The technology of the 1990s looked nothing like today's connected world—and the internet hosted just a fraction of the billions of people who now use it every day. Yet, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, passed in 1996, is the law that governs rights and responsibilities of social media companies…that weren't even around when it was written. Ian Bremmer explains on GZERO World.
Pros and cons of vaccine passports: As a growing number of countries roll out COVID vaccines, the World Health Organization has started working on a global "vaccine passport" certification that it hopes will be recognized across the globe. In theory, such a document would exempt global travelers from having to provide negative tests and undergo quarantines upon arrival. But here is where it gets tricky: While countries whose economies are heavily reliant on tourism like Greece are lobbying in favor of the effort so they can get tourists back in their hotels and restaurants, it's still unclear whether vaccinated people, who are protected from getting sick themselves, can transmit the virus to others. If some countries or regions jump the gun and lift restrictions for those with proof of vaccination, it could lead to a potential deluge of infections which would in turn result in fresh lockdowns and more economic turmoil. On the other hand, if vaccines do provide to be a safeguard against disease transmission, a global standard to verify who's gotten the jab could avoid the chaos associated with different nations' medical standards. The WHO has done it before with its famous "yellow card" that documents vaccinations against a range of diseases like rubella and cholera. Will it be able to come up with a paperless version that will be broadly accepted?
Australia takes on Big Tech: In the latest row in the Big Tech world, Google has threatened to cut off search engine access for all Australian users (19 million each month) after a proposed bill would require Google and Facebook to pay a licensing fee to media companies for sharing their content. Facebook followed up by warning it'll block Australian users from posting news stories to its feeds if the bill turns into law. Google says it's willing to negotiate, but that the Australian bill goes too far. Specifically, the tech giant rejects establishing an automatic arbitration model which would allow Australian courts to decide how much Google should pay if it can't reach an agreement directly with a publisher (this would open Google up to infinite financial risks, the company says). The row with Australia is surely a sign of what's to come around the globe. While the EU agreed to a bloc-wide copyright rule in 2019, some individual nations still need to pursue their own additional copyright laws — France recently did so and subsequently struck a deal with Google over licensing fees for content producers. But those who haven't done so yet will be watching the outcome of the messy dispute with Australia very, very closely.Nigerian military reshuffle: In response to growing pressure to improve Nigeria's rapidly deteriorating security situation, President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power promising to oversee an era of safety and stability in Nigeria, has taken the bold step of replacing military commanders and the entire defense department. Although he didn't give a reason for the reshuffle, Buhari — a former general who led a military junta that ruled Nigeria in the early 1980s but was elected as a civilian in 2015 — has struggled to make progress on the multiple security crises facing the country. Nigeria is currently suffering a spike in jihadist violence from Boko Haram and Islamic State-affiliated groups, fresh attacks by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, bloody clashes between Christian farmers and mostly Muslim nomadic herders, and a resurgent separatist movement in Biafra. What's more, Nigeria is still reeling from the popular backlash against police brutality that sparked the #EndSARS protests last October. Interestingly, the new top brass is considerably younger than the previous military leadership, but it remains to be seen whether they can get the job done.
The United States has never been more divided, and it's safe to say that social media's role in our national discourse is a big part of the problem. But renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher doesn't see any easy fix. "I don't know how you fix the architecture of a building that is just purposely dangerous for everybody." Swisher joins Ian Bremmer to talk about how some of the richest companies on Earth, whose business models benefit from discord and division, can be compelled to see their better angels. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.
Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no doubt that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.
Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.
Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, helps us make sense of today's stories in technology:
Why is the Department of Justice suing Google?
Well, they are suing Google because Google is a giant, massive company that has a dominant position in search. In fact, on your phone, you almost can't use any other search engine or at least your phone is preloaded with Google as a search engine and you probably don't know how to change it. The Department of Justice alleges that Google has used its power and its muscle to maintain its position, and that violates the antitrust laws.
Goodbye Quibi. Why did the video streaming platform fail?
Well, Quibi failed in part because of timing, it launched right at the start of the pandemic, which was very, very hard. Secondly, they just didn't have the right content, nothing seemed magical. And third, they made a bunch of tactical errors. They didn't allow people to screenshot and share stuff from the videos they saw. They weren't available on every platform. They made some mistakes. And now, unfortunately, they're gone.
Protests ahead of Chile's referendum: It's been one year since massive protests over inequality rocked the normally staid and ostensibly affluent country of Chile. To mark that anniversary this week, tens of thousands of protesters hit the streets again, in part to call for a "YES" vote in Sunday's upcoming referendum on whether to rewrite the country's constitution. But some of the demonstrators turned to violence and looting, setting the country on edge as the crucial vote looms. Replacing the country's current constitution — which dates from the days of Pinochet's dictatorship — was a key demand of last year's protesters, who say that it entrenches the country's dizzyingly high inequality by limiting the role of the state and constraining political choices. If the current protests continue through the weekend, authorities and street activists alike are concerned violence may deter some people from voting.
Google hit with US antitrust case. The US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against the tech giant for maintaining an illegal monopoly over the search engine market. The ruling sets up an epic battle between government regulators and one of America's most powerful companies. Google, which says it faces more search engine competition than you'd think and that its services have actually boosted small businesses, will of course fight this with the lobbying and legal power you'd expect from a trillion-dollar enterprise. But the DOJ filing comes just weeks after a Democrat-led House Committee released a 450-page report alleging various ways in which Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook undermine commercial and political freedom. As a bipartisan consensus emerges on the need to rein in these companies, the DOJ's Google case is sure to be a watershed event in US regulation of Big Tech.(Economic) trouble in MENA: A report this week from the International Monetary Fund warns that COVID-19 has inflicted a "deeper and more persistent economic impact" on potentially fragile states in the Middle East and North Africa, adding to the risk of major social unrest. The IMF blames a witch's brew of the global impact of coronavirus, low oil prices, coronavirus containment measures, the impact of "limited digitalization" and "limited remote working," weak social safety nets, cash-strapped governments, and the region's disproportionate share of the world's refugees and displaced people. The list includes war zones like Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. But Lebanon, Iraq, and the West Bank and Gaza qualify too. Even in Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf states, where sizable protests are far less likely, governments will probably have much less money to spend for years to come.
Watch as Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, explains what's going on in technology news:
How likely will big tech companies Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google be forced to breakup as recommended by Democrats on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust?
I think it's pretty unlikely. I think there will be hearings. I think there will be damages. I think that there will be scrutiny on future mergers. I don't think there will be breakups.
"Hi, Speed." What can we expect from this week's annual Apple release?
Apple has a new phone most likely coming out next week. The motto is "Hi, Speed." I think it's going to be mostly about 5G. These phones will be 5G compatible. It doesn't mean the 5G infrastructure has been built up in this country or most other countries. But still, when it is, the phones will be fast. Also, I think the LiDAR sensors that were built on the last iPad, which was kind of a small announcement that people didn't really notice, will be on the new iPhone and that will be great for augmented reality.