WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- The New Center – an organization focused on creating the space for a political center in America – today released a new policy paper, entitled "Big Tech: Public Discourse and Privacy." In the wake of troubling revelations about the practices of large tech companies, the paper focuses on reforms necessary to protect Americans' personal privacy and safeguard our public discourse.
The New Center grew out of an unlikely partnership between Brookings Institute Scholar Bill Galston and Weekly Standard founder Bill Kristol. In November 2016, Galston and Kristol penned a joint memo in which they made "the case for a New Center, one that does not split the difference between Left and Right, but offers a principled alternative to both." Last year, the two thinkers oversaw the development and release of a policy booklet called Ideas to Re-center America.
On November 14, the New Center released its first policy perspective, on immigration, and launched a new website, NewCenter.org.
"Large tech companies pervade our everyday lives in ways corporate behemoths of the past never did. Increasingly, they know what we're doing, where we're doing it, and with whom. We as a society, haven't figured out what to do about it," said New Center Co-Chair Bill Galston. "But it has become clear there is an urgent need for both large tech companies and the federal government to develop a robust and sustainable framework that addresses the growing and troubling impact that the tech industry is having on our privacy and public discourse. That's a conversation we hope to jumpstart with this new paper from the New Center."
"These large tech companies are the crown jewels of American innovation, but we simply must reckon with the influence they are having on our privacy and public discourse," said New Center senior advisor Bill Kristol. "This is about more than just fake news or censorship – the current hobbyhorses of the left and right. There are deeper questions about what these companies are doing with our data, whether they are truly neutral platform businesses, and how they are influencing and shaping our national conversation. We hope to provide some answers to these questions."
"Big Tech: Public Discourse and Privacy" is available for download from newcenter.org. Newcenter.org is the home for all original content from The New Center, as well as curated stories highlighting bipartisan political efforts, original analysis of where the left and right overstep their bounds, and relevant and exclusive polling.
The New Center's next paper, scheduled for release in early 2019, will focus on electoral and governmental reforms. Later in the year, the New Center will also publish a second paper focused on large tech companies, this one focused on their impact on U.S. innovation, competitiveness and labor.
Here is a brief summary of the solutions offered in the Big Tech paper.
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.
About the New Center
American politics is broken, with the far left and far right making it increasingly impossible to govern. This will not change until a viable center emerges that can create an assertive agenda that appeals to the vast majority of the American people.
This is the mission of The New Center, which aims to establish the intellectual basis for a viable political center in today's America.
We create and promote ideas, news coverage, and commentary that helps people see common sense solutions to the problems we face.
SOURCE The New Center