MacKenzie Scott Donates $2.7 Billion to ‘Underfunded and Overlooked’ Causes

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott announced Tuesday that she has donated $2.7 billion to communities “that have been historically underfunded and overlooked.” “Because community-centered service is such a powerful catalyst and multiplier, we spent the first quarter of 2021 identifying and evaluating equity-oriented nonprofit teams working in areas that have been neglected,” Scott wrote in a blog post. But Scott emphasized in the post that she struggled with headlines centering on her instead of the organizations and causes she hopes to uplift.  “Putting large donors at the center of stories on social progress is a distortion of their role,” Scott wrote. She said that the headline she would wish for her post was “286 Teams Empowering Voices the World Needs to Hear.” Among the “teams” Scott listed as the recipients of her donations were higher education institutions “successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved.” Scott also listed interfaith organizations working to bridge racial divides, and arts and cultural institutions working with “culturally rich regions and identity groups that donors often overlook.” Scott committed to donating half her fortune to charity upon divorcing Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2019.MacKenzie Bezos Pledges to Give Away Half Her Fortune MacKenzie Bezos, who just months ago divorced the world’s richest man, has pledged to give away half her fortune to charity. The former wife of Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos is one of the 19 new signatories to the Giving Pledge who have promised to donate more than 50% of their wealth, the organization said. “I have …

Indian Government in Standoff with Twitter Over Online Speech

The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in a battle with U.S. tech firms over a new set of online speech rules that it has enacted for the nation of nearly 1.4 billion.  The rules require companies to restrict a range of topics on their services, comply with government takedown orders and identify the original source of information shared. If the companies fail to comply, tech firm employees can be held criminally liable.  The escalation of tensions between Modi’s government and tech firms, activists say, could result in the curtailment of Indians’ online speech.  “Absent a change in direction, the future of free speech in the world’s largest democracy is increasingly imperiled,” said Samir Jain, director of policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a digital rights advocacy group. “Users will have less freedom of expression and less access to news and entertainment that is unapproved by the government. The rules will thereby undermine Indian democracy,” Jain told VOA. At the center of the battle is Twitter, which asked for a three-month extension to comply with the new IT rules that went into effect May 25.  On May 24, New Delhi police attempted to deliver a notice to Twitter’s office, which was closed at the time, and then released a video of officers entering the building and searching the offices on local TV channels. #WATCH | Team of Delhi Police Special cell carrying out searches in the offices of Twitter India (in Delhi & Gurugram)Visuals from Lado Sarai. pic.twitter.com/eXipqnEBgt— ANI (@ANI) May 24, 2021In a tweet days later, Twitter said it was “concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve.”Right now, we are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat …

India’s Government in Standoff with Twitter Over Online Speech

The government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in a battle with U.S. tech firms over a new set of online speech rules that it has enacted for the nation of nearly 1.4 billion.  The rules require companies to restrict a range of topics on their services, comply with government takedown orders and identify the original source of information shared. If the companies fail to comply, tech firm employees can be held criminally liable.  The escalation of tensions between Modi’s government and tech firms, activists say, could result in the curtailment of Indians’ online speech.  “Absent a change in direction, the future of free speech in the world’s largest democracy is increasingly imperiled,” said Samir Jain, director of policy at the Center for Democracy & Technology, a digital rights advocacy group. “Users will have less freedom of expression and less access to news and entertainment that is unapproved by the government. The rules will thereby undermine Indian democracy,” Jain told VOA. At the center of the battle is Twitter, which asked for a three-month extension to comply with the new IT rules that went into effect May 25.  On May 24, New Delhi police attempted to deliver a notice to Twitter’s office, which was closed at the time, and then released a video of officers entering the building and searching the offices on local TV channels. #WATCH | Team of Delhi Police Special cell carrying out searches in the offices of Twitter India (in Delhi & Gurugram)Visuals from Lado Sarai. pic.twitter.com/eXipqnEBgt— ANI (@ANI) May 24, 2021In a tweet days later, Twitter said it was “concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat to freedom of expression for the people we serve.”Right now, we are concerned by recent events regarding our employees in India and the potential threat …

