or follow the news at all you are aware there is a clash of power between internet giants and governments these days. in terms of wields power to shape digital lives and how that relates to their physical life. this map shows the world's most popular social networks by country. it is greeted by an italian digital marketing entrepreneur has been doing this for a decade and it's interesting because when she started there was a lot more colors on the map. all of this blue are other countries where facebook is the
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most popular social networking platform and you see china with a q zone and russia with a on sorry, and then a few other anomalies on the map but mainly facebook is one of the sovereigns of cyberspace, we would save much of the world. if you look at alexa rankings and that is the company that ranked the most traffic going to websites around the world as you look at the alexa ranking for the top website in every country around the world this light blue is google search and the pink is youtube. so again, google, the sovereign of cyberspace, is for much of the world and then you china and russia with a few other small exceptions and a few other places.
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this brings us to the ranking digital rights and the map we show of the companies that week cover. we have selected and we would like to rank more than 22 but resources enable us to rank 22. we have selected 22 of the most powerful internet color communication companies in the world. when you read them up they are shaping the digital lives of most of the world internet users. so, not just north americans and western europeans but when you add up the companies you got the severance of cyberspace and the top two mobile device sellers whose operating systems through google android or samsung and apple are shaping the digital lives of how people will then access other platforms and you
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got a selection of ten telecommunication companies that are because of the global footprint operating across the world are affecting the digital lives and ability to access their net platforms. that is how we select the screw. you all got a four pager on your seat that has the list so you don't need to squint to memorize the list of companies here. that is the selection which is why we have two chinese companies in the index, as you saw from the other maps, it's vital that we include chinese companies in this equation and vital that we include two of the most powerful russian platforms in addition to samsung in the korean mobile device maker we also have [inaudible] which is a major messaging and internet platform in south korea. we thought it was important to include at least one company that is an internet platform that is based in a democracy with a strong rule of law that
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is not in unrest because that helps us test out the assumptions of what is universal and what is not. that is the set of companies we are looking at and these are really the chokepoints for our expression around the world. they know they're able to shape what we know and what we can say online and who we are talking to and in what context and does what about us and what they can do with that information. so, this is this year's ranking and this is when you take all the 35 questions we ask and we are asking questions where we're looking at companies commitment and disclose policies that affect users privacy and freedom of expression. when you add up the scores of the 35 questions this is how they stack up. now you'll see we've got to d's
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and everyone else effectively gets enough. in that sense, obviously there are some exposing more than others and no one is disclosing enough. again, the list of companies is on your four pager. this is a more detailed breakdown and we separate our methodology into three different categories in the first category is governance and what we're looking at is does the company make a corporatewide commitment to respect users read them of speech and privacy and are there executive oversight over the way in which the companies affecting users and freedom of expression and privacy and other impact assessments carried out by the company that are comprehensive that track and anticipate what are the positive and negative impacts of the business operations of his company and what it will have on freedom of expression and privacy of users. is there stakeholder engagement? is there grievance and remedy?
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we are looking at all those types of questions. freedom of expression and the company does not get high marks for freedom of especially because it's the biggest free for all. that is not what we mean. we mean freedom in the context of human rights and that is very important. it's not that the company with the fewest rule wins. if there is no rules and no governance without a governance life is nasty, brutish and short for everyone who is not really large and wealthy and likely mail. that is why we have governance. it is important that the issue is is the governance accountable and isn't serving the rights and interests of the governed. that is what speech governance should be about. we are looking for transparency by companies about all the
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different factors that are shaping what you can say online and what you can access online and how you communicate online. we want to see transparency but types of government demands they are receiving and how they are responding to those. demands from other parties, whether copyright holders or people who are flagging against harassment, we want to see how those mechanisms are working in the volume and nature of content are being restricted and so on. we also want to is busy on things like network shutdowns like to lick medication companies and how networks are being managed and manipulated et cetera. privacy [inaudible] first, you have what in europe is known as data protection issues. in the states it tends to be called consumer privacy issues but the question of what is the lifecycle of user data and what has been collected and what is
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being done with it and with whom is it being shared and under what circumstances and how much control does the user have over the sharing of the data and how long is it retained and are you being tracked around the web et cetera. we want to see clear transparency about that and i'll show you some of the results on the question later. the second bucket relates to government demands for user data. is the company being maximally transparent about the demands it receives for surveillance and for sharing user data with authorities? in the third bucket our security questions. is the company providing credible evidence that is taking strong measures to secure user data from theft and breach and so on. that is the index and you'll see that the companies that score the total high score don't necessarily get the high score on the categories and as you drill down to each indicator it starts to vary even more as you will see. this year our methodology and
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questions which seems like last year but we are able to track improvements in change it interestingly apple was the most improved and apple does a lot of things to protect users privacy but for whatever reason has not disclosed a lot of them to their users themselves. they disclose it to security experts but not on their official materials to users. by making more disclosures directly to users they managed to boost their score a great deal in the score on freedom of expression was less improved in the company does not really make a clear commitment to freedom of expression and has a lot less transparency around content removal in the app store and that kind of thing. couple interesting things to note about the changes and on the website there is a page that documents everything that changed forever company and we have individual company report
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cards to talk about what was improved and what did not. couple interesting of things. in the internet problems both chinese companies in the next approveimproved. didn't improve on anything that relates to government demands. if you know about china the reasons for that don't need to be explained. however, they did make improvements on security and on consumer data and privacy issues so in terms of being more transparent about what is being collected and shared for commercial purposes and some improvements in transmitting her own terms of service enforcement, as well. it's interesting to see that even in very difficult places as far as regulation and laws is concerned some companies are trying to prove that they are doing what they can for their users. on the telecommunication side the main improvements in came from the european companies that recently joined the global network initiative.
