Big Tech Wants To Influence Regulations That Are A Result Of Their Failures
How have you been holding up? Hope everyone’s staying sane. It’s Jeremy (@JeremyAppel1025) by the way, here as usual to take you through a rundown of today’s top news. Today we’ve got stories on: Facebook whining about being treated unfairly by governments; Canada’s response to the Myanmar coup; the federal government’s tense relationship with the Public Health Agency of Canada; the New Age spirituality-to-QAnon pipeline.
Let’s get started.
Facebook Claims It Wants To Help Government Regulate It, But Warns Against Going Too Far
Facebook wants to help — no, really, it does — governments rein in its powerful influence, but only if it doesn’t hurt their bottom line.
Australia has taken a particularly aggressive approach to regulating tech giants, forcing them to pay media outlets for their content shared on these platforms, which Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has indicated will be in some capacity replicated in Canada.
Facebook Canada head of public policy, Kevin Chan, warned parliament’s heritage committee that they would oppose these “loud and aggressive” measures in Canada, but offered support for the government’s efforts to provide consistent standards on what is and isn’t allowed on social media.
Guilbeault has criticized the “bullying attitudes” of big tech companies after Google and Facebook threatened to leave Australia in response to its legislation.
From the National Post (I know): The issue is part of an international fight between U.S. tech giants and domestic publishers and broadcasters, who say that the fast-growing platforms have been siphoning off revenues as readership goes increasingly online.
Facebook says it’s actually doing these media outlets a favour by expanding their reach, but the issue, of course, isn’t that news articles aren’t reaching enough people. It’s that tech giants are sucking up what used to be their ad revenue.
There are certainly valid concerns about how this type of legislation would ultimately inhibit doing what we at Passage Daily do — sharing links to others’ articles — but that should be a discussion we have without interference from self-interested tech lords.
Meanwhile, the minister has denied characterizations of his ministry’s relationship with Facebook as “cozy,” after Chan was revealed to have shared a job ad with a senior employee at the ministry last year, as the Toronto Star reported at the time.
“We came to a conclusion that sharing publicly available information is not a reprehensible act,” said Deputy Minister Hélène Laurendeau, while Guilbeault says that it didn’t violate any code of ethics and that — even if it did — it only happened once. NO COLLUSION!
This development speaks to a broader issue of a revolving door between the corporate world and governments that are supposed to regulate it.
DIG DEEPER: Is Facebook Too Close To The Governing Liberals?
- The military in Myanmar seized power in a coup yesterday, arresting democratically-elected President Aung San Suu Kyi. She spent nearly 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010 for her criticisms of the military. More recently, she has been widely criticized internationally for her role in the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.
- Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau says the government “unequivocally condemns” the putsch.
- Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations and former special envoy to Myanmar, says the coup isn’t a done deal. “We’ll see in the next, you know, few hours, few days, a few weeks, we’ll see how strong the resistance is to it. I think the resistance will be quite strong.”
- There’s no doubt a major element of hypocrisy at work here, considering this is the same government that strongly supports coups in Bolivia and Venezuela.
- The Canadian government was upset with Canada’s Public Health Agency because they didn’t consult them before offering public health advice, according to documents obtained by parliament in its examination of how the Liberals handled the early days of the pandemic.
- For example, the agency provided “detailed” guidelines on PPE for essential workers, which PMO issues advisor Sabrina Kim suggested should be taken offline until the government released its plans on the matter.
- “We can’t take down public health advice,” responded Samantha Khalil, the PMO’s deputy director of issues management.
- Shannon Zimmerman, a senior advisor to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, agreed it can’t be taken offline, but said in the future the agency “should have to consult” the industry and hear its objections, as if industry should be able to change the course of public health guidelines.
ICYMI: New Age Spirituality And Natural Health Are Driving Canadians Toward QAnon
PressProgress reports that some Canadians with an interest in New Age spirituality and holistic medicine have gone down some pretty dark rabbit holes as a result of the pandemic’s isolation.
One woman — named Vicki — says her father started out with a benign interest in meditation and the idea that a positive mindset will create positive outcomes, but also engaged in some questionable practices, like receiving “body scans” from a spiritual guide to give him a “clean bill of health.”
“He had a small group of friends who shared his beliefs, and I think, for the most part, they kept him in check […] But, they stopped their regular Sunday meetings when the lockdowns started,” said Vicki. “Now, on his own, he really seems to have descended into a rabbit hole.”
Her dad is now a believer in QAnon, with its theories that former United States President Donald Trump is engaged in a secret war against a cabal of Satanic pedophiles that run the world, as well as the conspiracy theory that Bill Gates created COVID-19 to vaccinate people with “artificial intelligence” that will “control our DNA.”
Some pretty sad stuff.
That’s it for today’s Passage Daily. Check your inbox tomorrow for more news from an unapologetically left-wing perspective.
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