When the Government Says You’re Fake News (Reason.com)

In April [2019], legislation was introduced that would empower the [Singapore] government to demand that sites take down stories deemed—by the state—to be “fake news.” Officials would also be able to force social media sites such as Facebook to include “warnings” on posts declared false. Resisting these orders and maligning the government could earn a person or company fines of up to $740,000 and potentially incarceration.

Representatives of the Asia Internet Coalition, an industry association of leading internet companies including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, warned that the bill “gives the Singapore government full discretion over what is true or false.” The group calls the plan an “overreach” that “poses significant risks to freedom of expression and speech, and could have severe ramifications both in Singapore and around the world.”

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new law that allows government officials to charge individuals and online media for spreading fake news or information that insults state symbols or officials. As in Singapore, violators face fines and potentially jail time.

When critics yelled “censorship” at the Russian government, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pointed out that this area of “fake news” is “under strict regulation in many countries of the world, even in European states.”

Last November, at the urging of President Emmanuel Macron, the French parliament passed a law allowing judges to order the removal of what they deem “fake news” during the three months before an election. It also gave the country’s national broadcasting agency the authority to suspend foreign television channels that distribute allegedly false information that might affect a French election. State-run Russia Today interpreted that part of the law as explicitly targeting itself and complained about the censorship. Then Russia put into place even harsher laws.

That France, Russia, and Singapore are all on the same page is a stark reminder that governments almost universally want to stop the distribution of some political messages while mandating the distribution of others.

A third component of Macron’s policy recently bit the French government on the derriere. The country now requires media companies to disclose who paid for political advertisements and to maintain a database showing who is responsible for sponsored political messages being promoted through their platforms. Rather than deal with these new obligations, Twitter stopped accepting political advertisements in France altogether. As a result, the company decided in April it would not run government ads encouraging citizens to vote in May elections for the European Parliament.

I’m sure that the current POTUS is seeing these developments around the globe and thinking, “I want that!”.

XKCD, Passwords

Consider this in the context of convenient biometric authentication like TouchID and FaceID.

Imagine you travelled to the US with a locked briefcase that contained every text message, email, and private message you’d ever sent to a loved one. It also included every web search you’d ever conducted, and — through your bank account and PayPal records — every purchase you’d ever made and every organization you’d ever donated money to.

The customs agent not only wants to open your locked briefcase —he also wants to copy all of its contents and store them forever in a database, which will be shared with all manner of law enforcement agencies and tax agencies, and will eventually be available to anyone working in any capacity in the government without the need for a warrant.

All your data will be stored in a database built by the lowest bidder — the same kinds of government contractors who brought you Healthcare.gov and the aborted $208 million California DMV database. It will be so valuable that all manner of malicious hackers will materialize from out of the woodwork to try and steal it.
That is what makes your locked phone different from a briefcase with a few personal details locked inside it.