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which we will talk about more in the panel and that is also reflected most in the governance scores. in the governance category companies that got by far the highest scores for having much more systematic commitment in accountability mechanisms and risk assessment throughout the coscompany were global network initiatives members. not that it is perfect and there's much stronger risk assessment and accountable the relates to government demands and as a relates to other things like commercial privacy in terms of service enforcement. that is where the deficiencies lay but we are seeing much stronger governance and most strikingly on the one question we ask about the comprehensiveness of human rights impact assessment in the company in the gni are showing
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much more evidence of impact assessment than anyone else. that is interesting. moving on to freedom of expression at the telecommunications layer where people who live outside of the united states these types of cages are fairly common and one in india when someone tries to access the box in the uk where some content has been restricted because it's restricted as adult content on on a restricted network. the question we look at is how transparent the total medication companies about. external demands are getting to block website and access to websites or apps and only three of the telecommunication companies tell us much of anything about the process for responding to third-party
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requests. everybody is not transparent and even with data transparency about third-party requests and even government requests we are seeing very little [inaudible] globally that's a problem and people do not know why content is being restricted in who should be held responsible for that content restrictions and is there telecommunications provider. another freedom of expression to network shutdowns this is an issue that people working on internet internet freedom internationally and you have countries in india in particular there was 64 instances in the government localities shutting down internet data and mobile data and completely in cities and regions and we only have three companies that show much
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disclosure on the policies and processes for handling things that were shut down. moving to the internet and mobile ecosystem companies and many people are still your with when a page on facebook gets blocked for youtube video gets blocked and in china that's an example of a cute little black page that you get but these types of removal and blocking notices are pretty common across internet and mobile platforms. we are starting to see as kevin mentioned transparency reporting particularly around covenant demand to block and remove and transparency reporting has been
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going on for some years to varying extents by some of the major platforms so that is an example. twitters transparency reporting which has been going on for number of years and facebook is starting to report more and although they report a lot less in their score of accept. google has been doing transparency reports is there transparency report related to government and content and we will see that the demands have gone way up in the last couple of years. that's why transparency reporting is important. he can see for the demands are coming from and what the trends are on the demands both in terms of their coming from and what
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content and so on. we want to see transparency for government to but corporate transparency is a start. google also gets credit for its transparency around the right to be forgotten demands that it receives in europe from private actors want their search results to be listed. when it comes to terms of service enforcement and we stopped our research before the announcement earlier this week, obviously, but these were the scores around transparency and terms of service enforcement and we had already there we strong disclosure about the rules and facebook's latest disclosures will see that bump up even more but very little data as of january about the volume of nature and content being removed on terms of service enforcement. with google's latest transparency report that will go up and these are screenshots from youtube in terms of service enforcement and as kevin was saying they had data on what
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types of people have flagged the content and what sparks to take down and was it automated or by a trusted flagger or not by human or whatever et cetera. it's very, very helpful and this makes recent disclosure. the most transparency we're seeing is coming in the privacy side on government demands for user data. that is where the most transparency has been happening in these are examples and they are seeing transparency from tell the medication companies on that and even while beyond the initiatives and there's commitment that we make to be transparent about government demands and that will fuel that. however, when it comes to the data protection consumer privacy indicators this is our bucket of what lately shorthand the
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facebook issues because these are the questions that have been most in the news lately in terms of how transparent our companies about what has been collected and how it is being used and with whom it is being shared and under what circumstances and how much control does the user have over the sharing of their data collection et cetera. the highest score is announced and it goes down from there. that is where facebook was at the time. the latest disclosures might pump them up slightly but it certainly doesn't bring them to the front and a lot of the disclosures were more rewording of current practices and making them more clear. there were some so not that their score won't change at all but there is still a lot that
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needs to be done there. this line here is to point out that the telecommuting case is companies are as bad as facebook, if not worse. that is one conversation we have not been having so much of it maybe need to have a bit more of. on one -- just to show how when you drill down the specific indicators the ranking changes dramatically from what you see from the overall score and when we ask how transparent is the company about what user information they share and with whom the korean company is way more transparent than everyone else and it has to do with the fact that privacy law in south korea is pretty strong. despite the overall score in the index its highest because google happens to be disclosed more things about more things than everybody else. when you drill down into a specific practice particularly specific practice that relates most closely to the business model you see other things
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happen. apple could be a lot more transparent than it is in not quite sure why. this is what we like to call the cambridge analytical indicator and how transparent internet companies about the options the user has to control on information and this includes the subquestion if you go on the website and look at the sub questions in here that has much control over the sharing of information for targeted advertising and you only get the credit if it's opt in rather than opt out and behind to 20s and to russian companies. two changes made them slightly up at my hypothesis that unless further changes are made between now and the research round they will not be at the front.
