British Parliament invites Twitter fan Musk to talk about ‘authentication of all people’

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The British Parliament invited Elon Musk to “discuss the future of Twitter” because we live in very wild times.

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If Musk agrees to speak to parliamentarians from the Committee on Digital, Culture, Media, and Sports (DCMS) — even if virtually — he will go further than Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who famously turned down repeated calls to testify before him after Cambridge Analytica data abuse scandal back in 2018.

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Unlike Zuckerberg, who was keen to avoid scrutiny of exactly how Facebook allowed the firm, which some of its employees dubbed “sketchy“By sucking out data on millions of users without their knowledge or consent, Musk has no obvious reason to avoid chatting with a few ‘honorary members’ of the British Parliament — other than his general disdain for government institutions.

He may also (currently) be too busy trolling NFT owners notice or worry about an “invitation to speak” to the parliamentarians of the country on the other side of the Atlantic.

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But he should probably accept the invitation because it’s a sign that if he succeeds in his mission to own Twitter.

As we reported earlier, there is a growing number of international regulations that already and/or will soon apply to the speech platform. So if Musk becomes the owner of Twitter, he will be on the hook for decisions that could result in a substantial fine for the company for not complying with regional/market rules on content that such platforms can legally host.

Rules that could even be seen local leaders serving prison terms for non-compliance with regulations in case of UK arrival Internet Safety Legislation.

In his letter of invitation to Musk, which the DCMS committee released today, he writes that he is particularly interested in his proposal to “authenticate all people.”

“My committee has taken note of your offer to acquire Twitter and we are interested in your proposed developments,” writes committee chairman and Member of Parliament Julian Knight. “In particular, your intention to roll out verification to all users echoes our calls to the UK government through proposed legislation that we hope will restore the UK public’s trust in digital platforms.”

Knight goes on to note a 2020 report by the Disinformation Committee during the COVID-19 “infodemic” calling for “greater transparency on bots, automated and spam accounts” and a link to his later report. internet safety bill report — which “discussed ways to balance civil liberties, such as freedom of expression, with the need to combat harmful, widespread sexual exploitation and child abuse online,” as he put it.

“So I want to take this opportunity to invite you to speak to our committee and discuss your proposals in more detail,” Knight continues, before suggesting that Musk use the British Parliament’s public platform to troll his critics (er…be careful what you say). wishes). !) — as he writes: “I know that you have expressed the wish that critics stay on Twitter, and this may provide an opportunity to make any criticism publicly.”

Meanwhile, critics of the UK government’s internet safety bill have long worried that the government may be leaning towards limiting anonymity on social media in a purported attempt to crack down on trolling and abuse on online platforms.

However, the government presented a compromise approach Earlier this year this will require the largest platforms to provide users with the tools to limit the amount of (potentially) malicious but technically legal content they are exposed to. offering them ways to verify their identity and control who can interact with them on the service (for example, by choosing the option to only receive DMs and replies from verified accounts).

“Platforms will have to decide which methods to use to meet this identity verification duty, but they should provide users with a choice or opt-out,” DCMS wrote in February on partial authentication, in addition to what critics are already calling the “kitchen sink” bill.

If the government sticks to this, the UK will avoid a contentious full verification mandate for platforms like Twitter – akin to Musk’s idea of ​​”authenticating all people” – though the internet security bill is still before Parliament, so more could come before it. amendments. becomes law. (And the DCMS committee is at least interested in moar authentication…)

Much more can happen to change the details of incoming legislation. But it’s strange to think that a new takeover of a major platform like Twitter could reset the scale of social media speech in an even more radical direction than the one proposed by the UK government – for example, if Musk really means force all Twitter account holders to undergo identity verification.

If he really intends to do so, it could mean the worst of all worlds: Musk’s ill-conceived speech-chilling intervention that doesn’t value privacy and doesn’t understand the relative risks to users who will be forced to trust a third party (in the best way) to protect their identity in coupled with a growing mass of restrictions being placed on speech platforms by states and political institutions around the world, some (technically) democratic, others (entirely) authoritarian, that tend to take a narrower view of what is legal. express online.

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