India moves closer to regulating internet services as it fears ‘unimaginable disruption to democracy’

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India said on Monday that it is moving ahead with its plan to revise existing rules to regulate intermediaries — social media apps and others that rely on users to create their content — as they are causing “unimaginable disruption” to democracy.

In a legal document filed with the country’s apex Supreme Court, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said it would formulate the rules to regulate intermediaries by January 15, 2020.

In the legal filing, the government department said the internet had “emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity.” Oversight of intermediaries, the ministry said, would help in addressing the “ever growing threats to individual rights and nation’s integrity, sovereignty and security.”

The Indian government published a draft of guidelines for consultation late last year. The proposed rules, which revise the 2011 laws, identified any service — social media or otherwise — that have more than 5 million users as intermediaries.

Government officials said at the time that modern rules were needed, otherwise circulation of false information and other misuse of internet platforms would continue to flourish.

The Monday filing comes as a response to an ongoing case in India filed by Facebook to prevent the government from forcing WhatsApp to introduce a system that would enable revealing the source of messages exchanged on the popular instant messaging platform, which counts India as its biggest market with more than 400 million users.

Some have suggested that social media platforms should require their users in India to link their accounts with Aadhaar — a government-issued, 12-digit biometric ID. More than 1.2 billion people in India have been enrolled in the system.

Facebook executives have argued that meeting such demands would require breaking the end-to-end encryption that WhatsApp users enjoy globally. The company executives have said that taking away the encryption would compromise the safety and privacy of its users. The Supreme Court will hear Facebook’s case on Tuesday.

India’s online population has ballooned in recent years. More than 600 million users in India are online today, according to industry estimates. The proliferation of low-cost Android handsets and access to low-cost mobile data in the nation have seen “more and more people in India become part of the internet and social media platforms.”

“On the one hand, technology has led to economic growth and societal development, on the other hand there has been an exponential rise in hate speech, fake news, public order, anti-national activities, defamatory postings, and other unlawful activities using Internet/social media platforms,” a lower court told the apex court earlier.

“People fix things. Tech doesn’t fix things.”

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Veena Dubal is an unlikely star in the tech world.

A scholar of labor practices regarding the taxi and ride-hailing industries and an Associate Professor at San Francisco’s U.C. Hastings College of the Law, her work on the ethics of the gig economy has been covered by the New York Times, NBC News, New York Magazine, and other publications. She’s been in public dialogue with Naomi Klein and other famous authors, and penned a prominent op-ed on facial recognition tech in San Francisco — all while winning awards for her contributions to legal scholarship in her area of specialization, labor and employment law.

At the annual symposium of the AI Now Institute, an interdisciplinary research center at New York University, Dubal was a featured speaker. The symposium is the largest annual public gathering of the NYU-affiliated research group that examines AI’s social implications. Held at NYU’s largest theater in the heart of Greenwich Village, Dubal’s event gathered a packed crowd of 800, with hundreds more on the waiting list and several viewing parties offsite. It brought together a relatively young and diverse crowd that, as my seatmate pointed out, contained basically zero of the VC vests ubiquitous at other tech gatherings.

AI Now’s symposium represented the emergence of a no-nonsense, women and people of color-led, charismatic, compassionate, and crazy knowledgeable stream of tech ethics. (As I discussed with New Yorker writer Andrew Marantz recently, not all approaches to tech ethics are created equal). AI Now co-founders Kate Crawford and Meredith Whittaker have built an institution capable of mobilizing significant resources alongside a large, passionate audience. Which may be bad news for companies that design and hawk AI as the all-purpose, all glamorous solution to seemingly every problem, despite the fact that it’s often not even AI doing the work they tout.

veenadubal

Legal scholar Veena Dubal.

As the institute’s work demonstrates, harmful AI can be found across many segments of society, such as policing, housing, the justice system, labor practices and the environmental impacts of some of our largest corporations. AI Now’s diverse and inspiring speaker lineup, however, was a testament to a growing constituency that’s starting to hold reckless tech businesses accountable. The banking class may panic at the thought of a Warren or Sanders presidency, but Big Tech’s irresponsible actors and utopian philosopher bros should be keeping a watchful eye on the ascendance of figures like Clark, Whittaker, and Dubal, along with their competence.

I won’t attempt a more detailed review of AI Now’s conference here; the organization will put out an annual report summarizing and expanding on it later this year; and if you’re intrigued by this piece, get on their mailing list and go next year.