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let's put it that way. apple is the only company that commits not tracking across the internet. nobody else commits that and they do it and the level of transparency about it is problematic. security -- amongst the security questions and there are several and i don't have time to get into all of them but you can go on the website and there's a chapter on the report about security questions and the question that looks that the company discloses what his policies are for handling data breaches only apple in the internet mobile ecosystem discloses anything and among there is very little disclosure but it shows if you pull up and disintegrate and die if you disclosure policy so that is some interesting food for
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thought. how transparent companies are about their oversight processes like are you connecting the third party audit and can you -- were not looking for information that will attack your problem but basic evidence that you have processes. google is getting four points and everyone else is disclosing a lot less than we think is necessary to reassure users and what it is you're doing. and it's problematic thing. one could go on all day if one really wanted to go through every single indicator but we want to get to this question because that is more lively and we can get into a lot of other questions but we have a lot of recommendations for companies in a report on the website and in
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the individual company report cards we have recommendations for each company which focus on even if there is no legal change in your home jurisdiction here are the things you can do today to improve your score. we also in each chapter have much more detailed regulations around the specific types of subject but it boils down to we need much more thorough governance around these issues and we need to see clear what level commission and oversight and risk assessment that is company and a deceit grievance and remedy that is meaningful. we need to hear stakeholder engagement in an effort to innovate on business model and technologies in design that are compatible with enabling people to basically function in an information ecosystem compatible with the society we want to have.
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companies really need to be thinking about that and it's compatible with human rights with the exercise of human rights. we seen recommendations for government in the reports and a few but we found that there are a lot of companies that would get higher scores if the law in their home country or not so bad so there are many jurisdictions that are making their companies uncompetitive on these issues. china is an obvious example but there are a lot of countries that laws the don't allow companies to disclose transparency report on copyright takedown and the public interest reason for that is is beyond me. there are all kinds of transparency around content and network shutdowns and so the companies are not doing a lot to
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prevent them. there is also the lack of data privacy law around the world and it's clearly a big problem and the example is mtm in south africa was disclosure about how to handle user data is poor not because of political reasons they can do it the law is not putting them to. not bothering. we see this in a lot of countries. either stakeholders need to impose conferences or the lot needs to impose conferences or some combination of the two. just an advertising website put together by my colleagues which is fabulous this year. you can explore the data in a granular way and go through in each indicator and see how each committee scored on each question and how you click on the indicator and see what school they got and you can go
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and download the raw data and get the research comment for every single score. if you really want to geek out on our data and if you really want to think that google did not deserve the scores they got then you can go into our spreadsheet and look at the researcher comments for why every single sub indicator got the score it did. so, you know, that is what you need to do with this kind of thing because otherwise people are like why did you give them this and we can explain it and they can look at it if they want to. where we go next? there are questions we do not ask obviously and as the world continues to evolve and technology involves we think about what we should ask question about transparency in
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relation to the use of algorithm and also risk assessment and what questions what kind of transparency should we look for in terms of deployment of ai and risk assessment around ai and grievance and remedy around ai. also, should we look at questions that relate to the business models of the companies and the risks and transparency we want to see around that particular advertisement. so, those are all questions we will be exploring in the coming months before we start research on our next index. we will make some adjustments to the next methodology in some way hoping to have better conversations with more experts with stakeholders and through this process that we engage in to test out the more difficult indicators that have less consensus around them to really try and fear out what is a
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standard we want to set with corporate transparency. it's not always entirely clear at this point. we also have -- were only evaluating 22 companies on a set of questions. a lot of other technologies that we are not evaluating and we can't get it all but we partner with people who want to take a methodology and adapt it and evaluate other things. work with consumer reports on a set of standards for evaluating things on privacy and security and we also our methodology is public on the websites we see researchers around the world adapt to local, regional companies. in york the new school recently applied our methodology to evaluate isps in new york city. they did not do so well. [laughter] you can download the report. also ngo in lebanon has used our methodology to evaluate the privacy policy of total
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medication companies across the arab world. we are encouraged by this that we can't cover the whole world and all the things in all the issues but we are thrilled that we are starting to provide a framework that people can use to explore the companies in issues that have graded impact on their communities. i am hoping that a broader ecosystem will emerge. finally, my credit roll -- all of this would not be possible without her team. we have six full-time people that also work with a lot of researchers around the world who do work with us for a shorter period of time with expertise in drizzling ridges in specific technologies. our research team, amy, who is
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based in budapest most of the time which is why she's not here but i hope she's on the webcast. laura read our senior research analyst based in new york. andrea hackel research analyst who is normally here but due to a family emergency is not here today. that research team are the core for working with the researchers around the world to make it happen. our program manager, lisa, who is in berlin at some of the times and occasionally visit us here. hello, lisa, if you're on the webcast. and of course, sorts of researchers in partners and they are all on her website she labs based in serbia did our data visualization website and design graphics and they are incredible. they did a lot of great activism there selves. alison yost from oti the communications diva, there she is. she is hiding. she is being modest.
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this beautiful report and there's a couple of copies on the full report out there but these are for pagers and everything that is due to her incredibly hard work and creativity. admire these things and admire allison. you know, last but not least are donors make this possible. we do not do take corporate funding but we can prove under audit that we have no corporate funding. our funders are the state department bureau of democracy rights and labor. thank you, laura. it has been a supporting us since the previous index and we are grateful for that support. ford foundation, the macarthur foundation who are a kind of foundational funders from the beginning without whom this would never have gotten off the
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ground. we appreciate their faith in us and there is also a set of advisers including leslie was here standing back there and others out there in the world listed on the website who has been giving us advice as we navigate a set of different pressures the people try to put on us. thank you so much. with that, i will stop thinking people in think the panel who i hope you will. [applause]
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>> hello. thank you all for staying for the discussion part of this. we were confirming that we will do audience q&a for the end of this. if you have questions and i'm sure you do after seeing a glimmer of the immense one of data in this report please hold onto them because he will leave money and time for questions. should probably introduce myself. my name is emma, director of the expressions project at the center for democracy and technology which is a tech policy advocacy group based here in washington dc and brussels. i'll be the moderator for the session but we've got a lot of experts with a lot of great thought things to discuss so i don't imagine having to do a lot. let me introduce the other two panelists. rebecca you know hopefully by
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now and chauncey who is the director of the international forum for the mechanic studies. they worked at places as such as usaid and has interesting perspectives to share particularly as situation in china. then we have leslie harris, harris strategy group who is the professor at georgetown university and former president and a founding member of the initiative and the reason i am in this space who hired me on as an intern one decade ago. with that -- i mean, obviously both kevin and rebecca said in the remarks so far this may be the most focused on the role of technology platforms and telling medications provider in our daily lives and in our societies in our election then we have
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possibly ever had before in the history of the internet, not just here in the us but around the world and more more people having to come to grips with the fact that there are gigantic companies out there playing a huge role in our access to information and privacy and what exactly they are doing and what we as people and it can be difficult to determine at times. we have seen a different events in congress over the past month from the cambridge analytical from mark zuckerberg in a couple of weeks ago to yesterday's house judiciary committee hearing on the filtering practices of social media platforms. it's an incredibly important issue to be thinking thoughtfully about that also just features a lot of staffers trying to keep straight faces as the discussions went in
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different directions. a variety of levels of public policy conversation about these issues right now but one of the things that i know a lot of us on advocacy come back to the need for real data and real information about what the practices of these companies and what kinds of consequences and impacts on the users half. this is where the report is and it's the leader in the field as far as rigorous evaluation according to open methodology that enables not just understanding a particular company's practices much better but appearing across countries and really getting much more holistic perspective grounded in solid methodology. thank you for you and your team contrariness to these public policy discussions that are so important for all of us.
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if that can be done and we can have solid data to work from we think about typical issues and i can't wait for the other report to come out. to start off the conversation i thought i would like to ask each of you to comment on in this privacy security free expression issues and the role of these platforms what is the one issue that you are most concerned about or that you would like to please to the group and we can start with wesley. >> you just limited me to one? here is what worries me most and this is in the wake of putting out its new platform that will allow you to deal with all of your data. number one we can't get away from the advertising model. as long as we have this advertising model we are, you know, you're the product. i think it is really hard and at
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least in the us very soon because of losing the net neutrality rules we will have another employer that doesn't have privacy rules so the data collection and the value of data to make these companies grow, in my mind is so powerful that asking and basically i want to have the ability to take myself out of being a fashionista and that is what facebook sees me as most. [laughter] twelve, there are other interesting categories. i think it is fine to provide these goals as long as we acknowledge that in some ways we talk about security and i think a lot of this is privacy and i
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will be be right on about that. secondly and i think equally important when we talk about algorithms and decision-making's nothing they are doing is an algorithm so to say when your data is subject to a rhythm and i can't remember whether i just read this but besides the fact that 65 people get their news from facebook an equal number have have absolutely no idea what an algorithm was or how they were getting the content they are getting so just as this back in the day when we would take consents is not the answer to privacy but your in the entire burden there has to be sometimes it's a shift in business models or all of this is privacy theater. secondly, there has to be a part of companies some kind of red line.
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to me the biggest lesson out of cambridge analytical and working backwards they say we know what is going on with their close partners is, i call this the everything is called advertising so if you gave some kind of transparency to what was going on they say yes, they are doing political advertising in people who understand advertising [inaudible] we have to figure out where is the responsibility and the human rights responsibility and the ethical responsibility of companies as they are being driven by money in an advertising model to draw the red line. i called cambridge analytical the can we turn into the nazi algorithm and facebook just said hey, sure, go on the platform and those people are angry, depressed and can't get a woman
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and send this out because our research shows we can make them right wings. in some ways this combination of all our data as a picture to advertise and everything into i'm advertising and zuckerberg said that at the hearing. it's just advertising. i don't yet know what it means for the index and i've been speaking about this a lot but we have to ship some of this focus to some kind of substantive red line. i don't know if it's ethics but if you look at facebook when they're doing the research they have the best ethical process in the industry. i did a study last year, they were doing in research but not when they have people running around. i think that we may want to
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start asking questions about that. about -- i think we also have to think the difference between algorithms and fashionista and algorithms that make me want to make me a nazi or what jobs i should get and start considering what is the schedule algorithm and as a company is there a different level of transparency in a different internal spots ability about those kinds of algorithms. i am, according to facebook, and african-american fashionista with liberal policies. i am all in all free but maybe algorithms are not quite as good as advertised. those are some of my concerns. another thing about [inaudible] but i'll come back to that.
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>> from your perspective? >> alumni first to take a step back and heaped praise on the digital rights which i hope will not be [inaudible] but just to give it context i think even a few years ago as both rebecca and kamala to two in the remarks the idea of what went into this great miasma of information that the company interact with the provided services is a black box and there's no way to get into it. what are dr and before the [inaudible] did to some extent try to say look, here is what we understand about the things that are important for human rights and as rebecca so nicely put it the way to make sure that the way we want to live our lives that we live our lives -- that is by way of saying that we now
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have tools in rebecca handed the indicators before the fact that these are not just indicators and they don't just go into the projects but there the compilation of all these evolving best practices and standards as we know it. it's a valuable component. i think for me we get to the question of concern is what are the next black boxes and what do we not know enough about and what we need to unpack more to understand how to compile the next set of these and to understand what the next best practices are. for me, over the years my unit has always been by default to look at the government is an authoritarian government and one of the practices in their borders. have always understood that the global interne information spact just government but it is where the action takes place and we need to be able to incorporate
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these two things fully and the worst part is where it hits the echo and the surveillance component. in the issues i looked at particularly with respect to china it's been a big flip over to incorporate elements of surveillance into everyday life. in those environments there is very little society they can do to push back against that. there is not a strong rural of law environment and what do we need to know about this emerging aspect of our lives which i fear is not constrained to authoritarian but will be more broadly fell outside. >> rebecca, i know -- whole perspective of the indicators. >> you know, it's funny last week for the index came out i was talking to a journalist and
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i asked the index to let me know and this person asked me is there any company worse than facebook? and i was like yeah, most of them. but i get the point and when you think about the set of companies we looked at and it's the world biggest publicly listed companies that there is lots of imperfections but they do care about what the public thanks about them and they do care and all of them i think i shouldn't say all of them but all of them as if many big companies have different factions within the company. you have security and marketing and star and et cetera et cetera and the many people and people are competing for resources and attention of senior management. i hear from a lot of people in a
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number of these companies who are middle-management levels who are this index is very useful because i can tell my boss we didn't do very well on this particular indicator and we need more resources and management priority to do better on this because it really matters for a company. there are people that really care. even in the companies that are doing so always had interesting conversations with people and the middle-management level. there is all set and there's internet of things that we are doing work on already and i've got to tell you if we took out the criteria and apply them to internet of things companies, you know, two or three or single-digit kind of things and but it also gets even more
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complex because a lot in the internet are seen devices that are compilations of several different corporate entities working together and you got an operating system that works with information platforms or payment platforms and different companies and hardware and so on and none of them are clear about the policies and none of them are taking possibility for much of anything. it gets worse from here really. this is one of the concerns. the other concern is sometimes come to me and say why are you, you know, looking at the companies who provide networking equipment and what about those who sell surveillance to the gypsy government or something. that latter category are the arms dealers and they don't care
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about rankings. otherwise they wouldn't be arm dealers. they're not consumers so they don't care about the users trust in their product. they might be interested in the egyptian government but that is different. the network layer that you need to incentivize that layer of company. i think, yeah, i like to think of this as proof of concept were a certain set of type of companies that look care about their relationship with people. we need to think more about what is the means of different categories and what data we need to put in the hands of which type of actors to get change for different types of companies. >> on my point of the concern on
