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Fixing Social Media’s Grand Bargain

by Jack M. Balkinvia Aegis Paper Series
Monday, October 15, 2018

To regulate social media, we should focus on its political economy: the nature of digital capitalism and how we pay for the digital public sphere. This political economy creates perverse incentives for social media companies—encouraging them to surveil, addict, and manipulate their end users and strike deals with third parties who will further manipulate them. Treating social media companies as public forums or public utilities is not the proper cure, but social media companies, whether they like it or not, do have public obligations. This essay focuses on one approach to dealing with the problems of social media: new fiduciary obligations that protect end user privacy and counteract social media companies’ bad incentives.

Tech Firms Are Not Sovereigns

by Andrew Keane Woodsvia Aegis Paper Series
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

It is increasingly common to hear that the sovereigns that reign over the Internet are Internet firms—the companies that set user policies and wield enormous influence over the day-to-day functioning of the Internet. The user base of these firms can be larger than many countries. They have foreign policy teams and have even engaged in experiments with user-driven self-governance. In many ways, they look like states. But firms are not sovereigns.  Some public-facing Internet firms may find it expedient to resist some states, some of the time on some issues. But this does not mean that Internet firms are a serious and lasting threat to state sovereignty. Treating them as such is a distraction from the real problem: determining how and with what limits states—sovereign nations—ought to be able to achieve their aims online.

Advanced Persistent Manipulators And Social Media Nationalism

by Clint Watts via Aegis Paper Series
Monday, September 17, 2018

Social media platforms provide an unprecedented opportunity for influencing populations. Citizens in Western democracies spend a significant amount of time on social media platforms and—as their virtual connections increase in number and intensity—they’ve begun to form social media nations affecting real-world national security.  Moving forward, social media, as an industry, will face a range of advanced persistent manipulators (APM) seeking to infiltrate, harness, and shape the perspectives of social media nations. The challenge of APMs will create an enduring threat to user trust and confidence in social media platforms.

Platform Justice

by Danielle Citron, Quinta Jurecicvia Aegis Paper Series
Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The role of dominant content platforms like Facebook and Twitter in facilitating Russian election interference in the 2016 US presidential election has precipitated a backlash against “big tech,” and now the pendulum is swinging toward greater regulation of platforms for what their users say and do. Read the Lawfare post here.

An Intelligence Reserve Corps To Counter Terrorist Use Of The Internet

by Daniel Bymanvia Aegis
Friday, August 10, 2018

Never before in history have terrorists had such easy access to the minds and eyeballs of millions,” declared one journalistic account of the Islamic State’s propaganda machine and proficient use of Twitter, Facebook, bots, and other modern means of getting its message out.

Tech Giants At The Crossroads

by Jon D. Michaelsvia Aegis Paper Series
Monday, July 30, 2018

Major technology companies find themselves at the center of two critical and vexing conversations. First is the digital public square conversation: millions of citizen-consumers wholly depend on these companies’ goods, services, and platforms to remain socially, politically, and economically engaged. Second is the deputization conversation: those same companies are often obligated to facilitate or intensify state surveillance over citizen-consumers. Thinking about the two conversations in combination—and thus viewing the tech firms as both victims and perpetrators in inherently unequal, imbalanced relationships—presents opportunities for a grand regulatory bargain that fixes the pair of problematic links in the broader chain of private-public relations. 

An Intelligence Reserve Corps To Counter Terrorist Use Of The Internet

by Daniel Bymanvia Aegis Paper Series
Wednesday, July 25, 2018

This papers assesses the creation of an Intelligence Reserve Corps (IRC) to counter terrorist use of the Internet. US government agencies are poorly equipped to handle cutting-edge technological problems and they often devote resources too late, giving terrorists a window in which to exploit new technologies. An IRC, modeled loosely after military reserve programs, would bring in part-time government personnel with a technical background and increase private sector awareness of government needs. Many companies, however, would not support participation, and cultural and other differences are likely to limit progress.

The Case For Pragmatism And An Opportunity For Sino-US Leadership: Protecting Financial Stability Against Cyber Threats

by Tim Maurervia Aegis
Friday, June 22, 2018

Geopolitical tensions are on the rise worldwide, including between China and the United States. This will make multilateral cooperation and engagement generally, and diplomatic efforts focusing on more comprehensive frameworks specifically, more challenging.

The Case for Pragmatism and an Opportunity for Sino-US Leadership

by Tim Maurervia Aegis Paper Series
Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Increasingly disruptive and destructive cyber attacks pose an unprecedented threat to the global financial system. This challenge presents an opportunity for the United States and China as the world’s two largest economies to work together rallying behind their shared interest in protecting financial stability and to demonstrate global leadership on this important issue. 

Internet Platforms: Observations On Speech, Danger, And Money

by Daphne Kellervia Lawfare
Friday, June 15, 2018

Public demands for internet platforms to intervene more aggressively in online content are steadily mounting. Calls for companies like YouTube and Facebook to fight problems ranging from "fake news" to virulent misogyny to online radicalization seem to make daily headlines.

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Aegis explores legal and policy issues at the intersection of technology and national security.  Published in partnership with the Lawfare Blog, it features long-form essays of the Hoover Institution National Security, Technology and Law Working Group (the Aegis Paper Series), examines major new books in the field, and carries podcasts and videos or the working group’s events in Washington and Stanford.