Below is my conversation with Dubal, where we discuss why the AI Now Institute is different from so many other tech ethics initiatives and how a scholar of taxis became a must-read name in tech. Our conversation ends with the story of one well-off white male software engineer who experienced surprising failure, only to realize his own disillusionment helped him connect to a much greater purpose than he’d ever envisioned.

Epstein: Let’s start by talking about the AI Now Symposium. What does it mean for you to be here as one of the featured speakers?

Dubal: It’s so awesome for a center like this to to say that what Uber drivers are doing to organize to better their conditions is actually related to tech. For the last half decade at least, I’ve been doing what is considered tech work, but very much at the periphery. Because we weren’t explicitly doing computer science-related work, I think people didn’t think of the research people like me do as being at all [related to tech]… it was “just” labor. It wasn’t tech, even though it is on [workers] backs that the whole tech industry exists. So it’s powerful to be included in this conversation.

And for this particular event, they’ve done such a good job of [inviting speakers] whose research is thought of as on the periphery, but should be at the center in terms of what is really important from an ethics perspective. Ruha Benjamin [a Professor of African American Studies at Princeton and founder of Princeton’s JustData Lab]’s work is amazing and then the two people that I’m on the panel with, Abdi Muse [Executive Director of the Awood Center in Minneapolis, a community organization focused on advocating for and educating Minnesota’s growing East African communities about their labor rights], organizes warehouse workers in Minnesota, who are the reason Amazon can facilitate the transcontinental flow of goods in the way that they do.

AI Now co-founders

AI Now co-founders Meredith Whittaker and Kate Crawford.

And Bhairavi Desai [Executive Director of the New York Taxi Worker’s Alliance] — I’ve known her for 10 years and she has, from the very beginning, been fighting this gig nonsense. To have them in the room and centered, to have their voices centered instead of on periphery, is just so awesome for me.

Epstein: It’s very clear that AI Now is dedicated to doing that, maybe even moreso than any other peer organization I can identify. How do you see AI Now, as an organization, positioned among their various peers?

Dubal: It’s a great question. I’ve looked at a couple of other more nonprofity things that do tech and equality, and you are absolutely right; more so than any other organization, [AI Now] centers the people who are often at the periphery. Everything that they do is very deliberative.
They aren’t moving through things really quickly, onto the next project really quickly. Every decision they make is thoughtful, in terms of the people that they hire, for example, or how they do an event, or who they include in an event. It’s just very, very thoughtful, which is not how most things in tech, period, run.

Epstein: They’re not moving fast. They’re not breaking things.

Dubal: Exactly. They’re not breaking things. They’re fixing things. And the other thing is, even The TechEquity Collaborative, a nonprofit in San Francisco, there’s a tech utopian imaginary that guides their work. They really have a belief that the technology is going to fix things.
AI now, based on all the interactions I’ve had with them, My sense is that their ethos is very much about how people fix things. Tech doesn’t fix things.

So they’re centering the people who can fix things. They’re in a powerful place, and I think because they’re so sophisticated in the work that they do, they have a powerful voice, which is unusual for people who are interested in the subaltern and in the issues that hurt the most marginalized.

Epstein: Yes. What made me want to come all the way here from Cambridge, MA, where we are not exactly suffering from a shortage of tech ethics initiatives, and what made me decide to miss a lot of the Disrupt conference even though I work for TechCrunch, is that it’s rare that you have an organization that is able to combine to things: genuinely fighting for the marginalized, or helping the subaltern speak; and actually achieving a very significant public voice. Usually it’s maybe one or the other but not both.

Haxtun proves too much for Byers, wins 50-38

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Haxtun handed Byers a loss in a 50-38 showdown on Saturday.

Ty Miller led Byers’ passing attack with 223 yards through the air, throwing one touchdown and one interception. Miller also added 102 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Malachi Davidson got in on the action in the passing game as well, reeling in six balls for 78 yards.

In addition to Miller’s effort, Brody Despard lead the Byers rushing attack by accumulating 89 yards and three touchdowns in the game, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Despard also tacked on 84 receiving yards.

Byers will stay home and play Merino, while Haxtun will travel to play Akron.

Haxtun has not reported any team or player statistics from this contest.

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Springfield runs all over Las Animas in 64-14 victory

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Las Animas couldn’t quite keep up with a potent Springfield squad, losing by a score of 64-14 on Saturday.