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picking up on some things that was said about habituation of surveillance through what gets incorporated into the technologies i'm concerned about that on the free expression side of things and the environment we are in where a content host potentially could try to come preventively apply so if you have hate speech it's difficult and doing it would involve amounts of overbroad and censorship of the contents but they have the means to affect any of the services and this is a different environment from how laws about speech have applied to in society before. if we have a law in the us against issuing a true threat of violence against a person there are a lot of things that rise to
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the level of truth threat of violence that are never heard by anybody in government or law-enforcement entered into a case or turned into prosecution. there's a big gap in the number of times the law is applied in the amount of speech that it could potentially apply to. the shift from an off-line environment where the laws and the standards of the rules exist and they are applied probably fairly small percentage two cases that merit it versus the potential allocation of rules about speech online is a societal shift that we are still grappling with and working through the consequent is. it also raises questions around should platforms in terms of service conform human rights standards substantively and what the consequences of that are but we've got a lot to talk about so we don't want to get into that now. one question in particular for
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rebecca and chauncey about the chinese companies and a fax. rebecca, you mentioned how they both showed improvement over time and wondered about your thoughts on companies by operating in the chinese environment. sometimes there's a tendency to say it's china and there is nothing to be done but here you see companies improving over the last year. >> they are not importing their transparency about government internet improving their transparency about government surveillance that involves government authorities sitting in their offices looking at user activities. they're not transparent about that and that is not improving. but when it comes to disposing again what is being shared
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commercially and what is being shared with other entities that are not government and what is being collected and how it is being used were seen a willingness to be more transparent and some value is placed on that and also security. in china the chinese public is very concerned about hacking and it's a huge problem in china. a company that can demonstrate it is making a real effort to shield and protect their users against criminals is, you know, that's a real commercial incentive. there are definitely areas and it's again i think in a number of jurisdictions we see this where if you will push the company to improve you have to get analysis about here of the things we recognize and require legal reform. china might not be possible to
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see substance but in a place like india you could see a civil society and the companies getting together and there is no public interest reason why this law is preventing this disclosure and let's get it changed. it is in the company's interest to that but yeah, in china it's very interesting and the other interesting thing is one of our audience investors and this is another reason for the chinese companies care because a lot of major investors are investing in chinese internet companies. i've heard from investors where our data is useful to them for their calls because they're responsible investors and they have greater clarity about what they can raise with their
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chinese where they can have a real conversation and what will be less fruitful. that is also useful. >> to build on that what we've seen is an interesting shift and it i know back in the day when we looked at this many years ago and looking at the companies the focus was mystically within china. these companies are not huge and there some of the biggest internet company's in the world and the have expansion plans and both as outside investors but also stakes and comedies themselves and not into the global context is important and i applaud anything that will allow those companies to protect these rights even a little more with china and that said, i think, part of the challenge here is understanding what a
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lawful request to take content down means in china and that can have a lot of scope to it and so i know for the purposes of the index it's focused on lawful requests and that is abundant because it has to be a standard and that's why i think there needs to be in overlay of this close interplay between the private sector in the state within china and that is becoming ever tighter now and as well as through the week will law environment where the companies operate. because of the expansion has the potential to have a global effect and this is a great way to bring that into the conversation. >> before we open it up to audience questions one theme that came up in the presentation this morning was the role of the global network initiative in the fact that a number of the countries are members of the gni and how that seems to have had an impact on the kinds of
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disclosures and as a cofounder could you give us background on what the conversation one into what the conversation was like when it was first getting started and how that shifted about the ten years that it's been. >> you probably know that the process to stand up gni happened in an environment of the arrest in china and the congress here that was trying to best laws that some of us thought were unworkable. we actually had european companies but the focus was laserlike on how do you respond to government demands present your ship in government demands for user information in
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surveillance. i think what was clear at the time because we had european ngos who wanted to be broader and look at commercial practices was that we would not get that step one if we try to expand ourselves. it really was -- i think for the most part still is the focus on the relationship between companies and what government demands of them. what has happened in these ten years, you know, how many years since you wrote your book? >> twenty-four. >> well, a lot of people were saying problems in cyberspace and that's a bit much and you're so negative. [laughter] i remember saying that to someone once upon a time and now i teach the book like it's a bible. things happened in the thing that really happened was this extraordinary shift of power and
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a technological development that allowed what used to be collecting this piece of data and will use it for this purpose into basically your data being currency to being run through algorithms for many different places in almost all commercial and that is what is so important about this project because there are and it was it an enormous innovation that came out and the entire concept of transparency reporting is not written into those guidelines or principles. i think the most exciting people under people thought we got to do a right to see it now at the companies understand the same way the thought the world would collapse if they agreed and they now extend this to some of their own practices that may be a positive rather than a negative.
