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thenexusofprivacy

@thenexusofprivacy@lemmy.sdf.org

The Nexus Of Privacy looks at the connections between technology, policy, strategy, and justice. We’re also on the fediverse at @thenexusofprivacy

This profile is from a federated server and may be incomplete. Browse more on the original instance.

House delays plans on FISA Section 702 surveillance program reauthorization vote (US Politics) (rollcall.com)

The good news is that the secret session of Congress didn't happen so they didn't sneak something through behind closed doors. Thanks to everybody who took action! and it now looks like the House won't be voting on Section 702 this week....

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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They get to position themselves as looking out for the children.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Totally agreed that it opens things up to censorship in general and doesn't actually make kids safer. Charlie Jane Anders' The Internet Is About to Get A Lot Worse sets it in the context of book banning. The LGBTQ part is in the headlines because one big focus of the advocacy against it is highlighting that Democrats who claim to be pro-LGBTQ should not be backing this bill. This has been effective enough that Senators Cantwell and Markey both mentioned it in the committee markup, although it's certainly far from the only problem with the bill.

Sec. 11 (b): Enforcement By State Attorneys General covers this. It's hard to find -- the bill text starts out with all the text removed from the previous amendment, and if you click on the "enforcement" link in the new table of context it takes you to the old struck-out text. It's almost like they want to make it as hard as possible for people to figure out what's going on!

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Great point. Mike Masnick has said that he wouldn't be surprised if Meta also comes out in support, for similar reasons.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Yep. There's money to be made here!

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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In practice, when the AG threatens to sue and the law makes it clear that they'll win (which KOSA currently does), companies will typically stop what they're doing (or settle if the AG actually launches a suit)

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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The law's defintion of harm is extremely broad. Charlie Jane Anders has a good discussion of this in The Internet Is About to Get a Lot Worse:

"This clause is so vaguely defined that attorneys general can absolutely claim that queer content violates it — and they don't even need to win these lawsuits in order to prevail. They might not even need to file a lawsuit, in fact. The mere threat of an expensive, grueling legal battle will be enough to make almost every Internet platform begin to scrub anything related to queer people."

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Technically yes but judges get annoyed if there's absolutely no case, so they rarely do -- and if they threaten when there's no case, larger companies will look at it and say the threat's not real.

A script for asking Republican Senators to stop KOSA (US Politics) (lemmy.sdf.org)

The horrible Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) is once again moving forward in Congress, so now's a key time to contact your Senators and Representative. https://stopkosa.com has a summary of why this bill is so bad, including its harmfulness on LGBTQ+ youth, as well as a form to contact your Senators. But Republicans are just...

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Yes, exactly. For Senators who support LGBTQ+ rights and reproductice rights (or at least say that they do), focusing on the threat anti-trans AGs can be very effective; In Washington state, we put enough pressure on Cantwell last fall about the LGBTQ+ issues that she mentioned it in the hearing (as did Markey). 5calls and EFF's scripts and emails are written to appeal to legislators from both parties (so just talk about the harms to kids and threats from state AGs in general terms), which makes sense for a one-size-fits-all form, but customizing it to your Senators' priorities can make a lot of sense.

A script for asking Republican Senators to stop KOSA (US Politics) (lemmy.sdf.org)

The horrible Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) is once again moving forward in Congress, so now's a key time to contact your Senators and Representative. https://stopkosa.com has a summary of why this bill is so bad, including its harmfulness on LGBTQ+ youth, as well as a form to contact your Senators. But Republicans are just...

Mastodon and today's fediverse are unsafe by design and unsafe by default (privacy.thenexus.today)

Even though millions of people left Twitter in 2023 – and millions more are ready to move as soon as there’s a viable alternative – the fediverse isn’t growing.1 One reason why: today’s fediverse is unsafe by design and unsafe by default – especially for Black and Indigenous people, women of color, LGBTAIQ2S+...

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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As I say in the article:

Despite these problems, many people on well-moderated instances have very positive experiences in today’s fediverse. Especially for small-to-medium-size instances, for experienced moderators even Mastodon’s tools can be good enough.

However, many instances aren’t well-moderated. So many people have very negative experiences in today’s fediverse.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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I’ll get to that in a followon post, but one straightforward way to make progress is to change some of the defaults

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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From the article:

I’m using LGBTQIA2S+ as a shorthand for lesbian, gay, gender non-conforming, genderqueer, bi, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, agender, two-sprit, and others (including non-binary people) who are not straight, cis, and heteronormative. Julia Serrano’s trans, gender, sexuality, and activism glossary has definitions for most of terms, and discusses the tensions between ever-growing and always incomplete acronyms and more abstract terms like “gender and sexual minorities”. OACAS Library Guides’ Two-spirit identities page goes into more detail on this often-overlooked intersectional aspect of non-cis identity.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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If you read the article and follow the links you’ll find plenty of evidence. The Whiteness of Mastodon, A breaking point for the queer community, and Dogpiling, weaponized content warning discourse, and a fig leaf for mundane white supremacy are three places to start.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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I didn’t say the fediverse has come a long way. I said that many people on well-moderated instances have good experiences – which has been true since 2017. In general though I’d say there was a brief period of rapid progress on this front in the early days of Mastodon in 2016/2017, and since then progress has been minimal. Lemmy for example has much weak moderation functionality than Mastodon. Akkoma, Bonfire, Hubzilla etc are better but have minimal adoption.

