Global backlash against Big Tech censorship has ramped in in recent days, with Uganda going so far as to block access to Twitter and Facebook ahead of an election contest tomorrow.
The Ugandan government claims the measures were taken to protect the integrity of the nation’s elections after Facebook removed a number of pro-government accounts from their platform, but others see it as a threat to the free internet.
Twitter’s Public Policy account stated that the firm “strongly condemn internet shutdowns – they are hugely harmful, violate basic human rights and the principles of the #OpenInternet.”
The statement was made less than a week after the shutdown of United States President Donald Trump from the platform, and his nearly simultaneous removal from most major internet platforms over an unusually short space of time. Yesterday he was dropped by his regular lender Deutsche Bank.
But opposition to Big Tech is bubbling away far from Uganda, with key figures in Trump’s Republican party now calling for a renewed focus on the regulation of key players in the technology space.
The influential Republican lawmaker Devin Nunes, whose famous 2018 memo on DoJ and FBI abuses brought him to the attention of GOP activists, called on fellow party members to “make fixing this problem legislatively a primary part of the Republican Party platform”, citing a wide-ranging plan to stamp out conservative speech online:
The barrage is designed to accomplish a single goal: to abolish the on-line marketplace of ideas, transforming our digital space into a left-wing monoculture in which conservatives are harassed, ostracized, banned, deplatformed, and threatened with an array of other punishments, while platforms and services that don’t enforce this stifling political orthodoxy are shut down and removed.Devin Nunes
Moves against Big Tech are already underway on a local level in America, with a Florida legislator calling on the Governor Ron DeSantis to divest state funds from Amazon, Twitter, Apple, Google, and Facebook.
And the opposition appears to be breaching party lines, although most Democrats continue to celebrate the removal of the President from major communications networks as they plot another impeachment effort.
The investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the Snowden story and who has been critical of President Trump’s administration, has penned an article on his influential Substack page accusing Silicon Valley of destroying Parler “in a show of monopolistic force”.
With huge interest in the questions raised by the rising prominence of major technology platforms, public debate about regulating the actors could become even more prominent in the coming years.