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Leaked Dem. Memo: “Undemocratic” Intervention Warranted to Rule Internet

Leaked Dem. Memo: “Undemocratic” Intervention Warranted to Rule Internet

A leaked memo written by leading Democratic Senator Mark Warner details decidedly non-democratic plans for how to protect internet users from their own naiveté and gullibility. Perhaps we are beginning to see the true rationale for the ceaseless Cold War-esque fearmongering: to degrade Americans’ rights under the guise of protection from the ever-present threat of Russian influence.

The memorandum is as insulting as it is concerning. Titled "Potential Policy Proposals for Regulation of Social Media and Technology Firms," Warner’s outline names Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter and Amazon – the who’s who of the tech industry – as the headliners whom Warner and his colleagues presumably intend to target. Based on what we know about autonomy, power, and the slant of opinion in the tech industry, these companies would likely be considered more cooperators than targets should they choose to adopt any of Warner’s suggestions.

Warner lays out 20 different guidelines by which he would seek to combat the influence of Russian campaigns against American people, who Warner apparently believes are incapable of exhibiting critical thought or, in the case of this proposal, detecting bullshit.

Thank heavens we have Mark Warner to protect us from “misinformation”! Please, Mr. Warner, take my freedoms! Whatever you’ve got to do to keep me safe from the evil Rusky bots, do it!

Even if that means spending more money, forfeiting more of our personal information, and shedding all pretenses of anonymity, it’s a small price to pay to be protected from the Russian phalanx of hackers and Democracy-haters. And make sure you spend more taxpayer money to protect those who would be so easily deceived by the fake news. Whatever it costs to make me literate…

‘The paper raises the prospect of new federal funding for media literacy programs that could help consumers sort through the information on online platforms.’ (Axios)

Don’t worry, defense industry. Mark didn’t forget about you, he knows how you can do your job better, too!

‘It also describes the military and intelligence communities as not adequately prepared for foreign information operations and includes various measures for bolstering their capabilities.’

What would Jim Mattis and the cyber defense wing in the military do without Mark Warner, polymath specializing in cyber warfare? They’d be left to be victimized by the conscience-less Russian hackers, probably.

OK, this is where we call bullshit. If you can’t discern for yourself what is fake news and what is real, you’re lost already. If you aren’t willing to do a modicum of research on an article that would presumably shape your opinion, there’s absolutely nothing the government can  do to protect you from your own intellectual laziness.

Note that Warner doesn’t want to protect users from the overreach of social media platforms collecting obscene amounts of personal information. He simply wants to monetize it more clearly.

‘The report also suggested that, to increase visibility into competition, platforms could put a monetary value on an individual user’s data.’

In fact, it is the information we post, and the information we are permitted to see that Warner and many other politicians want to neuter. Too much information circulating among the public a problem for those who prefer to maintain the wool cover over the public’s eyes, and the crackdown on dissenting opinion is well-underway. Now, what we are witnessing is a window into how lawmakers like Warner will attempt to legitimize the stifling of information, using phrases like “oversight”, “transparency”, and “management” to justify reaching into the private sector – but only to facilitate their political motives, not actually protect the people from the real threats they may face.

“The size and reach of these platforms demand that we ensure proper oversight, transparency and effective management of technologies that in large measure undergird our social lives, our economy, and our politics,” Warner writes.

These platforms demand government intervention, Warner asserts. In other words, the people have no choice in the matter. It’s already been written, and Warner’s colleagues would be derelict to ignore something that is demanded of them, right?

Warner goes so far as to assert that the social media networks weren’t even built for you to post adorable pictures of your Corgi, flirt with potential bed-mates, or even exchange seconds-long videos with your friends. Facebook, Twitter – hell, smartphones as a whole – were clearly made as a tool for Russian meddling in democratic elections…

"Today's tools seem almost built for Russian disinformation techniques," Warner writes.

So, don’t you see why it’s so obvious why we should demand that the internet now be equipped with features such as geo-tagging for everything we post?

‘Mandatory location verification. The paper suggests forcing social media platforms to authenticate and disclose the geographic origin of all user accounts or posts.’ (Reason)

Isn’t it, considering the nature of the threat and the fact that these tools are more fit for sophisticated Russian hackers than us defenseless Americans, completely necessary to identify without ambiguity everybody behind every account, eliminating all aliases and even parody accounts?

‘The paper suggests forcing social media and tech platforms to authenticate user identities and only allow "authentic" accounts ("inauthentic accounts not only pose threats to our democratic process...but undermine the integrity of digital markets"), with "failure to appropriately address inauthentic account activity" punishable as "a violation of both SEC disclosure rules and/or Section 5 of the [Federal Trade Commission] Act."’

Because, if you aren’t who you say you are, if you want to remain anonymous online, you’re out to overturn democracy! (and odds are you’re probably Russian.)

Isn’t it absolutely imperative that we spend more, give up more, allow regulators to sink their fingers deeper into our internet lives?

‘Other proposals include more disclosure requirements for online political speech, more spending to counter supposed cybersecurity threats, more funding for the Federal Trade Commission, a requirement that companies' algorithms can be audited by the feds (and this data shared with universities and others), and a requirement of "interoperability between dominant platforms."’

Of course it is. We demand it of our fearless leaders, Mark Warner chief among them. How else would we protect ourselves from the Russians?

How else would we save our at-risk democracy?