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Should internet be free for everyone? A Global Stage debate

Half of the world's population is currently offline, and COVID has further widened the digital gap. Providing more than three billion people with affordable, reliable internet access sounds like a no-brainer, but the devil is in the details. Who'll pay for it, how do we measure success, who should be on board, and what are the potential benefits?

Several experts weighed in during a Global Stage virtual conversation hosted by GZERO Media in partnership with Microsoft during the 76th UN General Assembly, moderated by the UN's Melissa Fleming.
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Watch our discussion to decide: should internet access be free?

Access to the internet is a universal right.

Broadband should be free.

Tech companies should foot the bill.

Discuss.

GZERO Media and Microsoft will convene proponents, skeptics, and fence-sitters to debate whether the internet should be free on the next Global Stage event.

Make up your mind in our event September 15th at 11am ET/8am PT.

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Cuba internet censorship amid protests; pressure grows against Huawei

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Cuba has curbed access to messaging apps amid protests. How controlled and censored is Cuba's internet?

Well, any debate and criticism is tightly controlled in Cuba, including through information, monitoring and monopoly. But activists such as blogger Yoani Sánchez have always been brave in defying repression and making sure that messages of Cubans reached others online across the world. Now mobile internet has become accessible to Cubans since about two years, but accessing it remains incredibly expensive. But the fact that the regime in Cuba once again seeks to censor people through shutting down internet services actually shows it is its Achilles' heel. As Yoani has said, the Castros have lost the internet.

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The dangers of deepfakes and the need for norms around trust

Get insights on the latest news about emerging trends in cyberspace from Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center and former European Parliamentarian.

Have you seen the Tom Cruise deepfake and how dangerous is this technology?

Well, I did see the deepfake with Tom Cruise and it certainly looked more convincing than ones I'd previously seen with President Obama, Vladimir Putin, or Donald Trump. Clearly, this technology is growing more sophisticated and deepfakes more convincing. And it's dangerous when people cannot tell authentic, trustworthy messages from deceptive and manipulated ones. With AI generated text, we know that people cannot distinguish machine generated from human generated.

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Section 230: The 90's law still governing the internet

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.

Do the Democrats have enough power to rein in Big Tech?

The Democrats shocked the country by eking out a 50-50 majority in the US Senate earlier this month, securing control of the House, Senate and Executive. But do they have enough power to impose the kinds of restrictions to Big Tech that many believe are sorely needed? Renowned tech columnist Kara Swisher is not so sure. But there is one easy legislative win they could pursue early on. "I think it's very important to have privacy legislation, which we currently do not have: a 'national privacy bill.' Every other country does." Swisher's wide-ranging conversation with Ian Bremmer was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Kara Swisher on Big Tech’s big problem

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.

Podcast: Kara Swisher on Big Tech's Big Problem

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.

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