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i think that the time is right and i hope in the next generation we can talk about content duration. >> i want to make sure your time for questions and i'm sure there's plenty of thoughts in the audience. not sure if we have microphones just guess, we have roaming microns. any question? >> [inaudible] i need to ask a question for rebecca to frame which is if i understand correctly you would've looked at the operations throughout africa and [inaudible] is based in the uk and so it's a relatively good actor but in africa [inaudible]
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when you mentioned that the law affected the law of the homebase there were talking about here. >> right, yes, to clarify what our methodology with the tell speciation's company we looked at two different levels. basically because you don't have many millions of dollars to hire people all over the world what we ended up doing was looked at for each telecommunications company we looked at the group level policies so with the transparency reporting and the human right commitments and the governance indicators are basically all at the group level and also the transparency reporting indicators are looking at global transparency reporting but otherwise for the commercial privacy and security and also handling of government demands
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around content and information flows the rest of those indicators we looked at the home country operating company because a lot of these companies have, you know, in some cases a couple dozen different operating companies in different markets in because telecommuting asian companies are so physically localized their policies differ in every single operating market which is different from the internet platform in that sense. with mtm we looked at their group level and their south africa operating companies and for vodafone we looked at the global transparency reporting and governance commitment but at otherwise at their uk operating both and that was is a methodological necessity because there's no way to properly
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examine and compare and average up in any kind of meaningful manner but has scores for every single operating company and we looked at one point is there some way of doing spot checks for specific other markets and methodologically didn't work in a way that was going to make sense. that is why it's important that i love to see the internet frontier which is an ngo that operates largely in africa has recently done a methodology looking at several african markets and so that is why it's important that people take this and look more deeply at the operations of some of these companies. >> let me add one thing to that. so, the tele- code suggests
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joining gni and they are assessed on their global operations and in fact part of that assessment is looking at specific events that happen in different markets so if you happen to know of any of those that you would like to share and quite fiercely because sometimes it is hard to dig them up. some of them are big and please do. this is the first time they will go through that third-party assessment and that is always a part of picking difficult cases and examining. >> thank you. >> hello, nina guarnieri, managing professor and thank you all for what you are doing. rebecca, in particular. this is extraordinary.
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i -- two questions. one rebecca specifically -- now that you've done this huge my work and one of the things that came out very clearly in the hearing in the last couple weeks is how poorly prepared our congressmen and senators are even on understanding the issues are. one part of my first question is are you planning to do a little bit of preparation for all of these guys in women to understand what questions to ask so that we can move forward here because zuckerberg was having a field day and he got away with answering nothing. >> that is a good question and i love to hear some of your thoughts about legislative preparedness and i have spoken to some congressional staffers and that's not the same as
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educating members but that is -- to give another colleague is the current call tech congress where there placing technologists on the hill working in representing members offices and i think that is very important. among the very many things leading to happen but, you know i think the level of education of this particular legislative body is if you think about this parliaments around the world that are grappling with these issues trying to figure out how to regulate -- not sure the indian parliament how they are doing on these issues or any number of other governments that are having major impact on the digital lives is a grappling and regulate and part of the problem is the existing regulatory,
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legal and judicial frameworks in much the world are not fit for these issues and if they are a cross-border and you have legislation passed one country that say legislation that is currently on the books in germany around forcing platforms to take down content very quickly without judicial review and it might make sense may be in a highly democratic country with great rule of law but even then it doesn't make sense but the invocations of this for internet users on the world are very negative and the people who pass the law don't answer to the rest of the world. the answer to the german citizens so we have a real problem with regulators in many jurisdictions. i had a conversation with a member of the european parliament who said you got to consider what you're doing and how it is affecting people in the developing world and they
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said i'm paraphrasing only slightly he said i don't care, that's not my job. in so, then we are counting in this is one reason why we exist is to hope that companies will push back against this mess but then the companies, of course, have their own commercial interest and here we are. >> when they come together with everyone else's interest is powerful. they don't, not so much. i am in the space and i've been in the space since 1996 and in all the time and in all the various places i've been we would at a retreat given award a private award to the two people seem to know something in congress about what we're doing. i have to say in the syrians i thought it was worse. over the years particularly in
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house when the members are younger over the years a group were at least educable was honestly the senators weren't but having -- ultimately it's more important to have a staff and the internet and education which was a form of continues to have never-ending events on these completed issues and i would say some people ought to get out of congress because they're too old but i will be too old soon so i don't want to go there you know but no joke one people in this is ron wyden has been there over 25 years and he keeps -- [laughter] >> i'm not sure what to say but we still have an office of
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technology assessment and we use to actually feel like it was important to ask somebody and they participated in they were too serious and you can get a response and why gingrich got rid of them in the '90s i don't know but we obviously need serious entities to advise congress and we saw the same thing that they didn't have a clue of what they are talking about. >> stop the privacy act. >> freudian slip. [laughter] >> what level of technical understanding do we actually need and legislators purser staff and regulars to have and i worry there's a tendency in the tech committee in general to callout legislator on every misstatement what are complex
