The Complex Debate Over Silicon Valley’s Embrace of Content Moderation
Interesting NYT piece by Nellie Bowles.
One of the few things that Democrats and Republicans in Washington agree on is that changes to Section 230 are on the table. Mr. Trump issued an executive order calling for changes to it after Twitter added labels to some of his tweets. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has also called for changes to Section 230.
“You repeal this and then we’re in a different world,” said Josh Blackman, a constitutional law professor at the South Texas College of Law Houston. “Once you repeal Section 230, you’re now left with 51 imperfect solutions.”
Under pressure, UK government releases NHS COVID data deals with big tech
Hours before openDemocracy was due to sue, the government released massive data-sharing contracts with Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Faculty and Palantir.
Great journalism. Link
Reminds one that in addition to contact-tracing apps we also need contract-tracing ones.
The Story Behind Bill Barr’s Unmarked Federal Agents
Good piece of investigative and explanatory journalism by Politico. Turns out that the US Federal government has a largish hidden army of police-like officers and agents. Who knew?
History Will Judge the Complicit
Wonderful essay in The Atlantic by Anne Applebaum on the phenomenon of collaboration and, in particular, why (and how) prominent Republicans have become collaborators of a president who stands for everything they supposedly abhor. One of her case studies is Senator Lindsay Graham, a former military patriot who has become one of Trump’s most nauseating legislative groupies. (Graham is a living proof that power is the greatest aphrodisiac.) Also explores the various self-deluding strategies that collaborators use to justify their surrender of agency. What’s especially lovely about the essay is the way it explores the nature of collaboration by going back in modern European history to the Soviet and Nazi eras. It’s a long read, but worth it.
Contact tracing isn’t rocket science. As a small Welsh local authority has shown
This is an extraordinary story.
As Wales takes the first steps out of lockdown and starts trying to find a way to live with Covid-19, people living in one part of the nation could be forgiven for thinking they have almost entirely escaped the disease which reached crisis points in other parts of Wales.
With just 42 confirmed cases to date, and seven deaths, it seems that in the coastal council area of Ceredigion the virus never really took hold.
The initial flurry of cases in this rural part of Wales was comparable to the starts of the outbreak in the local authorities of Wales that ended up being worst hit by the virus. Yet here it just sort of petered out.
I don’t think “petered out” is quite right. The control of the virus in this small rural district was due to:
Early, pre-emptive and decisive action. The local University was one of the first to close, so the student population in Aberystwyth was effectively evacuated ahead of time. And because the district is a popular tourist area, long before the national lockdown was announced, the council had instructed all holiday and caravan parks to close too.
Effective deployment of contact-tracing from Day One. A simple system has enabled them to carry out contact tracing on every confirmed case in the county. The Council picked up all positive cases did been contact tracing on them all. A couple of environmental health officers were assigned to pick up on positive tests. And precautions were extended to Council staff.
One inescapable lesson from this is that if Whitehall had delegated responsibility and resources for contact-tracing to local authorities from Day One, the UK wouldn’t have the current omnishambles of a ‘world beating’ contract-tracing system that might just be operation by September.
We always used to think that the most pathologically-centralised state in Europe is France. My hunch is that the UK was actually more dominated by London than France was by Paris.
Thanks to Seb Schmoller for alerting me to this.
Yale has made Frank Snowden’s celebrated course “Epidemics in Western Society Since 1600” freely available.
You can download the course materials from here. As far as I can see, you can only read the HTML version of the lectures. Audio and video require Flash, of which I don’t approve and don’t trust. But the text of the lectures was all I wanted. As you’d expect, the course also has an interesting Reading List.
Quarantine diary — Day 77
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