Photo by gruntzooki: Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

King County, Washington State’s most populous county with over 2 million residents, passed an ordinance on June 1, 2021, banning both administrative offices and local law enforcement agencies from using facial recognition technology and from gathering information through agreements with third parties’ use of the technology.

The ordinance acknowledged that “the use of facial recognition technology to watch, categorize, monitor and record the…movements of country residents disproportionately impacted people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people and political activists of all backgrounds.” …


This week, WhatsApp petitioned the Delhi High Court in India, challenging the newly enforced Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, specifically their compulsory decryption requirement.

Rule 4(2) and Rule 6 of the Rules require all social media intermediaries operating in India to, at the request of the government or the courts, enable identification of the first originator of a message shared on their platform, which will require decryption of relevant messages. In the instances where the originator of a message is not based in India, the first person in India to have shared the…


Photo: Free Grunge Textures licensed under CC BY 2.0

This week, Russia’s government seems to have taken another step in its efforts to control online discourse by warning Facebook and YouTube that they would face slowdowns, or worse, blocking, if they didn’t guarantee 100% compliance for all takedown requests made by the government.

This latest is part of a larger pattern that started taking shape in March this year, when the Russian Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media” (ROSKOMNADZOR), Russia’s telecommunications watchdog, imposed slowdowns on Twitter services across Russia. This slowdown came on the heels of the state’s claim that Twitter had failed to…


On 24 April 2021, Medianama, an Indian tech and policy online news platform, broke a story about the Indian government’s takedown requests to Twitter to have content critical of the government’s COVID handling removed from their platform. This story took the global media landscape by a storm — with almost every leading national and international news organization quoting the story to highlight the Indian government’s crackdown on freedom of speech. …


In her recent piece titled, ‘Some Humility about Transparency, Daphne Keller, Director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center, asked some important questions and put forward a set of recommendations about what we mean when we say we seek ‘transparency’ from online intermediaries. A thank you to Daphne for starting this conversation. Here at the Lumen project, we agree that it is an important one and that this is a critical time to have it, as more and more regulatory and legislative attention is being paid to online ‘transparency’.

The Lumen team feels a sense of…


A Deep Dive into Five Laws

Photo by: Mike Licht. CC BY 2.0

In March 2021 Russia used the latest in a series of newly passed Internet laws for the first time. The ‘sovereign’ 2019 law was used to throttle Twitter’s speed by 50% on desktops and by 100% on mobile phones. This move was triggered by Twitter’s non-action in deleting content considered illegal by the Roskomnadzor (RKN), Russia’s federal authority overseeing online and media content. This illegal content included the Twitter accounts of several government critics, such as Mihkail Khodorkovsky. …


Until AI has completely eliminated human biases, can its results be considered any more trustworthy than a human’s?

Photo by Electronic_Frontier_Foundation: CC BY 2.0

Facial recognition technology is becoming more powerful and more ubiquitous seemingly every day. In January 2021, a study found that a facial recognition algorithm could be better at deducing a person’s political orientation than a human judgment or a personality test. Similarly, earlier this week, the Dubai airport rolled out technology through which an iris-scanner would verify one’s identity and eliminate the need for any human interaction when entering or exiting the country.

The use of facial recognition by law enforcement agencies has become common practice, despite increasing reports of false arrests and jail time. While there are various downsides…


Outlining limitations of blocking orders

February 2021 has borne witness to a standoff between Twitter India and the Modi Government. In the backdrop of a six-month-long farmers’ protest which has garnered both national and international support, the Indian Government issued blocking orders for Twitter to remove over 250 accounts linked to the farmer’s protest that were considered a threat to public order. At first, Twitter complied with the order, but within a few hours unblocked the accounts. This led to the government issuing a non-compliance order to Twitter which threatened to impose fines and imprison Twitter executives for up to seven years. As a result…


September 2019-August 2020

By: Adam Holland, Andromeda Yelton, and Chris Bavitz

Introduction

September 2019 through the end of August 2020 marked the first year in which Lumen operated with a generous supporting grant from the Arcadia Fund. During that year, the project’s primary objectives fell within three themes: (1) technical improvements to the Lumen site and database; (2) expanding research opportunities, both internal and external; and (3) outreach, both to possible new notice-submitters and to the various constituencies of the Lumen user community. …

Lumen Database Team

Collecting and facilitating research on requests to remove online material. Visit lumendatabase.org and email us if you have questions.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store