Fostering Real Transparency
Tech companies claim they are being more transparent about how they handle your data and decide which content can exist on their platforms, but often they just provide the illusion of compliance: with long, impenetrable terms of service or standards that no one reads.
At a minimum, large tech companies should agree upon and adhere to common standards that establish a clear, standardized process for reviewing and removing material from online platforms.
Federal Legislation to Protect Online Privacy
Large tech companies have every incentive to collect as much personal data as possible from their consumers. Comprehensive federal privacy legislation should be enacted to give consumers more control over their personal data, and it should include:
- A “right to be forgotten” online
- Opt-out mechanisms for data sales and third party data use
- Data collection disclosure
- A right to request all personal data collected by tech companies
- Prompt data breach notifications
Tech companies necessarily use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to screen the reams of content that exist and are created across their platforms. However, these AI systems are clack boxes. Consumers don’t understand how or why decisions are made, and the AI’s decisions are often wrong. We need real standards to make AI – and the companies behind it – accountable.
Getting Congress Smart on Tech
Recent congressional hearings featuring tech company executives have revealed that too many members of Congress don’t appear to understand how bug tech companies operate or the scope and scale of the problems they present. Once, Congress had a resource for objective analysis on pressing matters raised by new technologies – the Office of Technology Assessment. The OTA was shuttered in 1995, right before the advent of the modern internet. It needs to be brought back.
Platform Companies Need to Act Like Platform Companies
If large tech companies like Facebook and Google are indeed the platform companies they claim to be and not publishers, they need to act like it. That means that in deciding what can exist on their platforms, they should hew closely to the First Amendment as articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court: speech should be free unless it incites violence or promotes dangerous obscenity.
For an in-depth look at the problems related to privacy and public discourse within the tech sphere along with The New Center’s proposed solutions, read the full policy paper here.