Springfield quarterback Luke Hutches led the aerial attack with 171 yards through the air, throwing three touchdowns with no interceptions. Hutches also added 159 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

Springfield’s rushing game was lead by Hayden Lasley who racked up 229 yards and two touchdowns in the contest, averaging 11.4 yards per carry. Lasley also tacked on 116 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

In their next games, Las Animas will stay home and play Simla, while Springfield will travel to play Fowler.

Las Animas has not reported any team or player statistics from this contest.

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Holly takes to air in lopsided win over Wiley

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Wiley couldn’t quite keep up with a potent Holly squad, losing by a score of 43-6 on Saturday at Wiley Consolidated School, Football Field.

Dakota Eaton led Holly’s passing attack with 221 yards through the air. Eaton also added 67 yards on the ground. Eaton’s favorite receiver in the contest was Diego Tamayo, who caught five passes for 92 yards and one score. Eli Ramos contributed in the passing game as well, snagging two balls for 67 yards and one touchdown.

In addition to Eaton’s effort, Donovan Pecina paced the Holly ground game by racking up 51 yards and one touchdown in the game, averaging 17 yards per carry. Pecina also tacked on one receiving touchdown.

Wiley’s ground attack was spearheaded by Aiden Michael who tallied 72 yards in the contest, averaging 7.2 yards per carry.

Holly will stay home and play McClave, while Wiley will travel to play Hoehne.

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Platte Canyon beats Sheridan, 38-8

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Sheridan couldn’t quite keep up with a strong Platte Canyon squad, losing by a score of 38-8 on Saturday.

Brandon Patterson spearheaded the Platte Canyon rushing attack by running for 189 yards and three touchdowns in the game, averaging 11.8 yards per carry. Matthew Bracknell added 54 yards and one touchdown on the ground, averaging 6.8 yards per carry.

Both teams will go on the road in their next contest, with Platte Canyon heading to play Lake County and Sheridan taking on Jefferson.

Sheridan has not reported any team or player statistics from this contest.

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Fruita Monument beats Thornton, 56-0

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Fruita Monument easily handled Thornton by a score of 56-0 on Saturday at Five Star Stadium, Football Field.

Kade Bessert led Fruita Monument’s passing attack with 69 yards through the air. Bessert also added 25 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Sawyer Quint lead all Fruita Monument receivers with two catches for 25 yards and one score.

Ethan Cox lead the Fruita Monument rushing attack by accumulating 85 yards and one touchdown in the contest, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. Denim Luster added 54 yards on the ground, averaging 7.7 yards per carry.

Next up for each team, Fruita Monument will play host to Hinkley, while Thornton will travel to play Centaurus.

Thornton has not reported any team or player statistics from this contest.

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Front Range Christian is victorious over Justice

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Justice couldn’t quite keep up with a potent Front Range Christian squad, losing by a score of 50-0 on Saturday at Game played at Boulder High School (Recht Field).

Luke Hiltman led Front Range Christian’s passing attack with 121 yards through the air. Hiltman also added 36 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Levi Scadden lead all Front Range Christian receivers with five receptions for 87 yards and two scores.

James Davenport paced all Front Range Christian rushers with 43 yards and one touchdown in the game, averaging 14.3 yards per carry.

Front Range Christian will stay home and play Dayspring Christian Academy, while Justice will travel to play Elbert.

Justice has not reported any team or player statistics from this contest.

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Sangre de Cristo unable to match Hoehne’s firepower, lose 62-0

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Sangre de Cristo couldn’t quite keep up with a strong Hoehne squad, losing by a score of 62-0 on Saturday.

Weston Hill paced the Hoehne rushing attack by racking up 156 yards and two touchdowns in the contest, averaging 17.3 yards per carry. Ashton Torres added 115 yards and one touchdown on the ground, averaging 9.6 yards per carry.

Hoehne will stay home and play Wiley, while Sangre de Cristo will travel to play Norwood.

Sangre de Cristo has not reported any team or player statistics from this contest.

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Caliche triumphs in strong showing over Akron

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Caliche easily put away Akron by a score of 34-6 on Friday.

Dylan Huss led Caliche’s passing attack with 131 yards through the air. Huss also added 179 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. Correy Derr lead all Caliche receivers with three receptions for 19 yards.

Caliche was lead by Derr and his 15 yards in the contest.

Grayson Pachner led Akron’s passing attack with 65 yards through the air, tossing one touchdown and three interceptions. Akron’s leading receiver was Adrian Herrera, who caught two passes for 31 yards.

Colton Collins spearheaded the Akron ground game by finishing with 53 yards in the game.

Both teams will stay at home in their next contest, with Caliche hosting Sedgwick County and Akron taking on Haxtun.

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