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Digital Deceit II: A Policy Agenda to Fight Disinformation on the Internet

“Digital disinformation poses a grave threat to our democracy and demands a new social contract between consumers and internet companies that is rooted in transparency, privacy and competition, according to a new report co-published by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and New America, the Washington, D.C.-based public policy think tank. The report, titled “Digital Deceit II: A Policy Agenda to Fight Disinformation on the Internet,” argues for the codification of a set of digital rights into public law encompassing a set of regulations designed to advance democratic values and protect the public from disinformation while fostering open digital markets…The report outlines a sweeping policy framework that would address the digital threat to democracy, focused on three key principles:

  • Ad Transparency – As citizens, we have a right to know who is trying to influence our political views and how they are doing it. There must be explicit disclosure about the operation of such advertising and the content curation processes on dominant digital media platforms. We must have disclosure in the form of real-time and archived information about targeted political advertising, clear accountability for the social impact of automated decision-making, and explicit indicators for the presence of non-human accounts in digital media.
  • Privacy – As individuals with the right to personal autonomy, we must be given more control over how our data is collected, used and monetized, particularly when it comes to sensitive information that shapes political decision-making. A baseline data privacy law must include consumer control over data through stronger rights to access and removal, transparency for the user of the full extent of data usage and meaningful consent, and stronger enforcement with resources and authority for agency rule-making.
  • Competition – As consumers, we must have meaningful options to find, send and receive information over digital media. The rise of dominant digital platforms demonstrates how market structure influences social and political outcomes. A new competition policy agenda should include stronger oversight of mergers and acquisitions, antitrust reform and robust data portability and interoperability between services…”

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