Shaming Big Tech for Child Safety Works Better Than You Think


Hello and welcome to Protocol Policy! Today, I’m diving into the nonprofit that’s in nearly every conversation about the safety of children and survivors of online abuse. Plus, lawmakers who are totally fed up with Amazon, the K Street crypto boom, and how Apple’s money is key to its strategy of mostly ignoring store regulations of applications.

Name, shame and tame

Have you noticed that tech companies are starting to capitulate to make the internet (slightly) safer for kids and teens? Me too. One of the reasons they do it is Frances Haugen. Another is international regulations. But don’t underestimate the role of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

You can draw a pretty direct line between NCOSE and some of the biggest recent changes to the way technology actually brings content to us.

  • Like, remember how Roku just banned a number of adult entertainment companies? This came after years of Roku landing on NCOSE’s annual list of organizations the nonprofit thinks it should shape.
  • Or when OnlyFans briefly bowed to pressure from payment processors to ban pornography? NCOSE had targeted both the site and the credit card companies.
  • The group has also won court decisions that — at least temporarily – has forced platforms to make a dual decision about the legal liability they face when users post content related to sex trafficking.
  • And it’s a big driver behind the Earn It Act, a fast-moving bipartisan bill to get tech companies to do more to crack down on child sexual abuse material.

The group has a pretty explicit strategy, including corporate naming and shaming.

  • NCOSE this week unveiled the latest edition of his list, which he calls the “Dirty Dozen”. The list includes Google, Meta and Twitter among those who “facilitate, normalize and even profit from sexual abuse and exploitation”, as Lina Nealon, the group’s director of corporate and strategic initiatives, put it.
  • The companies have not commented on their inclusion, which Nealon said could be based on the platforms putting users at risk for everything from abuse to “objectification” by other users.
  • NCOSE also works with state and federal lawmakers, has a litigation department, conducts research that may include setting up accounts as young teens on various services, and is happy to threaten to repost campaigns against powerful companies when it doesn’t feel like they are acting with enough urgency, says Nealon.

Yet the group works behind the scenes with many of the companies it criticizes, Nealon added.

  • This may mean bringing in survivors or using their testimony to speak with company officials.
  • NCOSE has worked with TikTok before some of its changes last year, said Nealon, which the band later tapped into with other services.
  • “We go to Instagram and Snapchat, and we’re like, ‘TikTok did it. Why can’t you?

Many people in tech politics complain that what NCOSE really wants is a conservative, censored internet. They say the group achieves this with smears that confuse trafficking and abuse with misogyny and objectification, or even by portraying consensual sex as grooming or objectification.

  • Critics say the Earn It Act would undermine encryption, jeopardize the livelihoods of LGBTQ+ creators and force platforms to remove more edgy – but not illegal – content.
  • NCOSE also took on the American Library Association, Netflix, and the company that manages the domain name system for virtually all .com and .net websites.
  • Nealon justified aiming all these issues together by saying that abuse is of course worse than sexist slurs, but “the links still exist”.

Whatever you think, the result is something I’ve written about before: the move to a PG-13 internet.

  • That’s why you have pretty much every major social platform looking to implement some form of teen protection.
  • Nealon said she hopes in the years to come to celebrate content filterseasier reporting for survivors of revenge porn, more restrictions on porn in general, and a default safety standard for children and teens.

“I feel like we’re at a very unique moment in time,” she said. “I feel this urgency that I haven’t felt before in terms of Big Tech being empowered.”

—Ben Brody (E-mail | Twitter)

In Washington

The House Judiciary Committee wants the Justice Department to investigate Amazon for potential unlawful obstruction of Congress. The company declined to provide evidence when asked about its use of third-party merchant data when creating Amazon’s own products, according to The Wall Street Journal.

President Biden’s Executive Order on Crypto is finally here! OK, it’s mostly about ordering the government to study things or come up with plans. Issues include the impact of digital assets on the stability of the financial system or their use in criminal activities, including the possible circumvention of sanctions by Russia. Still, at least one industry official considered the order, which apparently grew out of a series of talks called “Crypto Sundays,” a “major milestone.”

Likewise, crypto is one of the hottest new businesses in Washington, DC. According to a report by consumer group Public Citizen, 320 lobbyists worked on crypto issues last year, up from 115 in 2018. And lobbying spending hit $9 million, up from $2.2 million three years ago. early.

Elon Musk’s settlement with the SEC requiring him to obtain approval for tweets is ‘unworkable’. according to him. His lawyers have asked for the agreement to be cancelled.

The war in Ukraine is give encryption advocates a way to remind people that technology can protect them from government oppression and violence, not just give them a way to commit crimes without leaving evidence.

A coalition urged lawmakers to remove what my colleague Issie has called “the lurking e-commerce killer” in the home version of the Chips Bill. The Shop Safe Act aims to crack down on the sale of counterfeit products online. Companies, trade groups and civil society organizations, however, say the measure “threatens to undermine freedom of expression, innovation and consumer choice”, primarily by requiring monitoring of infringing content.

The American Chamber of Commerce is arguing that in fact, corporate consolidation is down. The powerful business lobby group, which has pushed back on the movement to broaden competition law, has attacked one of the key justifications for the change in a new paper.

Two siblings are accused of defrauding thousands of retail investors which bought or invested in the Ormeus Coin cryptocurrency as part of a $124 million program, according to the SEC.

Uber, Lyft and DoorDash are plotting over $1 million in TV and online ads to fend off Pro Act, a labor bill that would classify many gig workers as employees.

In the states

The Utah legislature has pass a privacy protection bill that consumer groups panoramic as too lax. It’s unclear whether the governor plans to sign it, but it could provide a model for Republican-controlled states’ approach to data protection.

Tech companies have next to nothing to say about Florida bill limit classroom lessons on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Two Democratic senators want to the federal government to prioritize net neutrality, unionized jobs and affordability as it determines how it will distribute billions in broadband infrastructure funds to states.


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On protocol

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, successfully turned to technology with his pleas for industry to punish Russia’s invasion of his country.

How does Apple plan to weather the coming storm of global app store regulations? The company continues to pay only fines so it can ignore a Dutch antitrust ruling over its handling of dating apps, which seems like a signal of things to come given its $37 billion cash reserves.

Protocol has followed the latest technological movements in Russia related to the war in Ukraine.

Millennial Nostalgia Tour

If you’ve ever illegally downloaded “When You Were Young” by The Killers, just know that the LimeWire trademark is (sort of) return as an NFT marketplace. And yes, I’m listening to it right now.


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Thanks for reading – see you Friday!


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