As tech companies regulate speech, will they lose their safe harbor?

Source: Silicon Valley escalates its war on white supremacy despite free speech concerns – The Washington Post

Tech companies have long argued they are not responsible for the content posted by others on their platforms. Under this view, a tech company is not responsible if someone posts threats to kill others or instructions for building a bomb or details on how to hack into government computers.

Companies have stood behind this principle, especially in regards to users posting defamatory content to online forums. They have argued that they are not responsible for the content and that it would be impossible for them to police the content of their forums.

Now however, the tech companies, including social media companies, are arguing that they can and do police all speech on their platforms. This implies that they do, in fact, control and have responsibility for the speech on their platform. These actions are likely to emerge in future anti-defamation suits filed against online tech firms and they could find themselves liable for all types of infringing speech conducted on their platforms.

Tech companies can certainly condemn offensive speech[1]. But censoring offensive speech puts tech companies into a area that may have legal ramifications.

Related from St. Louis Dispatch:

“A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.” — Justice Anthony Kennedy

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Tech’s other problem – arrogance

In Silicon Valley:

“Suddenly the mind-set became that if you’re a young kid who’s arrogant and disrespectful and doesn’t have the right social skills, that’s the mark of a good entrepreneur.”

Source: Uber CEO’s admission he needs to ‘grow up’ highlights perils of being a young leader – MarketWatch

There’s been much news coverage over sexism, and less coverage about age-ism, in the tech sector. This article highlights another problem – the culture of arrogance and the tolerance of immature behaviors as long as results are delivered. Or, as one Yale psychiatry professor suggested years ago, about one-third of executives exhibit psychopathic behaviors that would not normally be tolerated in the general population – but we tolerate them in executives who deliver results.

The role of the CIO in the future

With high tech readily available “off the shelf” and probably from an outsourced cloud service, what is the role of the CIO in 10 or 15 years?

A world where IT is perceived as essential but not strategic is an ugly place to be.

Source: The CIO is becoming the HVAC guy | Computerworld

The author suggests the role of the future CIO is to provide a smorgasbord of IT options from which others can select, and to gracefully manage the end of life and shutdown of legacy systems. Plus, as technology advances, much of it has also been simplified to the point that end users make their own decisions (for better or worse). But think: Once upon a time, we hired a group to develop, say, a manufacturing cost analysis software project. Then users began to develop practically the same thing in Excel using VBA – all by themselves. Today, they just buy something from the cloud.

US GAO’s full report on HealthCare.gov management failures

Here is the full report: Ineffective Planning and Oversight Practices Underscore the Need for Improved Contract Management (PDF)

I do not have time to read it just now but look forward to going over it later as a lesson in software engineering practices.