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Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking companies no longer have to worry about a mandate that would have required them to share with the United States government information about users discussing terrorism-related topics.
Not only is this great news for young students wishing to share info on self-made clock projects, but also for a large portion of citizens that don’t want the feds sifting through private social data without a warrant.
In an effort to pass a funding bill for federal intelligence agencies, the Senate has recently abandoned a provision that would force social networks to share data on users believed to be involved with terrorism activities. The bill itself was initially blocked from reaching the Senate floor by Sen. Ron Wyden, who described the mandate as a “vague [and] dangerous provision.” Wyden said in a statement Monday that he plans to release his hold on the bill, thus allowing it to move forward.
“Going after terrorist recruitment and activity online is a serious mission that demands a serious response from our law enforcement and intelligence agencies,” Wyden said. “Social media companies aren’t qualified to judge which posts amount to ‘terrorist activity,’ and they shouldn’t be forced against their will to create a Facebook Bureau of Investigations to police their users’ speech.”
But the spirit of the provision is unlikely to be gone for long.
A spokesperson for Sen. Dianne Feinstein told the Hill that the senator “regrets having to remove the provision” and “believes it’s important to block terrorists’ use of social media to recruit and incite violence and will continue to work on achieving that goal.” It’ll be back.
This is merely the latest in a string of examples of the government pressuring tech companies to provide it with more information, or to help it take down content related to extremist organizations like the so-called Islamic State. Other efforts relate to encryption, censorship, and access to private communications.