And @originallucifer Ipeople have been complaining about this for years – it was an issue in 2011 with Diaspora, 2016 with Gnu social, 2017 with Mastodon, etc etc etc – so it’s not a matter of fediverse software as a whole being in its infancy. Even Lemmy’s been around for almost four years at this point. It’s just that the developers haven’t prioritized this.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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If you’re looking for more of a technical deep dive, check out Threat modeling Meta, the fediverse, and privacy

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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At some level you’re not missing anything: there are obvious solutions, and they’re largely ignored. Blocking is effective, and it’s a key part of why some instances actually do provide good experiences; and an allow-list approach works well. But, those aren’t the default; so new instances don’t start out blocking anybody. And, most instances only block the worst-of-the-worst; there’s a lot of stuff that comes from large open-registration instances like .social and .world that relatively few instances block or even limit.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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It’s tricky … many people do use “queer” as an umbrella term, but a lot of trans people don’t like being lumped under that, and some lesbian, gay, bi, and agender people don’t consider themselves queer. There aren’t great answers.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Thanks, glad you liked it. Agreed that blocklists (while currently necessary) have big problems, it would really be great if we had other good tools and they were much more of a last resort … I’ll talk more about that in a later installment.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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That’s great! And a lot of trans people I’ve talked with on Mastodon say similar things, which is also great. But a lot don’t. It depends a lot on the instance you wind up choosing. So the people who stay wind up as a self-selecting sample.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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From www.stopkosa.com

First, KOSA would pressure platforms to install filters that would wipe the net of anything deemed “inappropriate” for minors. This = instructing platforms to censor, plain and simple. Places that already use content filters have restricted important information about suicide prevention and LGBTQ+ support groups, and KOSA would spread this kind of censorship to every corner of the internet. It’s no surprise that anti-rights zealots are excited about KOSA: it would let them shut down websites that cover topics like race, gender, and sexuality.

Second, KOSA would ramp up the online surveillance of all internet users by expanding the use of age verification and parental monitoring tools. Not only are these tools needlessly invasive, they’re a massive safety risk for young people who could be trying to escape domestic violence and abuse.

Here’s more on how the Heritage Foundation says they’ll use it to censor LGBTQ content, and about how KOSA denies young people freedoms of expression and privacy

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Oh well, thanks for trying.

Call Congress to Stop KOSA (US focused) (act.eff.org)

The Senate may have a simple voice vote in the next week to move the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) quickly through the legislature, without debate, but any one senator can stop it with a hold. We need you to call your senator’s office today to tell them to stop KOSA. KOSA would censor the internet and would make government...

FISA: Oversight Board Recommends Reforms to Section 702 to Protect Americans’ Privacy (www.brennancenter.org)

The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB)'s report on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) recommends that Congress enact a wide range of reforms to Section 702, including a requirement that federal agents obtain approval from a judge to access data collected under Section 702 for an...

KOSA sponsor appears to suggest bipartisan bill will censor transgender content online (US focused) (www.nbcnews.com)

In a video recently published by the conservative group Family Policy Alliance, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said “protecting minor children from the transgender in this culture” should be among the top priorities of conservative lawmakers…...

The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act is A Terrible Alternative to KOSA (www.eff.org)

A new bill sponsored by Sen. Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Murphy (D-CT), and Sen. Britt (R-AL) would combine some of the worst elements of various social media bills aimed at “protecting the children” into a single law.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Agreed. At the Senate Commerce Committee hearing, both Cantwell and Markey said they had heard from a lot of consituents about the bill’s problems, especially for LGBTQ+ people, and that there’s work to do before going forward … so at least the pushback is getting noticed.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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here’s the list of cosponsors … if they’re there, then they’re certainly supporting it. It’s worth contacting them in any case; they’ll often send you a form reply saying their position on the bill.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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That’s disappointing … but, enough pressure can get them to change their position (or, almost as good, ask Schumer not to bring the bill to the floor so that they don’t have to take a politically costly vote). In the Senate Commerce Committee hearing, both Cantwell and Markey voted yes but said they had gotten a lot of calls and email from constituents who were concerned about the impact on LGBTQ+ teens so there was work to do before bringing the bill to the floor … so the pressure is definitely getting noticed!

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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It’s just a list of Senators, I don’t think there’s an equivalent bill yet in the House.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Great point about editing the letter – and calling is even better!

In terms of whether or not we’ll be able to change it … last year the broad pushback succeeded in stopping KOSA, and there’s certainly a decent chance to do the same this year. Who knows, but as you say, it’s always worth trying!

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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Thanks for making the effort! On bills like this, enough pressure can make a difference – we stopped KOSA from passing last year, and have a good chance this year as well.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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!bad_internet_bills is tracking all the bad internet bills … right now KOSA’s where the most action is.

thenexusofprivacy OP ,
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WTF indeed. But, thanks for emailing them – they track how much email they get in each direction, and if there’s enough they may rethink their position.

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