Congress will soon be forced to act on the growing uncertainty regarding privacy, social media, digital assets, and freedom on the Internet. These are serious concerns, and they deserve equally-serious answers.
Recently, there has been much debate over an obscure internet law. Called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, it allows online platforms to moderate, delete, and remove content they deem offensive or illegal. Amid the back-and-forth between social media platforms, regulators, and the public, we have come to an impasse — and the lines in the sand are drawn. Either you believe these platforms should be able to regulate speech or not.
Internet Platform Indecencies
Michael Beckerman in his opinion piece on Fox News recently argued that these platforms should be able to censor and moderate content. ‘Eliminating the ability of platforms to moderate content would mean a world full of 4chans and highly curated outlets – but nothing in between,’ he wrote.
However, it’s precisely the opposite. If you’ve been on the internet for some time, you may have heard of the Streisand effect. It’s a funny phenomenon where an attempt to hide, censor or remove content online generally results in it being publicized more widely. The ‘offensive’ content being censored by Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms today has ironically been over-publicized as a result of their meddling.
A Changing Digital World
The digital world is quickly reinventing itself, but Congress is terribly behind. For example, despite being two years since the cryptocurrency boom of 2017, there has not yet been any significant legislation passed regarding digital assets. Even worse, most of the blockchain sector is setting their sights on other nations as the best place to upstart projects.
The American regulatory environment is quickly falling behind in the fast-moving online world. As a result, the US is beginning to lose its competitive edge in technology, especially as it pertains to the internet.
If Congress does not act, this will only continue to get worse — and it’ll be near impossible to catch up.
21st-Century Problems Require 21st-Century Solutions
Politicians today are quick to mischaracterize digital issues with simple solutions. “Break up Facebook!” they say as if applying 20th-century political slogans to 21st-century problems.
However, do we really need five or six smaller Facebooks? Do we need multiple Googles? What we actually need are ultra-accessible platforms on the internet which are decentralized by design. These platforms need to be worked so they have no means of accessing user data in the first place, perhaps even by mandate if necessary.
We are on the advent of a fourth industrial revolution. Yet, the way is Congress is acting, it’s awfully hard to tell. The 21st-century has brought never-before-seen challenges, and they require fresh 21st-century solutions.
Do you believe the U.S. government’s inaction is limiting innovation in tech? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.