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technologies and there's a lot of different issues were they have to have a little bit of knowledge on to do their job and it's where i think something like rtr is supple because if you show graphics and show hey, here's this is a much easier point to than a 20 page paper and to be able to say this shows me that google is at the top of the us companies and apple is at the bottom and why is that and gives you the opportunity to have an entry point into the real conversations that will get technology into detail but immediately contact lies it in a way that helps people understand and i think that is for everybody in our space and framing it from that kind of consequences for actual people as the entry point to let's talk
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about complex technical topics is going to be a much easier way for legislators to engage. >> i just want to say because i have a foot in the space and to this broader space and international affairs or looking at and i think that sometimes in this space we get too caught up in the internet conversation and this is a screen and part of getting both lawmakers and the broader public aware of these issues is to make sure that people understand that it's not just a screen issue. this is how you want to live your life. it's a consequence issue that you're getting at. there goes beyond the companies in this index and it increasingly these issues will be relevant to so many other companies. this is essentially a way of
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taking the parameters of the discussion that can expand beyond these companies. as a brief example i noticed that air b&b is now agreed to share information within china about people that use the service. that's not a tech company but that is something incredibly relevant and making things relevant in that way so people understand this is one way of understanding it but we need to expand our framework and bring the broader public in as well. >> the other thing to build on what chauncey was saying is it's increasingly going beyond what we traditionally consider the -- all of them are increasingly going to need to consider all of these questions in our index. you know, and not just privacy security but speech. a hacker a year ago did nothing under of a picture of a
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refrigerator that had been hacked into a porn hub. it wasn't internet connected with the trigger with widescreen and someone was wearing a on hop off of this. now you have expression issues in relation to home appliances and i can bet you that the general electric and electrolux had not thought about these issues beyond what they had to do for you want. >> how are you engaging with investors for example to ask these questions? it's useful for numbers people are not thinking about these issues and there's nothing like investors asking. >> yeah, i have been talking to investors in a speaking at an investors event in london on monday and have a few other conversations going on and i
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recently wrote about an investor publication and they put out an investor brief last fall which was translating what we are doing into investor thinking. the primary argument is investors -- when you get beyond the diehard socially responsible investors have cared about the rights long time and recently are part of gni and privacy and surveillance and censorship and concerned about that and when you get beyond them investors if you think about these issues have traditionally considered the cyber security issue so the data breach issue and the theft issue. those few indicators that we have in our privacy section is what the traditional investor considers material to the business and the value of the company. the argue i have been making is with the help of some of the people who advised the project
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to our investors is that actually cyber risk is much broader than it breach and theft. the damage to your brand and basically anything that can cause harm to users both collectively and individually is a risk to your business and therefore a risk to your investment which means everything in this index is materially at least potentially relevant to investor and investors need to be demanding that boards oversee risk across all of these things. that's the argument that i'm trying to make and got a bunch of presentations and starting to give beginning next week to investors of a number of places. we will see. facebook's value seems to have, you know, it's, yeah, it's shares are down 30 points but the earnings are up so, i mean,
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you know, it takes a long time. how long to take to get investors to care about committees? or even slave labor? you know, it has taken a long time and there are individuals in this room working on this for decades and, you know, he don't get investors to get it overnight. we are just starting on this one and the lightbulb is starting to turn on over more people's heads which is a good thing. i'm starting to get calls and e-mails from people who are not calling and e-mailing a year ago. so, yeah. but i don't know -- >> does anyone else? >> is there time for one last question? >> hello. sharon with oti here. there's been a fair amount of conversation about how just as
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you are putting us to print there have been new announcements by google and facebook and we've had the increasing general public on this issues and rebecca said that between the two companies they do care so i'm curious from not only rebecca but all of you how optimistic are you that we will see great improvement before the next index comes out? >> i will let you go first. >> i think i am optimistic that if there is lots of attention to the content transparency and content moderation in takedown transparency that we will see other companies move in the direction. there are a few companies that have as much content to takedown as google and facebook. i feel that it is doable and that will be the best practice five years from now and i feel really good about that.
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i don't forgot about privacy. i think it's a lot more than privacy. >> i would be optimistic about the fact that we are in this moment that led to the formation of gni which is that galvanized the attention that we are in this moment again after that moment he saw a real change. this is a moment i think everybody in this community within civil society and probably have to take advantage and push. >> seventeen at the two companies in the index between last year and this year [inaudible] so, i'm positive we'll see just as much improvement but i would caution what this index is the floor, not the ceiling. this index is the bare minimum of stuff that this is the easy stuff that they have no excuse not to be disposing for the most part. this is not the hard stuff and
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even if everybody gets a hundred on this the problems will not be there are many fundamental problems that will not be solved but at least they can do this. right? [laughter] >> my echo that i'm optimistic about more transparency on content moderation as the companies are doing it voluntarily but about where government glittery efforts around how they do content moderation and we may be on a path where we see the company is filling up the bar charts and increasing their scores on the sorts of things that they have leeway to do while also i hear operating in environments where they are much more constrained and restricted about how in favor of their users human
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rights they really are. >> with that i think that is all of our time for questions today. thank you all so much for coming. rebecca, thank you for all your work on this. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> later today on c-span2 a live discussion with former fbi director, james comey, about his biography from his experiences with president trump in his book, a higher loyalty. dennis live at 7:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span2.
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