Google Pledges to Resolve Ad Privacy Probe with UK Watchdog

Google has promised to give U.K. regulators a role overseeing its plan to phase out existing ad-tracking technology from its Chrome browser as part of a competition investigation into the tech giant.     The U.K. competition watchdog has been investigating Google’s proposals to remove so-called third-party cookies over concerns they would undermine digital ad competition and entrench the company’s market power.     To address the concerns, Google on Friday offered a set of commitments including giving the Competition and Markets Authority an oversight role as the company designs and develops a replacement technology.    “The emergence of tech giants such as Google has presented competition authorities around the world with new challenges that require a new approach,” Andrea Coscelli, the watchdog’s chief executive, said.     The Competition and Markets Authority will work with tech companies to “shape their behavior and protect competition to the benefit of consumers,” he said.  The promises also include “substantial limits” on how Google will use and combine individual user data for digital ad purposes and a pledge not to discriminate against rivals in favor of its own ad businesses with the new technology.     If Google’s commitments are accepted, they will be applied globally, the company said in a blog post.     Third-party cookies – snippets of code that log user info – are used to help businesses more effectively target advertising and fund free online content such as newspapers. However, they’ve also been a longstanding source of privacy concerns because they can be used to track users across the internet.     Google …

Cyber Regulation Could Be Coming Following Spate of Hacks, Ransomware Attacks

The United States may soon look to regulate private companies, mandating higher standards for cybersecurity following a series of damaging hacks and ransomware attacks against key firms and critical infrastructure.U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominees to fill two top cyber roles in his administration warned Thursday that malign actors are currently operating with impunity and that too many private sector organizations have, so far, failed to take the necessary precautions.FILE – In this June 8, 2013 photo, Chris Inglis, then deputy director of the National Security Agency testifies on Capitol Hill. Inglis is being nominated as the government’s first national cyber director at the Department of Homeland Security.”Enlightened self-interest, that’s apparently not working,” Chris Inglis, tapped to be the country’s first national cyber director, told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Market forces, that’s apparently not working.””When they’re conducting critical activities upon which the nation’s interests depend, it may well be we need to step in and we need to regulate or mandate in the same way we’ve done that for the aviation industry or the automobile industry,” he added.Jen Easterly, nominated to head up the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, agreed.”As a nation, we remain at great risk of a catastrophic cyberattack,” she said. “It seems to me that voluntary standards are probably not getting the job done and that there is probably some sort of role for making some of these standards mandatory, to include notification.”The question of how best to …

White House Launches Broader Scrutiny of Foreign Tech

An executive order signed by President Joe Biden this week dropped a Trump-era measure that barred Americans from downloading TikTok and several other Chinese smartphone apps. But analysts say the order also broadens the scrutiny of foreign-controlled technology.Biden’s move replaced three Trump administration executive orders that sought to ban downloads of TikTok and WeChat and transactions with eight other Chinese apps. The FILE – A counter promoting WeChat, a product of Tencent, for reading books for the blind is displayed at a news conference in Hong Kong, March 18, 2015.”This means that TikTok may have to go through another review, and any decision won’t be easily challenged in court,” he added. “This is the start of Round 2, and TikTok may not get off as easily this time.”When asked during a briefing Wednesday if the White House still intended to ban TikTok or WeChat, an administration official told reporters that all apps listed on the revoked executive orders would be reviewed under the new process and criteria.Key order standsJulian Ku, a law professor at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, told VOA that Biden had maintained one of Trump’s most important executive orders. Trump signed the “Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain” order in May 2019, declaring a national emergency posed by foreign adversaries “who are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services.”Biden is “not revoking the basic framework, which is that the U.S. government should be trying to prevent transfer …

US Again Condemns Nigeria’s Twitter Ban 

The U.S. has condemned Nigeria’s continuing ban of Twitter in the country, saying the action “has no place in a democracy.”“Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Thursday in a statement calling for the African nation to reverse its Twitter suspension.He said the U.S. “condemns the ongoing suspension of Twitter by the Nigerian government and subsequent threats to arrest and prosecute Nigerians who use Twitter. The United States is likewise concerned that the Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission ordered all television and radio broadcasters to cease using Twitter.”The U.S. had joined the European Union, Britain, Ireland and Canada last weekend in criticizing the Nigerian action. The Abuja government indefinitely banned Twitter after the U.S. social media company deleted a tweet from President Muhammadu Buhari’s account for violating its rules.Tweet about unrestBuhari’s tweet referred to the country’s civil war four decades ago in a warning about recent unrest, referring to “those misbehaving” in violence in the southeastern part of the country. Officials there blame the prohibited separatist group IPOB for attacks on police and election offices.”Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand,” the president had posted on Twitter.Buhari’s office denied the Twitter suspension was a response to the removal of that post.”There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake …