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Thank You @RepGoodlatte for Getting the “Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA)” Passed in the House

February 27, 2018 Comments off

As the Google Transparency Project reports, Digital Media Association heaveyweight Google and its incumbent cronies like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Engine Advocacy, the Center for Democracy and Technology, NetChoice and the Consumer Technology Association are out for blood to keep the legacy Communications Decency Act from being dragged into the 21st Century.

FOSTA

Miraculously, Google’s lobbying millions were no match for strong grassroots support behind Chairman Bob Goodlatte that got the much needed reform legislation over the goal line.

Remember this tense exchange between ex-Executive Chairman Eric “Uncle Sugar” Schmidt, Google’s head lawyer Kent “Loophole” Walker and a whistleblower at the Google shareholder meeting regarding Google’s opposition to the campaign to deny sex traffickers the safe harbor in the ancient Communications Decency Act:

Here’s the press release from the House Judiciary Committee:

The House of Representatives today passed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), a product of the House Judiciary Committee. This legislation provides restitution for sex trafficking victims and enhances criminal penalties for websites that facilitate illegal prostitution or sex trafficking.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) has issued the following statement:

Chairman Goodlatte: “Over the past year, the House Judiciary Committee has worked directly with prosecutors to understand how new legislation could help them enforce existing laws and hold bad actors accountable for sex trafficking online. We have also explored changes to the criminal code that would disincentivize websites from knowingly promoting or facilitating illegal prostitution. The summation of the Committee’s investigative work is FOSTA, a bill that gives restitution to victims and creates harsher penalties for bad actor websites that facilitate horrendous criminal acts. I believe the provisions in this legislation will make the internet safer and give victims the criminal and civil means to punish wrongdoers and move forward with their lives.”

Background: 
What FOSTA does:

  • Holds Bad Actors Accountable: clarifies that section 230 of the CDA does NOT grant immunity to websites that facilitate sex trafficking.
  • Creates a New Federal Crime: websites that have the intent to promote or facilitate illegal prostitution can be prosecuted under the new 18 U.S.C 2421A created by the bill.
  • Increases Criminal Penalties:  prosecutors can seek higher penalties for websites who promote the illegal prostitution of 5 or more persons or act with reckless disregard for the fact that sex trafficking occurs on their website.
  • Enforces Existing Laws: allows state and local prosecutors to enforce sex trafficking statutes and the new 2421A.
  • Provides Restitution for Victims: gives victims of sex trafficking a pathway to sue bad actor websites for conduct violating the new criminal law, 2421A.

The House Judiciary Committee last year held a hearing to review the impact of the Communications Decency Act on sex trafficking online. In December 2017, the Committee approved FOSTA by voice vote.

@GTP_updates Report on “Google Academics, Inc.”

July 11, 2017 1 comment

Ever wonder why it is that some academics seem to be as close to Google as 1 is to 2?  The Google Transparency Project has released a fascinating report and searchable database of papers written by academics funded by Google (according to the group’s methodology).  This is particularly timely given the “fake news” hot topic and the new book by Sharyl Attkisson all about manufactured information in our astroturf culture entitled The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote.

Because make no mistake–Google’s multimillion dollar influence peddling campaign on campus is all about influencing regulators and lawmakers.  Yes, just like Big Pharma, “Google Academics” funnels big bucks to shape authority figures in Google’s image for 329 papers that the group was able to identify.  The epitoma suprema of factiness.

Indirect Funding

Direct Funding

Total

Funding not acknowledged

131

85

216

Funding acknowledged

29

94

113

150

179

329

Source:  Google Academics, Inc.

As noted in the Google Academics, Inc. research report (at p1):

[Google] has cultivated a college-like atmosphere, offering yellow bicycles for employees to ride around its sprawling campus. Its partnerships with Carnegie Mellon University are so extensive that a Google office is housed on the school’s campus.

Behind the scenes, however, Google has exercised an increasingly pernicious influence on academic research, paying millions of dollars each year to academics and scholars who produce papers that support its business and policy goals. An in-depth examination by the Google Transparency Project identified 329 research papers published between 2005 and 2017 on public policy matters of interest to Google that were in some way funded by the company.

In more than half of those cases (54%), academics were directly funded by Google. The remainder worked for, or were affiliated with, groups or institutions that were funded by Google. In the majority of cases, readers of the papers would not have been aware of the corporate funding: Academics did not disclose the Google funding in two-thirds of cases (66%). Authors failed to disclose funding even when they were directly funded by Google in more than a quarter (26%) of cases.

For example–take Jonathan Band.  Mr. Band is a registered lobbyist for MIC Coalition member the Computer and Communications Industry Association, the Library Copyright Alliance and Yahoo! Inc. and until recently was a lobbyist for Visa and the Net Coalition.  According to the Google Academics database, Mr. Band authored no fewer than ten academic papers supporting Google’s views, six of which mentioned Google in the title.

Remember Annmarie Bridy, one of the defenders of the current Librarian of Congress after what I believe was the retaliatory firing of the Register of Copyrights?  Professor Bridy has two papers in the Google Academics database.

Marvin Ammori of the Fight for the Future crowd?  Nine papers.

Mark Lemley of the Durie Tangri law firm (a go-to outside law firm for Google’s moves against creators (especially authors) and chief defender of the Goldieblox shenanigans)?  12 papers written or co-written in the Google Academics database.

We now have another valuable insight into Google’s influence peddling thanks to the Google Transparency Project.

It was Larry Page’s middle-of-the-night insight that hyperlinks could be used like academic citations to determine the usefulness of information that famously gave rise to Google. Now Google is creating a universe of paid-for citations with which to advance its policy interests.

 

 

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